“Avatar: The Way of Water” review


‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ (2022) film poster (photo courtesy of Disney Movies)

Myrna Cross and Nina Ivancevic

Seeing an entire new side of the franchise

by Myrna Cross

Thirteen years after the original “Avatar” came out, director James Cameron released the second film in the series in December 2022. This movie has been highly anticipated ever since Cameron announced the sequel all the way back in 2010, after the original became the highest grossing film of all time. 

Both movies follow protagonist Jake Sully, a former Marine who was discharged after being paralyzed from the waist down. It follows the planet of Pandora and the highly evolved species that live there known as N’avi. Sully accepts a job as an avatar operator, essentially linking a human mind with the body of a N’avi. By the end of the first movie, he had fallen in love with a N’avi named Neytiri, and decided to become one permanently. “Avatar: The Way of Water” however, takes place nearly 15 years after the original movie, after Jake and Neytiri have been living happily in Pandora and have four children.

Like the original “Avatar,” the main antagonist of the film is what the N’avi call “sky people,” also known as humans. They used the same villain as the last film, Colonel Quaritch, except this time he has cloned himself into an avatar. He is on the hunt for Sully and his family, seeking revenge after his human body was killed by Neytiri. One of the main complaints I’ve heard about the movie is that it was repetitive of the first film to use the same villain twice. However, I completely disagree with this. The main point of the Avatar films is to show the true horrors of humans and what they will do to achieve power, health, status, and strength. The movie captured the lengths they will go to and what they will destroy in the process perfectly. If they were to create a totally different villain for the second film, I think it would’ve taken away from the message of these movies. 

By the first 10 minutes, it was obvious the amount of love and effort that Cameron poured into this film. From the beautifully intertwined cultures, to the incredible CGI and special effects, and the amazing development of the characters, this movie exceeded my expectations in every way possible. 

I loved the fact that instead of continuing to focus on the forest people, the species of N’avi that inhabit the forests in Pandora, Cameron decided to introduce a new species of N’avi. While running away from Colonel Quaritch and his army of Avatars, Sully and his family escape to the water people, who reluctantly allow them to seek refuge in their community. We discover the entire new species of N’avi, who are able to breathe underwater, communicate with sea creatures, and more. I thoroughly enjoyed seeing an entirely new side of the people of Pandora, and hope we see even more in upcoming movies.

My absolute favorite plot line in the film was the relationship between Jake and Neytiri’s youngest son Lo’ak, and a Tulkan named Payakan. Tulkans are a creature that are very similar to what we know as whales. They inhabit the reefs of Pandora and are what the water N’avi consider part of their family and tied to their souls. The outcast Tulkan, Payakan, creates a strong bond with Lo’ak and it was so adorable: definitely my favorite part of the movie. I also loved that the movie highlights the importance of family and what a father will go through to protect his children. 

Another highlight of the Avatar films for me, specifically this sequel, is the real connection it brings between Pandora and our world. The movie reflects our real world problems with environmental issues and opens viewer’s eyes to how we need to cherish our planet before it is too late. 

Whether you watch it in 3D or not, which my family and I decided not to, you feel fully encaptured in the movie and almost like you’re a part of the planet Pandora itself. Many people complained that this movie was far too long, but I wasn’t bored for a second. I was fully engaged for the full three hours and ten minutes and even sprinted to the bathroom so I wouldn’t have to miss a moment of it. If anything, the movie went by much quicker than I expected it to because I was so entertained by it. By the end of the film, I had cried three times and walked out of the theater sobbing like a lunatic. It pulls on your heartstrings more than I ever would have imagined, and left me thinking about its beauty and sadness for days after I watched it.


Visuals are top but the plot is not

by Nina Ivancevic

The long anticipated sequel of “Avatar” has finally arrived in theaters. Many people are raving about how realistic the animations look and how it feels like you’re actually inside the movie; I don’t disagree with these opinions, however, I do feel like some of the scenes were repetitive, making the movie feel dragged out.

 I do give credit to the director Cameron for doing an amazing job of capturing the new side of Pandora through the immersive underwater scenes along with the detail of the sea creatures that live there. 

Upon return of the “sky people,” peace in Pandora is erased and it is war again between the two species. This is again sort of repetitive and almost has the same plot as the first movie because once again the “sky people” act like villain planet-destroyers, but their motives are 

sometimes a bit hazy. Throughout the movie I realized it isn’t really clear as to why the avatars are being hunted. 

The bulk of the movie is focused on this new side of Pandora, another region by the water. The world of “Avatar” feels like it has expanded in ways the first movie didn’t. The color of the avatars is a different type of blue and viewers are introduced to a different lifestyle. This time Cameron ties multiple stories together instead of just one which creates more room for storytelling for new movies. 

I strongly believe that the movie was way too long. I think the middle hour of it should have been cut out.  For me, it was just the same underwater scene repeated again and again. This sequel is very similar to the first movie and it was hard to be invested in. 

I do believe the movie was beautiful and it felt surreal, but I don’t think the visuals make up for the unexciting story line. It was a plain “chase” plot and it felt like Cameron was more focused on the visuals and effects.

Cameron didn’t make this movie to push the boundaries in terms of narrative and plot. It was more of showing off the special effects and it seemed like the main point of the movie was to showcase how realistic everything looked. I think that’s where it lost me. Although those underwater scenes were amazing, it was hard to sit through it when the movie is three hours long repeating the same thing without an enticing story. With all the rave about it, I thought I would be completely blown away with the movie. The scenes are no doubt very advanced, however I don’t think it should be the only reason to see the movie.

Overall, my praise comes from the technical aspects of the film, like the special effects and the animations. The new environment was masterfully created through different aquatic animals and the introduction of a new sub-category of avatar. 

The details really brought the whole movie to life. The skin details and minor differences between each character captures the thought and time Cameron has taken to produce some of his best work. I’m excited to see what else is next in the world of Pandora and what is in store.


⅗ paws