Avatar: The Way of Water makes its long awaited debut

Tyson Head, Writer

Avatar: The Way of Water released December 16, as a direct sequel to the original 2009 film, Avatar.

It took no less than 14 years for a second film in the Avatar Quintology to arrive, but was it worth the wait? The film begins exactly where the original left off, with our hero, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), adjusting to life among the local people of Pandora. He has three kids: Netayum (Jamie Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and Tuktirey (Trinity Bliss) with his wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana). They’ve also adopted Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), a child who’s conception is a mystery. There is another member of this family, though. Spider (Jack Champion) is a human child left behind after the exile of humans from Pandora, as babies cannot be cryofrozen to travel back to earth. He is referred to as a cousin by the other members of the family, as he was always around.

While the humans in the original film had the motivation of searching for a new viable planet, those in this film are motivated to return to Pandora in order to fulfill a vendetta against Sully, a turncoat who abandoned his mission. This sparks the return of Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), who was killed at the climax of the previous film by way of an arrow to the chest. He is back in action, as a result of his consciousness being transferred into an Avatar body. He, along with a squad of similar soldiers, return to Pandora with a vengeance. “Bringing the Colonel back was the movie’s worst mistake,” shared Cole Lombard. He added, “Now death has no meaning, as any character could pretty much be brought back.” Fearing for the safety of his tribe and his family, Sully relinquishes his role as Chief and retreats to hiding with his family. Before he can do this, the squad of Avatar soldiers attacks and takes Spider captive. This leads to the realization that Spider is none other than the son of the Colonel. 

Arriving at a village of the Water People, the Sully family is taken in on uneasy circumstances. They are not only alienated because of their obvious differences, being jungle people, but are also outed as being halfbreeds as a result of all of them having five digits except for Neytiri. Despite the many differences of the water and jungle people, the family is eventually taken in as part of the tribe. According to Eduardo Memije-Ramirez, “The movie is just kind of boring. There are long sequences without any talking like they’re just showing off how it looks.” The colonel, with the reluctant help of Spider, discovers Sully is among the Water tribes. Launching a genocidal attack against the creatures of the ocean, who are viewed as family members by the Water People, the colonel wastes no time drawing out the Sully Clan, kidnapping all of his children and holding them hostage.

In the film’s climax, the eldest son of Jake and Neytiri is shot in the chest, to which he succumbs to his wounds surrounded by family, an event which his younger brother Lo’ak blames himself for. The film ends with a harrowing battle between Sully and the colonel, with both men drowning. Spider looks at his father’s body, feeling guilty as he watches the remaining oxygen flee his lungs. Spider reluctantly drags his father to safety, but then abandons him. Colonel Quaritch survives, making this film’s only meaningful development the death of Sully’s son.

This film is up right up there with Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides as the most expensive film of all time, with both movies boasting a budget of $350-$400 Million. At the end of this film, you’d be forgiven for thinking you may have just watched the same 2009 movie again. The plot is almost exactly identical, with Sully trying to protect Na’vi as the colonel wages a barbaric war against him. While the 2009 film had the novelty of featuring groundbreaking realistic visual effects, the second film is not quite as impressive. These effects are now commonplace, which makes the 14-year wait all the more fruitless.