Photo from Avatar: The Way of Water
Avatar: The Way of Water is certainly a feast for the eyes, but the lackluster story makes this three-hour endeavour a chore. Image: Twentieth Century Fox/Pictorial Press/Alamy
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A visual spectacle with a forgettable story

If there’s one word I’d use to describe Avatar: The Way of Water (2022), it’s blue. This movie utilizes the full spectrum of blues, both in character design, setting, and story.

The long-awaited sequel to the box-office-breaking first Avatar (2012), Avatar: The Way of Water is a true testament to what CGI can do. But it might not be all it’s cracked up to be.

The 2022 sequel follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), and their five children, two of whom they adopted, including the child of the late Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang). 

They’re still rebelling against the Resources Development Administration (RDA) on Pandora, until a clone of the Colonel is sent on a mission to quash these rebellions by capturing two of their children. Forced to run away, Jake and Neytiri seek refuge for the remaining kids at the Metkayina reef. They are granted asylum, but it’s not long before the fight finds them, forcing them back into the fray one more time.

To say the visuals are amazing is an understatement. Unlike the first Avatar, the CGI movement isn’t nauseating to watch, meaning there’s more enjoyment in watching the Na’vi and the newly introduced Metkayina. The colours are vibrant, but not overpowering, still making it an aesthetically pleasant watch. The film feels fluid and less clunky, leading to a more comfortable experience.

The plot is unfortunately where the movie falls flat. Filled with overt themes of anti-whaling and anti-forestry, The Way of Water does not understand nuance. Director James Cameron lacks trust in his audience to understand his shallow messages, resulting in an (almost) eye-roll-inducing amount of pro-environmental themes. While the message is well-meaning and definitely deserves to be highlighted, across three hours, it becomes a bit much. 

The second act of the film also slows to an unbearable halt, making the viewer blue, which is thankfully saved by a bombastic third act full of action. The underlying messaging of the struggles of people displaced by conflict adds nuance to Jake Sully’s heavily criticized character, moving him a bit further away from the white saviour narrative that was so prevalent in the original.

If you were a fan of the original Avatar and are looking for a good weekend movie, The Way of Water is a decent way to spend an afternoon or evening. But try and see it while it’s still in theatres to fully experience this visual treat.

Rating: 3.5/5 stars

Rating: 3.5/5 stars