Avatar: Way of Water Review

Avatar: Way of Water follows Jack Scully (Sam Worthington) and his family as they again fight off the military forces trying to destroy the home they love. This time, Jack and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), his wife, must take their family and leave their forest home to protect the ones they love. We follow their lives as they resettle in the oceanic regions of Pandora, welcomed (somewhat) by their neighboring tribes of coastal Na’vi. Despite their great escape, the Scullys are forced to face old threats when the military chases them down and threatens their new home.  

A long-awaited sequel, Avatar: Way of Water had high standards. Whether or not these standards are lived up to depends on who you ask. Some applaud the storytelling and beautiful graphic effects, however there’s more to a movie than how pretty it looks.

Credit: Vulture.com

Although not quite as revolutionary as the first movie in terms of CGI, Avatar: Way of Water boasts enchanting graphics and shows definite improvement from the first movie. The visuals only enhanced the worldbuilding of the land of Pandora. 

However, not much else good can be said about the movies. The dialogue was dry and lacked character, along with haphazardly placed slang in order to make the teenage Na’vi more “relatable.” The story itself was repetitive, so much so that the villains were reincarnated versions of the soldiers in the first movie. The three-hour movie felt much more like an eternity, with some scenes drawn out far too long while others were too short, or just plain unnecessary. The plot fell to its own cliches, with many of the conflicts being a result of the kids not listening to their parents and getting themselves into all sorts of trouble. The characters themselves were two-dimensional and despite the long running time had very little development and felt dull. 

Credit: Empire.com

The thinly veiled analogies such as the destruction of the environment or colonization became only more cheesy in this movie, especially with the addition of Sigourney Weaver’s character Kiri, a girl whose only purpose is seemingly to frolic in nature and be somewhat magical. Other metaphors, like the overlying comparison of Na’vi to Native Americans during the colonization period of the Americas, in the movie were distasteful at times and only furthered the white-savior narrative that Jack Scully portrayed. 

James Cameron, the director of the Avatar movies, attempted to have strong female characters in Way of Water. However, the majority female Na’vi in the movie were demoted strictly into the “strong-mother” type and even then Zoe Saldana’s character spent too much of her time screaming or crying instead of taking action. Even with this message of the strength of women, Jake Scully throughout the movie laments on the importance of his role as a father in protecting his family. These remarks came with little contradiction from his wife, despite her “female strength.” 

Credit: New York Times

Overall, the movie did boast incredible scenery and CGI, despite its lacking plot and although the characters were poorly written and developed throughout the movie, they were likable. Avatar: Way of Water was exactly what one would expect to come from a sequel to a decade old movie that was known only for its visuals but is not something worth a watch.