Avatar: The Way of Water
Based on 19 reviews
Based on 38 reviews
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Avatar: The Way of Water
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A Lot or a Little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Avatar: The Way of Water is the long-awaited sequel to James Cameron's epic 2009 mega-hit Avatar. The sequel returns to Pandora 15 years after Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) rallied the indigenous Na'vi clans against the corrupt "Sky People" (colonizing humans trying to mine and extract Pandora's resources). Jake and his mate, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), now have four children and decide to save their forest clan by seeking refuge for their family among the island dwelling Metkayina clan. Filmed mostly underwater, the three-hour-plus film is visually striking. And, like the first movie, it has sci-fi action violence, with weapons, hand-to-hand combat, and the hunting of a sacred whale-like creature. The story also features adolescent flirting, hand-holding, and crushes, as well as marital affection. Occasional strong language includes many uses of "s--t," "bitch," and "ass," as well as one "f--k." Like the first movie, this one has a strong anti-imperialist message, plus environmental and multicultural themes that stress the importance of tolerance, acceptance, and honest communication.
More kid friendly than the 1st
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Extraordinary and accomplished film.
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What's the Story?
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is set approximately 15 years after the events of the original Avatar. In the forests of Pandora, Jake (Sam Worthington) and his mate, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), are now parents to two teen sons, Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) and Lo'ak (Britain Dalton), as well as a young girl named Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss), and Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), the teen daughter they adopted after she was born under mysterious circumstances. Jake has helped the Na'vi fight against the Sky People (humans trying to mine and extract Pandora's resources), but the onslaught of the humans' military operations ramps up when they launch a new mission: sending a select group of avatars with the uploaded consciousness and memories of the long-dead Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) and his loyal soldiers. Quaritch and his Na'vi-fied squad terrorize Jake and Neytiri's Omaticaya clan until Jake convinces Neytiri that their immediate family should leave and seek refuge with the far-off island dwelling Metkayina clan, who are a different shade of blue and boast fin-like tails and flipper-like hands. Their leader, Tonowari (Cliff Curtis), and his spiritual leader mate, Ronal (Kate Winslet), tentatively grant Jake and Neytiri's family sanctuary, but eventually Quaritch tracks them down and brings the war of the Sky People to the water clans.
Is It Any Good?
James Cameron's crowd-pleasing sequel is a spectacular technical achievement that, while overlong, manages to dazzle the senses enough to prove that the director is still a visionary. Avatar: The Way of Water isn't a movie you see for its layered, complicated plot. The storyline is simple, and the dialogue is mostly expository or cliché, particularly when Quaritch talks. But it doesn't quite matter, because Cameron puts the movie's $350 million budget to remarkable use in all of the underwater sequences, the incredible creature effects, and the overall immersive return to Pandora. It's worth seeing on the biggest screen possible, in 3D if you can. Yes, the three-hour-plus runtime is long, but it's easy to get lost in the movie's memorable world-building. The motion-capture performances are fascinating to behold, and Winslet and Curtis are welcome additions to the cast. Of the young actors, Dalton stands out as Neytiri and Jake's troublemaking younger son, Lo'ak, who befriends an outcast tulkun (the sacred alien whales). Also worth noting is Jack Champion as Spider, the human boy raised among the Na'vi but whose mask marks him as different. His bond with Kiri, who's also a little bit different, seems headed toward romance, but it's too early to tell (not to mention complicated).
Lang's Quaritch is only slightly less unhinged in this installment than he was in the first film. But he's far from the only antagonist. The Na'vi face seemingly insurmountable odds as the humans' tech gets better and deadlier. The action sequences come mostly in the third act, but there are moments of pulse-pounding peril throughout that will make audiences clutch their seats (or their partners). There's even an extended ship-sinking sequence that's reminiscent of Titanic, right down to how people grip the railing and hold their breath as areas flood. While there's no Pandoran quartet playing classical music, composer Simon Franglen uses the late James Horner's original themes to create an evocative score as the Na'vi fight for their lives. With Avatar: The Way of Water, Cameron and cinematographer Russell Carpenter have created something monumental in scope, so much so that the movie's flaws don't prevent it from being stunning.
Talk to Your Kids About ...
Families can talk about the visual and special effects in Avatar: The Way of Water. How do they compare to those in the first movie? How has technology changed since that one was released?
What themes does James Cameron consistently work into his films? Compare aspects of Avatar to the Terminator movies and Titanic. What similarities can you find?
Discuss the difference between how humans dealt with the Na'vi in the first movie and in this sequel.
How do the different tribes from Pandora interact, work together, and use teamwork to achieve their goals? Why is that an important character strength?
The language and culture of the Maori people indigenous to New Zealand provided director James Cameron with inspiration for the sea-based Metkayina people. What are respectful ways to acknowledge other cultures?
- In theaters: December 16, 2022
- Cast: Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Kate Winslet, Sigourney Weaver
- Director: James Cameron
- Studio: Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures
- Genre: Science Fiction
- Topics: Adventures, Ocean Creatures, Space and Aliens
- Character Strengths: Courage, Perseverance, Teamwork
- Run time: 192 minutes
- MPAA rating: PG-13
- MPAA explanation: sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity and some strong language
- Award: Common Sense Selection
- Last updated: December 15, 2022
Our Editors Recommend
Action-heavy epic has dazzling effects, familiar story.
Lots of fighting in vivid but long sci-fi adaptation.
Star Wars: Episode VII: The Force Awakens
Epic Star Wars sequel delivers great performances, action.
Great, deeply thoughtful, compassionate sci-fi tale.
Thought-provoking sci-fi adventure with military violence.
Great movie, but too intense, racy for younger kids.
For kids who love sci-fi
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