Reviewed by: Charity Bishop
Importance of family / Family relationships and dynamics
Pantheism-like spirituality plays a strong part in this film / Worshipping the creation and the supposed “Great Mother” (Eywa, akin to the Gaia of some evironmentalists) instead of the Creator, Yahweh
Message that indigenous tribal people are far superior in spirituality and wisdom about the natural world
Politically correct environmentalism
Hollywood’s continuing push of climate crisis dramas and emotionally charged colonization propaganda
Marines cast as evil
Planet-destroying humans cast as the universe’s truest villains
Message that people need to put aside their differences and unite to save their world
Underwater life on a fictional alien planet with both jungle and sea
Making tough decisions (fight or flight for family)
Accepting people for their differences
Sam Worthington … Jake
Zoe Saldana (Zoe Saldaña) … Neytiri
Sigourney Weaver … Kiri
Stephen Lang … Quaritch
Kate Winslet … Ronal
Cliff Curtis … Tonowari
Joel David Moore … Norm
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20th Century Studios
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|Distributor||Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures|
Prequel: “Avatar” (2009)
James Cameron proves once again he’s the king of cinema with his sequel to “Avatar,” a sumptuous visual masterpiece centered around the theme of fatherhood.
Set a dozen years after the original film, Jake (Sam Worthington) has become a father of four children—including his adopted daughter, Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), born from his friend Grace’s avatar after her death, and a human boy, Spider (Jack Champion). He and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) lead the Na’vi people, after successfully forcing the “sky people” (humans) to abandon Pandora. But now the sky people have returned, among them his old enemy, Quartich (Stephen Lang). Even though Jake fought and defeated him, before the final battle, Quartich uploaded his consciousness and his memories to a computer so he could be reborn in an Avatar’s body. Quartich does not remember being killed, but he does recall the trouble Jake caused him, and intends to “settle the score, once and for all.”
Earth is dying and humans need a new planet to colonize, so they send an advance wave of humans, including Quartich and his marines, to pave the way on the planet. After Quartich gets his hands on Spider, fearing the boy will reveal everything he knows about Jake and their home, Jake takes his family and abandons their home in the mountains to live among the coastal tribes. There, he tries to forge a new life while facing the difficulties of fatherhood. This new life will challenge each of them, and reveal their hidden talents, but they cannot remain hidden forever…
Over the last few years, there’s been an assault on men. Our society has gravitated away from traditional gender roles, leaving many young men uncertain of their purpose. But “Avatar: The Way of Water” celebrates men as the protectors of society. Jake tells us twice that protecting their family gives men a purpose, and we see him doing just that. He tries to find a balance between making sure his boys make the right decisions and being a warm and supportive parent. When the boys get out of line, he gives them a stern talking-to; when they start fights, he has them apologize (but also takes pride in the fact that the only reason they fought was to defend their sister); he is hard on them, because he loves them so much, and he sets them a good example of protecting those weaker than themselves.
Family is the core theme of the film, as each character grapples with their place in it and their responsibility to others. Jake reminds his oldest son repeatedly of his need to protect the younger ones. He chastises his second-eldest for endangering his siblings. Spider also fears “I might be like my father” (to which Kiri tells him he is not, he is his own person). Then there’s Kiri, and her search for belonging and meaning, which will resonate with children given up for adoption. She wonders why she was born, and feels different from the other children, but it’s touching to see her adopted family surround, support, and love her.
These characters make mistakes and reveal their own prejudices (Neytiri has an obvious preference for her own kids over Spider due to his human appearance), but ultimately choose to make the right decisions to protect their loved ones. In a way, the film is a love letter to fatherhood, full of messages young men need to hear, but it also has strong, courageous, and loving women on display.
Content-wise, if you saw the first film, you know what to expect here; the Na’vi wear almost nothing (the camera catches a brief glimpse of a nipple on an Avatar early on). There is discussion over Kiri’s parentage, as her brothers wonder which person “knocked up” Grace (it’s never made clear whether she has a human/Avatar father, or had an immaculate conception).
There’s some bad language scattered throughout (mostly sh*t, but Jesus’ name is abused once, and there’s one f-word). A Na’vi boy flips off a marine.
The violence is extreme but not bloody; the Na’vi kill a lot of humans (Neytiri shoots them with her signature arrows; Jake and others blow up their helicopters, crash their boats, stab them, and hit them). Quartich threatens Jake’s children multiple times, once threatening to cut Kiri’s throat. He shoots a sea creature to teach a lesson to a native tribe. The last thirty minutes is nonstop action, peril, and violence, as Jake and Quartich square off and beat each other mercilessly, Neytiri kills all the humans she finds, a whale smashes into a ship, and some of the Na’vi (including a character we have grown to know and love) die, along with their sea creatures.
One of the more excruciating scenes is of a whaler ship taking out one of Pandora’s whales—separating a mother and calf from the herd, driving harpoons into her chest, and killing them both, before they drill into her brain to extract a precious fluid that “stops human aging” (at $80 million dollars a vial). It’s painful to watch in its cruelty, and it may disturb children or animal lovers (as it did me).
James Cameron has made no secret of his environmentalist agenda, but this film doesn’t feel like propaganda as much as a celebration of marine life, even if it’s on another planet. It’s intended to make us treasure the ocean and its creatures, a role I believe fits us as Guardians of the Earth (God placed us here to be compassionate stewards).
Cameron’s religious beliefs are less obvious, but this film has a pantheist worldview. The Na’vi believe in a Great Mother spirit that connects all things and allows them to share and see memories through her sacred places. They pray to her, sing to her, and have a deep connection to all life, including being able to communicate with whales. The queen of the sea tribe calls one whale her “soul sister.” Kiri has a deeper connection than any other character to the “Great Mother,” and can use her creatures as a weapon.
For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator… —Romans 1:25 LSB
We see the Na’vi return one who has died to the sea bed, and later, that fallen Na’vi’s loved ones “visit with” this character in the memories of the soul tree. This is an unbiblical view of the afterlife.
Learn about DISCERNMENT—wisdom in making personal entertainment decisions
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