‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ did not live up to its predecessor


Photo from IMDb

The movie poster from “Avatar: The Way of Water”.

Isabella Hesse, Staff Writer

After 13 years, the sequel to the 2009 movie Avatar was released on Dec. 18, a release highly anticipated by fans. However, the movie did not meet expectations when it came to quality.

Avatar: The Way of Water follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), around 15 years after the events of the first movie. At the beginning of the movie, we see clips and scenes of Jake living peacefully with his wife, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), after he decides to become Na’Vi permanently. Viewers are introduced to his four children, one of them being adopted after being born from Grace’s avatar, as well as the late Colonel Quaritch’s (Stephen Lang) human son, Spider (Jack Champion).

This peaceful life, however, is disturbed quickly when the Sky People make their return to Pandora, home of the Na’Vi, all the dead from 15 years ago having been brought back as avatars. These events cause the epic events of the main plot, with the Sullys’ journey to find refuge with the Sea People and attempt to learn their ways.

The first observation any viewer can make about the movie is that it was long. The movie runs for over 3 hours, and most of the last 45 minutes of the movie were completely unnecessary, only added in to cause more drama even after the main conflict. It felt like the movie was trying to be long, instead of fitting into a natural length of time for the plot. 

Another problem with the movie is the lack of a unique message. That is to say, the plot didn’t bring up any new or thought provoking issues when it clearly tried to. The original Avatar had a clear message about the dangers of colonialism and how devastating it is to native populations. In contrast, the newest release was mainly montages of the sea region of Pandora and needless violence on the Sky People’s part. 

The motive of the Sky People for returning to Pandora was also unclear at first. From a surface level perspective, it only seemed like they made the trip back to kill Jake Sully because of his retaliation against them in the first movie – which honestly didn’t seem realistic. Sure, there were secondary motives of making more profit off of Pandora’s natural resources, but the main conflict explored was killing Jake Sully, a white man, thereby negating the entire point of the franchise in the first place: condemning colonialism. 

The one good point brought up from the conflict was how much the Sky People were willing to destroy in order to get what they wanted. In their hunt for Jake Sully, they decimate much of Pandora and end up using violence against both the Na’Vi and the native creatures, which is reminiscent of real life colonialism. The problem with the execution, however, was that a good portion of the movie seemed like clip after clip of violence with no real commentary on its evils. 

The lack of plot depth was partially redeemed by the quality of the visuals. During the early scenes of the movie, viewers are introduced to the beauties of the sea region of Pandora, including many striking underwater shots. The scenery of the movie was downright gorgeous, and, in my opinion, surpassed the first film in that aspect.

In bringing up the quality of this movie’s visuals, it’s impossible not to talk about the attention to detail. Every shot was carefully planned out and executed, and all a viewer could do is marvel at the breathtaking landscape, which made it all the more gut-wrenching when much of it was annihilated. 

For fans of the original Avatar, The Way of Water is a harrowing and dangerous continuation of the first movie. I would rate it a 6/10, as it did have some pitfalls when it came to plot and theme, so if you are looking for a movie with a deep message as opposed to entertaining visuals, this one might disappoint.