Jake and Neytiri flee with their family when invading humans arrive on Pandora on a mission of retribution.
Taking refuge with one of the water tribes, they must adapt to the new way of life as their relentless enemies close in on their trail.
Award-winning filmmaker James Cameron set the bar high when he crafted the visual wonder called Avatar in 2009. It was hard to think of ways to beat that.
Now, 13 years after the original, Avatar: The Way of Water is here and while it doesn't thump its predecessor, the world-building and focus on family dynamics make it stand out in its own unique way.
Unlike the first part where Jake and Neytiri were quick to rush into danger, here they have evolved as they have their children to think about.
The couple makes the painful but wise choice to flee their home to start a new life with one of the water tribes after vengeful marines come for them.
It doesn't take long before they realise that they can't keep running and the inevitable showdown leads to a heartbreaking third act.
Performance-wise, Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana carry this film like the professionals that they are, with all the supporting characters doing some spectacular acting as well.
The CGI here is impeccable and the focus on the waters of Pandora shows Cameron's love of the sea.
While the cinematography is out of this world (pun intended), the time it takes on showing the world of the alien seas gives the impression that this is a documentary and not a movie.
The action here is better than the first and the stakes are way higher, with the fear that anyone could be a casualty at any moment.
So, is this sequel better than its predecessor? The answer to that is both yes and no.
Yes because Cameron's penchant for taking your breath away comes into play again and this time, it is taken up a notch. Plus, there is more drama here, with the acting going far beyond what was seen in the first part.
No, because when everything is weighed collectively, you realise that the sense of wonder that fans got from the first film can never be recreated.
In all, I would call this one of the year's best. After all these years of waiting, Cameron's passion for filmmaking shines through yet again.