‘Avatar: Way of Water’ thriving in the theaters


Elise Arnold, Arts & Entertainment Editor

Released 13 years after the first movie, ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’(WoW) was released on December 16, 2022 and is number four on the top grossing films list with $2.024 billion made. Only six movies have ever made $2 billion in history, and both Avatar movies are in the top three. 

Set over a decade after its predecessor, “Avatar”, the highest grossing film of all time, ‘Avatar: WoW’, starts off with an overview of what has happened over the past 15 years on Pandora, the planet of the Na’vi people. Jake and Neytiri Sully, the main protagonists in the first movie, have three kids, Neteyam, Lo’ak, and Tuktirey, along with Kiri, who is Dr. Grace Augustine’s daughter. Dr. Augustine had Kiri while she was in the avatar state and since her death, Kiri has been adopted by the Sully family.

“Personally, I didn’t think it was a good idea [to have a time jump with kids grown up], but at the same time, I feel like everyone would forget the first one. So, unless you are a diehard Avatar fan, then you wouldn’t have noticed [the antagonist and protagonists having kids],” sophomore Michael Boitnott said.

After the time jump, the audience obtains an overview of the peaceful lives the Sully family have been living and sees the violence they have been dealing with. The humans’ military personnel have a mission to steal the resources of the planet Pandora. To complete their mission, they are killing any animal, plant, tree, bug, or anything that makes Pandora thrive. 

Director James Cameron based his world on “every single science fiction book.” When “Avatar” became an international success, he wanted to make the sequel’s visual effects as high-quality as they could be. To do so, the production team delayed production for 15 years to allow technology to advance. 

“We have new equipment now that can help with making the animation easier and quicker. Granted, if we didn’t have that material now I would have found [the wait] really dumb and pointless for them to wait 15 years just to be in the same spot,” sophomore Sther Cardoso said.

After the Omaticaya clan of trees are introduced, the scene changes over to the antagonist of the movie, Miles Quaritch. Quaritch is the antagonist of the first movie who died from Neytiri shooting him with an arrow. In the second movie, he comes back as an avatar, along with the rest of his team. 

“[I remember] more [about the] second [movie] than the first. For me, I thought I would retain some of the memories, but since it has been so long I forgot what happened in the first one, so when I saw [Miles Quaritch] I was like, ‘huh?,’” Boitnott said.

Having the antagonist come back confused viewers. The actor for Quaritch, Stephan Lang, has stated that it was always James Cameron’s intention to bring back the Colonel. When he was asked to come back in 2013, he said, “[James Cameron] announced that I would be back for all the sequels and that Quaritch was the big bad.”

“I like the way it was. It basically had the same topic as the first movie where they were battling the sky people because they came back and were destroying the land again and were killing the animals. Basically the same thing, just different characters,” Cardoso said.

The fans felt as though the plot was the same but still enjoyed it with the morals and the plot’s overall outcome. Fans believed that the way it was written teaches about different cultures.

“It’s a different culture for us. [Humans] were living on Earth, [Na’vi] were living on Pandora. It’s a different culture and that’s why they have their own language there,”  sophomore Aikerim Akhmetkarim said.

The Avatar franchise is believed to be a way to represent different cultures through the Na’vi people. It shows real problems through fictional scenarios.

“A lot of people watch movies and they realize that those things happen in real life. It adds actual history to the story and feels more personal in a way,” Cardoso said.

Fans have different theories on how the next movie could play out. The third movie, which was filmed at the same time as the second so that the cast did not age, is set to release in 2024. The cast is already confirmed and the fans are shocked that Quaritch is the main antagonist again in all three movies.

“[Quaritch surviving] was for the plot because Spider is the main character again. Probably he will be the main character again,” Akhmetkarim said.

To find out how Quaritch made it through both movies and to find out why the movie got a 76% on Rotten Tomatoes while fans gave it a 92%, go see it in theaters. ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is only in theaters at the moment, but in a few months, it will be available to buy or to watch if you have a Disney + subscription.