By Tarini Dasari and Christina Monroe
Avatar: The Way of Water, the long-awaited sequel to its namesake and the highest grossing movie ever, hit theaters on December 16, 2022. It is a beautifully cinematic and emotional film of a whopping three and a half hours, though it never truly feels like it. The film centers on the family of the first movie’s protagonists, Jake Sully and Neytiri. The Sully clan consists of the couple’s three biological children, their adopted daughter, and Spider, a human whom Jake refers to as their “stray cat” (wait until you find out who his father is). If you didn’t find yourself particularly intrigued by the scientific, Jake-centered plot of the first Avatar movie, you may find yourself a big fan of this more family-centric sequel.
The film takes place around 15 years after the first, and the sworn enemies of the Na’vi (the indigenous population of the planet Pandora) have returned. Earth has become virtually uninhabitable, and the humans, or “sky people,” seek to make Pandora their new home. General Quaritch, the first movie’s primary villain, is also miraculously brought back from the dead as an Avatar and continues hunting Jake and his family. The danger which Quaritch poses eventually becomes too great, and Jake is forced to surrender his position as leader of the Omaticaya people and usher his family into hiding in order to protect them.
The Sullys venture into a new region of Pandora, the home of the Metkayina people, one of the water Na’vi clans. Friendships, romances, and conflicts rise between the Sullys and the leading family of the Metkayina as our protagonists assimilate and learn the way of water. However, the family’s challenges are far from over, as Quaritch is hot on their trail, and the “sky people” continue to wreak havoc on Pandora, killing native animals and destroying the homes of other water Na’vi. Eventually, Jake and the Metkayina have had enough, and they fight back in an action-packed third act featuring kidnappings, fight scenes, and emotional moments that may make you bawl your eyes out.
As noted by Ava Bub ’23, “The plot was thin, but the movie made up for it in its visual effects. It was absolutely stunning to watch.” The iconic bioluminescence of the first movie’s forest reappears in the sea, creating a feast for the eyes. Thus, due to its remarkable visuals and thrilling action, Avatar: The Way of Water is an unforgettable viewing experience.