Let me begin with the disclaimer that I’ve seen the original Avatar six or seven times in 3D including in September ’22 when it was in theaters for a brief run before The Way of Water opened in December. It’s no secret that I’m a fan.
That being said, the trailer at the end of the movie I saw in September made The Way of Water look terrible. For a hot minute, I considered not seeing it at all, but be real–that wasn’t going to happen.
TL;DR I give it 10 out of 5 stars. Here’s why.
The movie sucked me in immediately. Even more visually stunning than the original, it dropped you into the action, catching you up with Jake and Neytiri. A few minutes later, my critic hat slipped onto my head and I began to notice plot holes and inconsistencies. It was at that moment I decided I could continue to pick the movie apart, or I could dive more deeply into the joy of watching by using the Buddhist technique of Shoshin, which means: beginner’s mind.
I put aside my authorly thoughts, quit looking for flaws, and settled into my reclining seat to really enjoy the movie I’ve waited 13 years for. I watched with an open mind, looking only for joy and ignoring anything that didn’t thrill me.
That being said, the movie is more visually stunning than the original and IMHO has richer subplots. I’ll admit I laughed a few times, jumped in my seat in fright, and cried more than once. I was solidly in my beginner’s mind, watching the movie through the eyes of a mesmerized child.
So, my recommendation is to plunk down your $17 bucks for the 3D version (go big or go home!), sneak in your favorite snack (avoid liquids, this bad boy comes in at 3 hours 12 minutes long), lean back in the movie’s recliner, and enjoy to your heart’s content.