The trailers and promotional material for “Avatar: The Way of Water” have described it as the “movie event of the generation.” The hype around the journey back to Pandora is truly unreal. Because when the first movie was released, “Avatar,” it was incredibly well-received, both critically and financially. The story was basic enough to be relatable. But when it came to giving us the most visually spectacular film, with each frame pulsating with so much passion and energy, James Cameron and his team swept us off our feet. Back in 2010, it was re-released with some additional footage and went on to earn $33.2 million. Its home-media release saw record numbers. When a remastered version of the 2009 film was released in 2022, it earned around $30 million again. So, let’s put all those speculations about the film’s popularity or relevance to rest. And let’s talk about the most important things you need to know before going into the sequel, in case you’re one of the rare beings who hasn’t watched the original or if you need the motivation to finally watch it.
Who Are The Na’vi?
The Na’vi are an indigenous humanoid species that live on the exoplanetary moon Pandora. They are about 9 to 10 feet tall, have blue striped skin, pointed and movable ears, large eyes, and catlike noses, and their hands have three fingers and a thumb. Their bones are made of carbon fiber. Their braided hair has a tendril-like feature that goes directly into their brain. If they connect the tendrils from their hair to a direhorse (Pandoran horse), a mountain banshee (a Pandoran dragon-like creature), a great leonopteryx (the same dragon-like creature, but bigger), or a thanator (a Pandoran panther-like creature), they can control them. The direhorse can be controlled easily, but the other three require acceptance from the creature itself. They speak the Na’vi language, which was made for the film. Some of them can speak English after being educated by Dr. Grace Augustine.
The Na’vi follow a goddess named Eywa. She’s apparently present in everything that’s on Pandora. This connectivity is what allows the Na’vi to communicate with the flora and fauna on the planet, as well as the memories of those who have passed away. They don’t have temples. But they do respect the Tree of Souls and the Tree of Voices. Those trees look similar but function a little differently, I guess. For example, the Tree of Voices holds memories and is the mating spot for the Na’vi. Meanwhile, the Tree of Souls can transfer one’s consciousness from one body to another. While there are several Pandoran tribes, we follow the Omaticaya clan, which has a chieftain (Olo’eyktan) and a spiritual chieftain (Tsahik). The only way to bring together all the clans for a common cause is by mastering the great leonopteryx and gaining the moniker Toruk Makto. The Na’vi characters that we follow are Neytiri, Mo’at (Neytiri’s mother), Eytukan (Neytiri’s father), and Tsu’tey (the Omaticaya’s finest warrior and Neytiri’s fiancé).
Why Do The Humans Want To Invade Pandora?
So, a major aspect of life on Pandora is the mineral unobtainium, which is available under the giant Hometree that the Omaticaya clan lives in. Unobtanium is very expensive, but it makes crewed interstellar travel easy. The humans have apparently destroyed Earth and turned it into a dystopian, cyberpunk, urban slum. They have advanced technologically, as evidenced by virtual 3D printing, holographic mapping, advanced methods of cryonics and psionics, making the titular Avatars by combining human DNA and Na’vi genetic material (and then letting humans control them), Amplified Mobility Platforms (16-foot-tall exoskeletons), and various kinds of aerial warships and helicopters. But since Earth is uninhabitable, they are clearly colonizing Pandora to mine its resources while oppressing the Na’vi. The organization that’s in charge of doing this is the Resources Development Administration (RDA), headed by Parker Selfridge. They are supposed to do the mining process without any casualties. However, if the Na’vi didn’t budge, Col. Miles Quaritch was tasked with obliterating anyone who came in his way.
The science team, under the guidance of Dr. Grace Augustine, was there to educate the Omaticaya clan and learn about how the neural network that the Na’vi uses actually functions. They are essentially a front for the RDA to bulldoze into the forest and continue with their deforestation. Apparently, this was spotted by Neytiri’s deceased sister, Sylwanin, and she and a couple of other young hunters set a bulldozer on fire. The human soldiers retaliated by killing them in the school where they used to study. So, since then, the Omaticaya and the humans (also referred to as the Sky People) have been at odds with each other. Selfridge and the rest thought that they could appease the Na’vi with money, homes, or food. But the Na’vi refused to make a deal because they knew the humans weren’t there for an amicable agreement. Augustine and her team were given three months to vacate the Omaticaya. When that failed, Quaritch took his team and bombed the Home Tree to hell and then proceeded to destroy the Tree of Souls.
What Was Jake Sully’s Mission Plan? Why Did He Switch Sides?
Paraplegic Marine Jake was tasked with inhabiting the Avatar made for his deceased twin brother and researching the ways of the Omaticaya as one of their own. Selfridge and Quaritch ordered him to poach the information about the Home Tree to them so that it could help them plan their attack. But since he was a part of the Avatar program, he was required to officially work for Augustine only. Augustine wanted Sully to help her better understand the neural network that courses through Pandora and how it governs the culture of the Na’vi. When Sully saw the Omaticaya as a project that he was playing like a VR game, he kept giving Selfridge and Quaritch the information they needed. However, when he continued his mission from a distant location in the floating mountains, without the influence of the corporates and the jarheads, he saw them as living, breathing beings with self-sustainable and respectable lifestyles. That caused him to change his allegiance. It was also helped by the fact that he fell in love with Neytiri, who loved him back as well.
Sully’s switch came with consequences, though. He lost the trust of the humans as well as the Omaticaya. Eytukan perished. Sully’s escape from Hell’s Gate (the secure forward operating base) left Augustine mortally injured. He knew that he couldn’t let the humans have their way. That left him with one choice: equipping the Omaticaya and the rest of the Na’vi folk with the means to fight back. So, he conquered the Toruk (the great leonopteryx) and became the sixth Toruk Makto. This put him in the Na’vi’s good books, thereby allowing him to request Mo’at for the transfer of Augustine’s physical body to her Avatar body. That process failed because of the extent of her injuries. Angered by that, Sully decided to take the fight to the Sky People by uniting the horse clans of the plain and the Ikran people of the Eastern Sea. The battle ended with the Na’vi defeating the humans. Hell’s Gate was evacuated. Out of the humans, Dr. Norm Spellman and Dr. Max Patel were allowed to stay in Pandora. And Sully left his human body to become one of the Na’vi, permanently.
What’s Happening In ‘Avatar: Way of the Water’?
Almost everything about the film has been kept under wraps. What we do know is that the movie takes place ten years after the events of the first film. Jake and Neytiri have children now. But they are displaced from their homes and forced to flee to the Metkayina clan’s abode along Pandora’s oceans. Their homes are mangrove-esque and have a close relationship with the aquatic flora and fauna around them. As proven by the teasers and trailers, Sully and the Omaticaya are seen as outsiders there, which will lead to some drama between the two Na’vi clans. Although it’s not explicitly mentioned anywhere, the humans are clearly the villains again in the sequel. That means they are the ones who banished the Omaticaya from the forests. I’m guessing the humans are still mining for unobtanium and hunting the whale–like creatures called tulkuns as well. The Metkayina are probably not fans of war. That’s why they were absent from the first film. They are probably unaware of the threat that humans possess by claiming the waters. Hence, it’s possible we’ll see Jake trying to convince the Metkayina clan to banish the humans before it’s too late. The remastered release did have a scene where Selfridge told Sully that their rivalry wasn’t over. Therefore, we can guess that, with his knowledge about the Na’vi, he’ll be in those water-based human bases, to get his revenge.
Who Are The Old Characters We’ll See In ‘Avatar: Way of the Water’?
Jake and Neytiri are in the film, most likely as the leaders of the Omaticaya. Colonel Miles Quaritch is back. Yes, I know that he was killed by Neytiri. But apparently, he has been resurrected in his Avatar form. Going by the failure of Augustine’s transfer into an Avatar body because of an injury, I don’t know how the RDA could’ve transferred the impaled Quaritch into an Avatar body. So, my best guess is that his memories and instincts were backed up somewhere, much like the Tree of Souls. Selfridge (who is in the movie, of course), or someone who is a huge fan of the guy, used that to bring him back to life because he is fueled by revenge. Corporal Lyle Wainfleet and Zdinarsk will be back in a similar fashion. We’ll see more of Mo’at as well. In addition to all that, Patel and Spellman will be there beside the Na’vi. Yes, there’s no sign of Trudy Chacón. However, if Quaritch can come back, we can be hopeful about Trudy.
Who Are The New Characters We’ll See In ‘Avatar: Way of the Water’?
Sully and Neytiri’s five children are Kiri (played by Sigourney Weaver), Neteyam, Lo’ak, Tuktirey, and Spider (a teen who was born in Hell’s Gate and then rescued and adopted by Jake and Neytiri). The Na’vi folk in the Metkayina clan are Tonowari (the leader), Ronal (Tonowari’s wife), Tsireya (Tonowari and Ronal’s daughter), Aonung (Tonowari and Ronal’s son), and Rotxo. The humans have General Frances Ardmore who acts as the RDA commander in charge, and the second one in line is Captain Mick Scoresby, who is the head of a marine hunting vessel. Finally, there is a marine biologist named Dr. Ian Garvin.
Expectations From ‘Avatar: Way of the Water’
The initial reactions to the film have been unsurprisingly positive. So, I am expecting James Cameron and his team to blow me away with their water-based spectacle and the groundbreaking mixture of special effects, visual effects, and CGI. Off-screen, Cameron has been pro-environment. “Avatar” was about environmental conservation, and it focused on forests, animals, and indigenous tribes. This time, I am guessing there’ll be more of that, but it’ll be centered around water bodies, thereby sending a message about the impending water shortage that mankind is facing. The film is expected to take $185 million – $205 million from China alone and $150 million domestically in the USA. I hope that the millions of artists, especially those in the VFX department, will get a chunk of that because a viral tweet from an alleged employee of WETA has complained that their pay is way below industry standards. I have no doubts that the film is going to end up in my “best movies of the year” list. But I do want to see how high it ranks on that list.