Na’vi Funerals & Expressing Grief

Today while browsing through an Avatar forum, I came across the topic of death and grief on Pandora. While the person who originally started the topic just wanted to open up a conversation about death in general and how we shouldn’t fear it, I had my own thoughts about death and grief and how it was shown to us in the film. I decided to also post my thoughts here, because I think it’s an interesting topic, specifically as it pertains to world building and the overall culture of the Na’vi, as well as how the cultures might differ among the clans.

In response to the person’s curiosity about Neytiri’s funeral attire, this was my response:

“I was also curious about Neytiri’s attire during Neteyam’s send off, as well as the solid stripe going down Jake’s face and the black/darkly colored bands that were on his arms. I am mostly curious about what Na’vi practices are when it comes to the death of a blood family member in comparison to the death of a clan member, because in the first film, we briefly saw a send off of an Omaticaya clan member, however no one was in funeral/grieving attire. They came in their everyday attire and placed their seeds of the sacred tree on the member as a way to say farewell so that the member’s spirit can go on to become one within Eywa.

I wonder if the attire for Neteyam’s funeral is what Omaticaya wear when a direct family member dies, or if this was the funeral practices of the Metkayina. Because I also noticed that Tanowari’s and Ronal’s clothing were also different for Neteyam’s send off. They did say in the movie that the Sully’s were Metkayina now, so I wonder if this was just Metkayina attire for funerals.

I also noticed that Neytiri was wearing Neteyam’s necklace for the funeral as well.

It’s all very interesting to think about and I have not seen anything yet in the official canon about the funeral styles of the different Na’vi clans. I am interested in it because the funeral for the Omaticaya in the first film felt much lighter, especially with Jake narrating that the Omaticaya believe that all energy is borrowed and that in the end, all energy must be returned. Granted, I understand the horrific circumstances that Neteyam died under, so his death is a lot heavier and I imagine that no Na’vi, no matter what their spiritual beliefs are, wants to experience the death of a loved one, especially the death of a child. I imagine that dying of old age vs. dying due to murder and war are very different in terms of energy being returned to Eywa. However, I like the idea that death is not the end, no matter how you die. Your soul goes on, back into Eywa where there is freedom, peace, and no pain.”

Even though we did not see a funeral for Neytiri’s father in the first film, I imagine that it would have held the same heaviness as Neteyam’s, and I can’t picture a funeral like we saw in the first film happening for Olo’eyktan’s funeral. It definitely wouldn’t be as light and accepting. Not only because he was the clan leader, but because of the circumstances he died under. His death was absolutely brutal. And the fact that he died in Neytiri’s arms makes it that much heavier.

I feel sad that Olo’eyktan could not get a proper burial with the Omaticaya sending him off. But in my imagination, I like to think maybe they did, in the best way they knew how, after they made it to safety while congregating under the large tree; the scene where Jake showed up with the toruk.

I also wonder if Neytiri has a bead and a song on her songcord for her father. I would have liked to hear what song she created for him. I’d like to hear Mo’at’s song for him too, if she has one.

Death can be heavy and traumatic, and grief can feel like the end of the world. But I love how the Na’vi always have a way to be near their ancestors with the Tree of Voices. It makes me wish we had something like it here on earth. Same with the Black Panther films and how they can speak to their ancestors on the ancestral plane. When it comes to my own ancestors, I, for one, would love to be able to see my great grandfather again. Many people never meet their great grand parents, but I was fortunate enough to actually grow up with mine 💜

Movie Review – Avatar: The Way of Water

*Please know that this review will contain mild spoilers for the film*

Hello everyone and welcome or welcome back to my blog. It’s been a while since I’ve seen the movie and I needed these days to process my feelings and get my thoughts together. I think I’m ready now to give my personal review of this film. But before I get started, I will give the warning that this blog post is going to be very long.

Summary

Avatar: The Way of Water follows the journey of the Sullys as a family unit. In this film, we are introduced to the Sully family with a brief recap of what has been taking place over the past decade, and we meet each of the Sully children. The Omaticaya have found a new place to live since the first film and have adapted to using the more violent weapons that they have been taking from the RDA each time the RDA comes to try and kill and colonize. As a clan, they stop the RDA from inflicting further damage on Pandora and take the weapons to use for when they come up against the RDA again.

The Omaticaya have built a type of militaristic base in a high cliff where they store the weapons and RDA equipment. Jake is putting his military background to good use and seems to be doing a decent job at keeping the Omaticaya safe. But of course, this does not last, and the RDA bring in the big weapons that the Omaticaya can’t win against, and just like before, the clan has to move again.

Once Quaritch’s conscious is restored into the body of an Avatar, as well as many other RDA troops whose human bodies died, he goes on the hunt for Jake Sully with only one goal: Kill him. He gives a Pandora speech to his new troops that is almost identical to his speech in the first film, and they are soon on their way.

After a scary run in with these new Avatars, the Sully children almost get taken by Quaritch and these new RDA people. Jake and Neytiri come to save them, and it is at this point that Jake sees that Quaritch is alive again and that his family is no longer safe in the forest. So, he gives up his title as Olo’eyktan, passing the title and position to another clan member, and he and his family leave the Omaticaya clan for good, seeking refuge in the reef with the Metkayina clan. This is where the movie truly begins and the TWOW story finally starts.

Characters

Jake Sully & Neytiri – Although Jake and Neytiri are important characters and very vital to the overall story of TWOW, it felt like they were secondary characters – especially Neytiri. This might have been on purpose since the franchise as a whole seems to be turning into a family saga of sorts that will follow the Sully family for many generations.

It was interesting to see Jake and Neytiri step into the role of parenthood and all the struggles that parenthood entails, in addition to running for their lives. I do think that their lives were made significantly harder due to the number of kids they had. 3 biological kids, 1 adopted, and 1 sorta kinda adopted, for a total of 5 kids to look after. In terms of safety, that’s just too many and we see throughout the entire movie just how dangerous this is.

It was interesting to see Neytiri take on the role of a mother. In the first film she was very much a warrior in her own right. She was harsh, stubborn, fierce, and mostly showed tough love. However, she loved deeply – both her partner, Jake, and her people. In TWOW, we see a softer side of Neytiri. This softness does not completely overshadow the Neytiri we grew to know in the first film, however, the overall toughness seemed to be hidden away for the majority of the film. We don’t get to see Neytiri in all of her glory until the very end of the film and I found this disappointing. However, Zoe Saldana’s performance during this climax scene was absolutely amazing! I felt her rage. I felt her hurt. I felt her passion to protect yet hatred enough to get revenge, and it brought tears to my eyes.

Seeing Jake as a father was interesting. In a way, I still see him as the bumbling idiot that had no idea how to survive on Pandora and ran into everything headfirst and dealt with the consequences later. As in no thoughts, head empty, let’s just see what happens. And even though Jake was this way in the first film, he did always try his very best. He gave everything 100% effort no matter how stupid his actions were.

In this film, even though he does still have some of these same qualities, we see that he thinks more before acting. He has become completely strategic and has come to rely on what he knows that can keep people safe, and that just so happens to be rooted in his military training. I think this was a necessary development for his character since the franchise seems to now be moving toward being a family saga. The contrast in still seeing Jake Sully as a Pandoran newbie vs. a skilled Na’vi leader and protector of an entire clan and family is still hard for me to process, personally. Maybe if we could have gotten more time to see Jake living on Pandora as a Na’vi and as an actual clan leader, the shift into this new era of his character would have been easier to digest. But what can we do when it’s been over a decade between films? Oh well.

Netayam – The first-born Sully child and the oldest of the kids. He’s a teenager who does his best to look after his siblings but very clearly has a soft spot for his younger brother and often allows him to get them in trouble. For the most part, he is mature and has a good head on his shoulders and wants to live up to the image of his dad who has become a bit of a living legend. His father is the Toruk Makto, the Olo’eyktan, and has helped lead the Omaticaya to victory on numerous occasions against the RDA (such as when the RDA raids Pandora and the Omaticaya stop them, like we see in the beginning of the film). Netayam sees he has big shoes to fill, and he tries his best to be perfect.

Lo’ak – The second born son. Lo’ak is stubborn, disobedient, and so much like Jake that Jake just has no idea what to do with him. Lo’ak is constantly getting into trouble because he also wants to be like his dad, but he also wants his dad to be proud of him. Lo’ak is eager to be a warrior and often finds himself in trouble because he never thinks before he acts. And since he’s so pushy and stubborn, he often drags his siblings and new friends into his shenanigans.

Lo’ak was pretty much the main character of this film and therefore the best character in the movie because he had the most story and character development. I would not be surprised if the next film follows him even more.

Kiri – Kiri is the eldest (adopted) daughter and the most different. We find out pretty early on that she was born from Grace’s Avatar body, however, it is not explained how this was able to happen. Kiri is around the age of 14 or 15 and she feels a lot closer to nature and her environment more than she does people. She also has a very unique connection to Eywa and Grace Augustine. She can feel Grace inside her just as much as she can feel Eywa and we soon learn that Kiri has abilities that so far no other Na’vi has.

Throughout the film, Kiri very much seems like a fictional version of Jesus. She is “weird” and different from other Na’vi her age. Not just because her mother was human and she was born from her mother’s Avatar body, but also because of her abilities that are very much along the lines of “performing miracles” like how Jesus did in the bible. Kiri seems to be a spiritual offspring of sorts, conceived by Eywa through Grace. Which again, is very reminiscent of Jesus who was conceived by God through Mary while Joseph/Jake are just kind of hanging around for the ride.

I have no idea where Kiri’s story is going to go or what we are going to find out about her, but I am hoping she gets more story and character development in the next movie because in this one, her story seemed to fall by the wayside. There is a moment in the film where Kiri connects with the Metkayina’s tree of souls under water where she meets Grace face to face (since Grace was buried with Na’vi ancestors in the first film). Right after Kiri asks why she is so different, Grace gets snatched away due to connection issues with Kiri (no spoilers for this as this was quite intense and you need to see why the connection was lost for yourself) and we never get an answer. This mystery around Kiri’s existence remains for the entirety of the movie.

Spider – The human child on Pandora. We find out early on that Spider is the son of Quaritch and it was assumed that Spider was going to be shipped back to earth after the events in the first film. However, babies can’t be placed in cryo-sleep in order to space travel, so he stayed on base at Hell’s Gate on Pandora. He is pretty much a third son to the Sully family as Jake has taken a liking to him and the kids see him as another family member as well. Neytiri is the only one in the family that does not have loving feelings for him.

Spider and Kiri have a closer relationship and I think it is because they are both so different than everyone else. Kiri is different due to all the things I just explained above, while Spider is different because he is the first human ever born on Pandora and feels like Pandora is his home even though he cannot breathe Pandoran air. He feels more at home among the Na’vi, yet he is not Na’vi himself and wants to be.

Tuktirey – The youngest daughter in the Sully family. I believe she is only around the age of 6, so we don’t actually get a lot of her character, developmentally. In my opinion, she seemed to only be there as a plot device. She was just there to be cute and then to also serve as tension when she is placed in danger.

The Metkayina clan and royal family – This is the new clan we get to know in this film, and please note that I am only using the word “royal” as a description to separate the clan leaders and their family from the rest of the Metkayina. I understand that the term “royal” is a western view of hierarchy when understanding indigenous leadership.

So, we meet the Metkayina pretty much the same way Jake met the Omaticaya in the first movie. I really enjoyed getting to see this new clan and I loved how some of the visual and cultural aspects were inspired by the Maori people of New Zealand/Aotearoa. I will admit, I wanted to see more of Maori culture in the film because I have loved learning about the Maori ever since I met a Kiwi for the first time back in 2018 who loved sharing things about New Zealand culture. But I had to keep reminding myself that this is a fictional film and the cultures we see inside it are only inspired by. Not true representations.

Ronal and Tanuwari are the leaders of the Metkayina clan, and they have three children with one on the way. Two teenage sons and a teenage daughter. And as with the Sully children in this film, the royal children also get way more screen time than their parents. I don’t have much else to say about them besides kids will be kids, and there is a very obvious potential romantic connection between Lo’ak and Tanuwari’s daughter, Tsireya. It’s not one I care to see, but whatever.

Actors

I think overall, all the actors did a great job with their characters to tell the story that needed to be told; even the characters we are not supposed to like. I think the Na’vi Dreamer Best Actor Award goes to Britain Dalton who played Lo’ak – he seemed the most real to me in presenting a coming-of-age story, Zoe Saldaña who played Neytiri (Seriously! Her final battle scene is truly one to experience), and Stephen Lang who plays Colonel Quaritch. Anyone who can make me hate a character this much definitely deserves an award. The Na’vi Dreamer Best Actor Runner Up Award goes to Kate Winslet who played Ronal. I really liked her as Tsahìk of the Metkayina and wished we could have seen more of her. She is tough and strong-willed just like Neytiri, and we see a few times throughout the film how they clash yet still come together because they are ultimately fighting for the same thing.

Actors I did not particularly care for were Jack Champion who played Spider and Bailey Bass who played Tsireya. I know I am a minority in saying so because so many Avatar fans love them and there has been a lot of hype lately surrounding Bailey Bass as an up-and-coming actress, but this is just my opinion. Jack Champion did not give the emotions I felt were necessary in the situations he was in which made me not feel as strongly for his scenes. And I personally am just not a fan of Bailey Bass as an actor, even in other things I have seen her in. When I watch interviews of these two actors, I feel the same. There is something about the both of them that I find off putting personality wise. They just don’t do it for me. Oh well.

Something I find the new actors of this film struggled with, is trying to speak with a Na’vi accent. Everyone sounded completely different and no one’s accent was consistent. Most times, there was no accent at all. I try not to hold this against anyone too strongly since the main cast was just a bunch of kids under the age of 20 during filming, but it’s still something I noticed heavily.

I also found myself wishing that more Na’vi language was used because there was significantly less used in this film in comparison to the previous one. Absolutely everyone spoke English and the English used was so modern and of today that it would often take me out of the immersion once they started using terms like “yo” and “bro”. Even with a sky person as a father, I found this hard to swallow that Na’vi children would speak like this when the only person from Earth they’ve been around is their father, Jake. Not to mention, the first film took place in the year 2154 which means the second film is over a decade after that. I’m pretty sure people from Earth are no longer using the terms “yo” and “bro” that far in the future. Had they started using other modern slang like “cap” and “lit” I probably would have walked out the theater.

I also questioned why the Na’vi weren’t speaking Na’vi to each other and why they relied on English. My brother, who I saw the film with, told me his point of view which was that to us it is English for the sake of understanding the film, but to them, it was supposed to be Na’vi and this transition into Na’vi sounding like English happened when at the beginning of the movie when Jake Sully was narrating and said that he no longer hears the difference between the two languages anymore. Na’vi comes just as naturally to him as English does. And as he said this, his two kids that were arguing, we hear them speaking Na’vi but then switch to English. However, I did not get this transition at all if that’s what it was supposed to be. I still felt like there needed to be more Na’vi language in the film and at least some consistency in the accents.

Plot/Story

The main plot itself was very basic and “one note”. And that was: Quaritch is trying to kill Jake Sully. Jake Sully is trying to protect his family. That’s it. However, all the nuance comes in once we start to explore what it takes to keep family safe, specifically kids; what it means to live through a war and have that war follow you wherever you go; how it feels to never have a true sense of safety and to bring that safety insecurity to other people around you. And also, what it is like to grow up with this as your constant backdrop of life. It’s tough. It’s scary. And one cannot stay a child for long in situations like this.

Things got a little convoluted and strange when three other plot points were introduced but then never truly explored. At first, we think that Quaritch has been revived to finish what he started and kill Jake Sully so they can finish the original plan: Get the unobtanium. But then we are introduced to a woman in charge of a new group of RDA who seems to be trying to colonize Pandora because Earth is on its last leg and humans won’t survive much longer on it. So, her job is to “remove the hostile party” who is preventing them from colonizing, which is the Na’vi.

But then! We meet some other people who are only on Pandora for hunting. They are hunting and killing the tulkuns just so they can extract some whale blubber that stops aging and sells for 80 million dollars a kilo or something else outrageous. Why they are going hunting for whale serum when the earth is dying, I’ll never understand. Anti-aging whale serum is not what’s going to save the earth.

And lastly, Kiri’s story. It’s a sub plot that never gets fully realized and left me feeling disappointed. We know that Kiri is essentially Grace’s daughter. But how was she born? How was Grace’s avatar impregnated? Why can Kiri feel Grace and Eywa inside her? How does she have the abilities that she has? Who is she and why is she so different? All of these questions are posed, but absolutely none of them get answered.

All of these forgotten plot points left a lot of questions to be answered.

(L-R): Neytiri and Jake Sully in 20th Century Studios’ AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Locations/Scenery

Was there ever any question that exploring a new area of Pandora would be absolutely stunning? If so, there shouldn’t have been because James Cameron did not disappoint! Seeing the marine side of Pandora was dreamlike, much like exploring the forest was in the first film. I really enjoy the overindulgence that James Cameron takes with showing viewers this new world. It allows us as viewers to take everything in and experience the newness at the same time as the characters who are also experiencing these things for the first time.

I personally have a love-hate relationship with water. I think water and marine life is amazing and beautiful. I love going to the beach and one of my most memorable moments at the beach was when I took a trip to Clear Water in Florida, bought some goggles, and went swimming in a more secluded area of the beach. I was able to swim among seaweed with small schools of fish, sea stars, sand crabs that burrowed away once I got too close, and I’ve even picked up a sea jelly before. However, I also have a fear of water. Storms absolutely frighten me, and I would never in a million years choose to live near a body of water, nor do I have any desire to ever go on a cruise. Being in the middle of an ocean with no land in sight is not my idea of a good time. That would bring me nothing but anxiety.

Seeing the underwater world of Pandora renewed my love for marine life and made me strongly want to go back to Clear Water to take another swim with the fish. I loved getting to see the Tulkuns and Ilus and the sea jelly that resembled a butterfly that helped Na’vi breath under water. I also loved the marine version of the tree of souls. It looked like a cross between a sea anemone and a palm tree which was really cool.

I also loved the differences in physical appearance of the Na’vi clans. The Metkayina have wider and flatter tales and arms to help them swim. They also have skin that is more teal in color and their stipes look different than the Omaticaya’s stripes. The clothing is also more aquatic and made from items of the sea or the nearby sea forest. The Metkayina also tattoo their bodies which is something the Omaticaya do not do. I would have loved to learn what the tattoos mean to the Metkayina, but I suppose knowing that would not have progressed the plot further. Hopefully we get another book of canon that can explain more about the Metkayina.

Music

The movie opens with a new song that we viewers have never heard before. It is the voice of Neytiri, and it is beautiful, and melancholic, and filled with spiritual longing. Almost like a prayer; it held a lot of weight to it. I was happy initially, because I thought that finally, we were getting to see the musical side of the Omaticaya who are supposed to be the clan of weaving and music according to canon from the Avatar book ‘An Activists Survival Guide’.

By the end of the film, we find out that this song is a funeral song, and suddenly the song feels even heavier than it did at the beginning of the movie. I won’t share who died for the sake of anyone reading this who has not yet seen the movie. But my eyes teared up watching and while listening to this song. Who knew Zoe Saldaña had such a beautiful singing voice that can evoke so much emotion.

As for the rest of the music in the film, a lot of it was recycled music from the first film which was both nostalgic yet disappointing at the same time. Don’t get me wrong, I love the Avatar music from the first film, I was just hoping for new stuff throughout the entirety of this new movie. I found a lot of the music and sound effects to be very dramatic and initially over the top for the scenes that we were getting. But as the movie progressed and things started to get more tense, the music and sounds were much more fitting. I hope the soundtrack will be released so that I can give more attention to the music alone and have a better idea of how I feel about it.

James Cameron seems to like having “a big song number” or a theme song for his films. In Titanic he had the song ‘My Heart Will Go On’ sung by Celine Dion. In Avatar he had the song, ‘I See You’ sung by Leona Lewis. For The Way of Water he has ‘Nothing Is Lost’ sung by The Weeknd. I will be honest…I am NOT a fan of The Weeknd and never have been. His voice is just not my cup of tea. So, needless to say, I don’t particularly care for this movie’s theme song.

My favorite song of the film was the funeral song which sounded much like a cross between a prayer and a lullaby.

(L-R): Ronal (Kate Winslet), Tonowari (Cliff Curtis), and the Metkayina clan in 20th Century Studios’ AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.

Overall thoughts and rating

Overall, I am happy that we finally got this movie. It’s been a long 13 years and thank you, Mother Eywa, that we do not have to wait another 13 before the next one comes out. This movie had lots of callbacks to the first film (sometimes it was a bit ham-fisted and in your face) but did not rely on them. This truly was a film that focused on family with the main focus being on the children. This wasn’t entirely my favorite thing, as mentioned before, because…well, as a young adult myself, I don’t care to watch films that center around children. There were some moments where I kind of rolled my eyes at certain happenings because the “kids were being kids”, for lack of a better description, and it was kind of annoying.

I have no idea where the story can go next as there were many loose ends left by the end of the movie. One of the things I hated (even though I knew it would happen) was that Quaritch survives, yet again. Like I said, I knew he would because it has already been shared across the internet by James Cameron himself that Quaritch will be in all 5 freakin films. My irritation grows with how he survived. I have never wanted a fictional character dead so badly in my entire life. I have ZERO desire to see a redemption arc for him. I have ZERO desire to see him grow a heart and remain Na’vi forever. And I have ZERO desire to see him change his mind about what he has been doing just to become “a family man”. No. No. And no. We don’t know what his overall arc will be; we can only speculate. But I will not be satisfied with anything but his death. That’s harsh. But I don’t care. He deserves any and all grisly endings that come his way.

Another thing I did not like was at the very end, when Jake is giving his little speech and he hugs Spider and says, “a son for a son”. Um…no???? This rubbed me alllll types of wrong ways and I think this line was in poor judgement and taste. If you’ve seen the film, then you know exactly what I’m talking about. In the scene where Neytiri said it, it made sense in the midst of her rage, taking on the meaning “an eye for an eye”. But in the scene where Jake said it, it was absolutely not okay, and very much felt like he was being quick to replace who he and his family had just lost. I hated it. He could have given his speech about family without including that line. I blame James Cameron and the writers for that. Bad choice.

We have a whole year to wait for the third film and I am as curious as I ever have been. What is Kiri’s connection to Eywa?

How was Grace’s avatar impregnated with her when there was no conscious or life inside the avatar? Who’s the father if there is one?

Is Kiri the Pandoran version of Jesus? Is she a seed of Eywa?

What story will be conjured up for the humans next as the reason why they are colonizing Pandora? In the first film, they were searching for Unobtanium. In this film it was colonization to actually live on Pandora since Earth is dying but then changed halfway through the film to be hunting for Pandoran whale blubber that stops aging completely.

What humans and Avatars survived the battle? Because it sure didn’t look like any survived besides Spider and Quaritch, and the good sky people who have completely defected over to Pandora who also hardly had any screen time at all. I mean, come on, Norm was on screen for what, 3 minutes?

Will Lo’ak be the main character of the next film? Because he truly was the main character of this one.

I guess I just have to wait and see. Anyway. I think I’ve rambled on for long enough now. Overall, even though I liked the film, I do not feel as strongly for it as I do the first one. I still recommend watching it if you have not seen it yet. Thanks for reading if you made it this far. I hope you liked the film if you saw it already. And if you feel so inclined to share your thoughts, leave a comment below!

The Way of Water Countdown: T-8 days

I’ve been gone for a while. I needed to take a step away from all the Avatar fandom groups that I used to frequent. The reason being is that one day, a couple months ago, I was spoiled for a major plot point of the new film. I wasn’t searching for spoilers (because why on earth would I?), but one day while scrolling through my Instagram stories, I came across someone who reposted something that was shared at a huge event for movie directors and producers. At this event, James Cameron was sharing some spoilers amongst his fellow directors and producers. Someone that was there posted about it. Someone else reposted it, and it eventually found it’s way to my story feed since I am a part of online Avatar fan groups and follow Avatar hashtags.

I’m sincerely hoping that it was a bluff on the original poster’s part and that I can be surprised once I see the film, but only time will tell. I have no idea why people post spoilers of any kind, let alone spoilers for huge films such as Avatar, and do it without warning! So, I took a step away and I will continue to do so until after the movie. I haven’t even seen any of the new trailers. I’ve only seen the teaser and some photos before stepping back from the online fandom space.

I don’t really have much to say other than release day is getting nearer and nearer and I just wanted to come on here and say that I’ve purchased my tickets. I’m taking my brother with me. I’ll be at an IMAX theater with great seats and I’m happy that I’ll get to see this movie in theaters. I never got to see the first film in theaters and when it was re-released in theaters back in September, it was only in theaters for a week where I live, and since I was in a period of a rather dramatic job transition during that time, I once again did not get to see it in theaters. But not this time!

I’m seeing it in theaters and I’m even seeing it a day early! I have no idea how I was able to get early viewing tickets, but I did. I’m truly hoping for the best and to be amazed. I’ve kept it no secret that I have concerns and worries about this film due to certain things taking place, characters that still exist, and new characters that I don’t really care about or want to follow. I also don’t want any annoying teen romance that it looks like we’ll be getting.

Oh well. After 13 years, the movie has finally been made and will be in theaters. Let’s see if I’m still a fan after this lol. I truly hope I am not disappointed.

Avatar: The Way of Water trailer reaction

OOHHH MYYY GOOOSSHH, YA’LL!

I finally got to see the trailer for Avatar: The Way of Water and it’s sooo good! And when I tell you I almost burst into tears at the conflict shots, I really did get teary eyed. Particularly at the brief scene of Spider drawing his arrow and his ferocity when doing so.

I am so ready for this film. I was super skeptical, even as a long time fan, that I just would not be amazed and that absolutely nothing could top the first film. Well this trailer has me so pumped and ready to see this movie. I’m ready to be astounded. I’m ready for a beautiful story. And I’m ready to ugly cry lol!

I will admit that when I saw the avatar that was supposed to be Quaritch, I had an instant attitude though. I still stand firm in my opinion that he needs to still be dead. I hate that he is still the villain in this second movie, and I’m completely beside myself with annoyance that he will still be the villain in the rest of the films.

Anyway. I’ve watched the trailer three times already and I can’t stop staring at how absolutely beautiful everything is. I am soooo excited to be exploring more of Pandora.

I love it I love it I love it 💙🤍💜

My Trouble With Learning Na’vi

As with learning any new language, there will be struggles. Trying to get your mouth to move in ways that it never has before to produce brand new sound combinations is hard. Fictional languages are no different. 

I haven’t posted about it very often on this blog but I want to learn Na’vi. I started – and then promptly stopped. Why? Because Na’vi has the ever-dreaded trilled double R. A sound I have NEVER been able to make. 

And I know you’re thinking it. “iT tAkEs pRaCtIcEe”. 

No! The amount of times I have heard this over the course of my life makes me want to burst into a fit of rage. No, it does not “just take practice”. For some people, maybe that’s true. But for the minority, like myself, trilled Rs is a sound I will just never be able to make due to things I cannot control. I don’t know all the sciencey terminology for it, but I am convinced that the shape of my mouth and placement of my tongue and teeth don’t allow me to trill. And here’s something else: I can’t whistle either. And here’s some weird TMI: I’ve been told that I have a “little tongue” (that’s such a weird thing to tell someone, but yes, I have been told this. Should I be worried? Idk). 

Whistling and trilling my Rs has been something I have been trying to do since I was a young child and this is no exaggeration. I remember very vividly how hard and how long I would painstakingly try to create the beautiful note of sound that is a whistle. How upset I would get that I’m following absolutely everything everyone ever told me about the proper way to whistle, and yet no whistling sound ever came forth. And I remember how embarrassed and disappointed I was to find out that my 6-year-old brother could trill his Rs naturally while I sounded like a mashup of choking, gargling, spitting, and on really stressful days – gagging. 

I’ve read blogs, talked to teachers, examined diagrams of the mouth, jaw, and face, allowed my tongue to feel every nook and cranny within my mouth. I’ve even watched countless videos of language teachers teaching how to trill; Native speakers teaching non-native speakers how to trill; Non-native speakers that learned teaching other non-native speakers trying to learn. And I remember watching one particular video with my sister and us both trying. We are both adults. My sister ended up trilling her Rs while I was still making the sounds of a dying animal. 

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My face when my sister learned to trill and I didn’t.

It wasn’t and isn’t fair, and I’m mad about it! Lol. It sounds so silly to me as I type this that I was and am taking this so seriously, but come on! Why can’t I do it?? 

Often, when I find out that a cool sounding language – real or fictional – has the alveolar trill in it, my interest and motivation wanes instantly. But for some reason, it never has for Na’vi. It’s disheartening for sure to know that I will most likely never be able to trill my Rs and whistle properly. And it was even more disheartening to hear one of the more famous conlang creators that I mildly admired pretty much dismiss people who can’t trill their Rs (I won’t name him, but it was during an interview I saw on YouTube where after so many questions he ended up just sounding super pretentious). 

However, learning a new language is supposed to be fun and I am tired of trying to force my body to do things that it just can’t. It’s been well over a decade and I still can’t trill. It’s been well over a decade and I can still barely whistle. I want to learn Na’vi, but seeing words words with the double rr, such as Nìprrte instantly kill my motivation because I know that I will never be able to pronounce it the way it’s supposed to sound, with the alveolar trill. 

I’m tired of people simply chalking it up to endless practice. I’m tired of people saying “everyone can do it” when clearly, I am not a part of that “everyone”. I’m tired of people saying it’s genetic when my whole family can trill, yet I cannot. Does all of this make me want to lash out and throw things? Abso-freakin-lutely. 

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But I have to constantly remind myself that learning Na’vi is for fun. It doesn’t matter if I can’t make the rr sound. It’s a fictional language that probably no one will ever hear me speak. I shouldn’t put so much pressure on myself because there are simply things that everyone just can’t do no matter how much practice is put in, no matter how hard you try.  

While writing this, I am reminded of Mike Wazowski from the movie Monsters University. He knew everything there was to know about being scary. He knew textbooks from cover-to-cover. He knew who all the great top scarers were. He knew how to set up the perfect trap to scare the living daylights out of people. He knew exactly what it took to be absolutely frightening. So what was the problem?

He just wasn’t scary.

No matter how hard he studied, practiced, or tried, he just wasn’t scary. And this is honestly how I feel about trying to learn the alveolar trill, and it was how I felt while endlessly trying to whistle. 

I am trying my best to accept this despite still wishing for that magical day that so many people online have claimed to have, where suddenly, one day, by powers unknown, they just start trilling their Rs despite never knowing how to do so before. 

A girl can hope.

~ Na’vi Dreamer ~

Avatar Costuming: Neytiri

This is my other favorite look from the film. Hands down, one of the best! Besides the fact that this outfit is purple, which is my favorite color, I really have no idea why I love this outfit so much lol. I just simply love how unique it is. It’s completely different from any other look that Neytiri wore in the film, and completely different from anything anyone else wore throughout the film also. And I am so in love with how the necklace piece looks like the roots of a tree! (and this is the scene where Neytiri takes Jake to the Tree of Voices, which is so fitting).

One of the things I would have loved to know from the film is where the Na’vi get their beads from. From what I know about indigenous cultures around the world, wooden and stone beads can be made in their own communities. Even beads from dried seeds. However, beads like the ones pictured above (which are usually made from some type of plastic, metal, or glass) generally come from non-indigenous communities through trade and/or selling.

Since trade is not something that has happened on pandora and humans were trying to colonize for unobtanium only, I am very curious to know how the Na’vi got their beads or how they made them/where they come from. I don’t remember seeing anything about beads in the book I have on Pandora so I’m super curious.

New life goal: recreate this look! 💜

Why I Like The Na’vi

One of the many reasons that I like the Na’vi so much is because of their connection to nature. I honestly can’t remember a time that I didn’t love nature. Unless it was mosquitos lol.

I was the kid that collected rocks and my mom would get frustrated every time she washed my clothes because a hoard of rocks would fall out of my pockets and into the washing machine.

I used to pick yellow dandelions even though I was allergic to them.

I would also collect the big, white, fluffy ones and make wishes over them before blowing them into the air. And yes, I called them “wishies” and not dandelions lol. I believed that as long as the dandelion seeds caught the wind instead of falling straight to the ground, then your wishes or prayers would come true.

I had a pet caterpillar and cried when I had to release it after it turned into a butterfly.

I climbed trees like it was my religion and dreamed of the day that I would have a treehouse and live in it ( I am an adult and still want one lol).

After watching the movie Ferngully as a child, I swore I could talk to trees and hear them.

I could go on and on. People like to talk crap about Avatar, but if you got nothing else out of the movie, I hope you can take away the message of appreciating the natural world around you. There is so much beauty in it and as long as you take care of it, it will always give.

Pandoran Fauna: The Slinger

This is by far THE MOST horrifying and creepy animal on Pandora. Hands down.

Out of all the frightening animals on the moon of Pandora, this would be the one to make me completely faint in fear…or just die on sight lol.

Like, wtf??

Read that page. Reeeaaddd it! And tell me if you would get anywhere near that creature. Two creatures in one body??

Count me out.

Avatar Costuming: Mo’at

Hello! I just wanted to come on here and share one of my favorite looks from the Avatar film: Mo’at’s shawl.

I absolutely love how Mo’at’s shawl looks like a cross between an iridescent leaf and an insect’s wing. It’s so creative and beautiful ✨

Almost all of the Na’vi clothing is made from the things around them; plants, animals, trees, and other items from the earth. So I am curious to know what Mo’at’s shawl is supposed to be made out of so that it fits within the Pandoran universe. I do not recall seeing any insects large enough to create such a draping shawl, nor were we as viewers introduced to any flora that resembles her shawl. The piece moves and flows like thin fabric, however, being that the Na’vi are so weary of “Sky People”, I doubt it is fabric received through human-Na’vi trade.

If there is one thing that I wish was included on the directors extended cut of the movie dvd, I wish the costume designer could have had a segment in the extra bits explaining the costumes and what the material is supposed to represent or be made from.

Neytiri Should Have Been Toruk Makto

I HAVE BEEN SCREAMING THIS WITH MY WHOLE CHEST EVER SINCE I REWATCHED THE MOVIE!

Not only is this completely plausible and would make perfect sense with Neytiri’s character/personality alignment, it also would have helped dismantle the “white savior” complex this movie unfortunately suffers from.

I can honestly see all three of them being Toruk Makto.

Jake: because of his sheer stupidity and his desperation to be accepted among the Na’vi. Rationality was never his strong suit. Rash, absolutely. But never rational.

Neytiri: because of her warrior spirit and desire to save her people. We know from the deleted scenes in the extended edition that she would never have become the Tsahìk anyway because she chose Jake over Tsutey, and honestly?? It was obvious she had no desire to be the next Tsahìk anyway. She was a fighter and her love for her land and her people definitely could have driven her to seek out the Toruk in order to become the next Toruk Makto.

Tsutey: because homie was born a fighter and a leader. He will do whatever it takes to protect his home, his land, and his people. I mean, did you see the way he leapt into a helicopter for head-on combat while they were shooting guns and throwing grenades??? Tsutey has NO FEAR. Which is what unfortunately led to his death, but I think this is proof that he also could have been the Toruk Makto even if it was only for a short while. And quite honestly, if Tsutey was going to die, I would have much rathe him died being the Toruk Makto. Honorable, justifiable, and would have made perfect sense.

*sigh* if only…