Conners Critique’s: “Avatar: Way of the Water” isn’t really worth the wait


Conner McBride, Staff Writer

Three hours is a long time. In three hours you could drive to Chicago, assemble that armchair you bought from IKEA, cook a good portion of Thanksgiving dinner or watch the newest movie in the Avatar Series: “Avatar: Way of the Water.”

“Avatar: Way of the Water” released on Dec. 16, 2022, cost Disney “around $350 million dollars” and has made a whopping 2 billion dollars in the box office since its release. 

The movie refocuses on the tale of the first movie: protagonist Jake Sully with his family, as humans attempt to colonize Pandora, the planet that the Na’vi live on, as a way to continue the human race.

The movie was highly anticipated by critics and publications such as The Wrap, CNBC, and Variety Magazine. Despite how intriguing the summary to this movie sounds, it’s nothing more than a remake of the original “Avatar” with better production. 

The plot for the movie is just a remake of the original movie with a different backdrop and a few new characters introduced. The real meat of the movie is in the worldbuilding. 

In the last film, Jake Sully is dropped into a forested area of Pandora. Now he and his family explore a coastal world full of different creatures and a group of Na’vi who have evolved to be more sea-adapted as opposed to the Na’vi that live in the forests and jungles of Pandora.

The character design for the reef Na’vi is very cool. As opposed to their land-dwelling look-alikes and their cat-like tails, the Metkayina clans tails are more flipper-like, giving them good mobility under the water and webbed hands and feet that allow them to further propel themselves through the ocean. They are also a lighter shade of blue, whereas the forest Na’vi were closer to the color of the sky. The reef Na’vi are the same bright sea-foam green as the ocean allowing them to blend in with their surroundings.

The soundtrack for the movie is also phenomenal, following along with the movie seamlessly. This makes the world of Pandora that much more immersive, dipping and swelling with the action of the movie. The music consists mainly of string and woodwind instruments and the piano with the occasional vocals in the background. Generally speaking, it’s a very soothing soundtrack and could easily be placed into a relaxing playlist. 

Considering the advanced production of the movie, it took a long time to make. The time between the release of the first “Avatar” movie (2009) and the beginning of production of the second movie was 12 years. The director of the movie, James Cameron said this was due to the lack of available technology that would allow him to truly capture his vision. 

On top of that, the majority of filming for the movie took place underwater, and due to scuba equipment being too bulky to be disguised by greenscreen, actors had to learn how to hold their breath underwater for long periods of time in order to film scenes. 

As opposed to watching the movie itself, a documentary solely focused on the new underwater ecosystem introduced in the sequel would have been just as good, if not better. Multiple new creatures are introduced such as the Tulkun, giant whale-like creatures that have soul-bonds with the ocean tribes, the Ilu, which are the sea equivalent of the Direhorses introduced within the first film, and the Tsurak, which are the sea equivalent of the banshees that are commonly used within the forest tribes.

Overall, the movie only introduces a new subspecies of Na’vi and new creatures. The soundtrack is good and the CGI is cool, but since it’s just a remake of the original movie with new characters it wasn’t really worth the 12-year wait.