It’s been 13 years, but in 2022 we’ll finally return to the world of Pandora. That’s right, James Cameron’s long-promised Avatar sequel, The Way of Water has finally hit screens (we’ve seen it with our own eyes).
Seeing as it’s been over a decade since the first film, you might be in need of a refresher before heading into what is sure to be another cinematic experience with Avatar: The Way of Water.
Let’s dive in to all things Avatar.
Remind me what Avatar is all about?
(Spoiler alert for 2009’s Avatar)
Avatar takes place over 100 years into the future, where Earth’s depleted natural resources have led to an energy crisis and humans have begun seeking life on other planets.
One such planet is the rich rainforest world of Pandora where humans have been mining an incredibly rare and valuable mineral known as unobtanium. In the process of doing that, they’ve stirred up trouble with the natives, a species of tall blue-skinned humanoids known as the Na’vi.
Oh, and the air on Pandora is also toxic to humans so in order to further explore humans developed physical avatars of the Na’vi that human consciousness can be transferred into.
Got all that? Now we introduce our straight white male protagonist, Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-Marine who is recruited to take the place of his deceased brother on a research mission to Pandora. Once there he’s given his own Na’vi avatar and the ability to walk again.
On Pandora, Jake becomes torn between his growing connection with the Na’vi, particularly a woman named Neytiri, and his duties to the company, who are using him as a spy to get intel on the land.
Eventually, Jake is given an ultimatum, ask the Na’vi to leave their homes otherwise they will be forcibly removed. He chooses the Na’vi and they go to war with the humans, eventually evicting them from Pandora.
Jake chooses to stay, however, and downloads his consciousness into his Na’vi avatar permanently.
Where can you watch the original Avatar in Australia?
Prior to the release of The Way of Water, Disney re-released a remastered 3D version of Avatar in cinemas for a limited time.
During that period the film was not available to stream anywhere, but now just in time for the sequel’s release, you can stream Avatar on Disney+ again in Australia.
A reminder it is 2 hours and 41 minutes long, so settle in for the long run.
What’s happening in Avatar 2?
Now, over a decade later, we’ll find out what happened to Pandora after the humans left.
According to the official synopsis from Disney, here’s what we can expect:
Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.
At CinemaCon 2022, the title of the Avatar sequel was revealed to be The Way of Water.
It should come as no surprise that a lot of Avatar 2 is focused on water, in particular the underwater environments of Pandora. This is also apparently why the film has taken so long as the technology to blend performance capture and underwater filming wasn’t developed yet.
According to Entertainment Weekly, a new reef-dwelling clan on Pandora named the Metkayina will be introduced, with the landscape being described as “Bora Bora on steroids”.
The film will once again be shown in 3D, heralding a return to the bygone era of 3D glasses. Here’s hoping you still have a few lying around at home.
Avatar: The Way of Water is also tipped to come in at another bladder-busting runtime. According to The Hollywood Reporter the film will clock in at around 3 hours and 10 minutes. That’s half an hour longer than the first movie, which you’ll remember was already pretty long.
This is also just the first of four sequels James Cameron has planned in the Avatar franchise, with both Avatar 2 and Avatar 3 believed to focus on the ocean environments.
Who has been cast in Avatar 2?
Returning cast members to the franchise include Sam Worthington as Jake Sully and Zoe Saldana as Neytiri.
Joel David Moore, CCH Pounder, and Giovanni Ribisi are also set to return, presumably as their same characters.
Sigourney Weaver is also set to return, despite her character dying in the first film. Empire has since reported she will be playing a new Na’vi character named Kiri, who also happens to be Jake and Neytiri’s adopted teenage daughter. Sure, why not.
“I felt strongly that Kiri would feel awkward a lot of the time. She’s searching for who she is. I was thrilled to be given that challenge by Jim,” Weaver told the outlet in an interview.
Empire also shared an image of Stephen Lang’s return as Quaritch, who will also be returning in a Na’vi body this time around.
EXCLUSIVE IMAGE ALERT 🚨
In #Avatar: The Way Of Water, Stephen Lang’s Quaritch is ‘bigger, bluer, and pissed off,’ he tells Empire.
— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) July 3, 2022
There are also a fair few newcomers to the franchise including Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Jemaine Clement and Oscar-winner Kate Winslet.
Winslet will reportedly play Ronal, a member of the Sea People. You can see a first look at her character below.
Ready to return to Pandora? Empire’s world-exclusive #Avatar: The Way Of Water issue is coming, with Kate Winslet riding into battle as Na’vi leader Ronal on the newsstand cover. On sale Thursday 7 July.
— Empire Magazine (@empiremagazine) June 30, 2022
Also new to the film will be a new generation of actors playing the children of Jake and Neytiri. Entertainment Weekly revealed the young actors in an exclusive to be Britain Dalton, Filip Geljo, Jamie Flatters, Bailey Bass, Trinity Bliss, Jack Champion, and Duane Evans Jr.
The film is directed by James Cameron and produced by Jon Landau.
Feast upon these visuals
Similar to the original, Avatar: The Way of Water will be a visual feast for the eyes — and in 3D.
The first trailer for the film was screened ahead of Doctor Strange in the Multiverse of Madness in cinemas. It’s also since made its way online so you can gaze upon it below.
The trailer doesn’t give much away in terms of story, but we get hints of a new underwater tribe, see humans and the Na’vi working together (??) and glimpse some incredible new creatures on Pandora that Disney will no doubt make toys from.
The second trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water, again, doesn’t give too much away, but we get a glimpse at Jake and Neytiri living the suburban life on Pandora. There are also plenty of stunning new creatures to gawk over, but are visuals alone enough at this point? We’ll find out soon.
The third trailer is certainly an improvement on the previous two, giving more of a sense of the story of the movie and some of the action we can expect.
If these trailers just pulled you back into 2009 you’re not alone. The music, the visuals, the blue people, it’s all so very Avatar. Now we just have to wait and see whether the sequel can surpass the original
Is the movie worth the wait?
Now that critics have had a chance to see the new Avatar movie, reviews are coming out and so far they are pretty mixed. The film has scored an 82% rating on Rotten Tomatoes at the time of writing.
Many have praised the sequel, saying it is one of James Cameron’s best. Visually the film is also received plenty of support.
The AV Club wrote in their review that “the whole package here is so ambitious, yet intimate and gently tempered in its quieter moments, that it feels heartening to be reminded of what a big-budget Hollywood movie can be when it refuses to get crushed under pointless piles of rubble and noise.”
The Guardian meanwhile had a different take, calling Avatar 2 a “soggy, twee, trillion-dollar screensaver”.
If you want our opinion, you can read our review here.
When can you see Avatar: The Way of Water in Australia?
The film has seen many, many, many delays but now we have an official release date for Avatar 2 that looks like it might stick.
Avatar: Way of the Water has a release date of December 15, 2022, in Australia, and will likely claim the Christmas box office yet again.
Tickets for the movie are on sale now so lock them in if you want the best seat in the house. Remember it’s a 3D glasses experience so factor that in when choosing your seat.
The subsequent Avatar sequels are set to release in December 2024, December 2026 and December 2028.
Wondering what else is hitting cinemas this year? Check out our guide to all the upcoming 2022 movies.
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