Avatar: The Way Into My Heart

12 years of anticipation resolved with release of sequel


Joanie Gill

The AMC Willowbrook 24 advertisement showcases the long-awaited Avatar: The Way of Water in 3D. The movie released on Dec. 16, 2022 starring new characters with exciting plotlines.

Is your type a nine foot, long-haired, blue-skinned, large-eyed creature? If so, Avatar: The Way of Water was probably number one on your 2022-2023 watchlist.

Avatar: The Way of Water, the long-awaited sequel, hit theaters on Dec. 16 and quickly climbed up the worldwide box office list, landed in the sixth highest spot. The film cost 250 million to produce but made 2.024 billion overall. The first Avatar amazed viewers enough to keep it at the number one highest grossing movie for 10 years with a worldwide gross of $2.923 billion. 

One of the main reasons the first Avatar was such a success was the never-before-seen, groundbreaking CGI that made the film really come to life. The second Avatar did not fall short in this area. The realistic scenes and beautiful depictions of creatures and the Na’vi race automatically made the 10 dollar movie ticket worth it. Nature played a prevalent role in the movie, jumping from the lively forest to colorful underwater coral reefs. The Spirit Tree, similar to the Tree of Souls, was definitely a sight to see with the glowing atmosphere, floating woodsprite, and the bright centerpiece all under the sea.

Seeing returning actors and their respective characters, such as Jake Sully (Played by Sam Worthington), Neytiri (Played by Zoe Saldaña), and Colonel Miles Quaritch (Played by Stephen Lang) was really exciting. The phenomenal acting wasn’t surprising and each actor stayed true to their original character throughout the film. The best scene in terms of acting for me was by Saldaña when Neytiri holds her son in her arms as he dies. Hearing that intense screaming made my eyes water which is always a sign of a movie is great. Saldaña’s reaction made the scene feel so real and brought out emotion for the audience. One such emotion being anger when coming face to face with the villain who caused this pain.

The villain of the series is not surprising in the slightest. Despite Colonel Quaritch dying at the end of the previous movie, he has been brought back as an Avatar who now seeks to destroy Jake Sully and the rest of the Na’vi people. While it is compelling to have him return, the audience including myself has questions for what this could mean in the future. If a human can be resurrected as an Avatar using recorded memories, how can Quaritch ever truly die? If the antagonist dies, isn’t it possible that he can be cloned again? This makes it seem like the villian is unstoppable, so I hope this is explained in the next film. 

Speaking of Quaritch dying, at the end of Way of Water, he almost drowns after getting beat by Jake in a hand-to-hand fight. The only reason he survives is because Spider, his son who has lived among the Na’vi people, saves him. Because Spider has grown up a part of Jake’s family and is depicted as extremely loyal, I felt that this decision was made simply to continue the plot in the next addition to the series. While it seems a bit of a stretch, it will make for fantastic tension when the rest of Jake’s family finds out that Spider saved the person responsible for destroying Pandora and Neteyam’s death.

Neteyam was and still is my favorite character in Way of Water. He was the oldest son of Jake and Neytiri who was more similar to his mother with his responsible and protective nature. Lo’ak, the next eldest son, on the other hand took traits from his father who acted rebellious and daring. Watching these brothers interact was heartwarming, especially since Neteyam was the one to always get Lo’ak out of trouble. Their dynamic was set up early in the movie, making the ending less shocking but devastating nonetheless. Neteyam constantly ran into dangerous situations to help Lo’ak and in the end, following  after his brother is exactly what killed him. Eliminating such a beloved character was a bold move by Director James Cameron, but it established that the series moving forward would not stray away from killing off characters. In upcoming movies, this death will surely create drama that will be interesting to watch. Though, the creators definitely made Neteyam a less interesting character than his siblings because they knew he wouldn’t make it past his first movie.

Kiri, the Sullys’ adopted 14-year-old daughter, is by far the most compelling character to be introduced. Kiri is the biological daughter of Grace Augustine’s avatar form, a character from the first film, who went brain-dead after her human body passed away. A true miracle occurs because Grace was already dead before Kiri was born. The only reason Kiri seems to be alive is the preservation of her biological mother’s body that carried the pregnancy to term. Currently it is unclear who Kiri’s father is but due to her undeniable connection to Eywa, known as the All-Mother, I would not be surprised if it is revealed later that Pandora’s guiding force created Kiri herself. Either way, the film does a fantastic job with Kiri’s character by setting up her story arc now.

Another arc that the film built up was the Sullys’ relationship with the Metkayina Clan. Ever since watching the first movie, I have wondered if other kinds of Na’vi people were out there on Pandora, and Avatar: The Way of Water clarified this. A clan of reef-dwelling Na’vi are introduced, ones that ride water creatures instead of flying Banshee. This gives a whole new spin to the Avatar franchise because it makes the audience ponder what other clans they could possibly encounter as the Na’vi universe is revealed in the future movies. This addition was one I adore and it makes me excited to learn more about the sea Na’vi in the future. Plus, it introduces viewers to new characters to root for and gives Lo’ak a love interest.

While Way of Water included many great aspects and the inclusion of new characters, it was not perfect and some people ran into a fundamental problem.

One major issue that the public seems to have with Avtar: The Way of Water is that it’s too similar to the first Avatar in terms of plot. I definitely agree with this; both movies are about humans attempting to take over Pandora and the natives fighting back to stop it. However, I didn’t mind a similar plot because of how much more this second movie introduced. The new characters and promising storylines for upcoming films make the second movie completely worth it. If Jurassic Park can make a six movie series about dinosaurs going rogue in every addition, Avatar definitely deserves a chance.

Avatar: The Way of Water is not supposed to be the best movie ever created. It’s not even supposed to be better than the first Avatar. While The Way of Water was a hit, the film was created to reintroduce Avatar to the world while also setting up for the rest of the series. I predict that the upcoming Avatar movies will turn out to be so much more than viewers imagined. Avatar: The Way of Water had me on the edge of my seat for all three hours, and as I was watching it, I was already wanting to see it again.