“Avatar the Way Of Water” Beautiful…but Confusing


“Avatar the Way of Water”’ official movie poster obtained from IMDb

“Avatar the Way of Water” was a highly anticipated and seemingly groundbreaking sequel to “Avatar.” Written and produced by James Cameron, the “Avatar” movies are known for their stunning visuals, innovative technology and critical interpretation on humanity’s destructive tendencies. “The Way of Water” was no different. It shattered the box office making 2.3 billion dollars, almost as much as the original, and won four Oscars, one of which was for Best Visual Effects- an unsurprising accomplishment as new technology that allowed for underwater visual and motion capturing was developed specifically for the film. The movie picks up after the end of the first one, following the main character Jake Sully, a former human turned Na’vi, and his family running from humans who aim to exploit the Na’vi’s planet, Pandora. The “Avatar” franchise itself is massive with an extraordinary fanbase, meaning the new film’s release was highly anticipated and super hyped up upon release. This of course begs the question “Is “The Way of Water” really worth the hype?” 


My answer to this, in short, is no. Well, at least not plot wise. The first negative worth noting is the storyline of the movie itself is almost identical to the first one, even going as far as bringing back the first movie’s main antagonist. If you’ve seen the first “Avatar” movie you know it follows Jake Sully, played by Sam Worthington, a paralyzed ex-military man who after being sent to spy on the Na’vi in the body of a Na’vi (his avatar), finds himself becoming one of them. He then turns on the humans and eventually becomes part of the Na’vi people. In “the Way of Water” the humans come back to further exploit the wondrous planet for its natural resources causing Jake and his family to find refuge among a different Na’vi race, the water Na’vi (the Metkayina) and have to learn their ways- the Way of Water. This follows a very similar plot to the first movie and while some might argue that it stays true to the franchise, it was a little too repetitive, and should in the future find more interesting ways to bring the story forward, rather than taking the first movie’s storyline and tweaking it. Additionally, the movie had strange character development.  


Throughout the film, we are introduced to many characters who seem like they will be important only for them to be immediately forgotten about 15 minutes later. One example of this would be General Frances Ardmore. She appears when we are first introduced to the humans in this movie, giving a speech to Colonel Quaritch, the main antagonist from the first movie, about his previous life, how things would be different, what their plan is, ect… and after that show of authority we never see her again. One second she’s giving people orders and leading the charge, the next she disappears. Another character whose path is quite strange is Spider, the son of the Colonel. At the beginning of the movie he is seen with Jake Sully’s family and it seems as though he is part of their family, despite being human. Everything seems to be going well until he is taken by the “Sky people,” the human. Then, he too just disappears. A few scenes later Kiri, Sully’s adopted daughter, seems…sad. Initially we assume it is because Spider, her best friend, was taken by the “Sky people” but later we find out it’s because she has some strange abilities, which threw me off even more. So, while “The Way of Water’s” characters develop in a generally sloppy and somewhat bizarre way, there are a few positives. For example, unlike the first movie, “the Way of Water” doesn’t make the antagonists evil and while they are still the bad guys they shed more light on the humane parts of them, the parts that are often overlooked when writing “the bad guys.”


I do have to give James Cameron some credit. The visuals of the movie were amazing. From a world building perspective the movie did not disappoint. The music perfectly set the mood for what was taking place during the scenes and the overall aesthetics of the movie were very appropriate. So while I may be critical of the writing I couldn’t help but gaze wondrously at the beautiful world that had been before me. Not to mention the amazing and innovative technology they used which pushed the limits of creativity and raised the bar for the rest of the movies, and film industry as a whole. For example, Disney’s new adaption of the “Little Mermaid,” coming out May 26th, is incomparable in terms of underwater visual production. The message of the “the Way of Water” is extremely heartwarming and relevant, meant to be a critique of human driven environmental degradation. The spiritual aura created by the film leaves one reeling afterwards- contemplating the beauty of our world, that mimics the wonder of Pandora, and how vital it is we protect it. 


Overall, the movie was visually and aesthetically pleasing and while it may be easier to focus on the negative I must admit, it was an entertaining and enjoyable watch. I do believe that the beautiful world, relatable characters, and heartwarming message make up for the confusing plot and character development. “The Way of Water” is a solid 3 stars movie. I would recommend this movie for teenagers and adults of all ages. It is a bit mature for younger children but still an enjoyable watch. Though I do hope that in future movies Cameron explores new storylines rather than referring to the same tropes in the next movies to come. All this said, this movie is great and I am excited to see what the future for “Avatar” holds.