Why watching Avatar: The Way of Water on OTT could be like feeling ripples in a puddle

ByDevansh Sharma
Jun 07, 2023 04:01 PM IST

James Cameron's Avatar: The Way of Water released on Disney+ Hotstar on June 7 and here's why OTT screens may not be able to do it justice.

Recently, Christopher Nolan suggested the ideal theatre seats to enjoy a big screen experience optimally. It made most of us wonder if we’d been watching movies all wrong so far. If James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which dropped on Disney+ Hotstar on June 7, isn’t able to move or engage you as much as it did your friend who watched it in theatres, Nolan’s explanation might come handy. (Also read: Avatar The Way of Water movie review)

Avatar 2: Way of the Water was best enjoyed on an IMAX screen.
Avatar 2: Way of the Water was best enjoyed on an IMAX screen.

Of course, that doesn’t imply you skip his Oppenheimer unless you don’t get the best seats as per the filmmaker. But like he says, it won’t be an experience even remotely close to the intended one

Streaming definitely came in handy for Nolan’s last release, Tenet, for it helped viewers keep up with the extremely convoluted plot that left fans gasping for breath in theatres. But the Avatar sequel is no Tenet. It’s painstakingly designed as an immersive experience, one that relies far more on scale than plot. In fact, Cameron strictly adheres to the old school artistic belief of keeping the story straightforward when the visuals are already too grand to take in.

The first hour completely focuses on building on where the first part left off, 14 years ago. But it’s really the second hour that demands this film be consumed on the biggest screen possible, particularly an IMAX. Cameron introduces a whole new world underwater, that thanks to Russell Carpenter’s splendid cinematography and Simon Franglin’s sonorous sounds, makes for a dream ride when watched on IMAX.

Irrespective of which home system viewers consume Avatar: The Way of Water on, there’s none that can facilitate the depth of field and the enveloping appeal that a well-equipped theatre experience can. The film definitely makes for an ideal family watching experience, but its musings on family conflicts and nature conservation arrive only in the third hour. By that time, one is bound to get anchored down by the underwhelming first half.

The most practical way to gobble down Avatar 2 at home would be to watch it in parts, possibly one hour at a time. But I’m sure Cameron wouldn’t have liked his giant labour of love to go under the knife of fragmented viewing. Does it really make for a memorable watching experience if the parts are enjoyed more than the whole? Isn’t that merely to check the box of Avatar 2 from your watch list and dub it as ‘not that great’?

In the film, Jake Sully trains his family to adapt to a new home, a new medium. Swimming replaces flying, and height replaces depth. There’s a new rhythm to breathing. Cameron achieved exactly that through the immensely immersive IMAX experience. To watch it at home, as per your pace and on your home turf, is almost a disservice to what he wants to make you feel through the film, and to what the characters feel through the story. Where’s the fun in Avatar: The Way of Water if you’re breathing all the same by the end?

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