Honest Avatar: The Way of Water Review (from a Non-Pandora Fan)

by Sami

This post may contain affiliate links, which means we may receive a small commission when you make a purchase at NO additional cost to you. Thank you for supporting our site in this way!

I spent over 3 hours watching the latest Avatar movie. As a non-Pandora fan, I’m here to give you my honest Avatar review. That way you can decide if it’s worth your time and money.

Honest Review of Avatar: The Way of Water

Let’s cut to the chase: I’m not a fan of the first Avatar film. To be fair, I don’t remember much about it. I just remember not being able to get into it and not understanding the appeal.

That part didn’t change in watching the newest iteration of the movie.

So you may be thinking, “Sami, why bother watching the new Avatar?” One reason is because of my work. But I also am one of the few people in my family and friend groups that didn’t like the original, so I thought I might be swayed in present day. I was not.

Was it a spectacle? Definitely.

Is it a cinematographic masterpiece? For sure.

Did I still have trouble bridging the gap between reality and the world they tried to transport me into? 100%.

More Like a Video Game Than a Movie

Throughout most of the film, I couldn’t help but feel like I was watching a video game take place instead of a film unfold before my eyes. Imagine my surprise when I walked out at the end and heard another critic saying exactly the same thing!

I know you might then draw the conclusion that I’m not a fan of science fiction, fantasy or escapism. While it’s not my favorite genre, I do love other fastastical films like the Star Wars franchise.

But for whatever reason, I just never believed what I was watching. Fewer humans appeared alongside the Na’vi in “Way of Water”, making it seem more animated than real. And the battle scenes were also SO over the top that it played further into the video game bucket.

Watch and listen to my thoughts immediately after seeing an advance screening of Avatar The Way of Water as a member of the Music City Film Critics Association:

So What’s the Appeal?

I never want to be completely one-sided, so I went back to someone who loves this franchise more than anyone else I know: my mom.

First, I asked my mom to recap the first film for me. Basically, humans destroyed their own planet and were trying to destroy the native creatures on another planet without learning the lessons from their own destruction.

She admired the creation of a different world where there’s so much detail and so much emphasis on the natural order of things. She also spoke of how living in harmony with your surroundings and treasuring the the diversity of people and coexistence with nature is just phenomenal.

Who to Cheer For?

As the daughter of a former member of the US military, I also found it difficult to know who to cheer for in the film.

At the very beginning, the “enemy” seems to be a group of former Marines. The leader then proceeds to announce:

“For our sins in our past life, we’ve been brought back in the form of our enemy…Marines can’t be defeated. You can kill us, but we’ll regroup in hell. Semper Fi.”

I realize that just because someone is a member of the military doesn’t automatically qualify them as a “hero” in a movie, but on some level it saddened me that a group of our nation’s finest were painted in this light, even in allegory.

Is the New Avatar Movie for Kids?

Avatar: The Way of Water is rated PG-13 for partial nudity, intense action, sequences of strong violence, and some strong language (I believe there was a F-bomb and you definitely heard the S-word quite a bit).

Parents also need to be aware that there is nudity. Keep in mind, these characters are fictional characters. However, the main part of their bodies greatly resemble the human form. The Na’vi women are typically topless, sometimes with neckpieces strategically placed and other times with their nipples showing. I say this not because I was shocked, but simply to inform parents considering bringing younger children.

One parent said it was a non-issue for their 9-year-old daughter because she simply saw the Na’vi as chacaters. As with any movie, it’s up to each parent to make appropriate decisions for their own children.

Film Synopsis

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” begins to tell the story of the Sully
family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the
battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.

I would recommend watching the first Avatar before seeing this one. While the new film provides a brief synopsis at the beginning, it in no way explains some key elements that would have been helpful for me to gain deeper understanding of the overall context.

There also exists an ironic parallel between “Avatar: The Way of Water” and “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever”. Both explore a new water world with blue-skinned inhabitants. I don’t see how either film could have copied the other, but at one point sitting in the theater, I couldn’t help but think that this was “Wakanda Forever” meets “Titanic” (also directed by James Cameron).

Is Avatar 3 Coming???

One of my complaints of Avatar: The Way of Water is that so many storylines seemed left unfinished. I figured if it took 13 years to get a second Avatar film, what are the chances that we’ll see a third Avatar movie in this decade?

But as I was looking up the history of one of the actor’s, it linked him to both the current film and Avatar 3, with a release date of 2024.

I have no grounds on which to state this, but I would imagine Avatar 3 would further explore and develop the stories of the children and young adults of the Sully family.

Avatar: The Way of Water Cast

Avatar: The Way of Water Cast at the London UK Premiere
The cast of Avatar: The Way of Water at the UK premiere.

The film stars:

  • Sam Worthington – Jake Sully
  • Zoe Saldaña – Neytiri
  • Sigourney Weaver – Kiri
  • Stephen Lang – Colonel Quaritch
  • Kate Winslet – Tonal (the Water Queen)

The production team includes:

  • Directed by James Cameron and produced by Cameron and Jon Landau.
  • Screenplay by James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver.
  • Story by James Cameron & Rick Jaffa & Amanda Silver & Josh Friedman & Shane Salerno.
  • David Valdes and Richard Baneham serve as the film’s executive producers.

The film is a product of 20th Century Studios along with Walt Disney Studios.

How Can I Experience Avatar for Myself?

Avatar: The Way of Water premiered in the US on December 12, 2022. It opens in theaters on December 16, 2022.

If you really want to experience the world of Pandora firsthand, I suggest booking a trip to Animal Kingdom in Walt Disney World. You will truly feel immersed in the movie!

But if you can’t make it to Orlando just yet, check out these ways to embrace your inner Na’vi.

Avatar Snapchat Filter

Snapchat has created an augmented reality lens that turns any Snapchatter into a Na’vi. Watch in real-time as your mouth, head shape, hair and skin (complete with blue-striped texture_ transform as if you came from Pandora.

Learn the Na’vi Language with Alexa

Amazon Alexa customers can now learn how to speak Na’vi. Just say, “Alexa, teach me Na’vi,” to get started.

Alexa users will have the opportunity to bring the sights and sounds of Pandora to their Echo devices as they go about their daily activities, making this the first Alexa themed experience for a film. Just say, “Alexa, enable ‘Avatar’ theme” to get “Avatar” visuals and sounds whenever they set timers and alarms, ask for weather, say hello and more.

Avatar on Social Media

Twitter: @OfficialAvatar @20thCentury
FB/IG: @avatar @20thCenturyStudios

You may also like


Andrew December 26, 2022 - 8:44 am

It might assuage your conscience to know that the human combatants in Avatar aren’t actually there as Marines. According to a brief line from the first movie, many were Marines on Earth but joined the Pandora expedition as a private security force. So, hired guns. This probably means that the combatants also include non Marines.

The gap between the movies was revealed to have been because the original tech couldn’t handle the underwater scenes, something noticeable in brief underwater moments from the first. Avatar 3 has already been filmed, and even parts of 4, so we’re getting a pretty solid 2-yr release date from here on out.

Finally, another point of the movie series to help a sense of connection, I took from this that humans are not a lost cause and that our spirits/souls whatever you’d prefer are worthy of being invited into something resembling paradise if only we choose to live a life of conscience. There’s definitely a spiritual message in that Jake, Grace and others are allowed to become part of this new life, finding themselves in bodies freed from the ravages of their human lives, as well as, the promise of existing eternally by entering into Aywa after death.

Sami December 26, 2022 - 10:29 am

I truly appreciate your perspective and you sharing that with me (and everyone else taking the time to read this post). It’s always good to gain deeper understanding and learn from each other!

Leave a Comment

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

This website uses cookies to improve your experience. We'll assume you're ok with this, but you can opt-out if you wish. Accept Read More

Privacy & Cookies Policy