It’s been 13 years since we were first introduced to the world of Pandora in Avatar. The sequel is finally here and we are beyond excited to check out Avatar The Way of Water and review it here at This Is Hype Ph.
We were invited by Disney Ph to a special screening in SM Megamall and therefore were able to watch Avatar The Way of Water, a day ahead of its official premiere in the Philippines, hence our early review of the film. How does this film stand toe-to-toe with its predecessor?
Avatar Way of Water Review: Recap
The first Avatar film was set in 2154 with a natural resource crisis that has plagued the entire world. The Resources Development Administration or the RDA for short has therefore resorted to mining the valuable mineral unobtanium on Pandora, a moon in the Alpha Centauri star system. Pandora, whose atmosphere is mostly gaseous, is inhabited by the Na’vi, 10-foot-tall blue-skinned, sapient humanoids that live in harmony with nature. In order to explore Pandora and to be able able to learn more about the Na’vi, genetically matched human scientists use Na’vi-human hybrids called “avatars”.
We, therefore, follow a paraplegic Marine by the name of Jake Sully who is sent to Pandora to replace his deceased identical twin, who had signed up to be an operator of an Avatar of his own. Program head Dr. Grace Augustine considers Sully inadequate but accepts him as a bodyguard. As the mission progresses, Sully unexpectedly falls in love with the Na’vi as a whole and specifically with a female Na’vi by the name of Neytiri. Jake is then torn between two worlds, his principles, and love.
(Avatar Spoiler Up Ahead) The first film ended with an all-out war between the Na’vi and humans (referred to as Sky People as well). The Na’vi are rescued when Pandoran wildlife unexpectedly joins the attack and overwhelms the humans. Colonel Quaritch is killed by Neytiri who saves Jake from suffocation. With the exceptions of Jake, Norm, and a select few others, all humans are expelled from Pandora, and Jake is permanently transferred into his avatar with the aid of the Tree of Souls.
Avatar Way of Water Review: Synopsis
This sequel takes place after more than a decade after the events of the first film with Jake and Neytiri now having a family of their own. They have 3 kids — Neteyam, Lo’ak, and Tuktirey (“Tuk”) — and an adopted teenage daughter by the name of Kiri who was born from Dr. Grace Augustine’s Avatar. They initially live in peace until the humans return to wreak havoc once again. The family faces the threat of humans and a group of Avatar mercenaries led by Quaritch who returns through his memories and personality being preserved and injected in his very own Na’vi Avatar. The Sully family is forced to leave the confines of their home in the forest as they seek refuge with the tribe of Metkayina — an indigenous group of reef people. The family must learn the ways of the water in their temporary home but as the threats of humans continue to make their way back to them, they must take a stand against those who threaten their very existence.
Avatar Way of Water Review: Overview
Below are some of the film’s creators, executive producers, and notable cast members:
3 hours and 20 mins
20th Century Studios
- James Cameron
- Jon Landau
- Sam Worthington as Jake Sully
- Zoe Saldana as Neytiri
- Sigourney Weaver as Kiri
- Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch
- Kate Winslet as Ronal
- Cliff Curtis as Tonowar
Avatar Way of Water Review: Spoiler Warnings
We will keep this review of Avatar The Way of the Water free from spoilers in order for you to enjoy your movie-going experience with the film. We will focus our discussion on two main aspects — the visual/cinematic experience and the flow/direction/pacing of the story.
Diving Deeper into Pandora
Avatar has always been an immersive experience. I’m not just talking about the visuals (I will dive into that more later on). The story and world-building are incomparable, to be honest and The Way of Water continues on such an experience. The great thing about Avatar, especially with this sequel, is the fact that the story and expansion of the world of Pandora couldn’t be any simpler. In its simplicity, there is so much room left for the story to take hold and unfold with a great amount of brilliance. The Way of Water allows the world of Pandora to expand and grow into an even more beautiful landscape, allowing a brand new tale to occur.
The success of the first film was attributed much to the unique combination of creativity both in the visual aspect and story. In reality, it was supposedly a simple and familiar tale. It combined a lot of similarities to the forbidden love tale. But the film, especially the first one dove deep into indifference, culture, and a variety of social issues and themes. It was just a profound film, to begin with. Avatar has so much depth to it that it goes beyond just being another blockbuster, upscaled and over-the-top visual treat. It broke records in terms of the visual treatment but all the more the story was just impressive. In contrast to the very prevalent social themes that the first film covered which The Way of the Water still manages to cover, this sequel also tackles the themes of family and trust. The dynamics of the Sully family are greatly uncovered in this film and in doing so allow the movie to step into a different kind of direction altogether.
The introduction of Metkayina also adds a new dimension to the story that makes a lot of sense given their role and the topography of this particular tribe. In comparison to the Na’vi that we have seen in the past that were somewhat resemblant to Native Americans that resided deep in the woodlands and forest, the Metkayina have almost a Polynesian influence complete with tribal tattoos. This brand new set of characters is a great addition to the story that is crucial once again to the world-building that The Way of Water utilizes.
Avatar The Way of Water is like a nice lovely stew that brews nice and slowly. If you thought the first film was long enough as it was, the three-hour running time of Way of Water puts it all into contention. Long durations such as these aren’t often that effective. This is far from the case with this film. The pacing and duration are just absolutely perfect. It takes its sweet time in establishing each and every component in this movie from the new characters down to the new world of Metkayina. Due to the incorporation of the Metkayina storyline, the film once again has some exploring and in-depth exposition that needs to be built which is done so fascinatingly sometime in the middle mark of the film. There is also a great introduction and laying down of the characterization and exposition of Jake’s kids. The film despite its long running time executes each story element so beautifully as each moment and scene is crucial to the entirety of the film.
There is however not a single dull moment in The Way of Water which is an amazing feat to be quite honest. It was also a great surprise that the film was able to hold an emotional weight. I didn’t expect it to be honest and it didn’t occur to me that this film could actually pull it off like its predecessor. This sequel managed to do it however and the execution was brilliant. There’s a tear-jerker moment in this movie that caught me by surprise but it further pounded on the fact that the story-telling in this movie, correction — in this franchise — is truly on another level.
The Depths of the Visual Sea
The immersive nature of The Way of Water is unlike anything I have seen in recent times. The visuals are just truly in a league of their own — incomparable even to the first film. The first Avatar movie in itself was already a visual masterpiece. The Way of Water multiplies it to the 1000th plus degree. The animation for the Avatars and Na’vi are clearly better due to the technology that has been developed in the span of 13 years. The technology however would be completely useless if there wasn’t a great execution that was exhibited in this film. The movements and design for the characters have undergone a clear upgrade and are all the more clean, crisp, and life-like even.
The clear stand out however is when we are finally taken down deep into the underwater world that is just so bright and vivid, brimming with lively color. The play on light is just incredible as we have seen in the first film but it’s all the more beautiful this time around. There is a great balance of light and dark which work wonders in a film like this. Even the darker scenes that are filmed supposedly at night are just brimming with light and color as the perfect balance is truly achieved. The underwater scenes capture the brilliance that we have seen in films such as Black Panther: Wakanda Forever and Aquaman but there is just so much more detail that is achieved in this particular film. This sequel actually has a huge budget due to this very innovation in technology to achieve the magnificent underwater scene and each dollar spent was absolutely worth it.
The Way of Water is on a bigger scale than ever before. There are no shortcuts and money was absolutely not an issue. The film is an all-out spectacle that we couldn’t have possibly wished for anything more. The action sequences are bigger and better — inserting some horrifying but satisfyingly great gory moments. The creatures introduced are also on a larger scale but are again treated with so much respect by ensuring a clear and thorough eye for detail. Avatar Way of Water is simply a great immersive journey that enables the world of Pandora to grow and develop while creating a fandom worthy of this generation and generations to come.
Avatar The Way of Water Review: Final Verdict
- Phenomenal visuals
- An easy to follow yet engaging story
- Themes of family and social issues
- Brilliant characterization
- Emotional impact
Nothing much to fault to be honest other than the long running time which didn’t bother us personally, to be honest.
Hype Meter: 10/10
Avatar The Way of Water is an epic worthy of this generation. It expands and expounds the world of Pandora that we were introduced to years ago. The visuals are on a new level and the story is just amazing to witness. There is not a single moment that isn’t crucial to the story and at the same time, the film is far from boring. Every moment is just captivating to witness and all the more importantly easy to consume and follow. James Cameron proves once again why he is a visionary director with this sequel and by the looks of it the sequels that are to follow will just be as exciting. Avatar The Way of Water is a last-minute film that rounds out 2022 but it was the period of an already amazing year in filmmaking. It is hands down one of the best films of the year.
A must-see film! Watch Avatar The Way of Water now in a theater near you.