Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

avatar the way of water poster 2022 movie
7.5 Overall Score
Story: 7/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 10/10

Great visuals

Mostly just a spectacle

Movie Info

Movie Name:  Avatar:  The Way of Water

Studio:  20th Century Studios/TSG Entertainment/Lightstorm Entertainment

Genre(s):  Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Action/Adventure

Release Date(s):  December 6, 2022 (Premiere)/December 16, 2022 (US)

MPAA Rating:  PG-13

avatar the way of water pandora on fire

Remember defending this for the whole first movie…let’s move on

Years have passed since humans have been driven from moon Pandora, and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) have a family including sons Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) and Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), daughter Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss), and their adopted daughter Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) who has miraculously been born from Grace Augustine’s avatar.  Unfortunately, humans have returned to Pandora, and a team led by Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang) who conscience has been placed in his own Avatar has set out to hunt for Jake Sully.  Realizing he’s risking his people and family, Jake and his clan go on the run to the reef people of Pandora known as the Metkayina where they must win the trust of Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and his wife Ronal (Kate Winslet).  Unfortunately, Quaritch isn’t stopping and is using a boy named Spider (Jack Champion) who was raised by Jake and Neytiri to hunt them…and war will start anew.

Written and directed by James Cameron (with additional scripting by Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver), Avatar:  The Way of Water is a sci-fi action film.  A sequel to Avatar from 2009, the film is the second entry in the Avatar series and was released in 3D on December 16, 2022 to positive reviews and a strong box office.  The film received an Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects with nominations for Best Picture, Best Sound, and Best Production Design.

avatar the way of water kids

Let’s see what trouble we can get into!

I was pretty cool to Avatar.  It was interesting to see in the theater because of the 3D (I’m not a huge 3D fan, but it was done well), but the story was rather bland and stolen from other films.  With years and time passing, Avatar had even less of an impact than I expected on me…and I wasn’t particularly interested in an Avatar 2.  I do feel Avatar:  The Way of Water is a stronger film than Avatar, but it too suffers from lack of story.

The story feels like a lot of rehash of the first film in themes with a bigger focus on family (which also was a theme in the first film).  The film also has built in mystery about Kiri, her origin, and her ties to the planetary god of Eywa.  It is this bit of mystery and less of a blatant humans vs. nature (and humans suck) message that helps this film.  It still has humans as the destructive force, but they are less of a cardboard cut-out as in the previous film (in this one whalers are the worst bad guys…the military is sidelined).

avatar the way of water kiri eywa sigourney weaver

“Mom, Kiri’s doing that thing with Eywa again!”

With Sigourney Weaver as the more compelling character, she is joined with Zoe Saldaña as the mother taking care of her own but also dealing with a foster child that she has a different relationship with.  Sam Worthington is the hardline (but loving) dad who is a contrast with Stephen Lang’s Quaritch and his relationship with his son in the film.  Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet don’t get much character development and Edie Falco is also wasted (maybe she’ll come back for Avatar 3).  Both Joel David Moore and Dileep Rao return in diminished roles while Brendan Cowell plays the callus “whale” aka Tulkun hunter (we no longer care about Unobtainum but anti-aging oil called amrita).  A lot of time is spent with the marine biologist played by Jemaine Clement who disappears with no fanfare during the final battle, but the most irritating new addition is “Spider” played by Jake Champion who is like DC Comics’ Kamandi the Last Boy who lives among the Na’vi and makes bad choices throughout the movie (I also could have less of Tuk played by Trinity Jo-Li Bliss who seems to only be there to say what everyone is thinking and to be captured).

avatar the way of water payakan loak shake whale

Lots of whale/human love

Once again, the visuals is where Avatar:  The Way of Water excels.  The over three hour movie pushes the 3D technology to the max (a trailer for a Marvel 3D movie before the film showed the quality difference).  The movie could have been cut down immensely, but you are primarily there for the visuals so a lot of swimming scenes, Tulkun, and even some of the return to the jungle helped showcase this.  Does it add to the story?  Not particularly, but it doesn’t make you kind of forget the story’s laziness.

Avatar:  The Way of Water will continue to be divisive and there will be those that are hardcore fans or those that completely dismiss it.  I don’t know that either is a good take.  I would love to see something with the quality and crafting of Avatar have an equally crafted story, but I don’t think that we’re going to get that from any of Cameron’s series.  Hopefully others will have the opportunity to try to blend the visuals and storytelling in a more meaningful way.  Avatar:  The Way of the Water is followed by Avatar 3 in 2024.

Related Links:

Avatar (2009)

The 95th Academy Award Nominations

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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