Movie Review: Avatar: The Way of Water

Before seeing the sequel to “Avatar”, released in 2009 – titled “Avatar: The Way of Water”, I went to Rotten Tomatoes and was stunned to see that the rating for this movie – that cost so much to produce and so many years to make, was only 78%. Then when I sat through a way too long 3 hours and 12 minutes of this movie, the reason for the low rating became obvious.

Unbelievably, this second installment of Avatar has no real story. What this film does have is about 20 different small vignettes all strung together with only some of the smaller parts contributing to any coherent sequence of thought. Asking anyone to try and explain what this movie is about is a telltale sign of no coherent screenplay. This movie is just a series of events that justify amazing special effects. Considering that director James Cameron recently said that Avatar: The Way of Water will have to gross 2 billion in ticket sales by March 2023 just to break even, it is impossible to believe that all the thousands of people involved with this movie – just forgot about the script. When you realize how many millions and billions were spent on newly invented movie equipment and new software to create the incredible visual special effects it appears that they all forgot that to obtain the big box office they need to break even – having no story and making a movie 3 hours and 12 minutes long, might just make this latest Avatar a money loser. How many people will look up the running time of this film and say to themselves, “there is no way I can sit through a movie this long”. Considering the myriad of small stories in this too-long film, this movie can easily be cut down to two hours and it will be a much better movie-going experience. Where is it written that very long makes a great movie? This has never been true.

As far as the problem with the lack of a good script, an excerpt of a review on Rotten Tomatoes from writer Udita Jhunjhunwala, says it best: “This is the second of a planned five-installment series, so there are many more worlds and wonders of Cameron’s imagination and capabilities of technology yet to be explored. Perhaps in subsequent films, there might also be greater attention to the script. While the new film is a successful and sometimes wondrous visual experiment, as a story, it treads in shallow waters.”

Due to the extreme cost of the new technology and software that had to be developed to produce this movie (the special effects are even more amazing in 3D), there will be 3 more Avatar films, released in 2024, 2026, and 2028. Now the hope must be that the mistake of making this film too long and with no script will not hurt the possible success of the next 3 installments. Word of mouth is a huge part of marketing a great movie – very true of Cameron’s other blockbuster hit Titanic, released in 1997. However, for this movie, word of mouth just might kill the hoped-for box office.

As far as rating this movie, I have to give it 80% just for the incredible science, technology, and hard work involved in making it over the last decade. However, I will add no more points to the rating because they completely forgot about the most important part of any movie – one or more people looking at the empty page on a computer screen, trying to write a great screenplay. I give Avatar the Way of Water a mild recommendation only for the groundbreaking special effects.