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Avatar: The Way of Water: First reviews hail 'incredible' cinematic masterpiece

(L-R): Neytiri and Jake Sully in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
(L-R): Neytiri and Jake Sully in Avatar: The Way of Water. (20th Century Studios)

James Cameron’s Avatar sequel The Way of Water is being hailed across the board as 'incredible' by online critics sharing their first response to the film on social media.

The sci fi adventure – starring Zoe Saldana, Kate Winslet, Sigourney Weaver and Sam Worthington — had its world premiere in London 13 years after the first movie set on the mysterious planet of Pandora was released.

Yahoo UK contributor Tom Beasley said: "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.

Read more: Hollywood star regrets turning down Avatar

"So you get all of the visual splendour, but it's also big-hearted, resonant on the subject of family and staunchly environmentalist. This Avatar sceptic was thoroughly won over."

Watch: Avatar 2 takes us back to Pandora

Collider's Perri Nemiroff is already eager to sit through a second viewing of the film, which is over three hours long.

Nemiroff tweeted: "#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. "

Stephen Lang, Kate Winslet, James Cameron, Sigourney Weaver, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Zoe Saldana, Bailey Bass, Sam Worthington and Joel David Moore attend the World Premiere of James Cameron's
Avatar: The Way Of Water has had its world premiere in London. (Getty Images)

Film writer Maria Lattila wrote: "#AvatarTheWayOfWater is incredible. Stunning, mesmerising filmmaking mixed with immense worldbuilding and storytelling, The Way of Water is truly awe-inspiring. LOVED being back on Pandora and can’t wait to return."

CNNi's Tom Page said: "#AvatarTheWayOfWater is “more is more” writ large. It’s more beautiful, more in awe of Pandora; more vocal in its environmentalism, more damning of humans. It’s an adrenaline shot to 3D filmmaking and an uncompromising doubling down. You’d expect nothing less from Cameron."

Jake Sully in Avatar: The Way of the Water. (20th Century Studios)
Jake Sully in Avatar: The Way of the Water. (20th Century Studios)

Total Film's Jack Shepherd commented: "#AvatarTheWayOfWater pushes CGI to new places and uses the word "family" more than any F&F movie. While some of the new characters are underutilized, Pandora is miraculously realised, the underwater stuff glorious, and the final third is full of incredible action – see in IMAX!"

Several critics admitted that the visual effects were so impressive they sometimes detracted from the plot.

Mike Ryan of Uproxx tweeted: "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."

Loak and Kiri in 20th Century Studios' AVATAR: THE WAY OF WATER. Photo courtesy of 20th Century Studios. © 2022 20th Century Studios. All Rights Reserved.
Avatar: The Way Of Water returns to Pandora. (20th Century Studios)

Nemiroff agreed: "As for the story, it's A LOT of movie & I'm eager for a 2nd viewing to revisit some details."

Director Cameron, 68, first introduced audiences to the planet of Pandora in the original Avatar film and promised to explore different parts of his fantasy world in each subsequent sequel.

Read more: Avatar: The Way of Water: Cast, plot, run time, trailer, release date, and more

Avatar 3 has already been filmed and is due for release in 2024.

Avatar: Way of the Water is released in cinemas and IMAX on 16 December.