How to Make a Sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water Review


Aiden Bruder, Copy Editor

The seemingly impossible sequel has finally come out. After more than a decade of hiatuses and rumored cancellations, Avatar: The Way of Water, has actually been released. But, does it measure up to its predecessor, or is it just another forgettable sequel?

My opinions on the first Avatar are somewhat mixed. I adore the creative and beautiful alien that movie created, even if the story and characters could’ve needed some extra polish. So, you can understand the apprehension of me and others when learning this sequel was 3 hours and 12 minutes long. But, if there is one thing I can say about this movie, it definitely isn’t boring, managing to keep me engrossed throughout the runtime.

Although the first 15 minutes or so seem pretty rushed (yes, I’m calling a 3 hour long movie rushed), the film finds its footing, starts running, and doesn’t look back. At first, it seems that this movie is just going to be a rehash of the first. We have Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), the protagonist of the first film, living in his Avatar body with wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), and their four kids: Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss), as well as adopted Kiri (played by… Sigourney Weaver. Ellen Ripley being a blue teenage alien does seem a little far fetched, but she somehow manages to make it work). Jake’s happily ever after bliss is rudely interrupted by the human antagonists from the first movie, including Quaritch (Stephan Lang) back from the dead inside a Na’vi avatar, bent on revenge.

Thankfully, the film also dedicates some focus on the children, which, for the most part, seemed nicely fleshed out, and their arcs feel like a natural progression and expansion of the Avatar universe, rather than a soulless sequel filler.

One of the best things about this movie is, expectedly, the animation. Similar reactions of awe came with the release of the original Avatar 13 years ago, the effects of this movie are outstanding. If it weren’t for the blue people, you’d think you were looking at a real world, and even then you need to do some double takes.

Narrative-wise, the movie is about in the middle. It’s an average story which plays out in a somewhat predictable way, with characters that can seem somewhat dull and nuanced. However, it is able to use the resolution of the last movie to create realistic story progression and natural new threats for the characters face (avoiding a trap many sequels fall into.)Plot issues aside, I would still highly recommend watching this movie just for the scale and visual grandness of it all. It’s clear that director James Cameron (creator and head of the Avatar franchise) had a lot of love for this film and its world, and the fact that it’s this good after over a decade of complicated production gives a testament to the talented people who worked on this.

If you have a lot of time to kill, I highly recommend you check out this movie, and in the cinema while you still can. The big screen is appropriate for such a big film.