Movie Review: Avatar: The Way of Water


Jonatan Pie

¨Avatar: The Way of Water¨ is now playing only in theaters starting on December 16th.

Max Spiegel, Staff Writer

After over a decade since 2009´s “Avatar” which made almost 3 billion dollars, the highly anticipated sequel ¨Avatar: The Way of Water” finally hits the big screen. Does this film have what it takes to top the original, or is it a sequel too little too late for the Avatar franchise?

¨Avatar: The Way of Water¨ is once again written and directed by James Cameron, and stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis, Kate Winslet, Britain Dalton, Jamie Flatters, Bailey Bass, Filip Geljo and Jack Champion. The film tells the story of Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) who have formed a new family and leave their home to explore new regions of Pandora. When a returning threat arises, Jake must fight back in a difficult war against the humans. 

As for my background with this franchise, I’ve never been the biggest fan of the original Avatar. I still consider it a good movie, but this is a movie for me where the incredible visuals outshine the actual story itself. In fact, I found the story of that film to be very similar to the movie ¨Pocahontas,¨ except in space. A few years later, when it was announced that James Cameron would be doing not one, but four sequels to the film, I thought that he had lost his mind. Don´t get me wrong, James Cameron is one of my all time favorite directors, and I don’t think he has ever directed a bad movie, but I think it’s insane that ¨Avatar¨ was the only movie at the time that he had ever put out in the entire 21st century. That being said, James Cameron´s track record with sequels includes ¨Aliens¨ and ¨Terminator 2: Judgment Day,¨ which are among some of my all time favorite movies. Once I thought of that, I started to get a little bit excited for the quality of how this film would turn out. So with all of this in mind, I finally walked into ¨Avatar: The Way of Water,¨ hoping it would at least deliver on some great visuals and a cool theater experience. 

Easily the best aspect of this film are the astounding visual effects and CGI that were used. Just like the first film, the world of Pandora is such a beautiful place to look at with the use of the many colors, as well as the designs of the Na´vi and creatures themselves. There wasn’t a single shot in this movie that I thought looked bad, and it was one of the best looking movies I’ve ever seen. Beyond that, I thought that the story of this film had more to offer than the original, and built out the world of Pandora in a way that made sense for the mythology of this franchise. The film did an incredible job of exploring a new area of Pandora that felt different from the forest area, while also introducing the audience to a bunch of new and interesting characters. Speaking of the new characters, I thought that the children of Jake and Neytiri were great new additions to this franchise, as well as the new colony of water Na´vi that were introduced in this film. The young actors in this film who played some of the younger characters did a great job both with their motion capture performances and the emotion that was brought to their characters. Their performances were unlike any other child performances I had ever seen. While I did find the new characters to be great editions, I thought that the returning characters of Jake, Neytiri, and Colonel Quaritch were great once again. Even though they did take more of a back seat in this film, they still served the story well and provided some great dialogue with the new characters. 

As far as aspects of the film that didn’t really work for me, I felt that this movie was way too long. I didn’t necessarily find this film to be all that boring, but I did think that some scenes went on a little too long and I do think there is a version of the movie that could be right around two and a half hours long. Also, without going into specifics, there were quite a few plot points in this movie that were a bit derivative of the original´s story. While I did mention that I appreciated that this film had a story that was different enough from its predecessor, it is still the straightforward conflict versus conflict plot that was explored in the original. If this movie didn’t take 13 years to make, this wouldn’t be as big of an issue for me. James Cameron and the crew had such a long time to make this, and I think they could have come up with something more unique.

Overall, I really enjoyed the film and still stand by the fact that James Cameron has not made a single bad movie yet. He knows how to make big, epic blockbusters, and this is no exception. The visuals were absolutely eye opening, the characters new and old were great to spend time with, and the emotional moments hit harder for me than I expected. I didn’t think this movie was perfect, as some elements were pretty familiar and the runtime was a bit too long. From a director who’s made some of the greatest sequels of all time, I think this film could have been even better than it was–especially considering the 13 years it took to make. Even though I’m still not sold on the idea of at least three more Avatar sequels in the works, this was still a thoroughly enjoyable film that was an improvement over the previous installment. For fans of the original, it may not be as good, but I would still recommend this movie to fans of action and sci-fi movies.