Review: Avatar 2 hits $1 billion on the worldwide box office

James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water, which has surpassed $1 billion at the worldwide box office, has finally been released, 13 years after its prequel Avatar.

The second movie continues to follow the ultimate battle between Jake Sully and Colonel Quaritch, but mainly showcases the children of Jake and Neytiri and how, as a family, they fight together when their home comes under threat yet again.

As of January 6 2023, the movie sits as the 10th highest-grossing movie of all time, with its prequel Avatar reigning in 1st place.

In an interview with GQ in November, Cameron said that in order for the movie to be profitable: “You have to be the third or fourth highest-grossing film in history. That’s your threshold. That’s your break even.”

It is obvious that Cameron’s spending on the second Avatar has paid off from the sheer quality of the graphics and visuals. The movie is almost entirely in CGI with the exception of a few scenes with human (non-CGI) actors. Being released 13 years after the first Avatar, it is clear that Cameron’s team have been working tirelessly to perfect the CGI and visual editing of the movie.

Around 134 minutes of the movie take place in and around the water, which is filled with spectacular scenery to bring the planet of Pandora truly to life. The Na’vi and Avatars, as well as the hybrids, of the movie are beautifully constructed with an almost freakish amount of depth. Sometimes it is forgettable that the scenery and Na’vi were graphically designed and not physically filmed.

The movie also contains many nostalgic elements which helped to re-establish Cameron’s Avatar directing style. For example, the same horn sequence was re-used during the death scene (I’ll leave you guessing who).

The echo of the iconic sequence was reminiscent of the tragic scene in the first movie when Neytiri’s father died after the collapse of the mother tree. Another heart-grab that reminded us of the prequel was the repetition of “My Jake” by Neytiri, reminding us of the couple’s tumultuous love when it was only just beginning to blossom.

The consistency of the actors was good as every actor returned to perform their previously held roles in the movie. Stephen Lang, Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, and Sigourney Weaver all reclaimed their roles as the main characters and were even joined by new cast members such as Kate Winslet who played Ronal, the matriarchal leader of the ocean tribe. 

A very notable moment in the movie was the sinking ship fight scene. As the director of the all-time classic Titanic, it seems that Cameron is sticking to what he knows best. The ship started flooding with passengers onboard, Kate Winslet was in the water, there was the constant calling out of “Jake” (which is ironically similar to Jack), it was all a bit too familiar to those who have seen Titanic. Although, can you blame Cameron? Being the only director in the world with three out of the ten of the highest-grossing movies of all time, maybe he should just keep doing what he’s doing, because it’s working.

However, there were some dips in the storyline that were left very ambiguous and felt quite disappointing. First of all there was the random conception of Grace’s daughter, Kiri. The daughter’s birth was left unexplained with no indication of when and how Grace fell pregnant. Similarly, the birth of Quaritch’s son Spider was equally as baffling. With no reference to his conception or birth, or whereabouts in the first movie, his entrance as a character also fell short.

Consequently, the introduction of these new characters was unfulfilling and made it difficult for much connection to them. Hopefully, these gaps in the story line will be filled in as Cameron has planned for three more sequels to follow The Way of Water over the next few years. But with a 192 minute run time, you’d think they spare an extra few minutes to account for these gaps without making much difference to the film’s length.

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