The reviews are in for the anticipated sequel to the 2009 film directed by James Cameron.

The Guardian: ** “The effects now, technically impressive as they are, amount to high frame-rate motion smoothness which is soulless and inert, creating not so much an uncanny valley but an uncanny Mariana Trench down in the depths. Cameron’s undersea world is like a trillion-dollar screensaver. Where is the oceanic passion and jeopardy of great Cameron movies such as Titanic or The Abyss?”

Forbes: “In the end, we have a film that follows many of the same beats as its predecessor, is overly-reliant on special effects instead of a good script, and has much too much going on at all times to really help establish this as a meaningful sequel that sets up a compelling franchise we want to keep diving into in three (or more?) movies.” “Cameron’s environmentalist interests remain the backbone of the larger Avatar plot, and his heavy employment of familiar character archetypes and story devices feels like a clear message that the Na’vi good guys and military baddies are more important as a collective than individually.”

Empire: ***** “Where Cameron goes from here, who knows. But this is a reminder, after a long absence, that he’s still master and commander of making your jaw drop.”

Variety: “At its height, it feels exhilarating. But not all the way through. Cameron, in “The Way of Water,” remains a fleet and exacting classical popcorn storyteller, but oh, the story he’s telling! The script he has co-written is a string of serviceable clichés that give the film the domestic adventure-thriller spine it needs, but not anything more than that. The story, in fact, could hardly be more basic.”

The Independent: *** “Avatar: The Way of Water is, once again, a gauntlet thrown down at the feet of the industry. I can’t say that I cared all that much about its story, its themes, or its characters, but its unimpeachable effects work made it feel like I’d locked eyes with the future. It’s an achievement of such technological clarity that I’d instantly buy any flatscreen TV that was showing it in Currys.”

Hollywood Reporter: “In terms of narrative sophistication and even more so dialogue, this $350 million sequel is almost as basic as its predecessor, even feeble at times. But the expanded, bio-diverse world-building pulls you in, the visual spectacle keeps you mesmerized, the passion for environmental awareness is stirring and the warfare is as visceral and exciting as any multiplex audience could desire.”

Digital Spy: “What saves the movie is the craft that’s gone into this new corner of Pandora. At times, it’s more like watching a nature documentary as we delve into the oceans, the sheer scale brought to life with superb use of depth in the 3D. It’s frequently breathtaking and truly immersive, unrivalled this year as a cinematic experience.”

Den of Geek: “There is no question that Cameron has once again delivered a visually stunning, achingly beautiful film, with even more detail and immersive world-building going into his creation of the world of Pandora and its inhabitants than in 2009. There may even be some debate over whether Cameron has made what is essentially an animated film that incorporates a few live-action actors instead of the other way around. But one of his major filmmaking choices—his decision to shoot much of the picture in the hotly contested 48 frames-per-second frame rate—proves far more problematic.”

Roger Ebert: *** 1/2 “Viewers should be warned that Cameron’s ear for dialogue hasn’t improved—there are a few lines that will earn unintentional laughter—but there’s almost something charming about his approach to character, one that weds old-fashioned storytelling to breakthrough technology. Massive blockbusters often clutter their worlds with unnecessary mythologies or backstories, whereas Cameron does just enough to ensure this impossible world stays relatable.”

Evening Standard: **** “Avatar 2 is definitely a showcase for visual effects company Weta FX (the faces of Pandora’s Na’vi heroes have become even more expressive). It’s also a love song to coral reefs, as immersive and intricate as anything in David Attenborough’s The Blue Planet.”

Avatar is out in cinemas now.


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