‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ First Reactions Are Here

James Cameron is back with the long-awaited 'Avatar' sequel 'The Way of Water.' As fans will note, the director has a knack for odds-defying sequels.

James Cameron on the blue carpet

Image via Getty/Karwai Tang/WireImage

James Cameron on the blue carpet

Among the truths of cinema are that one should never, ever underestimate James Cameron’s ability to repeatedly and consistently surprise audiences while simultaneously raising the bar. And if the early reactions to the long-awaited Avatar sequel The Way of Water are any indication, Cameron indeed appears to have done exactly that once again.

Of course, this wouldn’t be the first time the director has defied the odds by way of a critically and commercially massive sequel released quite some time after its predecessor. In 1986, Cameron’s Aliens managed the seemingly impossible, notably doing so a full seven years after Ridley Scott’s original Alien. Cameron pulled off a similar feat in 1991 with Terminator 2: Judgment Day, an action classic that remains wildly influential to this day. Like Aliens before it, T2 hit theaters seven years after the original Terminator made waves.

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Avatar: The Way of Water, meanwhile, arrives 13 years removed from the original Avatar, the global (and record-setting) success of which has been well-documented. In a recent interview with Sean Evans for Hot Ones, cast member Zoe Saldaña praised the sequel as Cameron’s “love letter to the ocean,” an idea she connects to the director’s previous work, as well.

“He’s always had this affinity with the ocean,” Saldaña said at the time. “You saw it in The Abyss. You saw it in Titanic. And he’s always had different angles with it, especially with the hundreds of excursions that he’s done, and he always had to wait for that technology to exist in order for him to manifest what was inside of his mind, you know? And he did it.”

Avatar: The Way of Water opens Dec. 16. Below, see a selection of early reactions following the film’s London premiere.

I saw you #AvatarTheWayOfWater - if you think you've seen #Avatar think again. Only repeat from the OG is that 'never experienced anything like it' awe. Better than 1st? Easily. The 3D water world & creatures are so surreal it is downright moving. There's a major Titanic homage. pic.twitter.com/EInKRDeumD

— Nikki Novak (@NikkiNovak) December 6, 2022

AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER might be James Cameron’s sweetest, gentlest, most personal film. 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.

— Bilge Ebiri (@BilgeEbiri) December 7, 2022

AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER: Yeah never bet against James Cameron. Trying to spare hyperbole, but I’ve never seen anything like this from a technical, visual standpoint. It’s overwhelming. Maybe too overwhelming. Sometimes I’d miss plot points because I’m staring at a Pandora fish

— Mike Ryan (@mikeryan) 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

Avatar The Way of Water: lol imagine being dumb enough to bet against James Cameron. or teen alien Sigourney Weaver. or giant whales subtitled in papyrus.

light years better than the first & easily one of the best theatrical experiences in ages. streaming found dead in a ditch.

— david ehrlich (@davidehrlich) December 6, 2022

James Cameron & Co. deliver yet another riveting, awe-inducing masterclass in world-building with #AvatarTheWayOfWater . Immersive, emotionally engaging & epically entertaining, it’s a thrilling ride. CG artifice melts away where we’re just watching the characters’ humanity steer pic.twitter.com/6CksGpEumJ

— Courtney Howard (@Lulamaybelle) 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

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

AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER absolutely owns bones. I was slapping my seat, hooting, screaming for the Na’vi to take out every last one of those dang sky people

— David Sims (@davidlsims) 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 (@joedeckelmeier) December 6, 2022

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