Avatar: The Way of Water Review


Courtesy of 20th Century Studios

Cora Coleman, Writer

In 2009, Avatar came to theaters and became the most successful movie in cinema history by nearly breaking three billion dollars in box office sales. A little over a decade later, its sequel Avatar: The Way of Water, has come to grace us all with its presence and prestige. 

One positive thing I will say is that the movie stripped down to its basic components, offers a wholesome message about family. It is refreshing to see a big blockbuster movie that doesn’t have people dressed up in brightly colored costumes, making unfunny sarcastic remarks, and battling the obvious bad guy. Instead, we see a strong family unit the audience can somewhat identify with. Viewers can watch and relate to a father trying to protect his kids while teaching them to be independent and effectively handle adversity.  It helps that the siblings bicker and fight but love each other anyway. For once, it’s nice for a film to portray the idea of family and its importance in such a simple yet efficient way.

But what really ruins this movie is the amount of unnecessary and tedious scenes that feel like a chore to watch. The movie is three hours long, and yet it feels like you’re sitting in the theater for the whole day. This sequel could have had an hour and a half cut from it and lost nothing of value. What’s worse is that in the middle of the film it seems to forget its overarching plot and conflict and starts to resemble a Disney-Channel movie. A family moves to a new town, the kids are not fitting in among their peers, rivals, and crushes. Then finally, after the better part of an hour, the characters remember that there’s a hostile organization coming to kill Jake and his entire family. 

As my aunt and I left the theater, she said, “It’s pretty bad when you can walk out of a movie multiple times to use the bathroom and miss nothing.”  I couldn’t agree more.  

Another aspect I hated about this movie is the addition of Spider. Spider is a human boy living among the Na’vi who is doing his best to adapt to their way of life. He makes great efforts to make a place for himself within Jake’s family. And holy cow, the decisions this guy makes are stupid. Especially the questionable choice toward the very end, where I couldn’t help but shake my head in annoyance. Watching this poorly thought-out character is frustrating because it is all over the place. His beliefs can change on a dime, and you’re left to wonder whose side he is really on. 

Overall, it was okay. Not good or bad, just a dull in-between, like so many movies of the past year. The movie did break two billion dollars at the box office, but Captain Marvel managed to break a billion, so box-office revenues don’t always equal movie quality. I mean, when a cat from a Shrek installment can outperform a movie that had more than a decade to be captured and double the budget, it says quite a bit about the state of movies today. There are better movies to spend three hours of your life on.