Avatar: The Way of Water Parent Guide
The bloated and predictable script isn't up to the high standard of the movie's stunning digital effects.
Parent Movie Review
Although Avatar saw Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) band together with the Na’vi and drive the rapacious Resource Development Administration (RDA) from the planet of Pandora, the fight isn’t over. In the ten years since the decisive battle, Jake and his mate, Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) settled down and had children – just in time for the RDA to come back in force.
Led by a cloned avatar of Colonel Miles Quatrich (Stephen Lang), who is hungry to avenge the death of his original human body, the RDA quickly sets about mass-scale colonization of Pandora. But first, they want Jake brought to justice. Since the occupation, he’s been leading violent raids against supply lines, outposts, and military equipment to prevent the RDA from destroying his home. The corporation is keeping their eye on him though, and soon find his operational base. Jake and Neytiri are forced to flee the jungle if they want to protect their family and those they love.
Luckily, the local Metkayina tribe is willing to give them sanctuary – if they can learn their ways. The Metkayina have evolved over millennia to live in the reefs of Pandora’s vast oceans, and Jake and his family have a lot of catching up to do.
Hard as it might be to believe, there is not a typo in the runtime. This movie really is an absolutely horrifying three hours and twelve minutes long. I think that might be longer than the last British Prime Minister was in office. It’s far, far longer than this blandly simple story really merits, and I would be the first in line to berate James Cameron if storytelling were at all the point of the film. But it’s not. Mr. Cameron has been very defensive about the runtime, complaining about audience attention spans even before the movie released. Perhaps instead of whinging about it, he could have put a bit more effort into writing a story worthy of its visuals.
This is, at its heart, a 3-hour sizzle reel for Weta Digital. And it’s a doozy. The performance capture is remarkable, but that’s not really the point either. The point of Avatar: The Way of Water is the breathtaking water effects. Remember back when Finding Nemo came out, and everyone was losing their collective minds over the realism of the water effects? This is that turned up to eleven. The aquatic effects are so impressive I forgot how much of the film was a digital creation. That is, until Cameron’s storytelling flaws destroyed the illusion. For instance, immersion in the film’s world snaps when a nine 9-foot tall blue character attaches their brainstem (via their tail) to a sentient fish, which is apparently how you ride them. Let me say here that if I had to attach my cerebellum to a car to drive to work, I’d rather walk.
So no, this Avatar sequel doesn’t redefine the fine art of cinematic storytelling. It is, on the other hand, stunning to watch. I expect it’s even prettier in 3D, which I avoid because it’s hard enough to take notes in a dark theater without wearing the little sunglasses they’re using these days.
Avatar: The Way of Water is a poor choice for younger children, due both to the patently unjustifiable runtime and frightening violence, as well as a smattering of profanity. Teens, on the other hand, will probably have a blast with the rambunctious action and large-scale destruction. I remember being blown away by the original when I was in high school: I expect this film will provide the same thrills for the teenagers of today.Directed by James Cameron. Starring Zoe Saldana, Kate Winslet, Sam Worthington. Running time: 192 minutes. Theatrical release December 16, 2022. Updated January 22, 2024
Watch the trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water
Avatar: The Way of Water
Rating & Content Info
Why is Avatar: The Way of Water rated PG-13? Avatar: The Way of Water is rated PG-13 by the MPAA for sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity and some strong language
Violence: People are frequently blown up, crushed, shot, and stabbed. Weapons used include guns, knives, spears, and bows and arrows. There are scenes of bloody wounds. Several people are burned. Animals are injured and killed. Children are hurt and threatened. A man’s arm is torn off. Characters are chased by monsters.
Sexual Content: A woman is seen partially nude during childbirth. All characters’ clothing is essentially limited to loincloths and conveniently sticky necklaces. Breasts and buttocks are frequently visible in non-sexual contexts.
Profanity: There are twelve scatological curses, one sexual expletive, and occasional uses of mild curses and terms of deity.
Alcohol / Drug Use: None.
Page last updated January 22, 2024
Avatar: The Way of Water Parents' Guide
How does this story reference real-world history? Do you see any correlations to issues such as colonization, whaling, and the extermination of the buffalo? What point do you think James Cameron is trying to make with his film?
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James Cameron also directed Sigourney Weaver in sci-fi/horror/action classic Aliens.
Another epic science fiction option is the modern Planet of the Apes series (which includes Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, and War for the Planet of the Apes), which were also made by Weta Digital and are spectacular. Weta Digital got their big break making pioneering effects for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which actually manage to justify a 3-hour-plus runtime.
Fans may also be impressed by spectacle films like Dune, Pacific Rim, Godzilla: King of the Monsters, Oblivion, and Rogue One: A Star Wars Story. Weta Digital got their big break making pioneering effects for the Lord of the Rings trilogy, which actually manage to justify a 3-hour-plus runtime.