James Cameron has been refreshingly honest about Avatar: The Way of Water’s financial prospects throughout the film’s press cycle. For most of his career, Cameron has been a reliable source of quality, often game-changing cinema. But even he admits that the long-awaited follow-up to his 2009 sci-fi epic could sink faster than the Titanic if audience interest isn’t high enough. Thankfully, some positive early buzz should help fill theater seats well into the new year.
After 13 years and countless delays, The Way of Water finally had its world premiere in London earlier today. And those in attendance can’t stop fawning over the next chapter in Cameron’s Pandora saga. Most critics seem to agree that the film’s stunning visual effects were worth the $400 million price tag. Many of them also shared their first impressions of the story, which may or may not pale in comparison to its predecessor. Regardless, it deserves to be watched on the biggest screen possible. Check out a few highlights below.
As expected, the sequel’s use of motion capture and CGI are the main topics of discussion here. Critics are lauding the new strides in VFX technology, much of which was pioneered in part by Cameron himself. The word “masterpiece” is currently being thrown around a lot, with some reviews also noting that it’s easy to get lost in the details of Cameron’s fictional world.
I was blown away by the sheer scale of #AvatarTheWayOfWater, which fulfils every mad promise its creators have made about cinematic innovation. Underwater stuff, especially, is mind-blowing. But it’s also huge, epic filmmaking of the kind that has become Cameron’s trademark. pic.twitter.com/vdRbL4ZSXf
— Tom Beasley (@TomJBeasley) December 6, 2022
#AvatarTheWayOfWater is pretty incredible. I had faith James Cameron would raise the bar w/ the effects but these visuals are mind-blowing. One stunning frame after the next. But the thing I dug most is how the technical feats always feel in service of character & world-building. pic.twitter.com/MXeN3z8BnP
— Perri Nemiroff (@PNemiroff) December 6, 2022
I’m almost convinced James Cameron shot #AvatarTheWayOfWater on another planet. The film is absolutely stunning and immersive. It’s long but I was completely engaged all the way through. Much like #avatar 13 years ago, this film is a cinematic achievement and a must see event! pic.twitter.com/2WFlJzmbeI
— Joseph Deckelmeier (@Joelluminerdi) December 6, 2022
James Cameron is a technology master… and his direction is at its most precise here. The film as a whole, while a technological marvel with a breathtaking world, is just . Dances with Wolves and Free Willy for Gen Z!
Pee beforehand. #Avatar #AvatarTheWayofWater
— Yolanda Machado (@SassyMamainLA) December 6, 2022
Other reviews singled out The Way of Water’s narrative depth. In fact, some even claim that the sequel outdoes the original film in terms of character development. That’s high praise, especially given all the new additions who appear in the sequel. But many of these fresh faces bolster the movie’s emotional gut-punch as well.
it’s an Avatar movie: slow start, big build, incredibly involving second act with a ton of world building and cool creatures that blisses you way out, then an hour of screamingly good crystal clear emotionally trenchant action to send you home full and happy
— David Sims (@davidlsims) December 6, 2022
Also, I rewatched the first AVATAR over the weekend and basically settled on “that was fine.” The sequel has much better and deeper character development.
— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) December 6, 2022
As an Avatar stan, I had high hopes for #AvatarTheWayofWater and for me it totally delivers. Sure it’s a little long, but worth it for the gorgeous visuals, wonderful new characters. A total thrill.
— Kara Warner (@karawarner) December 6, 2022
Happy to say #AvatarTheWayOfWater is phenomenal! Bigger, better & more emotional than #Avatar, the film is visually breathtaking, visceral & incredibly engrossing. The story, the spectacle, the spirituality, the beauty – this is moviemaking & storytelling at its absolute finest. pic.twitter.com/RicnpDghrx
— Erik Davis (@ErikDavis) December 6, 2022
Never bet against @JimCameron. His #AvatarTheWayOfWater surpasses the original on every level. Incredible visuals, but a much more emotional connection to the characters and story. The final hour is Cameron flexing every muscle, reminding blockbuster filmmakers how it’s done. pic.twitter.com/C7lpBs6y5U
— Sean O’Connell (@Sean_OConnell) December 6, 2022
The Way of Water features a number of Cameron’s trademarks, including a lengthy runtime. At three hours and 10 minutes, the film is nearly a full half-hour longer than the first Avatar. Unfortunately, not everyone relished the longer trip to Pandora this time around. Some reviews argue that the story feels drawn out and also juggles far too many supporting players along the way. But even these criticisms can’t deny the fact that the sequel remains a triumph of visual storytelling.
AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER is breathtakingly beautiful with the most incredible VFX I have ever seen (I saw it in 3D); the story itself is weaker than the first and feels drawn out at 3 hours & 10 minutes, but it’s always great to look at & the last hour is amazing. #Avatar pic.twitter.com/8dEhtvRb4P
— Scott Mantz (@MovieMantz) December 6, 2022
So, #AvatarTheWayOfWater: Liked it, didn’t love it. The good news is that 3D is good again (yay!), and the action is pretty incredible (especially in the final act). But many of the storylines feel like they have to stop and start, and the high frame rate was hit & miss for me. pic.twitter.com/eY4G76R1AJ
— Amon Warmann (@AmonWarmann) December 6, 2022
Unsurprisingly, #AvatarTheWayOfWater is a visual masterpiece with rich use of 3D and breathtaking vistas. It does suffer from a thin story and too many characters to juggle, yet James Cameron pulls it together for an extraordinary final act full of emotion and thrilling action. pic.twitter.com/opr6CRyOwk
— Ian Sandwell (@ian_sandwell) December 6, 2022
Avatar: The Way of Water will hit theaters on December 16.
Are you happy to see that the film is getting solid reviews right out of the gate? Let us know in the comment section below!
Recommended Reading: James Cameron: A Retrospective
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