"Avatar 2" Is Probably Going To Break All Kinds Of Box Office Records, And Here's What You Need To Know About It

    Shockingly, it doesn't feel like it's over three hours long.

    Unless you've been living under a rock, you've probably heard about Avatar: The Way of Water, aka James Cameron's highly anticipated sequel to 2009's Avatar, aka the highest-grossing film of all time.

    Jake Skully as a Navi

    Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldaña reprise their roles as Jake Sully and Neytiri (with a few other returning cast members), and they are joined by newcomers to the franchise Kate Winslet and Cliff Curtis.

    Jake and Neytiri sitting in their village, talking

    BTW, before we get going here, if you want to know absolutely nothing about the film going into it, skip to the end for the TL;DR. I won't reveal any major spoilers, but obviously, I gotta talk about the film somehow!

    So, the very loose setup for Avatar 2 is as follows...

    Set over a decade after the events of Avatar, the film catches us up with Jake and Neytiri and what they've been up to in all this time. We learn that, outside of running the Omaticaya clan, they've been busy having kids...several kids, in fact!

    Jake and his family all cuddled together

    There's their eldest son, Neteyam, who's a kind of "golden child" and is often asked by Jake to look after his siblings.

    The second oldest, Lo’ak, is played off as more of an outlier in the family (he's born with an extra finger, i.e. human-looking hands, and made fun of by other Na'vi kids for it).

    The youngest, Tuk, like most little kids, is daring and mischievous and often tags along with her older siblings.

    Then there's their adopted daughter Kiri, who's basically an immaculate conception child — she's born from Dr. Augustine's (Sigourney Weaver) Avatar, who's been kept in hibernation since Dr. Augustine's death in the first film. (The catch is no one knows who the father is.)

    Kiri sitting on the beach, smiling

    And finally, there's Spider, a human child orphaned by the war from the first film who was too small to be cryogenically frozen and sent back to Earth. Now, he's not REALLY one of Jake and Neytiri's kids, but he hangs around their family all the time "like a stray cat," so may as well be.

    Unfortunately, for Jake, his family, and all the inhabitants on the moon of Pandora, the Sky People (aka humans) from the first film have returned. And this time, they're not just here to mine for resources, they're actually here to colonize the entire moon because Earth is apparently no longer inhabitable.

    A military base that's still being built

    Without revealing too much, a certain faction of the Sky People also has a personal vendetta against Jake. So, Jake basically forces his family to go on the run and hide out with the ocean-loving Metkayina clan, who are (rightfully) reluctant to take them in.

    Once the Sullys arrive at the home of the Metkayina clan, led by Ronal (Kate Winslet) and Tonowari (Cliff Curtis), the family is slowly integrated into life there and begins to learn...the way of water.

    Ronal and Tonowari standing on the beach talking to Jake

    And this is just the first hour of the three-hour and 10-minute (yep, you read that right) movie!

    Now, I'm not going to spoil the rest of the film for you. You really should just go see it, but I will say that what plays out is very similar to the first movie. And that's not to say it's bad — if you loved the first movie, you're going to love this one too. But if you hated the first movie, I'm sorry to say Avatar 2 probably won't change your mind.

    The Navi running through the floating mountains

    However, unlike the first film, there are a few more original and unexpected story elements in play, as well as ones that have A LOT more emotion and heart than Avatar.

    Cameron, in case you weren't aware, is a true ocean-loving activist, and he lays out a particularly upsetting scene in Avatar 2 with a fictional whale-like creature called the tulkun. It's a very on-the-nose commentary on whaling and poaching, and frankly made me think "OMG I hate this" while watching. Not because it was bad, but because it was honestly very sad.

    A tulkun jumping up out of the ocean during sunset

    And there's an interesting twist during the film's climax that will probably hit you right in the feels.

    Somewhat surprisingly (or maybe not because it's been so long), Jake and Neytiri are also not the main heroes of the film, at least not in the second half. They're still very much a part of the story, but their children end up playing a far more important and active role.

    The kids riding their creatures flying over the ocean

    And considering there are at least three more films to go, I suspect the children will eventually become the main characters as the action-fueled franchise progresses and the characters (and actors) continue to get older. But we'll see.

    Jake scolding the kids

    Now, from a technical standpoint, Avatar: The Way of Water looks incredible. The level of detail is actually mind-blowing. Like, you maybe thought it looked good back in 2009, but there were literally times when watching this new film when I had to remind myself I wasn't looking at a person in makeup, but actually an entirely CG character.

    However, you should also know that there are some TRULY WILD things Cameron is doing with the frame rate in this film. That may sound technical and "boring," but basically, the look is JARRING and, frankly, weird.

    A soldier using a flamethrower

    So much of the hype around the Avatar films stems from people's excitement over James Cameron's innovative techniques. And there's no doubt both this film and the first are amazing technical achievements.

    However, again, much like the first movie, the story is full of common tropes. I actually don't think there's anything wrong with that, but I'm sure some will complain. There is a lot of good world-building going on, but the story itself isn't groundbreaking (although, as I said, there are some nice tear-jerker moments). But it's certainly plenty to serve the main draw: the action and the visuals.

    The na'vi waiting on the ocean to go to battle


    Avatar: The Way of Water is a fun ride that, shockingly, doesn't feel like it's over three hours long. In fact, the story never felt bloated and moved along pretty swiftly. The visuals are spectacular, and if you're a fan of action-packed, "big screen" films, you'll enjoy the experience — 8/10, would recommend!

    Avatar: The Way of Water lands in theaters Dec. 16, and you can watch the latest trailer here:

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    20th Century Studios / Via youtube.com