“Avatar: The Way Of Water:” Worth The Hype?


Image Courtesy Of 20th Century Studios

Annie Flamm, Staff Writer

The Avatar sequel is finally out, but is it really worth your time?

The decade-long wait is finally over! The highly anticipated sequel to the 2009 smash hit “Avatar” has finally been released in theaters nationwide.  Fans were promised a stunning film, and full immersion into the world of Pandora. Wanting to experience this world, I bought tickets and watched it in the theater under the guidance of director James Cameron. 

So does it live up to the hype? In short, no. Watching this movie is nowhere near an immersive experience. Rather, it’s three hours of mediocrity rife with filler, plot holes, and the word “bro”. The movie begins with the reveal that the protagonist of the previous film, a former human soldier named Jake Sully has fully assimilated into the forest Na’vi tribe, becoming their chief. Sully explains that ‘science people’ have stayed behind on Pandora, and he and his wife, Navi tribe queen Neyitri have a couple of kids now (Neyetam, Lo’ak, Tuktirey). Do you remember Grace from the first installment? Well, her Avatar has a daughter now (even though she died in the first movie) named Kiri, who the Sullys have taken in as their own. 

The main antagonist Quartrich’s son “Spider” is living with the Sullys as well. Why? We don’t know, he’s just living with them, even the Sullys don’t know why! The plot begins when once again the cartoonishly evil “Sky People” return to Pandora to finish what they started. Quartich is back as a Na’vi and he wants revenge on Jake for thwarting his evil plans. After an encounter with new avatar resulting in the capture of Spider, and because “Sullys stick together” the Sullys move to assimilate with a nearby Sea tribe that is a slightly lighter shade of blue to avoid capture (why does Jake love leaving his people behind and assimilating with foreign tribes so much?). 

This whole segment here took an agonizing hour to get through. Even the most diehard avatar fans have to admit that the bulk of this movie is just filler used to show off the technology Cameron got access to. The main draw towards this movie was the visuals, and it’s definitely clear. Most shots are these wide pans showing off the vast pandora landscapes, which I have to admit were absolutely stunning and very impressive.

There are also these weird one-off shots where adopted daughter Kiri is just sort of wandering around. She’s interacting with the surroundings she’s in while everyone’s wondering “where’s Kiri?” I didn’t see the point of these shots but they could have meant that she’s introverted and appreciates wildlife as her mom did. Such a heavy emphasis on visuals meant that certain characters were not developed well. The oldest and youngest sully’s (Neyetam, Tukitrey) are not too fleshed out, they are only there to drive the story forward and take a backseat to the more “mysterious” Lo’ak and Kiri. Sure Sully’s stick together, but they sure don’t have equally developed character arcs. 

Although the film was largely disappointing, there were some positive elements of the film. The introduction of the highly intelligent whale-like tulkun species was a fun plot driver. I liked how each whale had a different personality and a unique bond with each member of the sea tribe. The humans try to poach these whales for the coveted age-stalling unobtainium, and an attempted poaching results in the Avatar trademark “epic battle” at the end of the film. The battle had tons of suspense and was full of nonstop action which was very entertaining and had everyone in the theater on the edge of their seats. 

In conclusion, this movie has its downsides, but it is entertaining. Even though you probably shouldn’t watch this movie, it’s fun to see the Sullys interacting and adapting to their new world, and clashing with the humans once again. Despite its mediocrity, the film has earned a whopping 2 billion dollars at the box office, making it the 5th highest-grossing movie of all time. You know what that means, Avatar 3! It’s expected to hit theaters in 2024, and I believe that it’s going to follow the mediocre adventures of the Sully family just as okay as the second film. But who knows, Cameron could surprise us! All in all, Avatar: The Way Of Water gets a 5.5/10.