A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Messages about acceptance, unity, and teamwork. Strong environmental, pro-peace, and anti-imperialist themes. Idea that love and understanding can trump division and violence. Shows consequences, dangers, and immorality of a corrupt government colonizing and oppressing another land and people. Stresses importance of honest communication between children and their parents.
Positive Role Models
The women leaders of the clan are strong, brave, assertive characters, and the Na'vi are all deeply connected to the land. Jake and Neytiri are courageous and loving parents and clan leaders. Ronal is the spiritual leader of her community. Spider loves the Na'vi even though he's human and is forced into difficult moral situations. Lo'ak finds a way to commune with a sacred creature.
The Na'vi species is divided into clans with a variety of cultures, traditions, and belief systems, with overt parallels to Indigenous peoples (tribal tattoos and symbiotic, spiritual relationships with nature) and Indigenous history (colonialist expansion, genocide). But the filmmakers are White, and main characters are almost all voiced by non-Indigenous actors, raising issues about cultural appropriation. The women leaders of the clan are strong, brave, assertive.
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Violence & Scariness
Sci-fi action violence. Supporting characters die due to explosions, bullet wounds, arrows, and dismemberment, as well as a whale-like creature's destructive movements. Several intense scenes involving combat, a ship sinking, and animal hunting that shows the killing of ancient beings. Children are held captive and at gunpoint. Bullying and pranking that leaves a teen in harm's way. Children are used as hostages. A couple of emotional deaths.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief scene of nonsexual nudity (blink-and-miss glimpse of a Na'vi woman's breasts). Adolescent Na'vi flirt and hold hands. There's a strong bond between Kiri and Spider. Jake and Neytiri embrace and kiss.
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Scattered strong language includes one "f--k," "holy s--t," "bulls--t," "dips--t," "bitch," "goddamn," "damn," "piss," "hell," "oh my God," "ass," "ass-whooping," and insults like "four-fingered freak," "half-breed," "stupid," "ignorant," etc. "Jesus" used as an exclamation.
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Products & Purchases
No product placement in movie, but dozens of off-screen tie-in merchandising deals, including toys and books aimed at young kids.
Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that Avatar: The Way of Water is the long-awaited sequel to James Cameron's epic 2009 mega-hit Avatar. The sequel returns to Pandora 15 years after Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) rallied the indigenous Na'vi clans against the corrupt "Sky People" (colonizing humans trying to mine and extract Pandora's resources). Jake and his mate, Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), now have four children and decide to save their forest clan by seeking refuge for their family among the island dwelling Metkayina clan. Filmed mostly underwater, the three-hour-plus film is visually striking. And, like the first movie, it has sci-fi action violence, with weapons, hand-to-hand combat, and the hunting of a sacred whale-like creature. The story also features adolescent flirting, hand-holding, and crushes, as well as marital affection. Occasional strong language includes many uses of "s--t," "bitch," and "ass," as well as one "f--k." Like the first movie, this one has a strong anti-imperialist message, plus environmental and multicultural themes that stress the importance of tolerance, acceptance, and honest communication. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
James Cameron's crowd-pleasing sequel is a spectacular technical achievement that, while overlong, manages to dazzle the senses enough to prove that the director is still a visionary. Avatar: The Way of Water isn't a movie you see for its layered, complicated plot. The storyline is simple, and the dialogue is mostly expository or cliché, particularly when Quaritch talks. But it doesn't quite matter, because Cameron puts the movie's $350 million budget to remarkable use in all of the underwater sequences, the incredible creature effects, and the overall immersive return to Pandora. It's worth seeing on the biggest screen possible, in 3D if you can. Yes, the three-hour-plus runtime is long, but it's easy to get lost in the movie's memorable world-building. The motion-capture performances are fascinating to behold, and Winslet and Curtis are welcome additions to the cast. Of the young actors, Dalton stands out as Neytiri and Jake's troublemaking younger son, Lo'ak, who befriends an outcast tulkun (the sacred alien whales). Also worth noting is Jack Champion as Spider, the human boy raised among the Na'vi but whose mask marks him as different. His bond with Kiri, who's also a little bit different, seems headed toward romance, but it's too early to tell (not to mention complicated).
Lang's Quaritch is only slightly less unhinged in this installment than he was in the first film. But he's far from the only antagonist. The Na'vi face seemingly insurmountable odds as the humans' tech gets better and deadlier. The action sequences come mostly in the third act, but there are moments of pulse-pounding peril throughout that will make audiences clutch their seats (or their partners). There's even an extended ship-sinking sequence that's reminiscent of Titanic, right down to how people grip the railing and hold their breath as areas flood. While there's no Pandoran quartet playing classical music, composer Simon Franglen uses the late James Horner's original themes to create an evocative score as the Na'vi fight for their lives. With Avatar: The Way of Water, Cameron and cinematographer Russell Carpenter have created something monumental in scope, so much so that the movie's flaws don't prevent it from being stunning.
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Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.