Avatar: The Way of Water first reviews praise director James Cameron

Reviews are in! Critics rave about Avatar sequel’s ‘ravishing’ visuals…. but James Cameron’s $350m epic comes under fire for being VERY long with ‘no plot’ and ‘atrocious dialogue’

  • After exceedingly positive social media reactions, the first wave of reviews for Avatar: The Way of Water are in, and just as positive.
  • The $350 million blockbuster sequel currently has an 83% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, out of the first 133 reviews
  • Many reviews – including Daily Mail’s own Brian Viner – praised Cameron’s direction and the remarkable visuals of the world of Pandora.
  • However, he and other critics had issues with the story – and the bloated three-hour-12-minute runite
  • Avatar: The Way of Water is projected to debut at the box office between $150 million and $175 million when it hits theaters nationwide on Friday 

After a number of different premieres all over the world, the reviews are finally in for director James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water.

The first waves of reviews were published on Tuesday evening, with the film scoring a strong 83% on Rotten Tomatoes, out of the first 133 reviews.

Critics from around the world – including Daily Mail’s own Brian Viner – heaped praise on Cameron’s direction and astonishing visuals, though the story and bloated three-hour-12-minute runtime were points of contention in many reviews.

Reviews: After a number of different premieres all over the world, the reviews are finally in for director James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water

Critics: Critics from around the world – including Daily Mail’s own Brian Viner – heaped praise on Cameron’s direction and astonishing visuals, though the story and bloated three-hour-12-minute runtime were points of contention in many reviews

Viner stated in his four-stars-out-of-five-stars review, ‘This sequel is tremendous fun, even bigger and better than the original, but by golly it will test your bladder.’

He added, ‘Yes, this is an insanely long film – but so was David Lean’s Lawrence Of Arabia, which director James Cameron cited as a major influence on Avatar for its ‘good, old-fashioned, adolescent adventure storytelling’, and that was even longer.’

Viner added that Pandora, ‘looks absolutely ravishing,’ particularly in 3D, though he doesn’t think it’s, ‘a film for the ages.’

Review: Viner stated in his four-stars-out-of-five-stars review, ‘This sequel is tremendous fun, even bigger and better than the original, but by golly it will test your bladder’

‘It is tailored so carefully for our own age, with ecological and environmental messages that could not hit the audience any more forcefully if they came flying out of the screen at them, which of course sometimes they appear to do,’ he added.

Entertainment Weekly’s Leah Greenblatt also agreed the sequel was better than the first in her A- review.

‘A meticulous world-building as astonishing and enveloping as anything we’ve ever seen on screen — until that crown is passed, inevitably, in December 2024, the projected release date for Avatar 3,’ she said.

Tailored: ‘It is tailored so carefully for our own age, with ecological and environmental messages that could not hit the audience any more forcefully if they came flying out of the screen at them, which of course sometimes they appear to do,’ he added

She admitted that the film is, ‘almost certainly too long’ while adding the acting works in ‘varying degrees of success.’

‘Saldaña’s mother-warrior makes herself ferociously vulnerable, and Weaver somehow gets us to believe she’s an outcast teen; Worthington often sounds like he’s just doing his best to sound 10 percent less Australian,’ she said. 

‘Even the non-verbal creatures — bioluminescent jellyfish as delicate as fairy wings; whales the size of aircraft carriers, with four eyes and flesh like an unshelled turtle’s — have an uncanny anthropomorphic charm, stealing several moments from their speaking counterparts,’ she added.

Zoe: ‘Saldaña’s mother-warrior makes herself ferociously vulnerable, and Weaver somehow gets us to believe she’s an outcast teen; Worthington often sounds like he’s just doing his best to sound 10 percent less Australian,’ she said

Deadline’s Todd McCarthy added, ‘There is beauty everywhere you look, from the spectacle provided by nature’s creations, the tactile sense you get from the skin and hair of humans and other natural life, and the emotional expressions of strength and sensitivity.’

He added that moviegoers should see it on the big screen, adding those who wait to see it at home are, ‘wimping out.’

‘This is something to be experienced on the big screen — the bigger the better and very likely more than once,’ he added.

Big screen: He added that moviegoers should see it on the big screen, adding those who wait to see it at home are, ‘wimping out’

One of the few negative reviews was from Variety’s Owen Gleiberman, who admitted it’s, ‘bigger, longer and even more dizzyingly spectacular sequel,’ though he was not impressed with its substance.

‘I’m sorry, but as I watched “The Way of Water” the only part of me that was moved was my eyeballs,’ he said.

The Daily Beast’s Nick Schager also posted a negative review, adding, ‘The Oscar winner’s latest does nothing if not take itself oh-so-seriously, be it with regards to its endless barrage of sound and fury or its puffed-up narrative about Pandora’s Na’vi resuming their good fight against villainous humanity.’

Negative: One of the few negative reviews was from Variety’s Owen Gleiberman, who admitted it’s, ‘bigger, longer and even more dizzyingly spectacular sequel,’ though he was not impressed with its substance

He added, ‘The director keeps pushing closer and closer to photorealism and yet coming up just short; the more he strives to meld the fake and the authentic, the more the contrast shows.’

Perhaps one of the most negative reviews of the sequel came from The Daily Telegraph‘s Robbie Collin, giving it just one star out of five, stating, ‘it’s like being waterboarded with turquoise cement.

‘James Cameron’s decade-in-the-making The Way of Water has no plot, no stakes and atrocious dialogue,’ adding, ‘What happened to this great director?’

Director: ‘James Cameron’s decade-in-the-making The Way of Water has no plot, no stakes and atrocious dialogue,’ adding, ‘What happened to this great director?’

It was also reported by Deadline that the sequel is eyeing a worldwide opening weekend of a whopping $525 million in what will be Disney’s largest worldwide debut ever playing in over 52K screens.

It’s projected to take in $175 million for its domestic debut, though that’s at the high end of tracking, with some projecting a $150 million domestic debut.

Analysts are also predicting $350 million from foreign markets – $100 million of which will come from China alone. 

Worldwide debut: It was also reported by Deadline that the sequel is eyeing a worldwide opening weekend of a whopping $525 million in what will be Disney’s largest worldwide debut ever playing in over 52K screens

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