I vividly remember watching the first Avatar movie in seventh grade. I went with one of my friends from school, my cousin, and my uncle. When I first watched the movie, I loved it. It felt like a really cool world with awesome aliens and space marines with robots/exo-suits. However, if we are completely honest, the writing in the first movie is bland at best. It feels like an AI-generated script. The script is one-dimensional, and you see the plotlines coming before they happen. The reason it did so well is because of how fracking breathtaking Avatar is. There is no denying the fact that the first Avatar looked amazing. So how does the movie of the month: Avatar: The Way of Water, compare to the original?
Avatar: The Way of Water
The script for this movie is infinitely better than the first movie. Was Avatar: The Way of Water a little too long for my taste? Yes, but overall I enjoyed the movie. I enjoyed it more than the first one, for sure. The overall plot was still a little basic but still better than the first. No, what made this script better was the characters didn’t feel like bland archetype characters with no real substance to them. If I had to guess, it’s probably thanks to Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa, a married couple who helped James Cameron write Avatar: The Way of Water. They wrote Rise of the Planet of the Apes and produced the rest of the film series. Silver and Jaffa made Jake, Neytiri, and their kids feel real.
Avatar: The Way of Water centered more around Jake and Neytiri’s kids exploring, learning, and accepting their new homes after leaving the forest. I’m just happy I didn’t have to sit through another Jake Sully movie where he is this indomitable force that is good at everything and saves Navi from an oppressive force. It feels too on the nose and white savior complex-ish for me. Jake feels human in this movie which is ironic considering he gave up his human body at the end of the first movie. He is a dad who is by no means perfect. He tries his best to be a father while also leading a resistance. The 13-year gap between the first and second movies really adds depth to his character. He is no longer a generic G.I. Joe.
Neytiri (She definitely didn’t take his last name)
Neytiri did not have enough screen time. She is, without a doubt, the most nuanced character in the first movie and even more so in The Way of Water. Neytiri has become a mother, but that is not the only thing that defines her. She loves her kids and would go to war for them, but she is still a leader of her people, a strong warrior, and all-around cool as hell.
I was not expecting some of the brutality they showed on screen when she was fighting the marines. Some of her moves and combos felt like fatalities straight out of Mortal Kombat. We see just as much growth in Neytiri as we do Jake. Her love for her kids and the lengths she would go to for them really carried this movie along in the few lull points of the movie. Let’s just say I wouldn’t want to be on the other end of her bow and arrow.
Neteyam and Lo’ak
Jake and Neytiri’s kids are everything in this movie. Although, it was hard to tell their two boys, Neteyam and Lo’ak, apart from each other. Of course, one is the responsible older brother who does everything asked of him, and the little brother lives under the shadow of his brother. Their situation is as cliche as it comes and is only highlighted more by their militaristic father, expecting them to be soldiers more than kids at times.
I learned to love their bond after an hour into the movie, though. They stick up for each other when they are treated as freaks for having shorter tails and four fingers instead of three. While Lo’ak feels unseen at times, he is there for his sisters and family when they need him. Even though he was extremely angsty and slightly aggravating for the first two-thirds of the movie, I can’t really blame Lo’ak, though he is only 13.
I don’t have much to say about Tuk, the youngest daughter, besides the fact that she is incredibly funny. She wants to be like the big kids but doesn’t realize she is still tiny, which lands her in more and more trouble while still possessing the Sully sassiness and Neytiri’s fierceness. I would die for that small blue child.
Kiri, the adopted child, is a weird character. Her bio mom is Grace, played by Sigourney Weaver, from the first movie, so what genius thought it was a good idea to have her voice, Kiri. It really threw me off sometimes. Don’t get me wrong, Sigourney Weaver is an amazing actress, but she is not the first person I would cast to voice act a 14-year-old alien water Jesus. Yes, Kiri is basically water Jesus. They sort of hint at her deep connection to Eywa. They make it seem like it’s in her head due to her seizures, but then in the climax fight of the movie, she controls some sea anemones to kill the space marines chasing her. She’s not a bad character, but she definitely needs to be fleshed out a little more in the next movie.
My Random Thoughts
- Why was Colonel Quaritch so okay with being turned into an Avatar? He hated the “blue people” in the first movie. I find it hard to think a racist would be so okay with being turned into the very thing he hates.
- Couldn’t they have sown some actual pants together for Spider? You’re telling him, with all the tree climbing and running, that he couldn’t have used some pockets? And his dreads looked awful. I get that he was probably modeling Jake’s new hairstyle, but Jake was born human and could have thought to give the poor kid some clothes and a haircut. Spider feels like a feral cat they adopted that Neytiri barely tolerates.
- The funniest thing about this whole movie is James Cameron getting heated about people calling the Tulkun whales. You know, the whale-looking things that are a part of the Navi family. If it walks like a duck and quacks like a duck, then it must be a duck.
- Why the hell did Spider save Colonel Quaritch and not tell anyone? Does everyone think that Quaritch is rotting at the bottom of the ocean and Spider is sitting on the biggest secret ever? When Neytiri finds out, Spider better run/swim as far away as possible.
- Lo’ak’s love interest, Tseriya, gives me Lola from Shark Tale vibes. Her introduction was peak teenage boy fantasy. Lo’ak sees her for the first time coming out of the water. I actually laughed out loud when it happened.
- The first Avatar was about a clan of forest Na’vi with pet dragons, the second was about water Navi, and supposedly the third was about a clan of fire Navi. Does this mean we will get a mud or underground Navito get all four elements where only the Avatar, master of all four elements can unite them?
4 out of 5 stars (although if you have to pick between this and Puss in Boots: The Last Wish, go watch Puss in Boots.) Don’t get me wrong. I truly did enjoy this movie, but it’s not for everyone and Dreamworks killed it with their newest Puss in Boots movie.
Also if you want to listen to a great movie podcast that breaks down everything right and wrong with this movie then listen to The Weekly Planet. (One of my favorite podcasts.)
And here is our article on the Best TV Shows of 2022 if you’re looking for something good to watch that isn’t a three hour movie.