By Paige Jackson ’24
After a 13-year hiatus, the sequel to Avatar has finally been released. The director and producer, James Cameron, announced after the release of the first film in 2009 that he intended to make two sequels, with the first coming out in 2014. The Way of Water, however, came out this past December. As you can see, they were a bit off schedule. It is now questionable when the third film will be released, but it is suspected that they have already begun filming. Filming for The Way of Water concluded in 2020 after starting in 2017. The film then went to editing and post production for two years before its theatrical release in London on December 6th, 2022. So far, the film has grossed $1.903 billion, making it the highest grossing film of 2022 and one of the highest grossing films of all time.
Critic reviews have been moderate, with the movie scoring 77% on Rotten Tomatoes, but the non-critic audiences rated it at 92%. Personally, I think The Way of Water doesn’t compare to the original. I remember repeatedly watching Avatar throughout my childhood, completely in love with Pandora’s magic. I wanted to be one of the Na’vi and live in the forest, fighting off ‘sky people.’ Tragically, however, I feel some of that magic was lost in The Way of Water. It felt more like an overly action packed movie that was just milking the original for money. And while I understand that the entire plot of the movie was ‘family comes first,’ it was heartbreaking to me that they had to leave the forest behind.
A different kind of magic was found in the water tribes, but it was lost with the overdone and extensive battle scenes. With a run time of over three hours and extreme repetitiveness, the fight sequences could have been significantly shortened. Instead, more time could have been spent on character development and relationships. However, I have no criticism when it comes to the beautifully built family relationship of the Sully’s. The bond between their family felt genuine and authentic, even though we were rapidly introduced to their four children.
While I wouldn’t say this film was a waste of money or that the years in production were misused, there are several things I would change as a fan. It is definitely worth seeing, in or out of theaters. However, in order to get the full cinematic experience, make sure to stock up on snacks. Maybe avoid the drinks, though, because this movie is long and you won’t want to miss a second of it, unless there’s a battle scene, as these are a perfect opportunity for bathroom breaks. You will rarely miss any character development, nor will you have to worry about missing much dialogue, and I can assure you there will be plenty more scenes just like it. So go see Avatar: The Way of Water if you’re curious, but don’t expect to love it as much as the original.