Avatar: The Way of Water | Review


Photo By Jackson Kottmeyer

Avatar: The Way of Water plays on a laptop computer. Throughout the film, computer-generated imagery can be seen.

     Avatar: The Way of Water, known colloquially as Avatar 2, was directed by James Cameron and produced by Jon Landau. It is the second film in a four-part series that follows Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington, and his story while on the planet of Pandora, home of the Na’Vi people.

     To understand the complex and intricate plot of the Avatar series, I highly recommend watching the original Avatar, which came out in 2009, before Avatar: The Way of Water. In short, the story takes place in a dystopian future, in which humanity locates a planet named Pandora which is rich in a mineral that is unobtainable on Earth, aptly named unobtanium. The world is home to an aggressive, human-like tribe named the Na’Vi. To more easily research unobtanium, humanity created a way to shift a person’s consciousness into a body of a Na’Vi which is called an avatar. 

     Jake Sully, a paraplegic marine, is one such avatar. After learning of humanity’s destructive forces and falling in love with Neytiri, a native Na’Vi woman played by Zoe Saldaña, Sully decides to fully assimilate with the Na’Vi and live in his avatar permanently. Minus conflicts, this is where Avatar comes to an end.

     After 13 years, James Cameron finally released Avatar: The Way of Water, which once again follows the story of Sully as well as his new family he has on Pandora. The story follows the Sullys as they run away into a distant Na’Vi tribe called Metkayina. The Metkayina is an oceanic tribe that does not accept outsiders easily. Most of the conflict in Avatar 2 was between Sully and Colonel Miles Rick Quartich, but there is a subplot that features the Sullys as they attempt to adapt to the Metkayina way of life.

     One of the main criticisms I have of this film is the length and the plot. In terms of the plot, it is rather simplistic and predictable. However, it does expand on the world and characters introduced in the first film, creating a more diverse story. In terms of length, Avatar: The Way of Water has a run time of three hours and 12 minutes, most of which is spent with the Sullys trying to adapt to their new aquatic environment in the Metkayina tribe. I feel that this story could still have been compelling within a two-hour and 45-minute run time.

     While the plot is slow at some points, the stunning graphics make up for it. Avatar: The Way of Water was a visual spectacle with innovative motion capture technology, and masterfully crafted computer-generated imagery (CGI). The world of Pandora is as breathtaking as it was in the first film with the addition of a new environment and new creatures. 

     The performances in Avatar: The Way of Water are a major strength of the film. Along with the motion capture technology, the actors brought a lot of depth and emotion to their characters. Worthington and Saldaña had especially great performances in their roles of Sully and Neytiri, respectively.

     The supporting cast also did a great job of bringing this story to life. Actor Giovanni Ribisi, who plays Parker Selfridge, the greedy main antagonist of the Na’vi people, was determined and would stop at nothing to mine unobtanium. Ribisi engaged and entertained audiences through his role as Selfridge.

     Avatar: The Way of Water is a great film and is a worthy sequel to Cameron’s original Avatar film. It builds upon the intricate storyline of Pandora and deepens the conflict between the Na’vi people and humanity. While the plot is slow and predictable at some points, the breathtaking CGI and acting performances more than make up for it. However, time will only tell if Avatar: The Way of Water will be as influential as its groundbreaking predecessor.