Movie Review: ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ a visceral experience worth the 13-year wait

by Connor Webber

The return to Pandora in “Avatar: The Way of Water” is a thrill ride for the entirety of its three-hour runtime, with insane visuals and a story with a huge heart. Seeing on the big screen is a must! 

avatar way of water scene on a beach.

Thirteen years ago, “Avatar” stormed into theaters, changing the way world would view movies forever, specifically for a nine-year-old kid. That kid was me; I remember being sucked into the world of Pandora and immediately becoming obsessed. “Avatar” was the first movie I remember wanting to see multiple times in theaters. It was also the movie that made me pay attention to the Oscars for the first time. I have watched every movie award show since then. One might say the original “Avatar” led me to write this review. “Avatar” means a lot to me, so when a date for a sequel 13 years in the making was set, there was a lot of skepticism, and rightfully so. Thirteen years is a long time. People’s opinions about “Avatar” have changed, an entire land based on the world of Pandora was built in Walt Disney World, 27 Marvel films have released since then, and I have graduated college. So, the question is, “How is ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’?”

If there is one thing to take away from it, it’s to never bet against James Cameron. “The Way of Water” is a visceral experience for its entire three-hour and 12-minute runtime, and even after the credits roll you won’t want to leave. The film manages to transport you back into the world of Pandora within the first minute, as if you had never left. This is mostly due to the insane visuals, which is no surprise. The first film is still regarded as having some of the best visual effects of all time, and the sequel is no different. “The Way of Water” is breathtaking, and the world of Pandora is more alive than ever. I forgot the movie was 99 percent CGI until the credits rolled and I remembered everything I just watched was filmed in a massive warehouse.

I’m sure me telling you that the visuals are unreal does not surprise you at all. You want to know about the other parts of the movie. One of the most significant issues with the first film was, while the visuals were insane and the world building was fantastic, the story and writing were mediocre. “Avatar: The Way of Water” is a huge improvement on the story from the first film, and the insane third act will have you on the edge of your seat with your hands sweating.

At the heart of “Way of Water” is family, and just how far they’ll go to protect one another. The addition of Jake and Neytiri’s family is a major part of the improvement of the story. Throughout the film, you get to know each new addition to the Sully clan and follow them as they must overcome a major change in their life. By the end of the film, you’ll care for this family the same way Jake and Neytiri do, making for some incredibly emotional scenes.

“The Way of Water” is a visual thrill ride with the biggest heart, and just like the first film, you won’t want to miss your chance to see this on the big screen in 3D.

“Avatar: The Way of Water” is rated PG-13 and hits theaters worldwide on Dec. 16, 2022. There are no end credit scenes. The film is available in all formats including, IMAX 2D/3D, Dolby Cinema 2D/3D, Cinemark XD, 4DX, Screen X, and RPX.

In the Parks

Experience The World of Avatar at Disney’s Animal Kingdom as you visit Pandora and experience two attractions, Avatar Flight of Passage and Navi River Journey. You can also dine and shop in Pandora. During the release of “Avatar: The Way of Water” there is a special show projected on the Tree of Life at 6 p.m. each night. Here’s a look:

Avatar: Way of Water Projections at Tree of Life Awakening at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Avatar Flight of Passage POV in Pandora at Disney's Animal Kingdom

FULL Na’vi River Journey low light ride-through POV in Pandora - The World of Avatar

Daytime look at Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Nighttime look at bioluminescence of Pandora - The World of Avatar at Disney's Animal Kingdom

Attractions - The Show - Pandora: The World of Avatar; Mystic Timbers; news - May 4, 2017

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