‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ pairs incredible visuals with a strong family message  

5 out of 5 stars

Inviting audiences to return to the magical and colorful world of Pandora, “Avatar: The Way of Water” delights viewers with incredible visual effects while maintaining a strong message of the bond holding a family together. 

13 years after James Cameron directed the first “Avatar” movie, “Avatar: The Way of Water” is performing strongly at the box office with over $1.5 billion in box office sales, according to CNBC. Forbes predicts that the film will break $2 billion at the box office and become one of the highest grossing films of all time. 

“The Way of Water” opens with an older Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and his family: Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), Tuktirey (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss) and their family friend, Miles “Spider” Socorro (Jack Champion). 

It has been many years since the humans, or “sky people,” left Pandora, but now they return for resources and refuge from a dying Earth. It is up to Jake and his family to protect Pandora and each other from these mining operations. 

On the mission to quell Na’vi insurrection targeting mining operations is Colonel Miles Quartich (Stephen Lang), once again portraying the militaristic and malevolent villain. Throughout the movie, Lang does an incredible job portraying Quaritch, who is in an Avatar body with the rest of his squadron for this movie, as opposed to the first. 

The tension between Jake and Quartich drives the main conflict of the film. The fierce Colonel forces Jake to take his family away from the Omaticaya Clan and go into safe hiding. In doing so, they find refuge with the members of the ocean dwelling Metkayina Clan, where Jake comes to terms that he must face his enemy in order to protect his family. 

Photo from vulture.com.

Though it references many of the characters from the previous film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” does not let its predecessor overshadow the plot. Characters and references to the first movie are present, but the sequel allows breathing room for new characters, such as Jake and Neytiri’s children, to shine through. Each of the Sully children gets ample screen time without their character being either overused or neglected. 

Throughout the course of the movie, the plot intentionally leaves key characters alive and mysteries unsolved, which points to the plot of the upcoming third movie in the “Avatar” series. While many of these moves might be excused, some raise questions about whether the characters only survive for the sake of the franchise’s future. 

“Avatar: The Way of Water” leaves audiences wanting more, and there is more to come. According to IMDb, production on Avatar 3 has already begun with an expected release date of 2024. Though the plot is still unknown, audiences can expect to see many of the now-familiar characters return. 

With a cost of over $2 billion to produce, this masterpiece is best viewed on the big screen. “Avatar: The Way of Water” is a truly captivating film, filled with over three hours of brilliant visuals and with a strong family message that hits home.