What did you think of The Way of Water?


Saw it for the first time a few days ago. I enjoyed the movie, as just a movie. To answer how I feel about the film in a sense of my wants, feelings, and expectations and how I feel about it is a much longer story.

So many things to unpack here, I'm sorry if I jump around.

Going in I wanted it to blow my expectations away, which I had set low to save myself the let down. I will say the first 30 minutes of the film had me trying to keep up with all the things they were throwing at me. I honestly couldn't tell you which kid's name was which till the end. I had such a hard time connecting and remembering the stories with each of the children that I constantly found myself hoping to see characters I knew and remembered to draw me back in. Perhaps it is them being kids but I found their appearances to not be very memorable or distinguishable. In AV1 the main characters were all very distinguished in their own way that made them easy to recognize and understand who they were immediately. Kiri and Spider are prolly the only ones I could see and tell you their names.

I enjoyed the water scenes but will be happy if we don't have them anymore. Although the waters of Pandora were nice they just don't have the same "depth" that was in the forests. It almost felt like I could find some of those same beaches somewhere on Earth. Nothing extraordinary. I dunno, maybe I'm finding flaws where there aren't any but I felt like water clan, their village, their leaders were just no way near as interesting as the Omatikaya and the forest. It all just felt..*sigh* cheap. And as much as I like the score from AV1 hearing it played again in similar scenes also felt..cheap. Their was also two instances where I heard voice clips from Neytiri and Jake that were used in AV1. Namely Jakes yell when he is on Toruk and throws the gunship into the cliff face and Neytiri's "YeeYeeYee" when she holds her bow over her head while on her Ikran as they start the attack on Quaritch's strike force at the Tree of Souls.

Now I did say I liked the film. The development of Kiri's character I enjoyed quite a bit and seeing her abilities and really being curious about her and her future in the series is something I look forward to finding out. Spider at first I found a nuisance but soon admired him for his strengths to be doing so much in a world of Na'vi and Avatars and him being Human. I feel his character may become a problem for Jake and his family in the future but we will see soon enough.

The final battle at the end (???where the water clan disappears???) was amazing. I found real joy in seeing Neytiri's anger and rage come out and see her utterly destroy anything in her path. I thought bringing Quaritch back might've been an error but I'm glad they gave his character quite a bit of interaction with characters from AV1. I enjoyed the dialogue between Neytiri and him quite a bit, it brought some connection to the happenings in AV1.

The family element being a large focus took awhile for me to warm up to but I really liked how it was working in the story there at the finale.

Now some people have talked about the lack of scale in this film compared to AV1 and at first I agreed with the lack thereof. After thinking about it for awhile I decided to look at AV2 as more of a buildup to a much larger climax in a later film. I feel that we will eventually see a much more substantial chain of events with a much larger and grander finale than we saw in AV1 with a significantly more drastic outcome affecting more than just Pandora.

AV2 had to introduce more characters, more world building and still had to end with a memorable finale. The loss of the eldest son and the destruction of the hunting fleet doesn't bear the same weight we felt in AV1 because it wasn't supposed to. Things are going to keep ramping up and up from here till finally we have the grand finale at the end of film 5. I'm hoping that my theory is correct and after the next films come out we may understand why AV2 feels the way it does and JC has a great plan and had to make a few shortcoming in AV2 to make it all work out in the end.

We saw so many new things people hadn't thought of before, in AV2, so who knows what the next ones will bring. I only can hope that there are just as many new things waiting for us in the next films to allow the whole story arc to really build up and deliver an amazing and timeless conclusion that will be remembered for decades to come..
My own thoughts... (spoilers lie ahead!)

Well, it's an exciting action film, and it's great to see new creatures, new peoples, and new environments of Pandora. It's also nice to see how the hero and his teacher-turned-lover have grown into parenthood.

However, I can't say I have enjoyed this as much as the first one. The Way of Water really throws into relief how the first movie unfolds slowly. Avatar starts with Jake entering an unknown world then he slowly comes to learn more about how to survive in that world, gradually falling in love with it and with the person who has shown it to him. Then right after they mate - halfway through the movie - the conflict really begins and leads to the big battle at the end. My point in summarizing Avatar's slow burn is to note how (from my perspective) The Way of Water is so much more consumed with almost constant active conflict and violence. Five minutes in and there's already an inferno with a scale of destruction exceeding the entirety of what happened in the first movie. There also wasn't a clear point to me as to when the climactic battle was beginning; the pacing just kind of bled into it. (Contrast that with Jake's prayer at the Tree of Souls cutting to the RDA launching its attack the next morning.)

I had hoped that there would be a long, uninterrupted segment of the family getting used to their new home and exploring the sea. To be fair, there were moments like that. Yet what I didn't like was the frequent cuts to what Quaritch's squad was doing. I found those cuts jarring, and consequently I couldn't relax and feel as immersed in the beautiful setting as I did during Avatar (even in IMAX 3D). The jumps between protagonists and villains, peace and danger, earnest adaptation and insincere appropriation, etc. were unenjoyable. (Maybe, though, I was just anxious about potential character deaths.)

Indeed, I thought something of the "spirit" of Avatar was not as present. There was a sense of wonder about Pandora in that first movie, something especially felt in the more still and quiet moments like Jake's first sight of the bioluminescence. I felt that a few times in The Way of Water, but again, the cuts made them hard to fully enjoy. I'll mention here though that Kiri's moments were wonderful to watch. That awe and joy she visibly felt from the natural beauty around her...that was what I was hoping to see and feel for myself when I bought my ticket. Curious, though, how Neytiri had those moments in the first movie and now that "role" has been given to Kiri.

Neytiri by the way was ferocious in this movie. Gone, I guess, is the chance for her to take her mother's place as tsahik of the Omaticaya and she instead had to lean upon all her warrior skills. Kind of tragic. I already alluded to this, but it seemed like in general there was a ton of shooting, fighting, and killing throughout. (I was shocked by *that* scene with the cable, even though that was one of the bad guys.) On the other hand, violence is nothing to sugarcoat and it's not like analagous situations in the real world are any more pleasant. One can't expect people defending their home to be nice about it (especially after their eldest child is killed).

I'll also mention that I wish the use of musical cues from the past film was handled differently. I don't mind a few snippets here and there, and in fact I think using material composed by the late James Horner is respectful. However I can't help but be taken back to the original contexts of those cues. The power of "The Destruction of Hometree" was acceptable for the scene of the tulkun's death, but I felt that the power of that music was retroactively cheapened by the swift cut to the scene inside the corpse: the movie just kept continuing. It felt off, knowing that that had music marked the culmination of a pivotal, traumatic sequence in Avatar which soon faded to black thereafter, bringing about a pause in the pace.

One positive thing about the music: I loved the two songcord pieces, not to mention the accompanying scenes. It's great that Zoe Saldaña got to sing and be credited on the soundtrack.

Lastly, I've wondered what sort of message there was to take away. Avatar of course had a strong message on the need to respect the natural world and the rights of (indigenous) peoples. Those same themes are certainly in The Way of Water, but they didn't feel as strong for some reason. There was a lot more emphasis - especially from Jake's mouth - of the importance of the family as a unit. I guess this is not necessarily a bad thing, but I wonder if it was a conscious decision on the part of James Cameron and the writers. Overall, I walked out of the theater feeling like this movie (nay, franchise) sought to push itself forward here and suggest that there is more to come. (Actually, I just read that The Way of Water and the next movie were originally part of one giant script, so there's that.)

So, while there are things I wish were different, there are still things I definitely enjoyed. The Way of Water has taken up much of my headspace in the past day since seeing the movie, so it definitely made an impression on me. And seeing discussion of the movie here keeps me intrigued and I find myself wondering what future installments will be like. I am still parsing my thoughts and I'm sure I will posting more in the future.
Hello everyone -- first-time poster here. It's been many years since I've used a forum like this one, but I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts with you, the  Avatar faithful, as someone who's now seen the sequel four times now.

It may be controversial to say so but I wholeheartedly loved TWOW, and think that it's an improvement over the original film in nearly every respect. While I liked the first Avatar a lot, I think that TWOW delivered a more complex cast of characters and heavier emotional stakes. Drawing down the scope of the conflict from the first film allowed Cameron to tell a story with more intimacy, and while it represents a dramatic departure from the original I think that this approach helps audiences (myself included) see the Sully family as the loveable, yet flawed people that they really are. Anecdotally, I think this new approach is paying off, as even the Avatar skeptics among my friends and family have been finding themselves moved by the struggles of our favorite blue family.

While I could certainly gush about the new characters and action setpieces, I think that it was Worthington's portrayal of Jake that really made the movie come together for me. Taking the character from "loveable doofus" in the first Avatar to "struggling father" in the sequel couldn't have been easy from a writing or acting perspective, but TWOW sticks the landing flawlessly. In TWOW we see a Jake that would die for any of his children without hesitation, but sometimes struggles to connect with them on a personal level, especially as he tries to find a way to give them the discipline they'll need to survive a wartime environment without pushing them away. This was most effective for me in Jake's dynamic with Lo'ak, where we see a Jake terrified to lose the people he loves come down too hard on his youngest son, probably because he reminds him of himself all those years ago. Nonetheless, Cameron still allows the old Jake come through now and then ("How'd the other guys look?"). It's a more complex take on the character, but Worthington rises to the challenge in a performance that honestly exceeded my expectations. He works to sell some of the film's most emotional moments, particularly "I see you, son" which was, for me, TWOW's most moving line.

If I had to pick a point of criticism, I suppose it would be that Spider didn't work all that well for me. Maybe it's just secondhand embarrassment from the way he paints himself blue, but I didn't find myself connecting with him in the way I was with Jake and Neytiri's kids. That said, I do think he's being set up for some interesting conflicts in the next movie. How will Neytiri (or Lo'ak for that matter) react if they find out he saved Quaritch's life? He also seems to have something of a crush on Kiri, but I didn't get the impression that she shares the same feelings. Either way it will be interesting to see where the character gets taken in 3 and 4.

As an aside, I'd like to note that this is a movie that rewards multiple viewings. I was honestly a little overwhelmed thr first time around, and I don't think that it was until my third screening that I felt like I had a complete appreciation of everything TWOW has going on. As such, while I can sympathize with some of the skepticism in this thread from longtime fans, I'm confident that you guys will warm up to this movie as a worthy successor to the original. I, for one, cannot wait to see what this series has in store for us.

i have to say, i adored it. some scenes were... meh, but i enjoyed the overall plot and i like the addition of jake and neytiri's kids, along with introduction to other tribes of Na'vi with features adapted to different environments. 8/10, i don't think it beat the first movie.
Hello everyone -- first-time poster here. It's been many years since I've used a forum like this one, but I thought it would be fun to share my thoughts with you, the  Avatar faithful, as someone who's now seen the sequel four times now...

Hey there Wafflehouse_Lo'ak - welcome to ToS, and thanks for sharing your thoughts! I appreciate your willingness to speak up in the face of any skepticism and offer your own viewpoints. I think I myself might be a little overwhelmed after only one viewing, but perhaps I will indeed warm up to it more later. If nothing else, I am for sure enjoying all the discussion I'm reading. Ahh, it reminds me of the earliest days of this forum...

I do agree with you about Jake. It's good to see how he's gone from being a wisecraker to a serious father, and how he struggles with how to be a good serious father. This (as well as Neytiri being a mother) was one of the things I anticipated the most when I took my seat at the cinema. As much as I adored the first five minutes of the movie ("happiness is simple"), I knew that there would need to be strife and challenges in preserving that familial happiness.
im just confused how Neytiri turned on spider at the end of the movie. i know she just lost her son but spider was part of there family and sully's stick together or not...
also why did jake run away from his tribe to be with the water people he pretty much took down the sky people in the last movie but cant do it again and has to run away. i mean the movie was just full of bad plot holes.
im in love with all the new children and new characters. but i just walked out of the cinema with so many un answered questions. yes they may fill in the gaps in the next movie but i didnt feel this way about the first. also that part when they hunt down that poor whale was painful to watch.
Tulkun hunting was really painful to watch :cry:(
I thought it was good.

I thought it tapped into a lot of the stuff that made the first movie good while introducing a lot of new ideas, worldbuilding, and character development. That is pretty much exactly what you want from a sequel like this.

Right now I think I prefer the first movie, but it's close. I might change my mind about that on rewatch.

The third act is a frickin' BEATING. But in a good way. Things just keep getting worse and worse. Edge of your seat stuff.
The movie was over 3 hours long, but it didn't feel that long at all.

There's a lot of plot here that feels planted to pay off big in future movies. I'm really excited to see where it goes. I'll probably post my more spoilery thoughts here in a week or two.
That's how I feel about it too. I'm going to see it again this afternoon, so it will very likely grow on me.:cool:
I'm not going to post any spoilers but what did you guys think of the new movie. Left me feeling a little blue.
Like the first movie did made me walk out of the cinema hating my own race.
What did you guys think I can't post to much till more people see it
I went and saw it last night for the 2nd time. I would have to say that the original Avatar is still my favorite, but The Way of Water is definitely growing on me! :)
On the other hand, violence is nothing to sugarcoat and it's not like analagous situations in the real world are any more pleasant. One can't expect people defending their home to be nice about it (especially after their eldest child is killed).
One of the things I've always appreciated about Avatar was how it sees violence as a legitimate and often necessary tool of anti-colonial resistance. We're shown that the RDA will take everything from Pandora if they're allowed to and that the only effective path our characters have is to fight back, violently if they have to.

Like you mentioned, though, it's important to show on-screen violence for what it is, even if the audience is going to believe it's justified. I appreciate that Cameron refuses to put the RDA goons in helmets that cover their faces like Stormtroopers or something because that ensures the audience never gets the impression that they're robots. We're also shown some pretty gruesome moments of panic on the bad guys' faces before they bite it, like Wainfleet getting squashed at the end of the first movie, or that guy Kiri has the sea anemone eat. We're never under the impression that these aren't actual people getting killed, which I think is the appropriate way to approach movie violence if you're going to have a lot of it.

I wonder, though, if Eytukan's bow breaking in TWOW's final battle is supposed to tell us something about how all of this is weighing on Neytiri. Even though she seems to have embraced her role as a warrior, that moment is the only one that makes her hesitate in any of the movie's action sequences :unsure:
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I wonder, though, if Eytukan's bow breaking in TWOW's final battle is supposed to tell us something about how all of this is weighing on Neytiri. Even though she seems to have embraced her role as a warrior, that moment is the only one that makes her hesitate in any of the movie's action sequences :unsure:
That's an interesting bit of possible symbolism that I hadn't thought of. It would sure be nice if she got a break from all the war and death she's had to endure. :frown:
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  • #74
When I first saw TWOW on Dec.15, I caught myself several times sitting in the theater with a frowning, confused expression on my face. "I'm not enjoying this. I think I don't like it". In the car afterwards I said this to my spouse. "I think I didn't like it". I was confused. How can this be? I mean, I loved the first Avatar and it became a huge part of my life. The next day I realized that I was just in shock from certain scenes. The tulkun hunt was very disturbing to my spouse and I the first time (that's her designated washroom break scene now). Quaritch and the recoms are basically just terrorists. They threaten, physically assault (kicking them to the ground) and kidnap children. The scenes where Quaritch interrogates the other reef clans were cruel and disturbing. I loved Quaritch as a villain in the first film, but now I utterly hated him... and that's when the light bulb went on. I realized that's exactly what a good movie does. TWOW hits hard. It makes you angry, it makes you laugh, it makes you cry, it makes you cheer. And it's a lot to absorb the first time around. Good thing I had tickets for Dec.16 too. And yes, I really enjoyed the 2nd viewing. I was over the shock, and I could enjoy the movie.

My biggest worry before seeing TWOW was the whole family thing. "Aw, JC's giving them kids?" Many a TV series has been ruined by having the main characters have kids, and I was afraid that would happen with TWOW. And... it didn't. I really liked all of the Sully kids. They weren't annoying at all! They really steal the show, and give a younger generation characters to relate to.

I did find the blatant recycling of music, dialogue, carbon copy Jake/palulukan-Lo'ak/Akula scene and even footage (did they not think we'd notice that they just flipped some footage of the Avatar extended cut to use on a monitor when Ardmore is briefing Quaritch?) took me out of the moment, as those pieces, of music especially, are engrained into my brain for their original Avatar scenes. I wasn't a big fan of the fairy wings that help you breathe underwater, I thought that was a bit too convenient. And yeah, where the hell do the Metkayina disappear to in the final act? Ronal and Tonowari would not have just left Tsireya in the ship. We also cringe as soon at that song from The Weeknd starts playing at the end (although I like him more after learning that he's a big Avatar fan too).

But of course I can't forget the visuals. Damn! Just like with the first Avatar, this movie is a multiple must-view (5 times for me so far). The more you watch it, the more insane details you notice, like subtle ripples in the skin on Lo'ak's shoulders from the force of the water flowing over it while he's hanging on to Payakan's flipper. And the facial capture! Zoe Saldana pulls off some amazing, heart wrenching acting, and every little subtle facial expression translates completely to Neytiri's face. And scenes that seem simple, like Spider helping Lo'ak pull Neteyam onto the rocks while waves splash onto them - think about the CGI work required here, with the same wave hitting a human actor and a digital one at the same time. So, lets have lots of water, and lets give the Na'vi tattoos, and, hmm, what other nightmare can we give to the CGI guys? Hey, let's give Jake dreds. Any a-hole who says that the CG in this movie isn't any better that the first film deserves a beating.

And one of my favourite shots? The one where we see that you don't have to kill your enemy - you just have to dis-arm them.:D
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  • #75
I saw Avatar 2 on Sunday in 3D. As a movie i thought it was powerful and interesting and extraordinarily well done. Yes, it has its flaws, and nothing is perfect. But emotionally, it has really gripped me - for days.

What stood out for me was the powerful overarching story of how humans (or at least modern humans) do not respect their earth or their resources, and tend towards destructiveness and violence. I think that people connect deeply to this movie because it shows an idealized relationship with their planet, their binding spirit (God) and each other. I've heard that some people get depressed after seeing this movie, because they feel such a lack of these connections in their lives - to a living earth, a community with truth and togetherness at its core, and to God that imbues every aspect of nature with spirit that they can interact with. Have others on this forum had this reaction?

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I absolutely adored the first film, and like many here, it made a deep, lasting and ultimately life altering impact on me. I have deeply mixed feelings so far about TWOW, and it's hard to process... It's been a week so far, and I'm still not quite sure. I think Nawmtirea makes some good points. Some of my initial thoughts.

The lack of Na'vi dialogue is a real sore point for me. I really hoped we'd have all dialogue where the characters are conversing in Na'vi actually be in Na'vi. The use of audience language (English for me) felt really, really jarring and I didn't like it. Na'vi peoples speak Na'vi, in all its dialects. I love the language and have been waiting over a decade to hear it again in a big screen production. I can't help but think this was just cheaping out to make scripting easier, but seriously? You had over a decade to do this, JC.

The "action" element of the film is feels forced. I get the impression that JC felt he had to make it an action film with a big dramatic fight and plot points to get it made, and he'd rather just be world building with the characters, and we learn our lessons through them rather than a smackdown with the bad guys. Fair enough, I'd share that sentiment. Some of the actions scenes were, if not exciting to me, they were certainly satisfying.

That said, what Nawmtirea said about Quaritch's character arc is spot on. He was "deliciously evil" in the first film. In TWOW he is just plain evil, as is (hard to watch, as an Aussie!) the tulkun hunter, and I feel their development in this direction was essential to bring home the point about the nature of our civilization. Most of the action scenes just left feeling disgusted with humans in general, though to be fair, this is pretty much my daily default emotion toward the species, but it was kinda nice to see that reflected in the big screen, and it's implied that it was not only OK, but almost an expected reaction.

The references to Titanic, Abyss and the first film brought a wry smile to my face. I see you, Cameron... and what you did there ;)

The non-fighting underwater scenes where our family and exploring, learning and coming to grips with the reef environment are absolutely beautifully done. As a lover of all things oceanic, and a diver myself, I loved this, and Lo'aks encounter with the akula literally had me on the edge of my seat feeling his urge to breathe - as well as feeling the disorientation of a complex underwater terrain. However, I'm not sure that akulas behaviour makes sense in terms of the Pandoran biosphere (or at least it's not well explained) and I'm not sure it's a positive message to convey about IRL sharks given the god-awful stuff we do to them in the name of "protecting" people... or just for pure greed.

I wish we spent more time in the forest before moving to the coast. Much as I love the ocean, the forest world building in the first movie felt more fleshed out, and not spending more time there was a missed opportunity. I'd happily have cut 15mins off the big fight to explore that. Also, the decision to move was just too fast. Jake's reasoning wasn't that sound, had some big holes, and Neytiti would absolutely not just abandon her people, and would demand better of Jake. He'd have to work damn hard to convince her before they move - and I feel this is something other members of the clan would be involved with.

Whales.... absolutely perfect.

Kids... Well done. Not annoying. Not precocious. Some of the best done movie family moments I've seen in ages. It was good. I can literally think of only one line that really grated (despite the use of English). Kiri was fantastic - having an older actor play a kid was a bold move and it totally worked. Neteyem is lovely... and yeah I have strong feelings about his story arc. It can be difficult to have kids in a "serious" movie, but JC really made it work really well, and that deserves credit.

Musical score. Very good. There's literally only one moment in the film where I felt it was intrusive/not right. Didn't mind "recycling" as the original soundtrack was so iconic and is so much a part of the Avatar universe that it's practically a part of and synonymous with Pandora.

CGI. Very good. Water is notoriously hard to do in CG, and 90% of the time they got it right. That's a good achievement. The forest scenes we do get look absolutely as lush and beautiful as they did in the first movie, and that is a mighty big accomplishment. Again, just wish we had more time in that environment.

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Glad I'm not the only one who thought of The Abyss while watching it!
The more I think about it, the more you can see a lot of Cameron's feelings and thoughts about Avatar right back there in Abyss. Absolutely beautiful film. It deserves to be remembered and celebrated, right up there with the first Avatar
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  • #80
I really, really love Pandora as a world and so seeing it again makes me want to say I really like the movie. Because seeing a whole new different side of it is super enjoyable for me. I actually did hold out on going to the cinema for it because of personal reasons but also because I thought 3+ hours was going to be too long for me to keep my attention. I ended up having a free day and went anyway and I am super glad I did. I had no issues keeping interested. Although I wish there was a bit less of "x is captured. Oh no now x is free but y & z got captured instead!" the whole rotating prisoners felt a bit frustrating and annoying rather than thrilling. There were also a lot of issues with the plot/story that were annoying to me. But also parts that were so beautiful and well made.

Overall, I cried almost every 10 minutes either because I just found things beautiful to look at, or the dialogue touching. Maybe also just because of what Pandora means to me. I will probably be watching the movie on repeat whenever I am able to. And this movie does leave me counting down the days until the next movie.