Criticism of James Cameron’s sequel

Disney is banking heavily on Avatar: The Way of Water

James Cameron’s long-awaited sequel to 2009’s ‘Avatar’ hits theaters this weekend and has captivated and angered critics.

Disney’s Running for over three hours, Avatar: The Way of Water has been hailed as a stunning cinematic, generating a Fresh rating on Rotten Tomatoes. But its narrative is thin and, like the original, doesn’t live up to Cameron’s lofty technical ambitions, several critics have said.

The Way of Water follows Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), who are now parents to four Na’vi children. The family is driven from their home in the forest when humans return to repopulate parts of Pandora.

Continue reading: Avatar: The Way of Water could be heading for a $175 million launch weekend

Critics urge audiences to see “The Way of Water” on the biggest screen possible, praising the film for its computer-generated graphics and bombastic sound design.

But the film’s long running time was a point of criticism for many, who felt Cameron’s script was too flimsy to justify three hours in a theater.

Here’s what critics thought of Avatar: The Way of Water ahead of its Friday release.

Eric Francisco, vice versa

“The sequel to Cameron’s 2009 blockbuster ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is simply bigger and better than its predecessor in every way,” wrote reviewer Eric Francisco.

“It requires the largest canvas you can find so that its strongest elements – from its impossible scale and skillful spectacle to its fuller range of emotion and thematic romance – can be fully absorbed,” he said.

Francisco noted that there are some hiccups in the film’s plot and in “Cameron’s own inability to resist” teasing elements of the next installment in the franchise. Apparently there are several unresolved narratives that audiences will have to wait for in future Avatar films.

“As with most of Cameron’s films, his work is elevated by the prowess of his execution, which allows for magnificent beasts and prime scenery on screen, while large-scale battles exhibit tight spatial and rhythmic coherence,” he wrote. “Both always inspire awe. The bioluminescent creatures and caves aren’t just a dazzling image to distract us, they work in tandem with the storytelling to create an eye-opening experience.”

Read Inverse’s full review.

Avatar: The Way of Water

Courtesy: Disney Co.

Charlotte O’Sullivan, Evening Standard

“‘Avatar 2′ is definitely a showcase for Weta FX, a visual effects company (Pandora’s Na’vi heroes’ faces got even more expressive),” wrote Charlotte O’Sullivan in her review.

“But I never thought Cameron was God’s gift to cinema,” she added. “For most of the run of ‘Titanic’ my gut feeling was ‘Just going under’ and some of the 68-year-old director’s worst tendencies show up in ‘Avatar 2’: over-familiar plot beats, over-the-top score and endless takes on the obscenely willowy ones , shyly sexualized bodies of the Na’vi.”

Still, The Way of Water was “breathtaking,” O’Sullivan wrote, noting that after she left the theater she “felt she had gone through something special.”

Like many others, O’Sullivan stated that The Way of Water’s story leaves a lot to be desired.

“In terms of plot, this film is flat,” she wrote. “But that’s okay because the water is lovely.”

Read the full review from the Evening Standard.

Wenlei Ma,

For those who kept returning to the theater to see “Avatar” on the big screen a decade ago, “The Way of Water” is “vivid and captivating.”

For those who found the first film too long and too thin in the story, The Way of Water won’t do much to endear you in the world of Pandora.

“This sequel will repeat your experience of the first,” Wenlei Ma wrote in her review of the film for

Avatar: The Way of Water

Courtesy: Disney Co.

Ma remarked that The Way of Water was “stunningly beautiful,” and likens it to watching a David Attenborough documentary rather than a CGI feature. However, she says the graphics aren’t enough to make up for the lackluster story.

“The story is a simple chase, just a template to do what Cameron seems more capable of, which is see how far he can push the technological and visual aspects of filmmaking,” she wrote.

“The 3D visuals are definitely cool, but that shouldn’t be the only reason to watch this film,” she added. “It’s all glitz and spectacle, so frustratingly for a film about the emotional depths between the Na’vi and those around them, it’s all surface.”

Read the full review from

Justin Chang, Los Angeles Times

“In ‘Avatar: The Way of Water,’ director James Cameron pulls you down so low and lets you drift so gently that sometimes you don’t feel like you’re watching a movie, you feel like you’re floating in one. ‘ wrote reviewer Justin Chang.

“As much as you long for Cameron to keep us down there – to practically deliver us the most expensive and elaborate underwater hangout movie ever made – he can’t or won’t do all that dreamy Jacques Cousteau-on-Mushroom wonder for.” more than three hours,” he wrote. “He’s James Cameron, after all, and he’s got a disturbingly old-fashioned story to tell, shitty dialogue to tell, and over time unleashing one hell of an action movie, complete with fiery shipwrecks, deadly darts, and a whale-sized, turtle-skinned creature known as a tulkun.”

Chang said it was “wonderful” to have Cameron’s presence back on the big screen. He notes that the famous director has long been questioned about his film project decisions — people thought he was crazy to produce Titanic — but “his latest and most ambitious picture will silence most of his naysayers.”

Read the full Los Angeles Times review.

Avatar: The Way of Water

Courtesy of Disney Co.

Mick LaSalle, San Francisco Chronicle

Not everyone was thrilled with Cameron’s attention to detail and extensive lore building.

“‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is an hour-long story rattling around in a 192-minute bag,” wrote Mick LaSalle in his review of the film. “There was potential for something beautiful here, a sweet and moving environmental parable that’s reached after 90 minutes, at most.”

“But no, James Cameron can do nothing so humble,” he wrote.

LaSalle said The Way of Water was feeling bloated with too many ideas competing for space within its already lofty three-hour runtime.

“‘The Way of Water’ picks up where the first left off and ends with the promise of sequels,” he wrote. “Long, long sequels. That’s not a promise. It’s a threat.”

Read the full review from the San Francisco Chronicle.

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