“Avatar: The Way of Water” Review

By: Mashnoov Chowdhury ’24     

       Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Zoe Saldaña (Neytiri) and Stephen Lang (Miles Quaritch) return to the big screen thirteen years after the original “Avatar” to star in “Avatar: The Way of Water.”      

     James Cameron’s newest movie takes place in the vivid landscape of Pandora, as humans are forced to invade the home of the Na’vi to escape the dying Earth. In the process, Cameron cleverly explores the grievances of war, the importance of family bonds and the fragility of peace, through one of the most elaborate and vibrant worlds in cinematic history. 

     What sets “Avatar: The Way of Water” apart from many other movies is its unique atmosphere, as, with ultra-realistic 3D animation and clever cinematography, Cameron invites viewers to the stunningly depicted world of Pandora. This atmosphere was by far the pinnacle of the film’s success. The 192 minutes of the film are never a bore for viewers with its consistently beautiful world. The film introduces it through the very beginning scenes, introducing the Na’vi people and their world, alongside the luscious foliage and exotic animals that are teeming throughout. However, Cameron goes further than his first film, introducing the Metkayina clan, whose “way of water” leads to the introduction of an underwater world just as enthralling as the one above it. But against the backdrop of this beautiful world is the war between humans and the Na’vi, allowing Cameron to showcase his talent in choreographing action, a powerful tool from his previous experience directing “The Terminator” in 1984. The scenes of warfare, however, do not always glorify violence, but in fact, illustrate the emotional torment of the characters. 

     “I actually cut about 10 minutes of the movie targeting gunplay action. I wanted to get rid of some of the ugliness, to find a balance between light and dark,” said Cameron in an interview with “Esquire Middle East.”

     This decision to utilize violence for tragedy, rather than only action, is what makes the film not only visually exciting but dramatically powerful as well. All of this lets the film illustrate nuances far beyond the screen that viewers can relate to, whether it is the struggles of parenthood with Jake Sully or the fight to save the environment for all of Pandora, most viewers will find something to become emotionally invested in within its three-hour timespan. 

“Long movies are good because they have more complexity than a shorter movie,” said Dakshesh Amaram ’24. 

     The success of “Avatar: The Way of Water” has led to an incredible number of accolades for the film, including two Golden Globes, two Annie Awards and four Oscar nominations, including ones for Best Picture and Best Visual Effects. 

In the end, regardless of the visual masterpiece Cameron has created, moviegoers will discover a world full of alien, yet relatable characters, that personify the difficulties of an ever-changing world. A powerful lesson that arrived when the people needed it the most.