Watching the Way of Water

A Review of the “Avatar” Sequel


Iliana Tangarova

“Avatar: The Way of Water” was released on Dec. 16 2022. Directed by James Cameron, the “Avatar” sequel features an updated cast. The production and animation was fantastic, however the three and a half hour length made it a bit difficult to watch fully through in the movie theatre. Considering its unoriginal plot, unnecessary length, and fantastic production, I’d rate this film a 6 out of 10. (Movie stills courtesy of 20th Century Studios)

Iliana Tangarova, Reporter

I grew up watching the first “Avatar” movie. I remember my five-year-old self sitting in the IMAX theatre, anticipating the speakers to boom with sound and the screen to explode in hues of blue. My father and I rewatch Avatar almost every year, and we often wondered when its sequel would be coming out. So, when we saw the trailer for “Avatar: The Way of Water,” we were pumped. 

This movie left me with a whirlwind of emotions. At three and a half hours long, it’s a doozie. As expected, the visuals and production were glamorous. However, the pacing? Rough. Since it’s been around 12 years since the release of the first movie, there was a lot of foreground that the sequel had to pick up on. It was clear that the film had to reacquaint its plot and characters with the viewers because of that lapse of time, and this created a bit of a drag in the first half. 

The beginning of the film starts with Jake Sully, our main protagonist from the previous movie, recapping what happened since the humans were defeated and retreated from Pandora. Jake fully merged with his Avatar and began a family with his love, Neytiri. The film mostly follows the Sully family as they migrate and run from the newly invading humans, led by Colonel Quaritch, who have now merged with their own avatars. 

We’re introduced to a new cast of characters in this movie: Tuk, Kiri, Neteyam and Lo’ak, who are all part of the Sully family. We’re also introduced to Spider, their close human friend, and other members of the water tribe featured in the second half of the movie. Here’s the best way to describe each child: Tuk is the youngest, annoying sister, Kiri is kind of a God, Lo’ak is Mr. Irresponsible and Neteyam has the case of oldest brother syndrome. Oh, and Spider? He’s just annoying – and didn’t really need to be in the movie in the first place. 

If I were to summarize the whole film without spoiling or spoilers, it would go like this: the Sully kids do something that their parents warned them not to do, some or all of them get kidnapped by Quaritch and his team, and they get rescued. This formula repeats itself throughout the movie multiple times, and it quickly gets exhausted. Jake thankfully decides to somewhat break this pattern, and forces his family to move to a different tribe.

We then watch as the family tries to peacefully assimilate into their new tribe, the water tribe. The second half of the movie takes place within this tribe, and includes a message on animal cruelty as the humans hunt down the water people’s whales, more of the previous pattern mentioned above, and some very long fight scenes. 

Now, don’t get me wrong – there are moments in the movie which make it good, such as the Sully’s familial bond, the incredible fantasy sea creatures and ********PARTIAL SPOILER******** a heart wrenching death. You do get attached to the characters and experience their turbulent emotions. My personal favorite was Neytiri going on a rampage for revenge at the end of the movie. I was definitely cheering for her at that point. 

Was this movie a cinematic masterpiece? Maybe production-wise, but plot-wise, it was not. It wasn’t as good as the first Avatar, but I believe it still deserves the title as its sequel. With incredible visual effects, good acting, especially acting as humans when they’re actors portraying seven-foot-tall blue people, and my undeniable appreciation for the original “Avatar,” I’d say it was a good movie. 

I’d rate it a 6 out of 10.