Family Theme Elevates Visually Stunning Avatar: The Way of the Water

Hot Take

Avatar: The Way of the Water is a visually stunning cinematic achievement and

pushes technological boundaries of the industry with an infused with a story of

family, loyalty, and acceptance.

I wasn’t sure what to expect with the second Avatar movie: Avatar: The Way of the Water: I found the first movie preachy, although the incredible investment in technology and cinematography kept me engaged. In terms of story, however, my reaction to the original story, however, was “meh.”

The Way of the Water, however, is a much better film, putting family dynamics and relationships at the heart of the story. This allows the film to transcend the technology to engage audiences on a broader level.

This is important, because The Way of the Water is a much more expensive film. While the movie has made money by conventional standards, it hasn’t really achieved blockbuster financial status yet.

I discuss the artistic and financial hurdles the film and it’s sequels face more extensively in my full review on the Beacon blog. I write in part:

While CGI animation, elaborate world-building, and brilliantly executed underwater 3D imagery are worthy in their own right, movies need more than ultra-cool hi-tech buzzers and whistles to push super-big-budget films to profitability. Political agendas will also fall short of tapping into the broad base of viewer support necessary to justify their budgets.

Fortunately, The Way of the Water is helped by a finely-grained human story of family.
Without a doubt, Jame Cameron’s crusade to save Earth is still well represented in the themes and fundamental conflicts within the Avatar film. Greed is front and center, and humans are about as two-dimensional in this film as they were in the first.

If you have time to catch the film in the theaters, now is not the time to dally.

Author: SR Staley
SR Staley has one more than 11 literary awards for his fiction and nonfiction writing. He is on the full-time faculty of the College and Social Sciences and Public Policy at Florida State University as well as a film critic and research fellow at the Independent Institute in Oakland, California. His award-winning Pirate of Panther Bay series ( has won awards in historical fiction, mainstream & literary fiction, young adult fiction, and reached the finals in women's fiction. His most recent book is "The Beatles and Economics: Entrepreneurship, Innovation, and the Making of a Cultural Revolution" due out in April 2020 (Routledge).