Avatar: The Way of Water

image for Avatar: The Way of Water

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Not suitable under 10; not recommended under 12; parental guidance to 13 (violence, scary scenes)

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This topic contains:

  • overall comments and recommendations
  • details of classification and consumer advice lines for Avatar: The Way of Water
  • a review of Avatar: The Way of Water completed by the Australian Council on Children and the Media (ACCM) on 22 December 2022.

Overall comments and recommendations

Children under 10 Not suitable due to violence, language, and scary and intense scenes.
Children aged 10–11 Not recommended due to violence, language, and scary and intense scenes.
Children aged 12–13 Parental guidance recommended due to violence and scary scenes.
Children over the age of 13 Ok for this age group.

About the movie

This section contains details about the movie, including its classification by the Australian Government Classification Board and the associated consumer advice lines.

Name of movie: Avatar: The Way of Water
Classification: M
Consumer advice lines: Science fiction themes, action violence and coarse language
Length: 192 minutes

ACCM review

This review of the movie contains the following information:

A synopsis of the story

Ten years have passed since the events of the previous Avatar movie, when Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) made the decision to leave his avatar body and live in Pandora as chief of the Omatikaya people. Jake is happily married to Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), with their three biological children, sons Neteyam (Jamie Flatters) and Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), and daughter Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss) as well as their adopted daughter, Kiri (Sigourney Weaver) (born from Grace Augustine's avatar), and a human boy named Spider, (Jake Champion) who was left behind when the humans returned to Earth. Their peace is shattered, however, when the Sky people (humans) return to Pandora, led by Colonel Quaritch (Stephen Lang), looking to colonise Pandora as Earth is dying. Quaritch had been killed on the last mission to Pandora but the humans have recreated him as a ‘recombinant’, cloned into a Na’vi body and implanted with the memories of the former person.

Jake leads the attack against the invaders, inciting Quaritch to find and destroy him as a traitor to the human race. Quaritch manages to capture Jake’s children but Jake and Neytiri free most of them, apart from Spider. Quaritch recognises Spider as his son and wants to protect him from harm. Jake realises that he is a threat to the rest of the Omatikaya people and so flees with his family. They seek sanctuary on an island with the Metkayina reef people. Some of the Metkayina are not too keen to take them in as they know the danger they might bring with them. Some of them also despise their human connection. The Chief Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) decides to take them in, despite his wife Ronal’s (Kate Winslet) misgivings. Their son, Aonung (Filip Geljo), takes an instant dislike to the newcomers but their daughter, Tsireya (Bailey Bass), befriends Lo’ak and teaches the children the ways of the reef people. Kiri develops an affinity to the sea creatures while Lo’ak befriends a tulkun named Payakan, large whale-type creatures who are the spirit brothers and sisters of the Metkayina.

Quaritch eventually catches up with Jake by employing the help of a tulkun hunter to draw him out. When many tulkuns are slaughtered, it leads to all-out war between the Sky people, Jake and the Metkayina people, who are also helped by Payakan.

Themesinfo

Children and adolescents may react adversely at different ages to themes of crime, suicide, drug and alcohol dependence, death, serious illness, family breakdown, death or separation from a parent, animal distress or cruelty to animals, children as victims, natural disasters and racism. Occasionally reviews may also signal themes that some parents may simply wish to know about.

Science Fiction; Environmental Conservation; Tribalism; Spiritualism.

Use of violenceinfo

Research shows that children are at risk of learning that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution when violence is glamourised, performed by an attractive hero, successful, has few real life consequences, is set in a comic context and / or is mostly perpetrated by male characters with female victims, or by one race against another.

Repeated exposure to violent content can reinforce the message that violence is an acceptable means of conflict resolution. Repeated exposure also increases the risks that children will become desensitised to the use of violence in real life or develop an exaggerated view about the prevalence and likelihood of violence in their own world.

There is a lot of violence in this movie, including:

  • Many war scenes with automatic weapons, arrows, axes and spears, blasts and explosions.
  • When the Sky people arrive in their space ships, they set fire to the forest beneath them to make a clearing for themselves.
  • One explosion blows up a train which careers off the track and crashes in flames.
  • During a battle, many people are killed and one of Jake’s sons is injured.
  • The recombinants grab Jake’s children and hold them by their hair while pointing guns to their heads. Quaritch grabs one of the boys by the neck and threatens him with a knife.
  • Jake Sully is stabbed with a knife but not killed.
  • Aonung teases the Sully children and Lo’ak hits back – they get into a fight.
  • A monstrous shark-type creature attacks Lo’ak, biting at him with his enormous teeth.
  • Quaritch and his team use extreme force to make other villagers tell them where Jake is. They threaten them with rifles, Taser them and shoot at sea creatures. They then set fire to their homes.
  • The whalers shoot weapons at the tulkun and kill many of them.
  • Quaritch holds a knife to Kiri’s throat. Neytiri calls his bluff and threatens Spider with a knife. She cuts his chest.

Material that may scare or disturb children

Under fiveinfo

Children under five are most likely to be frightened by scary visual images, such as monsters, physical transformations.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children under the age of five, including the following:

  • The Omatikaya people are blue with yellow eyes, large ears and a tail. The Metkayina people are turquoise in colour with tattoos, webbed hands and wide tails for swimming.
  • The monstrous shark creature is terrifying with a huge mouth and very sharp teeth.
  • Payakan also looks quite scary as she is also huge with two eyes on one side of her face.
  • The Na’vi fly on large dinosaur birds which look quite scary.

Aged five to eightinfo

Children aged five to eight will also be frightened by scary visual images and will also be disturbed by depictions of the death of a parent, a child abandoned or separated from parents, children or animals being hurt or threatened and / or natural disasters.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes and scary visual images, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged five to eight, including the following:

  • The Sky people arrive with a large amount of weaponry, large mechanical tanks, crab-like armour, helicopters and space ships.
  • Quaritch and the recombinants are about twice the height of the indigenous people and are all armed with heavy rifles.
  • Creatures are seen running scared and screaming from the fire and the space ships. Neytiri cries at the destruction.
  • Jake teaches his children how to shoot arrows and Neteyam spears a fish.
  • People are shown with arrows shot through their heads and bodies.
  • Spider is injured in a fall and is seen with blood on his arms.
  • The Sullys flee from Omatikaya through rain and storms. Loud crashing noises are heard.
  • Lo’ak goes inside Payakan’s mouth to learn about her history and why she was excluded from the rest of the tulkun. It’s dark inside Payakan’s belly but it is then lit up by lights.

Aged eight to thirteeninfo

Children aged eight to thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic threats and dangers, violence or threat of violence and / or stories in which children are hurt or threatened.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children aged eight to thirteen, including the following:

  • Dead bodies are seen strewn around after a battle.
  • Quaritch is sent on a mission to hunt down and kill Jake Sully as a leader of the Na’vian insurgency.
  • Quaritch finds a dead body from the previous visit to Pandora. He picks up the skull and crushes it in his hand.
  • Quaritch takes Spider with him. Spider is locked inside a cell as he is violent and aggressive towards the Sky people. At one point he is strapped to a bed with an electronic gadget attached to his head. This spins around his head and is used as a form of torture to make Spider reveal the Sully’s whereabouts.
  • Aonung wants to take revenge on Lo’ak and so takes him out to a dangerous place beyond the reef where a monstrous killer shark lives. Aonung and his friends leave Lo’ak there. The shark creature attacks Lo’ak and it looks like he dies as he drops to the ocean floor but he is rescued by Payakan.
  • Payakan shows Lo’ak how many of the tulkun were shot with spears, including her mother. Many tulkuns were killed by the whalers and are seen floating in the water. Payakan went on to attack the whalers which was against the law of tulkuns.
  • Tuk is separated from her brothers and sisters and is held captive by Quaritch. Neytiri comes to her rescue but the two are trapped underwater inside a sinking ship.

Thirteen and overinfo

Children over the age of thirteen are most likely to be frightened by realistic physical harm or threats, molestation or sexual assault and / or threats from aliens or the occult.

In addition to the above-mentioned violent scenes, there are some scenes in this movie that could scare or disturb children over the age of thirteen, including the following:

  • The recombinants are hiding in the forest when they suddenly rush out and grab Jake’s children. The children are in mortal danger which is quite a frightening scene. This happens on several occasions when Quaritch captures the children. On one occasion he ties up Tuk and Kiri to a railing on a ship.
  • Kiri and Tsireya go to the Tree of Souls, which is underwater. Kiri links to the tree through her hair and sees a vision of her mother, Grace Augustine. They have a conversation together but then Kiri has an epileptic fit and is seen glowing and convulsing. She is pulled from the water unconscious but is healed by Ronal.
  • A baby tulkun is seen crying next to its mother who’s been shot and is thrashing about in agony.
  • The whalers go inside the dead body of a tulkun to extract a substance from its brain which helps prevent aging.
  • One of the main characters is shot and dies. A burial is held at sea.

Product placement

  • None noted.

Sexual references

There are some sexual references in this movie, including:

  • Mild flirtation between Lo’ak and Tsireya.
  • Jake and Neytiri kiss.

Nudity and sexual activity

There is some nudity and sexual activity in this movie, including:

  • The indigenous peoples are mostly naked but their private parts are covered.
  • A woman’s breast is briefly seen as she breastfeeds her baby.

Use of substances

  • None noted.

Coarse language

There is some coarse language in this movie, including:

  • Bitch
  • Crap
  • Arse
  • Holy shit
  • Bullshit
  • Buttholes
  • Shit
  • Goddamn
  • Piss
  • What the hell?
  • Tough bastards
  • Bloody hell
  • Fuck
  • Idiot
  • Jesus
  • Cheeky bugger
  • Son of a bitch.

In a nutshell

Avatar: The Way of Water is an action adventure, sci-fi spectacular with stunning graphics and underwater filmography. There is a stark contrast shown between the indigenous peoples who nurture and care for the environment and the creatures that live in it, and the invading colonisers who destroy everything in their way. Although it is 3 hours long, the movie is exciting and intense, which, together with the violence and scary scenes, makes it unsuitable for children under 10, not recommended for children under 12 and parental guidance is recommended for children aged 12 – 13 years old.

The main messages from this movie are the importance of family and to stand up to tyranny and oppression.

Values in this movie that parents may wish to reinforce with their children include:

  • Neytiri and Ronal are both strong female lead members of their clans.
  • Tolerance and acceptance
  • Teamwork
  • Bravery and courage
  • Looking after the environment
  • Selflessness
  • Connection to nature.

This movie could also give parents the opportunity to discuss with their children attitudes and behaviours, and their real-life consequences, such as:

  • The Sky people are shown as oppressors and colonisers of another land which could give parents the opportunity to discuss why certain nations feel the need to do this. The repercussions are always bad and many lives are lost in the process. Dialogue is always a much better alternative to violence.