Avatar: The Way of Water Ends 2022 with a Splash

Sophia Lopez, Features Editor

Hailey Tesser

   Past Avengers, Past Star Wars, Avatar II sits in a class of its own at a whopping $460 million, marking it as the most expensive movie to be made in Hollywood history— released on December 16, 2022. 

   Such a promising movie meant rushing to reserve seats for that same date; an early birthday gift to my Dad, who found the first movie as special and enjoyable as I did.

   Producing The Way of Water was surprising— many didn’t know Avatar was always meant to be a saga of at least 4 parts. As its release was stretched out for 13 long years, the original Avatar of 2009 felt more like a one hit wonder.

   Color. Scenery. Creatures.  

   From the moment The Way of Water began, there was always an abundance in these categories. As an audience member, the seamless transition between the first and the second movie was highly appreciated, considering the decade old gap. Witnessing life unfold for Jake and Neytiri in the rainforest with their new family was amazing, until the plot thickened with human threats and then descended straight into the water realm. 

   Many people had considered the first Avatar’s graphics otherworldly and ahead of their time, but this movie felt nothing short of stunning. 

   And better yet, we watched it in 3D.  

   Once the ocean was in sight, paradise quickly followed. Everything moved and looked so real, all that was left was for the audience to dive right into the ocean themselves and get soaked. Eyes would dart back and forth, trying to take in all the mesmerizing displays on screen.

   For those who had loved growing up with the original movie, nostalgia was more than present in this one. It was hilarious seeing how the second generation of Sullys were raised the Na’vi way, but retained some of Jake’s American mannerisms. This reintroduced a more serious topic, the Na’vi were still discriminatory towards Jake’s human origin and his children—they could be easily identified by having 5 fingers instead of 4. 

   With the Sully family adjusting to their new ocean life, a lot of screen time was focused on how much the ocean bound Metkayina clan is different from the jungle Omaticaya clan. Just showcasing the different food, hunting style, and creatures, took up at least an hour alone of screen time.  

   Then, there was the addition of extra plot elements like the human Na’vi named Spider and the young Kiri’s spiritual connection with Eywa; elements that only lead to deadends and even more questions. Plot elements like these were only introduced but not explored, as if their only purpose in appearing was to set the stage for the next part. 

The majority of the sequel was set to be filmed underwater, Director James Cameron and his producers really wanted the CGI technology to be next level. A risk to delaying was the audience’s expectations being raised. 

   This movie was 3 hours and 15 minutes long. Some called it an immersive experience, like Junior Leanne Sorensen.“I thought it was really good. The CGI was beautiful, the soundtrack was phenomenal, the world building was amazing, and I had a great time at the movies,” she says enthusiastically. “I love the Pandora world and I’m really glad the sequel came out, because it built onto the franchise that so many are in love with.” 

   There was such a high demand upon its release; I got to hear another perspective of just how chaotic the movie theaters were afterwards through Junior Agatha Rivero who works at AMC Theaters. “It was really busy, the usher team basically needed one or two extra ushers on staff because everyone was coming. There were at least 4 theaters playing Avatar II—it was really popular. Concessions wise, we had a lot of food running out on random days, and we over-purchased a lot of our stuff.”

   When my family and I stepped out of the theater at almost midnight, our eyes were wide open and our brains filled from all that we’ve seen. It felt like a lucid dream. 

   With Avatar II climbing the charts to reach a profit of $2 billion, and setting the bar high for the movies of 2023, it is safe to say there will be yet another trip to the alluring Pandora in 2024. 

   A solid 8/10.