The long-awaited sequel to the blockbuster “Avatar” won praise Tuesday from film critics who said they were once again in awe of director James Cameron’s visual artistry.
“Avatar: The Way of Water” opens in theaters on Friday, the first film wowing audiences with 3D technology and becoming the highest-grossing film of all time with $2.9 billion in ticket sales.
The sequel features more advanced 3D visuals, featuring aquatic creatures on the lush moon of Pandora.
As of Tuesday afternoon, 85% of the 107 reviews submitted on the website Rotten Tomatoes had praised the new episode.
Richard Roper of the Chicago Sun-Times said “‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is a screen-popping visual feast that clocks in at 3 hours, 12 minutes.
Some also praised the story about the tall blue Na’vi people, who are forced to flee the forest to the sea.
Randy Myers of the San Jose Mercury News said, “The 3-D special effects are exceptional, but the screenplay is better this time around, with a story that’s more emotionally engaging than the original.”
Leah Greenblatt of Entertainment Weekly called the film “an intricate world-building that has never seen anything on screen as astonishing and enveloping.”
The big Hollywood question is whether “The Way of Water” can cover its massive production and marketing costs. Studios split ticket sales with theaters, and Cameron told GQ magazine that “The Way of Water” would need to make $2 billion just to break even.
Sean Robbins, chief analyst at Box Office Pro, says the film will open with at least $150 million in ticket sales in the United States and Canada in its first weekend. Walt Disney Co. ( DIS.N ) is distributing the film.
Critics were not universally impressed with “Waterway”. Some objected to the long running time or said they were not drawn to the story.
Robbie Cullen of The Daily Telegraph said, “Watching the film (feels) like being submerged in turquoise cement”.