Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

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Jake Sully and his newfound family on Pandora face a returning threat, prompting them to join forces with the Na’vi army to protect their home.


*Be aware of spoilers*

Sixteen years after the Na’vi defeated the RDA invasion of Pandora, Jake Sully leads the Omatikaya clan with Neytiri and their children. The RDA, now under the new leader Frances Ardmore, returns to colonize Pandora as Earth faces its demise. Quaritch returns as a Recombinant, a Na’vi avatar with implanted memories, and becomes the leader of this unit.

During a mission, Quaritch captures Jake’s children. Jake and Neytiri rescue them but Spider remains captive. Spider forms a bond with Quaritch, teaching him about Na’vi culture.

To protect their family, Jake’s clan seeks refuge with the Metkayina. There, Kiri bonds with the sea, and Lo’ak befriends Tsireya, the chief’s daughter.

Lo’ak is stranded but Payakan, an outcast Tulkun, saves him. Lo’ak returns, takes blame for an incident, and earns Aonung’s friendship. Kiri connects with her biological mother’s consciousness, suffering a seizure.

Quaritch allies with the RDA’s marine operations to hunt Tulkuns for an anti-aging serum. They attack the Metkayina, seeking Jake’s location. Lo’ak learns about Payakan’s past and the tragedy that exiled him.

The family confronts the whalers hunting Payakan, joining forces against the humans. Neteyam sacrifices himself to save Lo’ak, Tsireya, and Spider. Jake defeats Quaritch and is saved by Lo’ak and Payakan. They rescue Neytiri, Tuk, and Kiri. Spider chooses his true family over Quaritch.

Jake decides to leave the Metkayina but is acknowledged as part of the clan by Chief Tonowari. They continue their fight against the RDA, embracing the life at sea.

Directed by
James Cameron
Screenplay by

James Cameron
Rick Jaffa
Amanda Silver

Story by

James Cameron
Rick Jaffa
Amanda Silver
Josh Friedman
Shane Salerno

Produced by

James Cameron
Jon Landau

Production Company

Lightstorm Entertainment
TSG Entertainment II

Distributed by
20th Century Studios

Sam Worthington
Zoe Saldaña
Sigourney Weaver
Stephen Lang
Kate Winslet

Running time
192 minutes

Author’s review

A Knack for Success

In the history of cinema there are a few instances of a sequel being equal or even better than the original. It is not unheard of, and has happened a few times in the past. But looking at the list of sequels this is mostly the exception and not the rule.

The reality with sequels, especially to highly successful films, is that expectations are very high. This urge of success many times lead to catastrophic results with sub-par sequels and mediocre box office results.

Because for every Aliens or Terminator 2 there is also a Jaws 2 that will remind us that the title alone will not bring in the cash. Now, we didn’t mention Aliens and Terminator 2 without reason. Aliens was the highly successful sequel to Ridley’s Scott Alien while Terminator 2 is considered one of the best sequels of all times. What both of them have in common? You guessed right, both of them were directed by no other than James Cameron himself.

It seems that the man has the ability to create both new films and sequels that will break all kind of records with ease. Alien was an exceptional, slow paced film. Cameron took that and turned it into an all out war between humans and xenomorphs. With Terminator 2 Cameron took everything the first film had and multiplied it tenfold creating one of the best action films of all times.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Avatar for the Future

And then in 2009 Cameron gave us Avatar which took the world by storm. At the time no one would expect that with its gargantuan success there was a possibility to even achieve such success ever again. But Cameron is the kind of person that likes to push himself to new boundaries. He never let success stop his advancement. And so in 2022 he gave us Avatar: The Way of Water.

Now here we need to clarify that we do not consider Avatar: The Way of Water to be vastly superior. But in a way it takes what was good in the first film and further enhanced it to create a sequel that pushes the story forward without feeling very much forced upon its viewers.

In a way Avatar: The Way of Water reminds us a lot of what Cameron did with Aliens and Terminator 2. He embraced the original films, kept the story elements intact but never bound himself to them. As such he created his own thing in the sequels that really distinguished themselves from the originals.

The sequel to Avatar works much in the same way. The film feels a lot like the original. The mood, the scenery, the action and the characters keep following the same mold. But instead of Cameron giving us more action in Pandora’s forests he decided to change the scenery. Pandora is a huge world he probably thought. So why to limit the story in such confined geographical constraints?

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Earth and Water

As such the sequel focuses in new Na’vi tribes and new areas where Cameron has the chance to show us more of this beautiful world. If you liked the original then you will absolutely love the sequel. But keeping the same mold means that if you didn’t find the 2009 release interesting then probably there is nothing to peak your interest in the sequel either.

But we do not consider this a big problem. Because in all honesty how many people disliked the first film? And Cameron knew that people want to get their fix of Pandora but without the boredom of presenting more of the same again. And he really succeeded in this. The new underwater areas feel fresh, amazingly crafted and completely real.

This is not the first big blockbuster film that uses extensive underwater scenes. But Avatar: The Way of Water really takes it to the next level with its artistic perfection.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Technology in the Service of Art

Well, here we could write thousands and thousands of words praising what Cameron has done. The guy is one of the few directors that never settles with what is available. He always wants to push the envelope, try new things and keep advancing the technology forward.

It is like this is part of making a new film. If he feels there is nothing new to be discovered in filmmaking it is not worth it to make a new film. It felt like it when the man filmed Titanic and took him 12 whole years to make the first Avatar. And it took 13 more for find another reason to make the sequel, or sequels if you prefer.

And after sitting for almost three hours looking at this visual feast we can say with certainty that the wait was well worth it. Obviously the film has its ups and downs but with such a marvel you should never nitpick. You just sit back and enjoy the ride.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Nothing is Perfect

But as everything in life Avatar: The Way of Water does have some inconsistences that could be avoided. First of all we believe that Cameron pushed the running time far too much. There are scenes in the film that extend for far too long, like during the introduction of the aquatic world. At moments the film feels more like a documentary than a feature film. And this creates slight fatigue when it comes to such a long running film.

Also as tight as the story may be the sequel does not avoid certain clichés. I cannot remember how many times the children went into harm’s way, something that is a bit over the top when speaking about real world situations.

Also bringing Colonel Miles Quaritch back was both a good and a bad move. On the one side Stephen Lang really purred heart and soul into the character but a new adversary could create new dynamics between Sally and him. Now what we have is more brawling between them like in the first film which feels a bit repetitive.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Water is not the End

But despite these small shortcomings Avatar: The Way of Water proved to us that sequels are not only better or worse than the first films. They can be equally good. And this is what this film is. You cannot really say it is better or worse than the first Avatar, both financially or structurally.

It just feels like it is part of a bigger story and should be considered equal to the first. With all its ups and downs Cameron managed something that in 2009 would imagine impossible. He took the first film, pushed the story forward, changed the scenery, advanced its technological merits and produced a film that will be part of a gargantuan saga that will be remembered for many generations.

4K UHD Disc Review

Avatar: The Way of Water dives into the 4K UHD format with a spectacular 2160p resolution, HEVC / H.265 transfer courtesy of Disney. It comes with a 1.85:1 aspect ratio while the disc surprisingly features only the basic HDR10 format and no Dolby Vision. In terms of audio we get a cinema grade Dolby Atmos mix along with Dolby TrueHD 7.1.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Image Quality

If there is one film that specifically fits the 4K UHD format then this is no other than Avatar. And the new film takes advantage of all the format’s strengths to great extent. The first thing that immediately becomes noticeable is the amount of detail in every single frame.

James Cameron really pushed the limit of how much detail one can put on the screen and there was not a single moment that this was not obvious. Even background elements were full of details, both in terms of visual fidelity but also animation.

Although looking at Avatar you know this is a fake world, the amount of clarity and attention to detail immediately screams top quality. And the available space on the disc allowed the film to breath which means that it was free of any compression artifacts or other abnormalities.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Colors & HDR Quality

But high detail is only one side of this release pristine presentation. The other is colors and HDR performance. You may be surprised to see that such a film lacks Dolby Vision but fear not as the HDR10 available shows what it is really capable of and does not lack a bit compared to some Dolby Vision, web based, releases of this film in streaming services.

The most prominent colors of the film are obviously the lush greens of the Pandora forests and the blue waters of the Pandora aquatic world. And while these two monopolize the color palette the film never gets boring as they are so meticulously crafted and presented that never create eye fatigue in the film’s long running time.

Overall the HDR performance of Avatar: The Way of Water is one of the best we have seen in this format. And will surely be reference material for the next few years, at least until Avatar 3 is released.

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Sound Quality

Such a visual extravaganza could not be without an equally impressive Dolby Atmos mix. The amount of elements rendered at each moment was really one of a kind. The sound really got a first rate treatment in the same way as the picture did.

Surround activity was constant. Either this was during the more calm moments or during the action scenes you could always feel an enveloping bubble around you. This results in a constant feel that you are really inside this living and breathing world.

Especially during the underwater scenes you could feel the volume of water enveloping you in a 360 degrees direction. This is not the first time we have blockbuster films with extensive underwater scenes, Aquaman comes to mind. But Avatar takes it a step beyond what has been achieved with such scenes before.

Overhead sounds were equally impressive, although the film lacked the necessary elements or sequencies that would make them more prominent. They are still there and in a few scenes they can be very dynamic but overall it felt like overhead activity was there to complement the rest of the action. Not to take front and center spot.

Closing there is no doubt in our minds that Avatar: The Way of Water is one of the best, if not the best, 4K UHD release to this day. Stop reading and just grab a copy if you haven’t done so already!

Avatar: The Way of Water (2022)

Movie Rating :

4K UHD Rating :

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*We are a reader-supported website. When you buy through links on our site, we may earn a small affiliate commission at no extra cost to you. Home Media Entertainment does not accept money for reviews.*

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