Avatar: The Way Of Water Early Buzz: James Cameron Does It Again In Visually Stunning And Emotional Return To Pandora

It's been 13 years, but the second installment of the "little" franchise that could, "Avatar," is finally coming to the big screen. "Avatar: The Way of Water" already looked like a stunning adventure, and its extensive filming process looked like an absolute blast. People online can argue about whether or not the first film has any cultural relevancy all they want, but one thing is clear — good ol' James Cameron and the awe-inspiring world of Pandora are here to stay, whether the public wants them or not.

Thankfully, it sounds like the public will absolutely want to continue exploring Pandora and all of its worlds. The first press screenings for "The Way of Water" have finished, which means we have started to get the first immediate reactions to the long-awaited film. If you've been praying to Eywa that the sequel will be a visual spectacle full of heart and thrills, then your prayers have been answered.

A return to form for blockbuster storytelling

As expected, critics are currently raving over the visual effects of "The Way of Water." Variety's Courtney Howard went so far as to call it a "riveting, awe-inducing masterclass in world-building," partially due to its beautiful visuals. I mean, we could have seen this coming from a mile away. Seriously, have you guys seen those water animations?

If you're interested in more technical speak, Reel Blend's Kevin McCarthy has got you covered. He called the crisp 48FPS and 3D technology "some of the most jaw-dropping immersion [he's] ever seen."

If you can believe it, some say it is an improvement over the original. Does this confirm Cameron is the best sequel director of all time? Perhaps!

Of course, there is apparently much to love about the film outside of its visuals. Another constant in these early reactions is the rich character building. After all, what good are stunning visuals if the characters we're following aren't properly developed?

Even those who were previously lukewarm on the first "Avatar" all the way back in 2009 are singing the praises of "The Way of Water."

However, if there is one defining sentiment from these early reviews, we should never bet against Jimmy C and his ambitions.

December 6, 2022


— Josh Horowitz (@joshuahorowitz) December 6, 2022

@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

Even fellow filmmakers are praising "The Way of Water," with one of the first being Guillermo del Toro, who tweeted his thoughts on the "staggering achievement" on Thanksgiving. Talk about legends supporting legends!


— Guillermo del Toro (@RealGDT) November 24, 2022

Too indulgent for its own good?

As expected, however, not everyone is totally on board with the film. While the mixed reviews also include many of the same highlights as the positive ones, some aren't completely head over heels for it. It appears that the major criticism is that it is just too overstuffed with storylines and characters, something that was also lobbied against the original.

#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

December 6, 2022

#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

Those more critical of the film also seem to agree on something else — the fact that it once again ends on a sequel tease, thus not feeling entirely complete despite its lengthy runtime.

#AvatarTheWayofWater pic.twitter.com/dQBEfBkN7z

— Tessa Smith – Mama's Geeky (@MamasGeeky) December 6, 2022


— BD (@BrandonDavisBD) December 6, 2022


— Matt Neglia (@NextBestPicture) December 6, 2022

Despite these criticisms, however, it sounds like "The Way of Water" is gearing up to be the type of original and rich blockbuster audiences have been waiting for. 

What you need to know about Avatar: The Way of Water

Much like the first film, Cameron directed, wrote, and co-produced "The Way of Water" and will do the same for its upcoming sequels. Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, CCH Pounder, Joel David Moore, Matt Gerald, Giovanni Ribisi, and Stephen Lang return to reprise their roles. Sigourney Weaver also returned to the franchise but plays an unexpected new character. They will be joined by series newcomers Cliff Curtis, Kate Winslet, Edie Falco, Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Bailey Bass, and Jemaine Clement.

For a more clear idea of what awaits us when we travel back to Pandora, check out Disney's official synopsis below:

Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, "Avatar: The Way of Water" begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure.

"Avatar: The Way of Water" splashes and flies into theaters on December 16, 2022.