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James Cameron wants you to believe. He wants you to believe that aliens are killing machines, humanity can defeat time-traveling cyborgs, and a film can transport you to a significant historical disaster. In many ways, the planet of Pandora in " Avatar " has become his most ambitious manner of sharing this belief in the power of cinema. Can you leave everything in your life behind and experience a film in a way that's become increasingly difficult in an era of so much distraction? As technology has advanced, Cameron has pushed the limits of his power of belief even further, playing with 3D, High Frame Rate, and other toys that weren't available when he started his career. But one of the many things that is so fascinating about "Avatar: The Way of Water" is how that belief manifests itself in themes he's explored so often before. This wildly entertaining film isn't a retread of "Avatar," but a film in which fans can pick out thematic and even visual elements of " Titanic ," " Aliens ," "The Abyss," and "The Terminator" films. It's as if Cameron has moved to Pandora forever and brought everything he cares about. (He's also clearly never leaving.) Cameron invites viewers into this fully realized world with so many striking images and phenomenally rendered action scenes that everything else fades away.

Maybe not right away. "Avatar: The Way of Water" struggles to find its footing at first, throwing viewers back into the world of Pandora in a narratively clunky way. One can tell that Cameron really cares most about the world-building mid-section of this film, which is one of his greatest accomplishments, so he rushes through some of the set-ups to get to the good stuff. Before then, we catch up with Jake Sully ( Sam Worthington ), a human who is now a full-time Na'vi and partners with Neytiri ( Zoe Saldana ), with whom he has started a family. They have two sons—Neteyam ( Jamie Flatters ) and Lo'ak ( Britain Dalton )—and a daughter named Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss), and they are guardians of Kiri ( Sigourney Weaver ), the offspring of Weaver's character from the first film.

Family bliss is fractured when the 'sky people' return, including an avatar Na'vi version of one Colonel Miles Quaritch ( Stephen Lang ), who has come to finish what he started, including vengeance on Jake for the death of his human form. He comes back with a group of former-human-now-Na'vi soldiers who are the film's main antagonists, but not the only ones. "Avatar: The Way of Water" once again casts the military, planet-destroying humans of this universe as its truest villains, but the villains' motives are sometimes a bit hazy. Around halfway through, I realized it's not very clear why Quaritch is so intent on hunting Jake and his family, other than the plot needs it, and Lang is good at playing mad.

The bulk of "Avatar: The Way of Water" hinges on the same question Sarah Connor asks in the "Terminator" movies—fight or flight for family? Do you run and hide from the powerful enemy to try and stay safe or turn and fight the oppressive evil? At first, Jake takes the former option, leading them to another part of Pandora, where the film opens up via one of Cameron's longtime obsessions: H2O. The aerial acrobatics of the first film are supplanted by underwater ones in a region run by Tonowari ( Cliff Curtis ), the leader of a clan called the Metkayina. Himself a family man—his wife is played by Kate Winslet —Tonowari is worried about the danger the new Na'vi visitors could bring but can't turn them away. Again, Cameron plays with moral questions about responsibility in the face of a powerful evil, something that recurs in a group of commercial poachers from Earth. They dare to hunt sacred water animals in stunning sequences during which you have to remind yourself that none of what you're watching is real.

The film's midsection shifts its focus away from Sully/Quaritch to the region's children as Jake's boys learn the ways of the water clan. Finally, the world of "Avatar" feels like it's expanding in ways the first film didn't. Whereas that film was more focused on a single story, Cameron ties together multiple ones here in a far more ambitious and ultimately rewarding fashion. While some of the ideas and plot developments—like the connection of Kiri to Pandora or the arc of a new character named Spider ( Jack Champion )—are mostly table-setting for future films, the entire project is made richer by creating a larger canvas for its storytelling. While one could argue that there needs to be a stronger protagonist/antagonist line through a film that discards both Jake & Quaritch for long periods, I would counter that those terms are intentionally vague here. The protagonist is the entire family and even the planet on which they live, and the antagonist is everything trying to destroy the natural world and the beings that are so connected to it.

Viewers should be warned that Cameron's ear for dialogue hasn't improved—there are a few lines that will earn unintentional laughter—but there's almost something charming about his approach to character, one that weds old-fashioned storytelling to breakthrough technology. Massive blockbusters often clutter their worlds with unnecessary mythologies or backstories, whereas Cameron does just enough to ensure this impossible world stays relatable. His deeper themes of environmentalism and colonization could be understandably too shallow for some viewers—and the way he co-opts elements of Indigenous culture could be considered problematic—and I wouldn't argue against that. But if a family uses this as a starting point for conversations about those themes then it's more of a net positive than most blockbusters that provide no food for thought. 

There has been so much conversation about the cultural impact of "Avatar" recently, as superheroes dominated the last decade of pop culture in a way that allowed people to forget the Na'vi. Watching "Avatar: The Way of Water," I was reminded of how impersonal the Hollywood machine has become over the last few decades and how often the blockbusters that truly make an impact on the form have displayed the personal touch of their creator. Think of how the biggest and best films of George Lucas and Steven Spielberg couldn't have been made by anyone else. "Avatar: The Way of Water" is a James Cameron blockbuster, through and through. And I still believe in him.

Available only in theaters on December 16th. 

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico

Brian Tallerico is the Managing Editor of RogerEbert.com, and also covers television, film, Blu-ray, and video games. He is also a writer for Vulture, The Playlist, The New York Times, and GQ, and the President of the Chicago Film Critics Association.

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Avatar: The Way of Water movie poster

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Rated PG-13 for sequences of strong violence and intense action, partial nudity and some strong language.

192 minutes

Sam Worthington as Jake Sully

Zoe Saldaña as Neytiri

Sigourney Weaver as Kiri

Stephen Lang as Colonel Miles Quaritch

Kate Winslet as Ronal

Cliff Curtis as Tonowari

Joel David Moore as Norm Spellman

CCH Pounder as Mo'at

Edie Falco as General Frances Ardmore

Brendan Cowell as Mick Scoresby

Jemaine Clement as Dr. Ian Garvin

Jamie Flatters as Neteyam

Britain Dalton as Lo'ak

Trinity Bliss as Tuktirey

Jack Champion as Javier 'Spider' Socorro

Bailey Bass as Tsireya

Filip Geljo as Aonung

Duane Evans Jr. as Rotxo

Giovanni Ribisi as Parker Selfridge

Dileep Rao as Dr. Max Patel

  • James Cameron

Writer (story by)

  • Amanda Silver
  • Josh Friedman
  • Shane Salerno

Cinematographer

  • Russell Carpenter
  • Stephen E. Rivkin
  • David Brenner
  • John Refoua
  • Simon Franglen

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Avatar Reviews

avatar full movie review

It is every bit the technical achievement that Cameron promised it would be. However, there is no dodging its weak, underwhelming story. And I don't go back to rewatch The Terminator, Aliens or T2 time after time for the special effects.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/5 | May 7, 2024

avatar full movie review

“Avatar” remains a transporting experience – an entertaining blend of old-fashioned adventure and technological wonder.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Feb 8, 2024

avatar full movie review

'Avatar' is not just a visual display. It contains heart, humor, and all the aspects needed to make it a well-rounded story. Sure, the script could have been punched up with something more poetic and less obvious. Still, it’s not a bad egg.

Full Review | Original Score: B+ | Jan 9, 2024

avatar full movie review

To be sure, this is an engaging experience in every sense, from the dramatic to the visual to the visceral. This is how blockbusters should be.

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Aug 28, 2023

avatar full movie review

STUNNING epic. Zoe Saldana performance… A fantastic one

Full Review | Jul 25, 2023

avatar full movie review

It’s the world of Pandora married to the groundbreaking technology used to bring it to life that makes "Avatar" impressive, but it otherwise comes across as hollow, spectacle for the sake of it with little else to offer.

Full Review | Jul 6, 2023

avatar full movie review

Cameron is a master filmmaker whose movies will endure long after he stops making movies.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Jun 23, 2023

avatar full movie review

While the visuals might rate four stars, the screenplay guarantees this falls well below more compatible marriages of substance and style found in such ground-breakers as the original King Kong, 2001: A Space Odyssey, and Cameron’s own Terminator films.

Full Review | Original Score: 3/4 | Apr 16, 2023

avatar full movie review

A groundbreaking technical achievement in filmmaking. The impressive visual effects and amazing world building more than make up for one of Cameron's weaker stories. [Full review in Spanish]

Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Jan 8, 2023

avatar full movie review

Combining cutting-edge technology with classic, earnest storytelling is firmly the hallmark of this series, and it honestly gave me almost everything I wanted from it.

Full Review | Dec 16, 2022

avatar full movie review

Three hours breeze into deep relationships, action-packed sequences, and a tale that deserves to be repeatedly seen in cinema. #diandrareviews

Full Review | Original Score: 4/4 | Dec 14, 2022

avatar full movie review

It’s not just that we’ve seen the tale before… it’s that every aspect of the screenplay is terrible.

Full Review | Original Score: 1.5/5 | Dec 7, 2022

Cameron’s epic can still thrill the audience with breathtaking set pieces, bring them to tears with moving moments, and amaze people willing to explore a fantasy land like no other.

Full Review | Original Score: A | Oct 12, 2022

Avatar still elicits much of the same wide-eyed wonderment.

Full Review | Oct 5, 2022

avatar full movie review

The emotional stakes presented in the final battle make it so powerful, going beyond the physical scale of the sequence and what the visual effects artists achieved to create a stunning, rousing piece of filmmaking.

Full Review | Original Score: 9/10 | Sep 30, 2022

avatar full movie review

Thirteen years after its release, 'Avatar' still proves to be an exceptional blockbuster that makes the most of a simple and predictable story, to develop a visually awesome and emotional experience that must be had in the cinema. Full review in Spanish.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Sep 28, 2022

avatar full movie review

The standard in modern blockbuster filmmaking. I don’t make the rules.

Full Review | Sep 26, 2022

avatar full movie review

A meaningful blockbuster that fails to play ignorant to craft or soul, it is no wonder that so many have fallen in love with the world of Pandora and the drama that takes place on it.

[W]atching Avatar‘s 4K HDR format on IMAX 3D looks more incredible and visually stunning than the original 3D version in 2009.

Full Review | Original Score: 4.5/5 | Sep 25, 2022

...still a gorgeous sci-fi epic, but the characters are nowhere near as detailed.

Full Review | Sep 24, 2022

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Movie Reviews

Movie review: 'avatar: the way of water'.

Bob Mondello 2010

Bob Mondello

Filmmaker James Cameron's sequel to the biggest worldwide box office hit of all time, "Avatar: The Way of Water," has been in the works for more than a decade.

Copyright © 2022 NPR. All rights reserved. Visit our website terms of use and permissions pages at www.npr.org for further information.

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A young Na’vi child named Tuk (Trinity Bliss) swims underwater with her braids floating around her as she examines a school of tiny fish in Avatar: The Way of Water

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Avatar 2 marks a dramatic step forward for director James Cameron

But The Way of Water is a step back for the endlessly distracting HFR presentation

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​​There are two thoughts that you never want to cross your mind at a movie theater. One is “Did I just step in gum?” The other is “Is this supposed to look this way?”

Avatar: The Way of Water , James Cameron’s fundamentally enjoyable and exciting sequel to the 2009 blockbuster Avatar , is meant to represent a major technological advance in cinematic exhibition. Time will tell whether that’s the case. But the fact is that many viewers will have a vexing experience if they see the picture in what’s considered the optimum format.

The first press screenings of the long-delayed 192-minute opus, which reportedly cost somewhere between $250 million and $400 million to make, were held at theaters equipped to project the film in a high frame rate (HFR). You may have experienced this with Gemini Man , Billy Lynn’s Long Halftime Walk , or Peter Jackson’s Hobbit trilogy. It’s fair to say that HFR hasn’t really taken off, unlike the wave of 3D that temporarily changed the cinema landscape when Avatar was released. But director/explorer Cameron boasted in October that he’d found a “simple hack” that would work as a game-changer. In short, he used advanced technology to essentially toggle The Way of Water between 48 frames per second and the traditional 24.

On paper, this sounds like a nice compromise. But three-plus hours of the shifting dynamic, without the ability to just settle into one or the other, is actually worse than simply watching an entire HFR movie. To use an old expression, you can’t ride two horses with one behind. And this is all the more upsetting because so much of the film is truly splendid.

Avatar: The Way of Water tells a simple but engaging story in an imaginative, beautiful environment. It’s more than three hours long, and it unfortunately takes close to a full third of that time to get rolling. But once it does — once former human Marine turned Pandoran native Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), his Na’vi mate Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), and their brood of four half-Na’vi, half-Avatar children take refuge from the forest in a watery part of the world — the sense of wonder hits like a tidal wave.

A group of Na’vi gather at night for a ceremony, standing knee-deep in water and holding torches, with Na’vi played by Kate Winslet and Cliff Curtis presiding, in Avatar: The Way of Water

The story setup is simple: Sky People (the rapacious, militarized humans of the Resources Development Administration) are back on Pandora after the events of Avatar , and this time, they want something even more unobtainable than the element unobtainium. No spoilers, but let’s say that extracting this stuff from Pandora isn’t just dangerous, it’s a crime against everything the Na’vi hold dear. Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), reborn in a cloned Na’vi Avatar body, is leading the charge to kill that turncoat/insurgent Jake Sully, and won’t let anything stand in his way. Oorah!

In the second hour, the action picks up. Jake and Neytiri’s family becomes a collective fish out of water, almost literally, moving in with an aquatic tribe of Na’vi and adapting to its aquatic lifestyle. This is where Cameron’s rich soak in his invented world is most fulfilling. There’s about an hour of just floatin’ around a reef. The Sully kids have scuffles with the local bullies; the oddball daughter learns how to plug her hair into sponges and reefs; the adorable runt puts on translucent floaty wings and zooms around. It goes on for a quite a while, and the display of visual creativity is breathtaking.

Hour three is when things get wild. Cameron, an action director with few equals, is in conversation with himself, upping the stakes and testing his own resume. There’s a thrilling, emotional chase, and then a daylight battle sequence that’s propulsive, energetic, and original. It involves a gargantuan sea beast coming in off the top rope in a way that left my theater cheering.

Cameron isn’t generally known as a comic director, but there’s always been a humorous element to his action sequences. Think of Jamie Lee Curtis caterwauling and mugging during the causeway rescue in True Lies , or Robert Patrick’s T-1000 rising up from behind a soda machine as killer checker-patterned goop in Terminator 2: Judgment Day . What, we weren’t supposed to laugh at that first reveal of Sigourney Weaver in the mech suit in Aliens ? But the battle in the last third of The Way of Water is different.

Maybe Cameron reacquainted himself with the work of Sam Raimi. Maybe he’s drinking from the same cup as S.S. Rajamouli , who made the magnificent, absolutely ludicrous Indian import RRR . In The Way of Water , Cameron leans all the way into manic mayhem, smash-cutting from one outrageous image to the next. The final act of this movie shows off a freeing attitude he’s never fully embraced before in his action — even action that’s strikingly similar, like the massive sinking ship sequence in Titanic . James Cameron has some expertise in this arena, but this time out, it feels like he’s having a lot more fun.

The Na’vi form of Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) stands in a command center surrounded by humans and looks at an elaborate VR display in Avatar: The Way of Water.

It’s unlikely that The Way of Water will be a financial watershed on the same level as 2009’s Avatar . The 3D tech was so new back then, and the world-building and the use of CGI environments were both so unprecedented. It was a once-in-a-lifetime move forward for film technology and immersive storytelling. Much like Disney’s recent sequel Disenchanted , The Way of Water is arriving in a cinematic environment that was completely reshaped by its predecessor — and there are no tricks here that move filmmaking forward in the same way.

The closest Cameron comes is that shifting HFR trick, which winds up being more of a distraction than a bonus. Think about the change you notice at the perimeter of the screen when watching a Christopher Nolan or Mission: Impossible movie in an IMAX theater. The material shot in the large IMAX format blows out to fill the whole frame, changing the aspect ratio. The back and forth of the masking at the top and bottom can be intrusive. Eventually, you get used to it, or you recognize it isn’t that big a deal. The change back and forth with HFR — an enormous screen toggling with a “motion smoothing” effect — is not something the eye and brain can get used to.

What’s more, this is Avatar. Most of the time, what’s in the frame is computer-generated imagery (a telepathic alien whale the size of an aircraft carrier, primed for vengeance!), so it already looks unusual. If the whole movie were in HFR, perhaps one would settle in, but jumping between the two — often from shot to shot in the same action sequence, or even within the same shot , as it is being projected in some cinemas — is simply an aesthetic experiment that fails.

This is not just being picky. The changes mean that the tempo of the action on screen looks either sped up or slowed down as the switches occur. Shots in higher frame rate couched between ones that are lower (and there are many) look like a computer game that gets stuck on a render, which then spits something out super fast. To put it an old-school way, it looks like The Benny Hill Show .

It’s just fascinating that Captain Technology, James Cameron, would want it this way. And it’s unfortunate. Because the entire message of the Avatar films is about environmentalism and preservation, about respecting the world as it is. It seems like Pandora’s creator would recognize that sometimes the best move is to leave well enough alone, instead of looking for ways to fix something that didn’t need fixing in the first place.

Avatar: The Way of Water will be released Dec. 16 in theaters.

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‘avatar: the way of water’ review: james cameron’s mega-sequel delivers on action, emotion and thrilling 3-d visuals.

Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña return to Pandora with a Na’vi family to protect as the “Sky People” menace follows them to a bioluminescent ocean hideout.

By David Rooney

David Rooney

Chief Film Critic

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Sam Worthington in 'Avatar: The Way of Water.'

James Cameron knows his way around a sequel. With Aliens and Terminator 2: Judgment Day , he showed he could build on the strengths of franchise starters with brawny action, steadily ratcheted tension and jaw-dropping technological invention. He’s also a storyteller very much at home in H2O, harnessing both the majestic vastness of the oceans and the icy perils of the deep in Titanic and The Abyss .

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In terms of narrative sophistication and even more so dialogue, this $350 million sequel is almost as basic as its predecessor, even feeble at times. But the expanded, bio-diverse world-building pulls you in, the visual spectacle keeps you mesmerized, the passion for environmental awareness is stirring and the warfare is as visceral and exciting as any multiplex audience could desire.

Box office for Disney’s Dec. 16 release is going to be monstrous, while simultaneously whetting global appetites for the three more Avatar entries Cameron has announced.

What’s most astonishing about The Way of Water is the persuasive case it makes for CGI, at a time when most VFX-heavy productions settle for a rote efficiency that has drained the movies of much of their magic. Unlike other directors who have let technological experimentation at times smother their creative instincts — Robert Zemeckis and Ang Lee come to mind — Cameron thrives in the artifice of the digital toolbox.

Working in High Dynamic Range at 48 frames per second, he harnesses the immersive quality of enhanced 3-D to give DP Russell Carpenter’s images depth and tactile vibrancy. Skeptics who watched the trailer and dismissed the long-time-coming Avatar sequel as a videogame-aesthetic hybrid of photorealism and animation that ends up looking like neither may not be entirely wrong. But the trippy giant-screen experience, for those willing to give themselves over to it, is visually ravishing, particularly in the breathtaking underwater sequences.

The story picks up more than a decade after Marine veteran Jake Sully ( Sam Worthington ) began living on the extrasolar moon Pandora in the Indigenous Na’vi form of his genetically engineered avatar. He and his warrior wife Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña) have raised a family in the meantime, including teenage sons Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) and Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), their tween sister Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss) and adopted daughter Kiri ( Sigourney Weaver ), the biological child of the late Dr. Grace Augustine’s avatar.

Spider (Jack Champion) — a human child orphaned by the “Sky People” conflict and too young to be put into cryosleep when the colonists and their military security force were packed off to Earth at the end of the first movie — spends more time among the Na’vi than he does in the lab facilities with the science nerds. While his connection to the Pandorans runs deep, he’s a walking preview of conflict to come in future installments as his loyalties are divided. The identity of his dad doesn’t remain a mystery for long.

Jake is the respected leader of the Omaticaya clan, whose peaceful existence among the lush forests is threatened when the invaders return to Pandora. Their mission this time is not just to mine the moon for the valuable mineral “unobtainium,” whatever that is, but also to establish Pandora as a human colony, given that Earth is becoming uninhabitable.

Heading the security squad is a face with a familiar snarl and an arsenal of hardass folksy snark, Colonel Miles Quaritch ( Stephen Lang ). But since he was killed by Neytiri’s arrows last time around, it’s now his larger, faster Na’vi avatar (don’t ask), accompanied by a similar bunch of re-engineered big-foot blue grunts. “A Marine can’t be killed,” says Quaritch. “You can kill us, but we’ll just regroup in Hell.”

It goes somewhat against the goal of establishing a new habitat for humanity that their interstellar vehicles incinerate vast expanses of greenery wherever they land, but that just shows that revenge is the only thing Quaritch cares about. The recombinant colonel has acquired none of the spirituality or the respect for nature of the Na’vi people in his new form, and with his disdain for “half-breeds,” he’s even more like a Wild West villain with fancy hardware than before.

When it becomes clear to Jake after some tense encounters that Quaritch is coming after his family, he relinquishes Omaticaya leadership and relocates with the brood to a distant cluster of islands inhabited by the Metkayina clan. The chief, Tonowari (Cliff Curtis), and his pregnant shamanic wife, Ronal ( Kate Winslet ), reluctantly offer the refugees sanctuary, aware of the obvious risk to their community.

Anyone too hung up on consistency might wonder why the Na’vi adults all speak in an unidentifiably exotic accent while their offspring tend to sound like they’ve stepped right out of a CW teen series. Tsireya, in her cute macrame bikini top, appears to have been keeping up with the Kardashians. But you either go with it or you don’t, and there’s a soulful sweetness to the scenes of domestic family life and adolescent interaction that’s warmly engaging.

With the resemblance of the Metkayinas’ intricate tattoos to Maori body art and even a war chant with protruding tongues not unlike the haka ceremony, Cameron seems to be paying tribute to the Indigenous people of the Avatar productions’ host country, New Zealand. The design work on the beautiful Metkayina people themselves is impressive, physiologically distinct from the Omatikayas in various ways that indicate how they have adapted to ocean life.

“Water has no beginning and no end,” says Tsireya, with a reverence that no doubt reflects Cameron’s own feelings. The director has been a deep-sea geek since he graduated from the Roger Corman special effects shop with his seldom-mentioned feature debut Piranha II . That fascination has continued not only through The Abyss and Titanic but also in his ocean documentaries, giving the new film a full-circle feel as we share his intoxication with an unspoiled environment full of power, splendor and mystery.

Just as the flying ikrans and leonopteryxes swooped through the glowing skies of Pandora in the first movie, the sequel finds wonder in the creatures gliding over the exquisitely detailed reefs and ocean depths in this new environment. The Metkayinas ride on dragon-like aquatic mammals called ilus and skimwings. In one enchanting touch, Tsireya shows the newcomers how to attach a kind of stingray as a cape that allows them to breathe underwater. The ocean peoples’ most sacred bond is with the gigantic tulkun, highly intelligent whale-like creatures that provide 300 feet of bait for Quaritch to lure Jake out of hiding in the maze of islands.

You might roll your eyes at soggy dialogue referring to a tulkun as a “spirit sister” and “composer of songs,” but sequences in which these sentient giants become prey are profoundly moving. That section introduces new characters in mercenary sea captain Scoresby (Brendan Cowell) and Resources Development Administration marine biologist Dr. Ian Garvin (Jemaine Clement), who looks on squeamishly as the magnificent creatures are hunted for one of the most valuable commodities in the universe.

“Family is our fortress,” Jake says, and while certain dynamics — like the golden-child eldest son and the undisciplined second-born who can never live up to his example — feel pedestrian, the characters all are sufficiently fleshed-out and individualized to keep us invested. That’s especially true once tragedy strikes and the ongoing attack allows no time to fall apart after a devastating loss.

The good guys-vs.-villains story (scripted by Cameron, Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver) isn’t exactly complex, but the infinite specifics of the world in which it takes place and the tenderness with which the film observes its Indigenous inhabitants make Avatar: The Way of Water surprisingly emotional. While much of the nuance in the cast’s work is overshadowed by CG wizardry, Saldaña and Winslet have poignant moments, Weaver has solid foundations on which to build continuing involvement, and Dalton and Champion are standouts among the young newcomers.

I missed the heart-pounding suspense and tribal themes of James Horner’s score for the 2009 film, but composer Simon Franglen capably maintains the tension where it counts. Even more than its predecessor, this is a work that successfully marries technology with imagination and meticulous contributions from every craft department. But ultimately, it’s the sincerity of Cameron’s belief in this fantastical world he’s created that makes it memorable.

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Avatar: The Way of Water review: beautifully basic

A blue-skinned Na'vi child swims underwater in a scene from Avatar: The Way of Water.

“Avatar: The Way of Water ups the ante visually but still puts spectacle over story.”
  • Gorgeous visuals and visual effects
  • Exceptional use of 3D
  • Easy to get immersed in its world
  • Messy narrative
  • Hollow characters
  • Lacks dramatic weight

When James Cameron’s  Avatar was first released in theaters, the Marvel Cinematic Universe was a mere two films, Christopher Nolan was the king of superhero cinema, and neither Lucasfilm nor Marvel had become Disney brands yet. At that point, there really had been nothing quite like Avatar ‘s groundbreaking visual effects and the blend of performance capture and 3D filmmaking that delivered a simultaneously immersive and wonderfully alien experience.

Back to Pandora

Visionary visuals, stuck on story, sticking with what works.

It was a very different time in Hollywood and one that feels incredibly distant now. We’ve come a long way since 2009, and a lot has changed in cinema and the expectations we have for films.

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Maybe that’s why it’s a little disappointing that  Avatar ‘s long-awaited sequel,  Avatar: The Way of Water , ends up delivering such a similar, familiar experience — and as such, it doesn’t feel quite as fresh and innovative this time around.

Directed again by Cameron from a script he co-wrote with  Planet of the Apes screenwriters Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver,  Avatar: The Way of Water is set more than a decade after the events of the original film, and finds Sam Worthington’s character, Jake Sully, now living life among the blue-skinned Na’vi on the planet Pandora . His mind now permanently imprinted within a manufactured, hybrid Na’vi body, Jake serves as chief of the clan that first embraced him and is raising a family with his Na’vi mate, Neytiri, played again by Zoe Saldaña.

Jake and Neytiri’s idyllic life among the natural splendor of Pandora is shattered, however, when a new group of human colonizers arrives on the planet. To make matters worse, the humans are accompanied by Jake’s former nemesis, Colonel Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), whose mind also resides in a Na’vi avatar now. With Quaritch hunting for him, Jake is forced to flee the forests with his family and take refuge among the water-dwelling clans of Na’vi.

Returning cast members Worthington, Saldaña, and Lang are joined by fellow Avatar actors Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Giovanni Ribisi, Dileep Rao, and Matt Gerald, as well as Sigourney Weaver, who portrays a new character in the film. Newcomers this time around include Kate Winslet and Cliff Curtis, who portray the matriarch and chief, respectively, of the water clan that gives Jake and his family sanctuary, while Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, and Trinity Jo-Li Bliss play Jake and Neytiri’s biological children.

And no, the questions raised by the children’s existence about Na’vi and human biology are never really addressed, but no one seems to give it much thought.  The Way of Water is a film that unabashedly encourages you to shut off your critical thinking and enjoy the ride — and to its credit, it really is quite a ride.

Like its predecessor,  Avatar: The Way of Water is an absolutely gorgeous film, full of breathtaking cinematography and visual effects that — thanks to the film’s crisp, 3D photography — really do make the world of Pandora feel textured and real. By moving the setting of the story from the forests of Pandora to an oceanic network of islands, Cameron also levels up the visuals with a hefty dose of aquatic elements both above and below the surface of the water, and differentiates the sequel visually in a variety of ways, from its color palette to its characters and environment design.

Water, fire, and hair tend to be the trickiest elements to work with in visual effects, and there’s plenty of all three in The Way of Water , whether in the setting and action or the characters and creatures they interact with. All of these elements are brought to the screen with a degree of detail in the 3D and performance-capture technology that adds depth and physicality to them without slipping into the unsettling “uncanny valley” of digital character design. The Na’vi characters live in the sweet spot between human performance and digital art and work well even when positioned alongside human characters.

Of course, superb presentation can only go so far in making digital characters relatable. Without a well-crafted story behind them, even the most meticulously designed characters can feel hollow — and that’s a situation as problematic in The Way of Water as it was in 2009’s  Avatar .

While there are plenty of talented actors portraying the Na’vi characters in  Avatar: The Way of Water and Cameron goes to great lengths to make them feel physically present in the action, the story rarely offers the sort of nuance and developmental moments that make them feel emotionally real.

Where many fully animated features have no problem eliciting genuine, intense emotional reactions from their audience (sometimes a little  too often, in Pixar’s case), both  Avatar: The Way of Water and the 2009 original struggle in that area. They want you to feel powerful emotions, but the stories in both films never quite do enough to forge the sort of connection that merits that level of response. There’s a distance between the audience and the characters that the  Avatar films have trouble navigating, and it continues to be one of the franchise’s biggest shortcomings.

That’s not to say there aren’t some well-crafted dramatic moments in  The Way of Water . Saldana’s Neytiri delivers some of the film’s most heartfelt, impactful scenes, and Cameron’s performance-capture efforts do an impressive job of translating the character’s wide-ranging emotional arc over the course of the film. The journey Dalton’s character takes as Jake and Neytiri’s troubled middle child, Lo’ak, also delivers some powerful moments that are conveyed well in the Na’vi character.

By and large, however, much of the story in  The Way of Water treads familiar ground, which limits how impactful it’s ultimately going to feel for audiences. The characters rarely do anything unexpected and the story holds few surprises, so it’s tough to make any character feel truly unique. Like the 2009 film, The Way of Water is a pastiche of existing stories, re-skinned for an alien world and wrapped in breathtaking visuals, but well-worn and familiar at its core.

Although  The Way of Water ultimately serves as a set-up story for future  Avatar films , its flaws aren’t a product of doing anything particularly wrong. Instead, it’s the film’s willingness to follow the same formula that worked for the original film, without breaking any new ground or doing anything especially new and different, that works against it.

Audiences looking for a unique, stunning visual experience that raises the bar for cinematic spectacle won’t be disappointed by what they find in Avatar: The Way of Water . In that respect, the film is a triumph that suggests the last 13 years of development on the film have been well spent.

Those looking for something more, though — something that learns from the shortcomings of Avatar and improves on them, perhaps — will likely be left wanting when the credits roll. Rather than giving fans of the franchise a more well-rounded experience, Cameron clearly chose to build on what worked in Avatar and continue to let that distract from what doesn’t, and the final product goes all-in on that decision.

It might not be the bar-raising, franchise-redefining film some fans hoped for after 13 years of development, but Avatar: The Way of Water still delivers a rewarding experience that makes satisfying use of the best theater technology available. And for plenty of audiences, that’s going to be more than enough to justify the ticket price of a return trip to Pandora.

Directed by James Cameron, Avatar: The Way of Water is in theaters now. If you want to find out what happens at the end of the film, please click here.

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Rick Marshall

In December, director James Cameron proved that audiences were ready to revisit the world of Avatar on the big screen with Avatar: The Way of Water. It was not only a massive blockbuster with $2.32 billion worldwide (which makes it the third-highest-grossing film of all time), but it also bucked the trend of a quick digital release. But now the wait is almost over. Disney+ has announced that The Way of Water will make its streaming debut on June 7.

https://twitter.com/DisneyPlus/status/1658143305434124289

The year 2022 was a pretty decent one for cinema. From small auteur-driven films like Pearl and The Fabelmans to major blockbuster events like Nope and Elvis, the film industry delivered plenty of movies that packed theaters and rocked audiences worldwide.

Now that 2022 is over, it's time to look back on the movies that, for better or worse, stuck with us. These are the most popular movies of 2022 based on their U.S. domestic box office gross as of March 22, 2023. (The * indicates that the movie is still in theaters and making money.) Honorable mention: Black Adam ($168 million)

On January 24, 2023, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts & Sciences announced the nominees for the 95th Academy Awards (2023 Oscars). Now that the dust has settled and the nominations have concluded, the campaigning has only just begun for this group of nominees. With the ceremony in March, many of the nominated films will make final pushes to sway voters in their respective categories.

Who will win the coveted prize of Best Picture? With movies from industry giants like James Cameron and Steven Spielberg to genre-bending adventures like Everything Everywhere All at Once, Best Picture features an excellent batch of films from a diverse group of filmmakers. Listed below are the Best Picture nominees with information on where to watch each of the films.

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‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ Review: It’s Even More Eye-Popping Than ‘Avatar,’ but James Cameron’s Epic Sequel Has No More Dramatic Dimension

The underwater sequences are beyond dazzling — they insert the audience right into the action — but the story of Jake Sully and his family, now on the run, is a string of serviceable clichés.

By Owen Gleiberman

Owen Gleiberman

Chief Film Critic

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Avatar: The Way of Water

There are many words one could use to describe the heightened visual quality of James Cameron ’s original “ Avatar ” — words like incandescent, immersive, bedazzling. But in the 13 years since that movie came out, the word I tend to remember it best by is glowing . The primeval forest and floating-mountain landscapes of Pandora had an intoxicating fairy-tale shimmer. You wanted to live inside them, even as the story that unfolded inside them was merely okay.

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“The Way of Water” cost a reported $350 million, meaning that it would need to be one of the three or four top-grossing movies of all time just to break even. I think the odds of that happening are actually quite good. Cameron has raised not only the stakes of his effects artistry but the choreographic flow of his staging, to the point of making “The Way of Water,” like “Avatar,” into the apotheosis of a must-see movie. The entire world will say: We’ve got to know what this thrill ride feels like .

At its height, it feels exhilarating. But not all the way through. Cameron, in “The Way of Water,” remains a fleet and exacting classical popcorn storyteller, but oh, the story he’s telling! The script he has co-written is a string of serviceable clichés that give the film the domestic adventure-thriller spine it needs, but not anything more than that. The story, in fact, could hardly be more basic. The Sky People, led again by the treacherous Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang), have now become Avatars themselves, with Quaritch recast as a scowling Na’vi redneck in combat boots and a black crewcut. They’ve arrived in this guise to hunt Jake down. But Jake escapes with his family and hides out with the Metkayina. Quaritch and his goon squad commandeer a hunting ship and eventually track them down. There is a massive confrontation. The end.

This tale, with its bare-bones dialogue, could easily have served an ambitious Netflix thriller, and could have been told in two hours rather than three. But that’s the point, isn’t it? “The Way of Water” is braided with sequences that exist almost solely for their sculptured imagistic magic. It’s truly a movie crossed with a virtual-reality theme-park ride. Another way to put it is that it’s a live-action film that casts the spell of an animated fantasy. But though the faces of the Na’vi and the MetKayina are expressive, and the actors make their presence felt, there is almost zero dimensionality to the characters. The dimensionality is all in the images.

Reviewed at AMC Empire, Dec. 6, 2022. MPAA Rating: PG-13. Running time: 192 MIN.

  • Production: A Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures, 20th Century Studios release of a 20 th Century Studios, Lightstorm Entertainment production. Producers: James Cameron, Jon Landau. Executive producers: David Valdes, Richard Baneham.
  • Crew: Director: James Cameron. Screenplay: James Cameron, Rick, Jaffe, Amanda Silver. Camera: Russell Carpenter. Editors: David Brenner, James Cameron, John Refoua, Stephen E. Rivkin. Music: Simon Franglen.
  • With: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang, Britain Dalton, Sigourney Weaver, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Giovanni Rabisi, Kate Winslet.

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Movie Review | 'Avatar'

A New Eden, Both Cosmic and Cinematic

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avatar full movie review

By Manohla Dargis

  • Dec. 17, 2009

With “Avatar” James Cameron has turned one man’s dream of the movies into a trippy joy ride about the end of life — our moviegoing life included — as we know it. Several decades in the dreaming and more than four years in the actual making, the movie is a song to the natural world that was largely produced with software, an Emersonian exploration of the invisible world of the spirit filled with Cameronian rock ’em, sock ’em pulpy action. Created to conquer hearts, minds, history books and box-office records, the movie — one of the most expensive in history, the jungle drums thump — is glorious and goofy and blissfully deranged.

The story behind the story, including a production budget estimated to top $230 million, and Mr. Cameron’s future-shock ambitions for the medium have already begun to settle into myth (a process partly driven by the publicity, certainly). Every filmmaker is something of a visionary, just by virtue of the medium. But Mr. Cameron, who directed the megamelodrama “Titanic” and, more notably, several of the most influential science-fiction films of the past few decades (“The Terminator,” “Aliens” and “The Abyss”), is a filmmaker whose ambitions transcend a single movie or mere stories to embrace cinema as an art, as a social experience and a shamanistic ritual, one still capable of producing the big WOW.

The scale of his new movie, which brings you into a meticulous and brilliantly colored alien world for a fast 2 hours 46 minutes, factors into that wow. Its scope is evident in an early scene on a spaceship (the year is 2154), where the passengers, including a paraplegic ex-Marine, Jake (Sam Worthington, a gruffly sensitive heartthrob), are being roused from a yearslong sleep before landing on a distant inhabited moon, Pandora. Jake is woken by an attendant floating in zero gravity, one of many such aides. As Jake himself glides through the bright cavernous space, you know you’re not in Kansas anymore, as someone soon quips (a nod to “The Wizard of Oz,” Mr. Cameron’s favorite film). You also know you’re not in the gloom of “The Matrix.”

Though it’s easy to pigeonhole Mr. Cameron as a gear head who’s more interested in cool tools (which here include 3-D), he is, with “Avatar,” also making a credible attempt to create a paradigm shift in science-fiction cinema. Since it was first released in 1999, “The Matrix,” which owes a large debt to Mr. Cameron’s own science-fiction films as well as the literary subgenre of cyberpunk, has hung heavily over both SF and action filmmaking. Most films that crib from “The Matrix” tend to borrow only its slo-mo death waltzes and leather fetishism, keeping its nihilism while ditching the intellectual inquiries. Although “Avatar” delivers a late kick to the gut that might be seen as nihilistic (and how!), it is strangely utopian.

It doesn’t take Jake long to feel the good vibes. Like Neo, the savior-hero of the “Matrix” series played by Keanu Reeves, Jake is himself an avatar because he’s both a special being and an embodiment of an idea, namely that of the hero’s journey. What initially makes Jake unusual is that he has been tapped to inhabit a part-alien, part-human body that he controls, like a puppeteer, from its head to its prehensile tail. Like the rest of the human visitors who’ve made camp on Pandora, he has signed on with a corporation that’s intent on extracting a valuable if mysterious substance from the moon called unobtainium, a great whatsit that is an emblem of humanity’s greed and folly. With his avatar, Jake will look just like one of the natives, the Na’vi, a new identity that gives the movie its plot turns and politics.

The first part of Jake’s voyage — for this is, above all, a boy’s rocking adventure, if one populated by the usual tough Cameron chicks — takes him from a wheelchair into a 10-foot, blue-skinned Na’vi body. At once familiar and pleasingly exotic, the humanoid Na’vi come with supermodel dimensions (slender hips, a miniature-apple rear); long articulated digits, the better to grip with; and the slanted eyes and twitchy ears of a cat. (The gently curved stripes that line their blue skin, the color of twilight, bring to mind the markings on mackerel tabby cats.) For Jake his avatar, which he hooks into through sensors while lying in a remote pod in a semiconscious state, is at first a giddy novelty and then a means to liberation.

Plugging into the avatar gives Jake an instant high, allowing him to run, leap and sift dirt through his toes, and freeing him from the constraints of his body. Although physically emancipated, he remains bound, contractually and existentially, to the base camp, where he works for the corporation’s top scientist, Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver, amused and amusing), even while taking orders from its head of security, Col. Miles Quaritch (Stephen Lang), a military man turned warrior for hire. A cartoon of masculinity, Quaritch strides around barking orders like some intransigent representation of American military might (or a bossy movie director). It’s a favorite Cameron type, and Mr. Lang, who until this year had long been grievously underemployed, tears into the role like a starved man gorging on steak.

Mr. Cameron lays out the fundamentals of the narrative efficiently, grabbing you at once with one eye-popping detail after another and on occasion almost losing you with some of the comically broad dialogue. He’s a masterly storyteller if a rather less nimble prose writer. (He has sole script credit: this is personal filmmaking on an industrial scale.) Some of the clunkier lines (“Yeah, who’s bad,” Jake taunts a rhinolike creature he encounters) seem to have been written to placate those members of the Michael Bay demographic who might find themselves squirming at the story’s touchier, feelier elements, its ardent environmentalism and sincere love story, all of which kick in once Jake meets Neytiri, a female Na’vi (Zoë Saldana, seen only in slinky Na’vi form).

Mr. Cameron has said that he started thinking about the alien universe that became Pandora and its galactic environs in “Avatar” back in the 1970s. He wrote a treatment in 1996, but the technologies he needed to turn his ideas into images didn’t exist until recently. New digital technologies gave him the necessary tools, including performance capture, which translates an actor’s physical movements into a computer-generated image (CGI). Until now, by far the most plausible character created in this manner has been slithery Gollum from Peter Jackson’s “Lord of the Rings” cycle. The exotic creatures in “Avatar,” which include an astonishment of undulating, flying, twitching and galloping organisms, don’t just crawl through the underbrush; they thunder and shriek, yip and hiss, pointy teeth gleaming.

The most important of these are the Na’vi, and while their movements can bring to mind old-fashioned stop-motion animation, their faces are a triumph of tech innovation, with tremors and twitches that make them immediately appealing and empathetic. By the time Neytiri ushers Jake into her world of wonders — a lush dreamscape filled with kaleidoscopic and bioluminescent flora and fauna, with pink jellyfishlike creatures that hang in the air and pleated orange flowers that snap shut like parasols — you are deep in the Na’vi-land. It’s a world that looks as if it had been created by someone who’s watched a lot of Jacques Cousteau television or, like Mr. Cameron, done a lot of diving. It’s also familiar because, like John Smith in “The New World,” Terrence Malick’s retelling of the Pocahontas story, Jake has discovered Eden.

An Eden in three dimensions, that is. In keeping with his maximalist tendencies, Mr. Cameron has shot “Avatar” in 3-D (because many theaters are not equipped to show 3-D, the movie will also be shown in the usual 2), an experiment that serves his material beautifully. This isn’t the 3-D of the 1950s or even contemporary films, those flicks that try to give you a virtual poke in the eye with flying spears. Rather Mr. Cameron uses 3-D to amplify the immersive experience of spectacle cinema. Instead of bringing you into the movie with the customary tricks, with a widescreen or even Imax image filled with sweeping landscapes and big action, he uses 3-D seemingly to close the space between the audience and the screen. He brings the movie to you.

After a few minutes the novelty of people and objects hovering above the row in front of you wears off, and you tend not to notice the 3-D, which speaks to the subtlety of its use and potential future applications. Mr. Cameron might like to play with high-tech gadgets, but he’s an old-fashioned filmmaker at heart, and he wants us to get as lost in his fictional paradise as Jake eventually does. On the face of it there might seem something absurd about a movie that asks you to thrill to a natural world made almost entirely out of zeroes and ones (and that feeds you an anticorporate line in a corporately financed entertainment). But one of the pleasures of the movies is that they transport us, as Neytiri does with Jake, into imaginary realms, into Eden and over the rainbow to Oz.

If the story of a paradise found and potentially lost feels resonant, it’s because “Avatar” is as much about our Earth as the universe that Mr. Cameron has invented. But the movie’s truer meaning is in the audacity of its filmmaking.

Few films return us to the lost world of our first cinematic experiences, to that magical moment when movies really were bigger than life (instead of iPhone size), if only because we were children. Movies rarely carry us away, few even try. They entertain and instruct and sometimes enlighten. Some attempt to overwhelm us, but their efforts are usually a matter of volume. What’s often missing is awe, something Mr. Cameron has, after an absence from Hollywood, returned to the screen with a vengeance. He hasn’t changed cinema, but with blue people and pink blooms he has confirmed its wonder.

“Avatar” is rated PG-13 (Parents strongly cautioned). Gun and explosive violence, death and despair.

Opens on Friday nationwide.

Written and directed by James Cameron; director of photography, Mauro Fiore; edited by Mr. Cameron, John Refoua and Stephen Rivkin; music by James Horner; visual effects supervisor, Joe Letteri; production designers, Rick Carter and Robert Stromberg; produced by Mr. Cameron and Jon Landau; released by 20th Century Fox. Running time: 2 hours 46 minutes.

WITH: Sam Worthington (Jake Sully), Zoë Saldana (Neytiri), Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Grace Augustine), Stephen Lang (Col. Miles Quaritch), Michelle Rodriguez (Trudy Chacon), Giovanni Ribisi (Parker Selfridge), Joel David Moore (Norm), C C H Pounder (Mo’at), Wes Studi (Eytukan) and Laz Alonso (Tsu’Tey).

A listing of credits on Dec. 18 with a film review of “Avatar” misstated the given name of the character portrayed by Giovanni Ribisi. He is Parker Selfridge, not Carter.

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Zoe Saldana and Sam Worthington in Avatar (2009)

A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home. A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home. A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.

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Avatar: Trailer #2

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Avatar: The Way of Water

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  • Trivia The Na'vi language was created entirely from scratch by linguist Dr. Paul R. Frommer . James Cameron hired him to construct a language that would be easily enunciable for actors to pronounce but would not resemble any human language. Frommer created about 1,000 words. Cameron requested Dr Frommer that the Na'vi language must be entirely new, as it's supposed to be from another planet, and that it should sound "nice" to the audience. Cameron didn't want any additional editing done to their voices and wanted them to sound authentic and not unnatural. Equipped with a vast knowledge of linguistics, Dr Frommer understood what kinds of sounds the Na'vi language would or wouldn't have. Just like "j" and "r" don't exist in Korean, in English, the 'h' sound is unaspirated. In a similar vein, Frommer's conception of the new language totally avoided the sounds of "ch", "th", and "sh". Additionally, Frommer had to decide on the language's syntax -- or rules regarding word order. He came up with his own set of constraints and words to be used in the language of Pandora. The tongue took inspiration from the natural languages of the world to create a totally different spoken form.
  • Goofs When Jake's late brother, Tom, is uncovered, he's played by Sam Worthington . In the next shot of Tom being covered again it's clearly someone else.

Jake Sully : Neytiri calls me skxawng. It means "moron."

  • Crazy credits There are no opening credits of any kind, outside of the 20th Century Fox fanfare. The title of the film doesn't appear on screen until the end of the movie. For the 2022 re-release, the 20th Century Fox logo was swapped out for a 20th Century Studios logo for consistency with the second film.
  • Herd: As they fly over Pandora in Trudy's gunship, Jake, Grace and Norm get a closer look at some of Pandora's creatures.
  • The Schoolhouse: Entering an abandoned schoolhouse in the jungle with Grace and Norm to retrieve supplies, Jake makes a grim discovery.
  • Purple Moss: Jake follows Neytiri after his rescue, and delights in the bioluminescent moss that glows beneath his feet with every step. I Don't Even Know Your Name: Newly tasked with teaching Jake the Na'vi ways, Neytiri brings him to dinner with the entire clan.
  • What Does Hold Them Up?: The Avatar team lands at their new base camp in the Hallelujah Mountains, and Jake and Norm marvel at the floating mountains.
  • Extended Montage: Jake learns the ways of the Pandoran forest under Neytiri's tutelage, and the gulf between his two worlds grows ever wider.
  • Neytiri's Flyby: As Tsu'tey, Jake and two other young hunters travel across suspended vines to dizzying heights, Neytiri sails past on her banshee.
  • Sturmbeest Hunt: Omaticayan hunters on direhorses attack a massive herd of sturmbeests, while Jake takes aim from atop his banshee.
  • Extended Love Scene: Jake and Neytiri confess their feelings for one another and bond together for life under the Tree of Voices in this extended scene.
  • Drums of War: The morning after the military's attack on the Tree of Voices, Parker and Quaritch get some bad news from the reconnaissance team.
  • Tsu'tey's Fall: In the RDA assault, Tsu'tey fights fiercely after boarding the Valkyrie shuttle. But the soldiers counter with a hail of bullets.
  • Strumbeest Attack: Sturmbeests charge to the rescue when Neytiri is cornered by RDA soldiers in AMP suits.
  • Extended Thanator Fight: Neytiri and her fearsome thanator battle Colonel Quaritch in his AMP suit in this extended sequence.
  • The Last Shadow: When Neytiri and Jake find Tsu'tey mortally wounded, he passes leadership of the Omaticaya to Jake, with one last request of him.
  • Connections Edited into Bones: The Gamer in the Grease (2009)
  • Soundtracks I See You (Theme from Avatar) Performed by Leona Lewis Music by James Horner and Simon Franglen Lyrics by Simon Franglen , Kuk Harrell , and James Horner Produced by Simon Franglen and James Horner Leona Lewis performs courtesy of Syco Music

User reviews 3.8K

  • ClaytonDavis
  • Dec 14, 2009
  • What's meant to happen to Sully's Navi/"Avatar" body, when his human body gets woken up on-base? And between sessions? We never see Navi-Jake returning to base; Is his switched-off Navi body just laying comatose, in a forest full of predators? Do the real Navi just think Jake has narcolepsy??
  • If at the the end of the movie, the humans were, as Jake said, sent back to their dying planet (Earth), are we to assume that they all were sent back and simply died?
  • What is 'Avatar' about?
  • December 18, 2009 (United States)
  • United States
  • Official Facebook
  • Avatar: An IMAX 3D Experience
  • Kaua'i, Hawaii, USA (rain forest)
  • Twentieth Century Fox
  • Dune Entertainment
  • Lightstorm Entertainment
  • See more company credits at IMDbPro
  • $237,000,000 (estimated)
  • $785,221,649
  • $77,025,481
  • Dec 20, 2009
  • $2,923,706,026

Technical specs

  • Runtime 2 hours 42 minutes
  • Dolby Digital
  • Dolby Atmos

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Avatar: The Way of Water (United States, 2022)

Avatar: The Way of Water Poster

It’s finally here. After years of missed release dates related to postproduction issues, James Cameron’s oft-delayed sequel to 2009’s Avatar has finally arrived. Was it worth the 13-year wait? Unquestionably. It’s difficult to overstate how impressive and potentially game-changing this motion picture is. Nothing before has prepared audiences for the immersion offered by Avatar: The Way of Water when seen in optimal circumstances. The film’s straightforward narrative (which isn’t going to garner any writing nominations) plays a distant second fiddle to the amazing technical leap forward that this movie offers. If theatrical movies are going to survive, this is the future – the kind of experience that will get me off my sofa and into a well-upholstered theater seat. The Way of Water gave me three-plus hours like no other three-plus hours I have spent in a multiplex. By alternating fast-paced action sequences with slower, more contemplative stretches, Cameron calms the blood pressure before repeatedly elevating it. Those in search of a rich emotional experience or complex storyline won’t find either here, but those things have never been the director’s bread-and-butter. He offers enough of both to allow his vision and his team’s technical bravura to smooth out any pacing inconsistencies and take the viewer down a dizzying rabbit hole. Awesome.

The sequel starts between 15 and 20 years after the first Avatar ended. During the peaceful interval between movies, Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) have been raising a family: eldest son Neteyam (Jamie Flatters), adopted daughter Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), younger son Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and youngest daughter Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss). Also hanging around is Spider (Jack Champion), a human left behind (babies couldn’t be put into cryo-sleep for the journey home) who has “gone native.” Their idyllic lifestyle with the Forest Na’vi is shattered when a new group of Earthlings arrive in the skies of Pandora. Their objective this time isn’t stip-mining; it’s colonization. But, before they can tame (and terraform) the planet, they have to pacify the natives…by force. Led by General Ardmore (Edie Falco), the marines are given a “by any means necessary” mandate, which suits Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang) just fine. A Na’vi avatar implanted with the memories of the original Quaritch, this soldier has the same personality and intends to avenge himself upon the killer of his predecessor: Jake Sully.

avatar full movie review

No matter how many words I could use, I’d never be able to adequately describe the leap forward that The Way of Water takes. It’s as close to Virtual Reality as can be obtained in a movie theater. The visual effects are impressive on their own – CGI used in new ways to flesh out the first-rate world building begun in Avatar . The action sequences are cleanly choreographed and expertly shot – there’s no confusion about what’s going on. Cameron does what he has always done in ratcheting up the tension because it’s never a certainty who’s going to live and who’s going to die. The motion capture is top notch. There are very few humans in this film, making The Way of Water more of a hybrid animated/live-action movie. But when it comes to the 3D…

avatar full movie review

A quick comparison of The Way of Water with the most recent MCU release (which also has numerous underwater scenes), Wakanda Forever , illustrates how much bolder Cameron is when it comes to world-building, character arcs, and narrative trajectory. Compared to this film, even the best recent superhero entries feel stale and rote. The Way of Water excites both in terms of its visual presentation and the way in which it has been fashioned. There’s an energy here that has been sadly absent from too many recent Hollywood blockbusters. For 2022, The Way of Water may not be the most intricately made or intellectually rigorous motion picture, but it exemplifies what “cinematic” means today.

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Avatar Review

Avatar

17 Dec 2009

161 minutes

Avatar is unequivocally, completely, 100% the film that has been percolating in James Cameron ’s head for the last fourteen years. It is not, in all probability, the film that you had in yours when you first heard that the man who directed Aliens and The Terminator was returning to sci-fi with a movie so ambitious that he had to build the technology to make it happen. If you can let go of your version and embrace Cameron’s – if you’re not, in other words, one of those splenetic internet fanboy types who’ve apparently made their minds up about Avatar before seeing it – then Avatar is a hugely rewarding experience: rich, soulful and exciting in the way that only comes from seeing a master artist at work.

Let’s address the Big Question first: to use the key phrase so often used in connection with the movie, is it a game-changer? Yes, and no would be the cop-out answer, but it’s also the truth. Avatar employs technology necessary to render its largely computer-generated, 3D world that will give directors, including but not limited to Cameron, one heck of a sandbox to play in over the next few years. That’s how the game has changed off screen.

avatar full movie review

On it, it may not be a game-changer, but no director to date has built a world of this scale, ambition and complexity before, and Avatar – much as the arrival of Raymond van Barneveld forced Phil ‘The Power’ Taylor to up his game – will have rival directors scrambling to keep up with Cameron. Avatar is an astonishing feast for the eyes and ears, with shots and sequences that boggle the mind, from the epic – a floating mountain range in the sky, waterfalls cascading into nothingness – to the tiny details, such as a paraplegic sinking his new, blue and fully operational toes into the sand. The level of immersive detail here is simply amazing.

And Cameron plunges you straight in, not even giving you time to don water wings. In a dizzyingly fast, almost impressionistic opening ten minutes, we’re introduced, in no short order, to everything you need to know for the next 150: about Pandora’s climate and largely deadly population, about Jake Sully’s situation, about the Avatar programme and the ruthless plans of the human invaders (led by Stephen Lang ’s Col. Quaritch and Giovanni Ribisi ’s Selfridge, a clear nod to Aliens ’ Carter Burke, one of several touches reminiscent of Cameron’s earlier masterpiece). And then we’re off and running, literally, into an action sequence where Jake-Avatar barely survives encounters with unfriendly local wildlife that would make Ray Mears cream his shorts.

avatar full movie review

And it’s here where Cameron begins the detour from the all-out actionfest that many might have expected, choosing instead to slow things down over a three-month time period in which Jake – hair and beard markedly growing in the live-action sequences – immerses himself in the Na’vi culture, and gradually finds himself losing his heart to their ways and practices, and, in particular, Zoë Saldaña ’s fierce warrioress, Neytiri.

The lack of a ticking clock plot device here may deprive Avatar of momentum or drive through its middle-section, but it’s also part of Cameron’s agenda. After all, he’s also the guy who directed Titanic , and Avatar isn’t just about spectacle and stupendous action (though we’ll get both in spades), but a love story. We need hardly be surprised by this – every Cameron film, even True Lies , has a love story at its core – but the surprise here is how effective Avatar ’s central coupling is, the emotion between Jake and Neytiri earthed by Weta’s astonishing digital effects. You can safely stow away all that spurious crap about videogame-style effects, or blue Jar Jars: this is truly next-level stuff, which doesn't smother Worthington and Saldana under a pile of pixels, but rather teases out and enhances the emotion in their excellent performances.

Jake and Neytiri's relationship is genuinely engaging – just because they’re aliens doesn’t mean they have to be alienating.

The Na’vi, each of whom has clearly distinct features (no small feat for a clan of some several hundred creatures) may not always seem photo-real, but they do seem – and this is crucial – alive and extremely expressive, helped by the fact that the dead-eye problem, which has plagued mo-cap movies since their inception, has been well and truly solved.

Worthington, fully justifying all the hullabaloo about him with a controlled, charming and physical performance (both in and out of his Avatar ), may have a magnificent Lee Marvin leading man monotone, but an even bigger asset is his soulful eyes, a quality that is retained and magnified in the larger peepers of the Na’vi. Jake and Neytiri’s burgeoning love is contained in the intricacies of detail in the eyes – a flicker of longing here, a widening of the pupils or a rolling tear there, that further aids the illusion that these conglomerations of ones and zeros actually exist. It’s a genuinely engaging relationship – just because they’re aliens doesn’t mean they have to be alienating.

Mind you, despite all the advances and groundwork laid, we might be not quite ready to see two CG characters effectively dry-hump each other. That’s just wrong…

avatar full movie review

But, as much as technology aids and defines Avatar , it’s also a love letter to humanity and the glory of mother nature. The analogy with the Vietnam and Iraq wars is obvious, but Cameron, in siding with the insurgents (hardly an all-American move, but then again he is Canadian), is also asking fairly complex questions about what it means to be human. “How does it feel to betray your race?”, Sully is asked at one point, but by then, Cameron’s point has been made: the humans here, Sully and an assortment of ‘good’ scientists, led by Sigourney Weaver ’s Dr. Grace Augustine, aside, are the monsters; avaricious, rapacious, planet-killers. There’s never any doubt that Cameron considers the Na’vi to be more human – freer of spirit and emotion, more connected to the world around them.

At times – and this is perhaps Avatar ’s biggest flaw, even beyond that bloody awful Leona Lewis song which mars the end credits – this manifests itself in New Age-y, hippy-dippy language and images that suggest that Cameron is one mung bean away from dropping out, man, and going all Swampy on our asses.

The human attack on Pandora and the subsequent fightback is a largely sustained setpiece of quite staggering scale, imagination and emotion.

In truth, the big idea here, that Pandora is a giant mass of connected energy and emotional synapses, isn’t really all that far away from Lucas’ The Force, and works just fine in the context of a sci-fi fantasy, which Avatar undoubtedly is, but there’s a fair amount of unintentional laughter to be had from watching hundreds of Na’vi, swaying like extras from the Zion rave scene in The Matrix Reloaded , surrounding something called The Tree Of Souls and banging on about becoming one with Mother Eywa. If there’s one element of Avatar that the made-their-mind-up brigade will use to mercilessly beat the film with, even more so than the somewhat prosaic plot, it’s this.

But it’s hard to imagine even the most jaded and cynical having any issues with the last forty minutes, in which Cameron uncorks the action and shows all the young pretenders – the Bays and the Emmerichs and the Von Triers – how it’s done. The human attack on Pandora and the subsequent fightback, led by Avatar-Jake, is a largely sustained setpiece of quite staggering scale, imagination and emotion that manages to compress both the truly epic – a human attack on a Na’vi landmark that recalls 9/11 in its devastating imagery – and the thrillingly intimate, as Jake finally faces off against the excellent Stephen Lang’s Quaritch, a scenery-chewing bad guy so badass that he can breathe the Pandoran air without a mask.

It’s a relentless sequence which, while not quite matching the emotional punch of Titanic ’s three-hanky conclusion, will still leave you dazed, confused but exhilarated, a feeling that will be enhanced further if you can – and we really, really recommend that you should – catch it in 3D, where Cameron’s unparalleled and meticulously constructed use of the technique expertly envelopes you in the beguiling, exotic sights and sounds of Pandora, a planet (or, to be precise, a moon) that throbs and hums and teems with life and energy in three dimensions.

It’s a world, not to give too much away, that Cameron clearly fully intends to return to and further explore. When he does, our bags are already packed.

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avatar full movie review

Action-heavy epic has dazzling effects, familiar story.

Avatar Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Overall, movie's message is that we could all stan

Several characters make difficult but moral choice

Although humans on the base are racially diverse,

Characters (supporting and extras) die due to expl

Many longing looks between Jake's avatar and Neyti

The word "s--t" is used several times. Language al

No product placement in the movie, but dozens of t

Sigourney Weaver's character, Grace, smokes cigare

Parents need to know that James Cameron's sci-fi epic Avatar is about humans colonizing the planet Pandora, home to the Na'vi. The movie is long (at 161 minutes) and intense, with several effects-heavy battle and hunting sequences that show the devastation of imperialist violence and the right that Indigenous…

Positive Messages

Overall, movie's message is that we could all stand to learn something from a population that's different from our own. Strong environmental and pro-peace themes. Some viewers may see the message of occupying a foreign land to usurp their cultural riches as a commentary on Western imperialism or United States' involvement in global politics.

Positive Role Models

Several characters make difficult but moral choices. Jake chooses to support the Na'vi even though it's against orders to do so and means he must fight (and kill) fellow human soldiers. Neytiri, Grace, and Trudy all make personal sacrifices to help the clan; they're strong, courageous, assertive characters. (In both human and Na'vi populations, female characters are brave and important -- even the Na'vi mating ritual requires that both partners equally accept/choose each other.) On the flip side, the Colonel and corporate boss Parker are portrayed as bloodthirsty and greedy.

Diverse Representations

Although humans on the base are racially diverse, majority of main characters are White. They use offensive terms and stereotypes when talking about the Indigenous population of Pandora, and the military engages in imperialist violence. These scenes, intended to encourage racial/ethnic equality and show value of treating other groups with respect, only partially succeed because, while the Na'vi ultimately triumph, they do so only by following the guidance of outsiders. Violent human colonizers are ultimately ejected from Pandora, but film glosses over how the Na'vi environment and population have been permanently damaged by even well-meaning human scientists and allies. Main character Jake has a visible disability: He uses a wheelchair and is initially teased and treated as an inconvenience. But he easily moves around the base in his wheelchair and asserts control over himself when others try to touch or move him without his consent. Women and female Na'vi characters are important in the story, hold prominent social roles such as scientists and spiritual leaders. No body size diversity. All romantic relationships are between male and female Na'vi.

Did we miss something on diversity? Suggest an update.

Violence & Scariness

Characters (supporting and extras) die due to explosions, bullet wounds, arrows (some treated with toxins), precipitous falls, asphyxiation. Several intense scenes involving frightening Pandoran animals and plants, as well as tension between Jake's rogue group of pro-Na'vi humans and the rest of the humans sent to Pandora.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Violence & Scariness in your kid's entertainment guide.

Sex, Romance & Nudity

Many longing looks between Jake's avatar and Neytiri, which eventually leads to kissing and a marital "mating" ritual (kissing and touching are seen on screen). Na'vi clothing makes parts of their humanoid bodies visible. ​​Jake and Neytir's relationship is briefly referred to as "getting tail."

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Sex, Romance & Nudity in your kid's entertainment guide.

The word "s--t" is used several times. Language also includes "bulls--t," "bitch," "goddamn," "piss," limp-d--ked," "hell," "oh my God," "ass," and insults like "stupid," "ignorant," etc. Degrading language is used to describe disabled people, such as "cripple." Slurs such as "savages," "roaches," and "blue monkeys" are used to describe the Na'vi.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Language in your kid's entertainment guide.

Products & Purchases

No product placement in the movie, but dozens of tie-in merchandising deals tied to the title -- including toys and books aimed at young kids.

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Sigourney Weaver's character, Grace, smokes cigarettes and somewhat glamorizes the activity.

Did you know you can flag iffy content? Adjust limits for Drinking, Drugs & Smoking in your kid's entertainment guide.

Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know that James Cameron 's sci-fi epic Avatar is about humans colonizing the planet Pandora, home to the Na'vi. The movie is long (at 161 minutes) and intense, with several effects-heavy battle and hunting sequences that show the devastation of imperialist violence and the right that Indigenous groups have to protect themselves and their land. These scenes include missile-launching military aircraft, neurotoxin-laced arrows, scary Pandora-dwelling fauna and flora, and lots of explosions. Salty wartime language includes many uses of "s--t," "​​bitch," and more. As in his previous films, Cameron infuses the action-driven story with strong female characters who are important to the plot, and crafts a morality tale about treating others with respect centered in a romantic relationship. ​​Main character Jake uses a wheelchair in his daily life and a Na'vi "avatar" body to interact with local populations, and the human-Na'vi relationship in question gets a bit complicated because the human is actually using his Na'vi avatar. Na'vi clothing makes parts of their bodies visible from time to time. The romantic leads have chemistry that's sometimes sensual. (Note: Fans of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender should know that this movie is in no way connected to that show or the movie based on it.) To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails .

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Based on 255 parent reviews

Very well done. Make sure you are not only an older teen, but a mature one too. Watch the family edition.

What's the story.

In the 22nd century, Marine Jake Scully ( Sam Worthington ), who uses a wheelchair, embarks on a corporate-run, military-backed experiment in which he and a select group of academics -- led by Dr. Grace Augustine ( Sigourney Weaver ) -- can fully control avatars that look exactly like the Na'vi: the lean, blue-skinned native population of a distant world called Pandora. On his first outing as his AVATAR, Jake is saved by Na'vi Neytiri ( Zoe Saldana ) and then captured by her clan. They decide to spare Jake's life as long as he agrees to learn the Na'vi ways from Neytiri. He does, but then he's told by villainous Colonel Quaritch ( Stephen Lang ) that he'll be spying on the Na'vi to make it easier to remove them from their home, an ancestral tree that's rooted above a deposit of an unbelievably valuable substance called "Unobtainium" (pun intended). As Jake becomes more and more involved with Neytiri and her people, he's forced to choose between following orders and respecting the Na'vi's wishes.

Is It Any Good?

James Cameron , director of the highest-grossing movie ever made ( Titanic ), risked a rumored $500 million on a spectacular futuristic sci-fi epic whose main characters are blue aliens and settings are mostly CGI. The good news for epic movie lovers everywhere is that Avatar was a massive success. It's more like the story of Dances with Wolves crossed with the breathtaking visual effects of Lord of the Rings and the love story of Titanic , with a splash of the assimilation to a native culture aspect of Apocalypse Now thrown in. Even though Cameron seems to have gone to the same hammy dialogue school of screenwriting as George Lucas , he can certainly immerse viewers in a thoroughly enjoyable spectacle. Every shot of Pandora is amazingly detailed, from floating mountains to flying beasts to the feline-featured Na'vi, who are inspired by several Indigenous cultures. The movie's scale is undeniably impressive.

Cameron owes a huge debt to his movie's female characters, all of whom are much more interesting than the stereotypical men -- especially the outlandishly evil Quaritch and Giovanni Ribisi 's greedy corporate overseer. Weaver and Michelle Rodriguez (as soldier Trudy Chacon), like Aliens ' Ripley or Terminator 's Sarah Connor, could take on anything or anyone, and Saldana follows up a memorable turn as Uhura in Star Trek with another strong performance as Neytiri. It's quite a feat to create romantic electricity between fictional alien creatures, but Saldana and Worthington manage it surprisingly well. If you allow yourself to get lost in Cameron's Pandora, it's impossible not to root for the Na'vi (or Neytiri and Jake). Part sci-fi, part romance, all James Cameron, this is the sci-fi epic that will suck everyone in.

Talk to Your Kids About ...

Families can talk about Avatar 's revolutionary special effects. Do they overwhelm or support the movie's story? How does the portrayal of the Na'vi affect the movie's emotional impact?

What themes does Cameron consistently work into his films? Compare the strong female characters in Avatar , Terminator , and Titanic . Any similarities?

What political messages is Cameron exploring in the movie? How are its themes relevant to what's going on in today's world? Do you think these messages will stand the test of time?

Why is it important to respect different cultural groups and treat their traditions and practices as valid and important?

How do the Na'vi and human allies use teamwork to achieve their goals? Why is that an important character strength ?

Movie Details

  • In theaters : December 18, 2009
  • On DVD or streaming : April 22, 2010
  • Cast : Michelle Rodriguez , Sam Worthington , Sigourney Weaver , Zoe Saldana
  • Director : James Cameron
  • Inclusion Information : Female actors, Latino actors, Black actors
  • Studio : Twentieth Century Fox
  • Genre : Science Fiction
  • Topics : Activism , Magic and Fantasy , Science and Nature , Space and Aliens
  • Character Strengths : Teamwork
  • Run time : 161 minutes
  • MPAA rating : PG-13
  • MPAA explanation : intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking
  • Last updated : May 18, 2024

Did we miss something on diversity?

Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.

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Avatar: The Way of Water

December 16, 2022

Action-Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction

"Avatar: The Way of Water" reaches new heights and explores undiscovered depths as James Cameron returns to the world of Pandora in this emotionally packed action adventure. Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, "Avatar: The Way of Water" launches the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure. All of this against the breathtaking backdrop of Pandora, where audiences are introduced to new Na’vi cultures and a range of exotic sea creatures that populate the majestic oceans. Nominated for numerous Academy Awards® including Best Picture, the James Cameron-directed film became the third highest-grossing box office film of all-time and set a new benchmark for visual effects. Produced by Cameron and his longtime partner Jon Landau, the Lightstorm Entertainment production stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet. Joining the illustrious adult cast are talented newcomers Britain Dalton, Jamie Flatters, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Bailey Bass and Jack Champion.

Rated: PG-13 Runtime: 3h 12min Release Date: December 16, 2022

Directed By

Produced by.

  • Nominee - 2023 Academy Award® for Best Picture
  • Nominee - 2023 Academy Award® for Production Design
  • Nominee - 2023 Academy Award® for Sound
  • Winner - 2023 Academy Award® for Visual Effects

PG-13

  • motionpictures.org
  • filmratings.com

Avatar: The Way of Water Cast and Characters

Actor Sam Worthington

General Frances Ardmore

Actor Jemaine Clement

Dr. Ian Garvin

Actor Brendan Cowell

Mick Scoresby

Actor Jack Champion

Avatar: The Way of Water | "Watch on Disney+ June 7"

avatar full movie review

Avatar: The Way of Water | "Let's Go" | Buy It on Digital

Avatar: The Way of Water | Global Phenomenon

Avatar: The Way of Water | Global Phenomenon

Thank you to our fans for your passion, your love, and for making Avatar: The Way of Water the 3rd highest-grossing...

Avatar: The Way of Water | #1 for 7 Weeks

Avatar: The Way of Water | #1 for 7 Weeks

Avatar: The Way of Water is the #1 movie in the nation, 7 weeks in a row 💙

Avatar: The Way of Water | A Friendship Like No Other

Avatar: The Way of Water | A Friendship Like No Other

Experience Avatar: The Way of Water now playing in 3D only in theaters. Get tickets now: www.fandango.com/avatarthewayofwater

Avatar: The Way of Water | Sigourney Weaver

Avatar: The Way of Water | Sigourney Weaver

What acting is all about 💙

Avatar: The Way of Water | #1 Movie for 3 Weeks

Avatar: The Way of Water | #1 Movie for 3 Weeks

For 3 weeks in a row, Avatar: The Way of Water is the #1 movie in the world.

Avatar: The Way of Water | Planet Pandora

Avatar: The Way of Water | Planet Pandora

There’s no place like Pandora 💙

Avatar: The Way of Water | Cast on Cast - Trinity Jo-Li Bliss and Jack Champion

Avatar: The Way of Water | Cast on Cast - Trinity Jo-Li Bliss and Jack Champion

Tuktirey and Spider 💙

Avatar: The Way of Water | Acting in The Volume

Avatar: The Way of Water | Acting in The Volume

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, “Avatar: The Way of Water” begins to tell the story of the Sully family...

Avatar: The Way of Water | Cast on Cast - Bailey Bass and Jamie Flatters

Avatar: The Way of Water | Cast on Cast - Bailey Bass and Jamie Flatters

Tsireya and Neteyam 💙

Avatar: The Way of Water | #1 Movie

Avatar: The Way of Water | #1 Movie

Avatar: The Way of Water is the #1 movie in the world.

Avatar: The Way of Water | #1 Movie in the World

Avatar: The Way of Water | #1 Movie in the World

The motion picture event of a generation is now the #1 movie in the world.

Avatar: The Way of Water | International Tour

Avatar: The Way of Water | International Tour

A global phenomenon 💙

Avatar: The Way of Water | Return to Pandora

Avatar: The Way of Water | Return to Pandora

Experience the magic of Pandora.

Avatar: The Way of Water | See It in 3D

Avatar: The Way of Water | See It in 3D

In 10 days, the motion picture event of a generation arrives in 3D.

Avatar: The Way of Water | Official Trailer

Avatar: The Way of Water | New Trailer

On December 16, experience the motion picture event of a generation.

Avatar: The Way of Water | Actor Zoe Saldaña | Tickets on sale

Avatar: The Way of Water | Tickets on Sale

Neytiri and Jake in Avatar (2009)

Avatar: Official Launch Trailer

Avatar: The Way of Water | teaser trailer

Avatar: The Way of Water | Official Teaser Trailer

Latest news.

Empire magazine cover featuring Sigourney Weaver as Kiri in Avatar 2.

Sigourney Weaver as Kiri graces the subscriber-exclusive cover of Empire Magazine

Sigourney Weaver plays Jake and Neytiri’s adopted teenage Na’vi daughter in Avatar 2 . Experience Avatar: The Way of Water only in theaters December 16.

Empire magazine cover featuring characters from Avatar.

Empire ’s World-Exclusive Avatar: The Way Of Water Cover Revealed

The newsstand cover of Empire Magazine for Avatar: The Way of Water is here. Experience it only in theaters December 16.

Avatar: The Way of Water title treatment

We officially have a title!

A boy wearing goggles swims in water with only the top half of his head visible.

Avatar 2 : Meet Spider, Jake And Neytiri’s Adopted Human Son

A lot has changed on Pandora in the 13-year gap between Avatar and Avatar 2 (arriving in 2022).

Neteyam | Avatar: The Way of Water | In theaters and 3D December 16 | movie poster

Movie Image Gallery

(L-R): Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), Ronal (Kate Winslet), and Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), Ronal (Kate Winslet), and Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved. 

Quaritch (Stephen Lang) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Quaritch (Stephen Lang) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Kiri, Neytiri, Neteyam, Lo'ak, Tuk, and Jake Sully in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Kiri, Neytiri, Neteyam, Lo'ak, Tuk, and Jake Sully in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) and a Tulkun in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) and a Tulkun in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Kiri/ Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Kiri/ Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Ronal (Kate Winslet), Tonowari (Cliff Curtis), and the Metkayina clan in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Ronal (Kate Winslet), Tonowari (Cliff Curtis), and the Metkayina clan in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) and Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) and Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Jack Champion as Spider and Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Jack Champion as Spider and Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Ronal (Kate Winslet) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR 2. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Ronal (Kate Winslet) in 20th Century Studios'  AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER.  Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

(L-R): Lo’ak (Britain Dalton) and a Tulkun in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. ©2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

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Avatar: The Way of Water will stream on both Disney+ and Max

After becoming the third-highest-grossing movie of all time, James Cameron's sci-fi blockbuster is swimming onto multiple streaming platforms.

Christian Holub is a writer covering comics and other geeky pop culture. He's still mad about 'Firefly' getting canceled.

avatar full movie review

At long last, Avatar: The Way of Water is swimming onto Disney+ next month... but, interestingly, its streaming journey won't end there.

James Cameron 's record-breaking sci-fi film will also stream on Max (the platform formerly known as HBO Max, which will change its name on May 23). Avatar: The Way of Water will hit both streaming platforms on June 7.

Avatar: The Way of Water landed in U.S. movie theaters on Dec. 16, and went on to gross over $2.3 billion worldwide. That eye-popping total made it not only the highest-grossing movie of 2022, but also the third highest-grossing movie of all time, behind only Avengers: Endgame and its own predecessor, 2009's Avatar . Together with Titanic , this means Cameron has directed three of the top five highest-grossing movies ever .

The film is once again set on the moon Pandora, where Jake Sully ( Sam Worthington ) and Neytiri ( Zoe Saldaña ) are now raising a family. But their domestic bliss is disturbed when the human military (or, as the Na'vi call them, "the sky people") return to try their conquest again. Jake's old enemy Miles Quaritch ( Stephen Lang ) has been resurrected in an Avatar body and assigned to assassinate the Na'vi resistance leader.

True to its title, Avatar: The Way of Water introduced viewers to Pandora's seaside community of Na'vi, who share an emotional connection with whale-like creatures called Tulkun. Jake and Neytiri's son Lo'ak (Britain Dalton) bonds with a renegade Tulkun named Payakan, and their friendship was a fan-favorite element of the film.

Avatar: The Way of Water has been available to buy or rent digitally since March 28 , but still does not have a date for a physical release on DVD or Blu-Ray.

Want more movie news? Sign up for Entertainment Weekly 's free newsletter to get the latest trailers, celebrity interviews, film reviews, and more.

Related content:

  • James Cameron has now directed 3 of the 5 highest-grossing movies of all time
  • Avatar: The Way of Water review: A whole blue world, bigger and bolder than the first
  • James Cameron breaks down four key Avatar: The Way of Water scenes

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Go back to the beginning to experience the epic saga of Avatar: The Last Airbender again with this complete collection; From the discovery of Avatar Aang in the frozen iceberg to the mastery of all four elements, from the battle at Ba Sing Se to the final showdown with the Fire Nation, your destiny awaits as you relive all the powerful bending that will blow you away once more!

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  • Is Discontinued By Manufacturer ‏ : ‎ No
  • MPAA rating ‏ : ‎ NR (Not Rated)
  • Product Dimensions ‏ : ‎ 1.8 x 5.4 x 7.6 inches; 1.15 Pounds
  • Item model number ‏ : ‎ 59172274000
  • Media Format ‏ : ‎ Multiple Formats, Color, Dolby, NTSC, Animated, Full Screen, Box set
  • Run time ‏ : ‎ 24 hours and 22 minutes
  • Release date ‏ : ‎ October 6, 2015
  • Actors ‏ : ‎ Zach Tyler
  • Producers ‏ : ‎ Nickelodeon studios
  • Studio ‏ : ‎ Paramount Pictures Home Entertainment
  • ASIN ‏ : ‎ B011MUA592
  • Country of Origin ‏ : ‎ USA
  • Number of discs ‏ : ‎ 16
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IMAGES

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COMMENTS

  1. Avatar movie review & film summary (2009)

    Watching "Avatar," I felt sort of the same as when I saw "Star Wars" in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations. James Cameron's film has been the subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz, just as his "Titanic" was. Once again, he has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how ...

  2. Avatar

    Rated: 3/5 May 7, 2024 Full Review Keith Garlington Keith & the Movies "Avatar" remains a transporting experience - an entertaining blend of old-fashioned adventure and technological wonder.

  3. Avatar: The Way of Water movie review (2022)

    Cameron invites viewers into this fully realized world with so many striking images and phenomenally rendered action scenes that everything else fades away. Advertisement. Maybe not right away. "Avatar: The Way of Water" struggles to find its footing at first, throwing viewers back into the world of Pandora in a narratively clunky way.

  4. Avatar: The Way of Water

    First name L The way of watered down storytelling. Rated 1.5/5 Stars • Rated 1.5 out of 5 stars 05/05/24 Full Review devon Great movie just watching but In 3d I was with a group of 9 and we keep ...

  5. 'Avatar: The Way of Water' Review: Big Blue Marvel

    Cameron's ambitions are as sincere as they are self-contradictory. He wants to conquer the world in the name of the underdog, to celebrate nature by means of the most extravagant artifice, and ...

  6. Avatar: The Way of Water review: A big, bold sequel

    Avatar: The Way of Water review: A whole blue world, bigger and bolder than the first. Thirteen years on, James Cameron takes Pandora under the sea in an astonishing, at times overwhelming sequel.

  7. Avatar

    Full Review | Original Score: 4/5 | Feb 8, 2024. Preston Barta Fresh Fiction. 'Avatar' is not just a visual display. It contains heart, humor, and all the aspects needed to make it a well-rounded ...

  8. Movie Review: 'Avatar: The Way of Water'

    Movie Review: 'Avatar: The Way of Water' Filmmaker James Cameron's sequel to the biggest worldwide box office hit of all time, "Avatar: The Way of Water," has been in the works for more than a decade.

  9. Avatar: The Way of Water Review

    Avatar: The Way of Water is a clear improvement on its predecessor and, though its story isn't breaking new ground, its jaw-dropping visuals make this an irresistible return to Pandora.

  10. 'Avatar' Review: Movie (2009)

    This is motion capture brought to a new high where every detail of the actors' performances gets preserved in the final CG character as they appear on the screen. Yes, those eyes are no longer ...

  11. Avatar 2 review: a thrilling epic that gambles on how you watch it

    Cameron, an action director with few equals, is in conversation with himself, upping the stakes and testing his own resume. There's a thrilling, emotional chase, and then a daylight battle ...

  12. 'Avatar: The Way of Water' Review: James Cameron's Immersive Sequel

    Director: James Cameron. Screenwriters: James Cameron, Rick Jaffa, Amanda Silver. Rated PG-13, 3 hours 12 minutes. In terms of narrative sophistication and even more so dialogue, this $350 million ...

  13. Avatar: The Way of Water review: beautifully basic

    Like its predecessor, Avatar: The Way of Water is an absolutely gorgeous film, full of breathtaking cinematography and visual effects that — thanks to the film's crisp, 3D photography ...

  14. 'Avatar: The Way of Water' Review: Eye-Popping, but ...

    Music: Simon Franglen. With: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Stephen Lang, Britain Dalton, Sigourney Weaver, Cliff Curtis, Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement, Giovanni ...

  15. Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

    Avatar: The Way of Water: Directed by James Cameron. With Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang. Jake Sully lives with his newfound family formed on the extrasolar moon Pandora. Once a familiar threat returns to finish what was previously started, Jake must work with Neytiri and the army of the Na'vi race to protect their home.

  16. A New Eden, Both Cosmic and Cinematic

    NYT Critic's Pick. Directed by James Cameron. Action, Adventure, Fantasy, Sci-Fi. PG-13. 2h 42m. By Manohla Dargis. Dec. 17, 2009. See how this article appeared when it was originally published ...

  17. Avatar (2009)

    Avatar: Directed by James Cameron. With Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang. A paraplegic Marine dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission becomes torn between following his orders and protecting the world he feels is his home.

  18. Avatar: The Way Of Water

    Release Date: 15 Dec 2022. Original Title: Avatar: The Way Of Water. In the near-decade-and-a-half since we last visited Pandora, the humans in the film have travelled the 4.4 light years back to ...

  19. Avatar: The Way of Water

    Cameron does what he has always done in ratcheting up the tension because it's never a certainty who's going to live and who's going to die. The motion capture is top notch. There are very few humans in this film, making The Way of Water more of a hybrid animated/live-action movie. But when it comes to the 3D….

  20. Avatar Review

    Avatar is an astonishing feast for the eyes and ears, with shots and sequences that boggle the mind, from the epic - a floating mountain range in the sky, waterfalls cascading into nothingness ...

  21. Avatar Movie Review

    Our review: Parents say( 254 ): Kids say( 647 ): James Cameron, director of the highest-grossing movie ever made ( Titanic ), risked a rumored $500 million on a spectacular futuristic sci-fi epic whose main characters are blue aliens and settings are mostly CGI. The good news for epic movie lovers everywhere is that Avatar was a massive success.

  22. Avatar: The Way of Water

    Runtime: 3h 12min. Release Date: December 16, 2022. Genre: Action-Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction. "Avatar: The Way of Water" reaches new heights and explores undiscovered depths as James Cameron returns to the world of Pandora in this emotionally packed action adventure. Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, "Avatar ...

  23. Avatar (2009) Full Movie Review

    Avatar Full Movie Review | Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang | Review & FactsWatch The Full Video To Get Interesting Facts, Detailed Review, Lifetim...

  24. Avatar: The Way of Water will stream on both Disney+ and Max

    Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) finds a new kind of mount in 'Avatar: The Way of Water'. 20th Century Studios Avatar: The Way of Water landed in U.S. movie theaters on Dec. 16, and went on to gross ...

  25. Avatar

    Go back to the beginning to experience the epic saga of Avatar: The Last Airbender again with this complete collection; From the discovery of Avatar Aang in the frozen iceberg to the mastery of all four elements, from the battle at Ba Sing Se to the final showdown with the Fire Nation, your destiny awaits as you relive all the powerful bending that will blow you away once more!