AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER journeys back to the world of Pandora, 13 years after the original AVATAR broke all box office records in 2009 and racked up 2.9 billion dollars. The sequel is just as gorgeous as the original, and seeing it in theaters (3D recommended) is the only way to immerse yourself in this beautiful world. With a running time of 3 hours and 10 minutes, you have plenty of time to cultivate emotional ties to the Na’vi people of Pandora.
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER Storyline
The original AVATAR ended with Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) permanently transferring his consciousness from his dying human form into his Na’vi avatar, and we catch up with him 15 years later in THE WAY OF WATER. He and his love, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), are parents to Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss); adoptive parents of Kiri (Sigourney Weaver); and surrogate parents of human orphan Spider (Jack Champion), who was unable to return to Earth with the rest of the RDA because he was too young.
At this point the story reverts to a retelling of the original, with a different setting. After a 15-year absence, “the Sky People” (humans) return to Pandora to harvest another of its lucrative natural resources. This time the humans are more prepared and raize an entire huge section of the forest from orbit. The Sky People bring along a military team of avatars, including one with the memories of Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who has a personal vendetta against Jake Sully.
Their tree homes destroyed and because Jake now has a family to protect, the six leave their tribe and seek sanctuary with the island Metkayina clan, led by Ronal (Kate Winslet) and Tonowari (Cliff Curtis). Now the entire family must learn the ways of water if they are to survive. Unsurprisingly, the Sky People mercilessly hunt Jake and his family, leading to an epic finale.
Though the story is derivative and simple, AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is still a riveting film to watch. With a simple plot, you can really take in the environments and imagery, as well as the Na’vi people. Little flicks of the ear, a movement of a tail – chests breathing in and out. There are moments in this film that are so beautiful I nearly cried. Not because of the story, but just the beauty I was seeing onscreen. There’s a reason James Cameron took 13 years to deliver a new masterpiece, and it’s down to these fine details.
The message of the film is all about family. Jake Sully has grown into a leader and a father, and must protect his family at all costs. Throughout the film, we follow various members of the Sully clan as they integrate into the new water tribe. Teenagers will be teenagers, and we see pranks, teasing, bullying, and first loves. It is hugely relatable, from kids with siblings to the parents that must raise them.
I did struggle a bit with telling Jake’s two sons apart. The Na’vi don’t wear a lot of clothes, and the males all have similar hairstyles, so it’s down to facial shapes and height. Neteyam is the oldest son and has a slightly wider nose and face. Lo’ak is a tad bit scrawnier with a thinner face. As the middle child, he is an outcast among his siblings.
One Na’vi that stood out, especially to a nature-loving person like me, is Kiri. She has a deep connection to the Na’vi peoples’ god, Eywa. Her origin is a bit of a mystery. You may recall that Grace (Sigourney Weaver) died in the first film, during the cermony to transfer her consciousness from her human form into her avatar. Before she died, Grace exclaimed that she was with Eywa, and Eywa was real. Through some miracle, Grace’s avatar had this child, Kiri, who has a deep connection to the natural world on Pandora. She can even command it like the Force! It’s fascinating to see her commune with the wildlife in THE WAY OF WATER.
While the film is beautiful to watch, there is one scene that many will find disturbing and ugly, and it goes on for quite some time. Yes, we can always count on humans in AVATAR films to commit egregious acts. This makes it all the more enjoyable in the final act with the eventual clash of Na’vi vs. humans. Towards the end of the film, Spider (the Tarzan-like human raised by Jake Sully’s family) makes a really stupid decision in the context of this movie’s story and motivations. While I understand it will lead to the sequel, the execution was clunky.
Overall, AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is an enjoyable way to spend an evening. Immerse yourself in the world of Pandora, embrace a hatred of mass humanity, and come out of the movie theater with a better appreciation for your family and the natural world around you. I give it 8 out of 10 avatars!
AVATER: THE WAY OF WATER is playing in a U.S. theater near you right now.Will you see the film? Let us know what you think in the comments, or @skywalkingpod!