Avatar and Avatar: The Way of Water Review


Avatar review


Avatar, released in 2009 was, and arguably still is, a massive phenomenon. From its 3D effects to its world-building, fans have been waiting for a return back to Pandora. But after more than a decade of brand new movies, as well as a direct sequel releasing about a month ago, does Avatar still hold up today? 


Avatar takes place in the distant future, where Earth’s deterioration prompts mankind to settle on a new planet, Pandora, which is populated by an alien race, the Na’vi. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is sent to infiltrate the Na’vi by Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) so that the humans can mine their lands for a priceless mineral. However, after meeting another Na’vi, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), he slowly becomes attached to the tribe’s culture and must decide to either save the Na’vi or let the humans continue their settlement. 


Avatar carries themes on topics such as  imperialism, materialism, and patriotism. Humanity’s primary reason for going to Pandora stems from a priceless mineral, Unobtanium. When the mineral is first introduced, focus isn’t placed on what it can do to save the earth, but rather the price that companies are willing to pay for it. There is a pattern in how greed is killing the human race back on Earth, and it’s greed again that is also killing the Na’vi.


The film also emphasizes the exaggerated, ignorant patriotism of the military and their apathetic attitude toward the atrocities. An American flag symbolically flies in the background of Colonel Quaritch’s first scene as he explains how dangerous the Na’vi are. His tone toward the wars he’s faced is inappropriately light-hearted  as he drinks coffee and watches the destruction of Na’vi’s home. His dehumanization of the Na’vi stems from a rigid patriotism that is supposed to justify his actions. 


The Na’vi, on the other hand, respect the natural world,  treating it like it is a part of their being. Their commonly used phrase, “I see you” shows their willingness  to respect nature’s provided “gifts”, whereas humanity’s lack of  foresight adds to their ignorance. Avatar functions as a criticism of western society and its materialistic ruthlessness. While the film’s themes are impactful, the plot is simple and unambitious. If there was more focus on portraying the humans as more than a blatantly evil force with a couple of obvious good guys, it would have provided the story with more nuanced and be all the better for it. Most of the characters are very enjoyable, with stand outs coming from Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Zoe Saldana, and Steohen Lang, with the main character, Jake Sully, felt a little too aloof and unaware of the situation that he is in most if the time that I found it hard to get invested in him.


Although not the critical darling that many made it out to be back in 2009, Avatar’s  world is unquestionably breathtaking and innovative.


Avatar: The Way of Water Review


Over a decade after his first film in the series,, James Cameron transports viewers back into the world of Pandora with the release of his sequel, Avatar: The Way of Water. In a film that was in the  making for thirteen years, Cameron manages to share  a different tale of the Na’vi while honoring the charm of the original .


Avatar: The Way of Water, taking place in the 22nd century, reveals that Jake Sully, after marrying Neytiri, has four children and lives as a part of Pandora’s Na’vi’s culture  However, during their time in Pandora, the family and the rest of their forest tribe have been fending off against American soldiers from Earth. During one of their battles, Jake decides to leave the forest to protect his family from Miles Quaritch, a ruthless soldier who infiltrated the planet once his consciousness was implanted in a Na’vi clone along with his crew.


Jake and his family travel miles away from the forest, meeting a Na’vi water tribe who  allows the group to stay with them. As they settle in on their island, Jake, his wife, and his children begin to learn the way of living in the water.


As a fan of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water was a breathtaking movie. Cameron’s  portrayal of Pandora back on  the big screen entices viewers to wish to  be Na’vi as they learn new ways of life, develop flourishing relationships , and play with life underwater. In many ways the sequel is better than its predecessor because of its story and the CGI, which have improved over the years since 2009. Everywhere Jake went brought  more destruction and chaos, characterizing the antagonists as intimidating. The villains were not easy to defeat, due to their advanced weaponry and military strategy, which made the plot more believable and less idealistic 


Avatar: The Way of the Water also connects with themes of activism. The Na’vi are, once again, fighting against humanity for their culture’s preservation. Humans are working to colonize Pandora, simply because the Earth is dying. While humanity’s desperation is  understandable, their methods are extreme. The Na’vi have to defend their home, otherwise they would all be slaughtered or captured by the humans.




Avatar as a franchise is all about the fight for  survival. 


The Na’vi, like humans, are living beings. Both worlds are filled with communities who practice unique cultural traditions, uphold their values, and do what they believe is best for their worlds. In fact, when Jake and his family meet the water tribe, he encounters conflicts because of the cultural differences. Yet, during the climax, the members of the water tribe set aside their differences, and ultimately fight for what is best for the planet as a whole.