Image via WALT DISNEY STUDIOS MOTION PICTURES / COURTESY EVERETT COLLECTION //
Undoubtedly one of the most highly-anticipated sequels of all time, it’s safe to say there’s a lot riding on the success Avatar: The Way of Water. Not only the viability of its sequels (most which are in post-production), but whether a successful, family-friendly blockbuster epic can exist outside of the Marvel universe. It’s the creation of Hollywood legend James Cameron, who spent over a decade crafting it, so you’d think it’d be a guaranteed home run. Luckily, early write-ups on the film seem to mirror such sentiments, which a bunch being released overnight following the film’s initial screenings across the world.
Reviewed by everyone from Collider to IGN to YouTube’s favourite film reviewer, Chris Stuckmann, the overarching theme of thoughts surrounding the film seem to be a mix of awe and relief; Awe of the sheer visual effects on display and relief that, contrary to most sequels to Hollywood blockbusters, it lives up to (and even surpasses) its predecessor. It’s well summarised in Collider’s official recap, with the renowned film outlet writing online,”#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.”
However, as with any film, it has its detractors, with Variety criticising its lack of “Dramatic dimension”. The Guardian’s roasting of it takes the cake however, with the outlet going so far as calling it “A soggy, twee, trillion-dollar screensaver” and a “very expensive beached whale”. It seems critics of the film all seem to think it prioritises visuals over storytelling, a dichotomy Cameron has managed to balance with ease throughout his decades-spanning career.
Regardless of the praisers and naysayers, however, the 2022 epic needs to come in as one of the highest grossing films of all time to break even on its staggering $350 million USD ($510 million AUD) budget and guarantee the future of the franchise. But as Uproxx so eloquently put it, “Never bet against James Cameron”. Revisit the full trailer above along with Chris Stuckmann’s official review of it below.