‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ sought out to live up to its predecessor’s success, but was it as epic?


This James Cameron sequel begins by reintroducing Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) and introducing their children: Neteyam (James Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) and Tuk (Trinity Bliss). Jake and Neytiri also adopted Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), daughter of late Dr.Grace Augustine—who is also played by Weaver—and a human boy named Spider (Jack Champion), who is the son of Colonel Miles Quatritch (Stephen Lang). Jake and Neytiri killed Quatritch in their process of banishing the “sky people” from Pandora during the first film. But years later, Quatritch’s memories and personality are implanted into his avatar’s body, meaning he has the same strength, size and understanding of the native language that an indigenous Na’vi would have. Quatritch sets out immediately to take revenge on Jake and will do anything to accomplish this.

After several close encounters with Quatritch and his crew of marines/avatars, Jake convinces Neytiri to leave the Na’vi tribe and seek refuge with the reef people. Tonowari (Cliff Curtis), Ronal (Kate Winslet) and Tsireya (Bailey Bass) cautiously accept the Sully family into their tribe, but their son, Aonung (Filip Geljo), does not as easily get along with the Sully children. From here, each family member takes their own strides to acclimate and learn the culture of the Metkayina people. Lo’ak—mischievous and troublemaking—makes friends with an outcast cetacean, a species the Metkayina consider to be their spiritual siblings. Kiri makes deep spiritual connections with the sea and its creatures, while Tuk and Neteyam try their best to keep their siblings safe and out of trouble. The Sully children bond with the children of Tonowari and Ronal, and Lo’ak even connects somewhat romantically with Tsireya. 

Quatritch, with Spider, joins a vessel of cetacean hunters, who devastatingly kill the spiritual creatures for their brain enzymes that can prevent aging. After several horrifying scenes that illustrate Quatritch and the hunters’ brutality and disregard of the value of life, the Sully children—along with Tsireya and Aonung—are within grasp of Quatritch, and their parents embark to rescue them. What conspires is a lengthy struggle between the two sides that closes out the sequel, but leaves open ends for a third movie.

The setting of this film was beautiful, just like the first movie. Truly, the landscape is awe-inspiring and fantastic to look at, along with the sea creatures that were created to inhabit this side of Pandora. Because I saw the movie in 3D, the clarity was compromised, but even so, the colors and movement of wildlife, plantlife and especially the water were as up to par with the first Avatar movie.

If I had one bone to pick with this film, it was the choice to voice Kiri by Weaver. As most of us know, Weaver is far from 14, and her voice fits that of an older woman, not a young girl. The voicing threw me off and did not fit Kiri as a youthful, adventurous girl. Because this movie is so long, I think it is necessary for me to rewatch it in order to catch smaller details and to evaluate if it is indeed as epic as its predecessor. However, at this moment in time, I would have to say that it is not, despite it still being an artful and overall good film.