Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

2022 PG-13 192 Minutes

Action | Adventure | Science Fiction

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, learn the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other...

Overall Rating

8 / 10
Verdict: Good

User Review

  • WHAT I LIKED: The way James Cameron is talking about the state of cinema, you'd think that his long-awaited sequel to 'Avatar,' might be the next Citizen Kane. But, judging by the first film's well-intended but bloated and heavy-handed tale of colonisation, you'd be wrong to expect such a feat.
    Instead, what you unsurprisingly get with 'The Way of Water,' is another sprawling tale of a mighty army attempting to take over an indigenous world. It's not the masterpiece of the century then, but it is a largely better film compared to the original, and that's largely thanks to the character dynamics at its centre.

    In the first film, most of the ridiculous runtime was spent with the increasingly rebellious Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) reacting to various local wonders as he explored the planet of Pandora through his Avatar's eyes. Having inevitably led the locals to kick his colonising forces out, years later he's now settled to raise a young family, and that makes for a far more engaging set of character stakes. The arc they're forced to deal with is whether to run from the returning army to protect each other, or join their fellow tribes in fighting back against the inevitable destruction of their world.

    That's a refugee story at its heart, and it's a compelling one when so much time is spent exploring the family integrating with a new water tribe after fleeing their home. The kids struggle to fit in and are picked on by the locals for being different and struggling to swim underwater, and one in particular finds solace with an outcast whale who eventually becomes integral to the invader's hunt for Jake and the inevitable final battle with his newfound tribe. That's an often moving storyline and set of arcs, and it's made all the more engaging by Cameron utilising his ability to build atmospheric tension and awe within scenes.

    WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: At three hours long, it is, once again, extremely bloated, and its long establishing shots and narrative tangents will leave you tired at times. That's not helped either by the often clunky dialogue and narrated exposition which unnecessarily explains away things that we're seeing perfectly well for ourselves.

    VERDICT: Though it's still overlong and heavy-handed, the character dynamics and conflicts at the heart of James Cameron's 'Avatar: The Way of Water,' make it a far more engaging film than the first.