“Avatar: The Way of Water” (2022) Movie Review

Director; James Cameron. Starring; Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana. Rated PG-13. Color/Animated? 192 Minutes.

I will unequivocally admit “Avatar: The Way of Water” is a beautiful movie to look at. Just like the first installment, James Cameron creates awe-inspiring frames that are at the top of the current capabilities of cinematic technology. It is also a factual statement that the storytelling, nonsensical plot arcs, and unbelievably shallow characters are just as horrible as the first trip to Pandora. Ask yourself this. Take away the beautiful imagery. Are the “Avatar” movies any better than the shunned “Star Wars” prequel trilogy? Be honest. Let us break this down. Spoiler alerts as if that matters because we still have three more of these movies…

Sam Worthington is back as the former soldier turned Navi blue man leading the indigenous tribes of Pandora. From the start, Cameron makes the same mistake during the opening as he did with number one. I said back in 2009. When James took a risk on Titanic, he introduced his main character in Leonardo DiCaprio playing and winning a high stakes poker game to get on the doomed ship. It gives the audience an invitation into a character instead of telling you a step by step explanation of everything. Once again “Avatar” 2 has Worthington explaining to us everything that has and will be happening as though we cannot infer a characters motivations on our own.

This sequel focuses heavily on Jake and wife Neytiri’s (Zoe Saldana) children as it takes place years after the “sky people” were sent home. The little half breed blue kids with five fingers are highlighted by Lo’Ak (Britain Dalton), a defiant fighter whilst also naive in his decisions, and Kiri, the adopted daughter of the family. Just to be clear, Kiri is the daughter of Sigourney Weaver’s deceased character from film number one. The teenaged blue orphan Kiri is actually played by Weaver herself. Have fun blindly justifying how an actress in her sixties playing an angst filled teenager makes any sense.

Pandora has been a world of peace ever since the ‘sky people’ left. Some time later the humans have returned, and this time they are not on the hunt for ‘Unobtanium’, whatever the hell that was for. Earth is dying and it is time to relocate. What better place than a planet that has almost zero breathable air to colonize for the future of our species. How much are those masks going to cost every time somebody wants to go outside?

The evil Major Quaritch (Stephen Lang) is also back. Yes, just like Sigourney Weaver’s character, he died in the first one. Fortunately he had his consciousness downloaded into some futuristic USB drive so now he’s a blue Avatar. Along with several of his marine soldiers in blue form, Quaritch has one mission. That is to kill Jake Sully, both for revenge as well as the brilliant military minds believing killing one man will stop the Navi uprising. Armed with upgraded Navi strength and sigma phi tattoos, Quaritch’s squad head out to take down the indigenous tribes from the inside.

Defying their parents wishes, the Sully kids go off the protected grid to visit the forbidden sight of the final Navi stand against the previous invaders. A standoff ensues in which Quaritch is able to escape with his human son known as Spider (Jack Champion). Spider has been raised under the Navi way of life and refuses to align with the sky people’s ways. Despite being his son, Quaritch wants to use the kid as a tactical advantage in hopes of killing Jake Sully.

With the tribe facing extreme danger, Jake decides that he and his family must flee the home tribe in order to protect his people. Natyri reluctantly agrees. The Sully’s take off on their dragon creatures on the way towards the reef people of Pandora. And that is just the first hour, ughhh!

So to be clear, the fearless leader of the Navi people runs to another part of the planet because surely the humans will never figure out where that is with all of the technology available at their hands. The sky people can navigate floating tree islands, but under water must be too tough for the human sensors to detect I suppose.

Life ain’t easy for the Sully’s when they first show up at the reef. This collection of people with fins, longer tails, and dolphin riding skills do not believe these tree people can keep up. Fortunately Tsireya (Bailey Bass), the daughter of the tribe leader, takes a liking to the new kids, in particular Lo’Ak. She teaches them how to live for extended periods of time under water. Some, in particular Kiri, have a strange connection to the water. Others struggle to hold their breath.

Side note; There is no rhyme or reason to how any of these characters can exists underwater. No gills. They run out of air or hold their breath for indistinct periods of time depending on what the script requires to do so, utilizing zero semblance of logic.

From that point on “The Way of Water” is all over the place. You’ve got tropes involving teenage angst, protective motherhood squabbles, and completely indescribable decisions by the bad guys. Again, humans are conquering an uninhabitable planet that in the climax has Pandora style whales destroying giant mechanical ships easily. But hey, this is a metaphor towards the whaling industry I guess.

If all you are looking for is eye candy, look no further. Just make sure to bring ear plugs and a neck pillow so that you do not have to endure this unbelievably bad plot that James Cameron, a legendary filmmaker in his own right, actually believes is good. For my money, I’d rather watch “Shark Week” on the Discovery Channel.

SUCK FACTOR; (6 out of 7): 7 Means Your Movie Really SUCKS!

The SUCK FACTOR! How it works. We have flipped the script on the standard ratings system. If you make an absolute masterpiece suck as “The Godfather”, you receive a perfect 0 out of 7 SUCKS! If you make a train wreck, such as any Michael Bay movie, you will receive an imperfect 7 out of 7. That means your movie really SUCKS!

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