It’s been 13 years since audiences were so enraptured by James Cameron’s Avatar that they experienced obsessive post-movie blues, and now buzz is rolling in once again for his long-awaited follow up, Avatar: The Way of Water. The three-hour-and-10 minute has screened for some audiences and critics are singing their early praises, reminding viewers to never bet against Cameron.
“James Cameron once again shows filmmakers how it’s done,” Happy Sad Confused host Josh Horowitz said. “I’ve said it a thousand times. Never doubt him. ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is how you do epic blockbuster-ing. Emotional, visceral and as big as movies get.”
“I had faith James Cameron would raise the bar with the effects but these visuals are mind-blowing,” Perri Nemiroff of Collider concurred. “One stunning frame after the next.”
“Avatar: The Way Of Water might be James Cameron’s sweetest, gentlest, most personal film,” journalist Bilge Ebiri wrote on Twitter. “Possibly even his most emotional. It revisits all his greatest hits, but it’s always totally sincere. He is never leaving Pandora. He loves this family. By the end, I did, too.”
New York Times writer Kyle Buchanan added, “I saw Avatar: The Way Of Water last night, and the thing James Cameron understands innately — the thing he can convey with more skill, guts and imagination than just about every filmmaker working today — is that glowing things are so, so rad.”
The film once again centers on Na’vi woman Ney’tiri (Zoe Saldaña) and American Jake Sully (Sam Worthington), who permanently left his human body to join the Na’vi race and help lead them to victory against colonization on their planet Pandora. In The Way Of Water, Jake and Ney’tiri have started a family that they must now protect in the on-going war against the humans. The cast also includes Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang and Kate Winslet.
Guillermo del Toro was an early supporter of the film, calling the Avatar sequel “a staggering achievement. It’s a chock-full of majestic vistas and emotions at an epic, epic scale. A master at the peak of his power.”
Known for long, epic films, Cameron’s output is both massive and sporadic. It was twelve years between the release of his 1997 blockbuster Titanic — at the time, the highest-grossing film ever, and the first Avatar. Now, the struggling movie theater industry is banking of The Way Of Water to carry them through an otherwise dismal box office season, with the movie projected to make $150 million to $175 million in its first weekend of release. Cameron also has no qualms about the film’s extra-long runtime, telling Empire Magazine this summer: “I don’t want anybody whining about length when they sit and binge-watch [television] for eight hours. I can almost write this part of the review. ‘The agonizingly long three-hour movie…’ It’s like, give me a fucking break. I’ve watched my kids sit and do five one-hour episodes in a row. Here’s the big social paradigm shift that has to happen: it’s okay to get up and go pee.”
If the initial reviews are any indication, there won’t be many complaints. Avatar: The Way Of Water hits theaters nationwide on December 16th.