‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ lives up to the hype


In 2009, James Cameron’s groundbreaking blockbuster “Avatar” became the highest-grossing movie of all time, easily shooting up to number 1 on the all-time box office and forever changing the film industry. Now, 13 years later, the Avatar franchise has finally returned, with “Avatar: The Way of Water.” Much like its predecessor, “The Way of Water” is absolutely astounding in terms of its visual quality and special effects, and will change the future of CGI and cinematography in blockbusters. However, this Avatar sequel hugely improves on the first film in terms of story and characters, as it holds a far more interesting and emotional plot, while keeping the audience more invested in each storyline and character.

“The Way of Water”‘s plot is a family-oriented adventure in which Jake Sully (Sam Worthington,) Neytiri (Zoe Saldana,) and their children venture to find shelter from human attacks in the territory of the water-based clans of Na’vi. The Sully family must learn to adapt and find their places in their new home while the looming threat of General Quaritch’s team of Avatars lead another human invasion, attempting to get revenge on Jake and Neytiri for the events of the last film. “The Way of Water” is surprisingly tender and character-based in its story, preferring for most of the film to develop social dynamics and complex arcs for the Sully family and Quaritch himself instead of mindless action. However, the first and last acts of the film provide enough action to satisfy all viewers.

The cast and characters in this film are terrific. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana are great as Jake Sully and Neytiri, acting as strong, charismatic protagonists for this series in both films. Sigourney Weaver also returns, though as Jake’s compelling and kind adopted daughter, Kiri, not Grace, who played a pivotal role in the first Avatar. Kate Winslet and Cliff Curtis lead a strong cast of new characters, as they each play leaders of the Na’vi water clans. Jake and Neytiri’s youngest son Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) is a surprise standout in this film, as his story of acceptance and unlikely friendship with Pandora’s version of a whale are some of the most moving parts of the film. However, Stephen Lang’s unlikely return as General Quaritch is easily the most interesting character/performance in the film, as his vengeful crusade against the Sully family carries his subplot and makes the final act incredibly dramatic.

It may be an obvious conclusion for many, but it is worth mentioning how astounding this film’s visual quality and special effects truly are. I highly recommend seeing “The Way of Water” in IMAX 3D, or, at the very least, in theaters. Every scene is a visual marvel, and Cameron’s film may sport the best-looking CGI ever. The Na’vi move seamlessly and every background of Pandora’s colorful forests or coral reefs are beautiful.

While Avatar: “The Way of Water” shares its predecessor’s insane visual quality and aptitude for incredible action scenes and visual effects, it manages to also have an impressive and emotional storyline with multiple well-written, compelling characters.

Grade: A