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Avatar: The Way of Water first reactions heap praise upon this awe-inspiring spectacle

Critics in both the United States and United Kingdom have gotten the first look at the highly-anticipated Avatar: The Way of Water, with the reception largely quite positive.

The long-awaited sequel to director James Cameron’s 2009 Avatar held press screenings in America on Tuesday with the U.K. premiere also held in London.

While the full film reviews will be under embargo until December 13 – just three days before it opens December 16, critics heaped praise on Cameron for another visual masterpiece.

Positive: Critics in both the United States and United Kingdom have gotten the first look at the highly-anticipated Avatar: The Way of Water, with the reception largely quite positive

Embargo: While the full film reviews will be under embargo until December 13 - just three days before it opens December 16, critics heaped praise on Cameron for another visual masterpiece

Embargo: While the full film reviews will be under embargo until December 13 – just three days before it opens December 16, critics heaped praise on Cameron for another visual masterpiece

The film has been in the works ever since the original Avatar broke box office records, taking in $785.2 million domestic and $2.9 billion worldwide.

While some had wondered if the sequel would still command attention at the box office, 13 years after the original, Uproxx’s Mike Ryan perhaps said it best: ‘Never bet against James Cameron.’

‘Trying to spare hyperbole, but I’ve never seen anything like this from a technical, visual standpoint. It’s overwhelming. Maybe too overwhelming,’ he added.

Never: While some had wondered if the sequel would still command attention at the box office, 13 years after the original, Uproxx's Mike Ryan perhaps said it best: 'Never bet against James Cameron'

Never: While some had wondered if the sequel would still command attention at the box office, 13 years after the original, Uproxx’s Mike Ryan perhaps said it best: ‘Never bet against James Cameron’

Ryan continued that he re-watched the original Avatar before the screening, and concluded it was ‘fine’ but added the sequel it, ‘much better’ and has, ‘deeper character development.’

Entertainment Weekly’s Yolando Machado called Cameron, ‘a technology master,’ while praising the immaculate visuals.

‘His direction is at its most precise here. The film as a whole, while a technological marvel with a breathtaking world,’ while joking viewers should, ‘Pee beforehand,’ alluding to the sequel’s hefty three-hour-12-minute runtime, 29 minutes longer than the original Avatar.

Rewatched: Ryan continued that he re-watched the original Avatar before the screening, and concluded it was 'fine' but added the sequel it, 'much better' and has, 'deeper character development'

Rewatched: Ryan continued that he re-watched the original Avatar before the screening, and concluded it was ‘fine’ but added the sequel it, ‘much better’ and has, ‘deeper character development’

Master: Entertainment Weekly's Yolando Machado called Cameron, 'a technology master,' while praising the immaculate visuals

Master: Entertainment Weekly’s Yolando Machado called Cameron, ‘a technology master,’ while praising the immaculate visuals

Collider’s Perri Nemiroff said she, ‘had faith’ that Cameron would raise the bar in terms of visual effects, ‘but these visuals are mind-blowing.’

‘But the thing I dug most is how the technical feats always feel in service of character & world-building,’ she added. 

CheatSheet’s Jeff Nelson called the sequel, ‘a visual marvel with mesmerizing beauty in every frame,’ adding, ‘James Cameron’s sequel thrives when it explores new terrain, crafting bigger and better emotional stakes. The definition of epic.’

Faith: Collider's Perri Nemiroff said she, 'had faith' that Cameron would raise the bar in terms of visual effects, 'but these visuals are mind-blowing.

Faith: Collider’s Perri Nemiroff said she, ‘had faith’ that Cameron would raise the bar in terms of visual effects, ‘but these visuals are mind-blowing.

Mesmerizing: CheatSheet's Jeff Nelson called the sequel, 'a visual marvel with mesmerizing beauty in every frame,' adding, 'James Cameron¿s sequel thrives when it explores new terrain, crafting bigger and better emotional stakes. The definition of epic'

Mesmerizing: CheatSheet’s Jeff Nelson called the sequel, ‘a visual marvel with mesmerizing beauty in every frame,’ adding, ‘James Cameron’s sequel thrives when it explores new terrain, crafting bigger and better emotional stakes. The definition of epic’

IndieWire’s David Ehrlich added the sequel was, ‘light years better than the first & easily one of the best theatrical experiences in ages.’

He admitted he wasn’t, ‘exactly champing at the bit for an Avatar 2’ but, ‘now I can’t *wait* to see Avatar 3,’ adding it, ‘delivered in a big way.’

People’s Kara Warner, a self-admitted ‘Avatar stan,’ said she had ‘high hopes’ for the sequel and it, ‘totally delivered.’

Light years: IndieWire's David Ehrlich added the sequel was, 'light years better than the first & easily one of the best theatrical experiences in ages'

Light years: IndieWire’s David Ehrlich added the sequel was, ‘light years better than the first & easily one of the best theatrical experiences in ages’

Stan: People's Kara Warner, a self-admitted 'Avatar stan,' said she had 'high hopes' for the sequel and it, 'totally delivered

Stan: People’s Kara Warner, a self-admitted ‘Avatar stan,’ said she had ‘high hopes’ for the sequel and it, ‘totally delivered

‘Sure it’s a little long, but worth it for the gorgeous visuals, wonderful new characters. A total thrill,’ she added.

Scott Mantz added the sequel was, ‘breathtakingly beautiful with the most incredible VFX I have ever seen,’ adding he saw it in 3D.

He admitted, ‘the story itself is weaker than the first and feels drawn out at 3 hours & 10 minutes, but it’s always great to look at & the last hour is amazing.’

Beautiful: Scott Mantz added the sequel was, 'breathtakingly beautiful with the most incredible VFX I have ever seen,' adding he saw it in 3D

Beautiful: Scott Mantz added the sequel was, ‘breathtakingly beautiful with the most incredible VFX I have ever seen,’ adding he saw it in 3D

Empire’s Amon Warmann admitted he, ‘liked it’ but didn’t ‘love it,’ adding the 3D is great and the action is ‘incredible.’

‘But many of the storylines feel like they have to stop and start, and the high frame rate was hit & miss for me,’ he admitted.

CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell added the sequel, ‘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.’

Like not love: Empire's Amon Warmann admitted he, 'liked it' but didn't 'love it,' adding the 3D is great and the action is 'incredible

Like not love: Empire’s Amon Warmann admitted he, ‘liked it’ but didn’t ‘love it,’ adding the 3D is great and the action is ‘incredible

Surpass: CinemaBlend's Sean O'Connell added the sequel, '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'

Surpass: CinemaBlend’s Sean O’Connell added the sequel, ‘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’

Brandon Davis added the film is, ‘a never-ending visual spectacle. It’s a better, more complex story than the first with solid emotion but the characters could grow a bit more. It’s definitely long, running on incredible visuals & techniques which are 3D’s best.’

CNN’s Tom Page added, ‘It’s more beautiful, more in awe of Pandora; more vocal in its environmentalism, more damning of humans. It’s an adrenaline shot to 3D filmmaking and an uncompromising doubling down. You’d expect nothing less from Cameron.’

The Atlantic’s David Simms added, the film has a, ‘slow start, big build, incredibly involving second act with a ton of world building and cool creatures that blisses you way out, then an hour of screamingly good crystal clear emotionally trenchant action to send you home full and happy.’

Never-ending: Brandon Davis added the film is, 'a never-ending visual spectacle. It¿s a better, more complex story than the first with solid emotion but the characters could grow a bit more. It¿s definitely long, running on incredible visuals & techniques which are 3D¿s best'

Never-ending: Brandon Davis added the film is, ‘a never-ending visual spectacle. It’s a better, more complex story than the first with solid emotion but the characters could grow a bit more. It’s definitely long, running on incredible visuals & techniques which are 3D’s best’

Awe: CNN's Tom Page added, 'It¿s more beautiful, more in awe of Pandora; more vocal in its environmentalism, more damning of humans. It¿s an adrenaline shot to 3D filmmaking and an uncompromising doubling down. You¿d expect nothing less from Cameron'

Awe: CNN’s Tom Page added, ‘It’s more beautiful, more in awe of Pandora; more vocal in its environmentalism, more damning of humans. It’s an adrenaline shot to 3D filmmaking and an uncompromising doubling down. You’d expect nothing less from Cameron’

Slow: The Atlantic's David Simms added, the film has a, 'slow start, big build, incredibly involving second act with a ton of world building and cool creatures that blisses you way out, then an hour of screamingly good crystal clear emotionally trenchant action to send you home full and happy

Slow: The Atlantic’s David Simms added, the film has a, ‘slow start, big build, incredibly involving second act with a ton of world building and cool creatures that blisses you way out, then an hour of screamingly good crystal clear emotionally trenchant action to send you home full and happy

Digital Spy’s Ian Sandwell called it, ‘a visual masterpiece with rich use of 3D and breathtaking vistas,’ though he admitted, ‘It does suffer from a thin story and too many characters to juggle.

Still, he added, ‘James Cameron pulls it together for an extraordinary final act full of emotion and thrilling action.’

Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters worldwide on December 16, with box office analysts projecting a debut between $150 million and $175 million. 

Visual: Digital Spy's Ian Sandwell called it, 'a visual masterpiece with rich use of 3D and breathtaking vistas,' though he admitted, 'It does suffer from a thin story and too many characters to juggle

Visual: Digital Spy’s Ian Sandwell called it, ‘a visual masterpiece with rich use of 3D and breathtaking vistas,’ though he admitted, ‘It does suffer from a thin story and too many characters to juggle

Projections: Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters worldwide on December 16, with box office analysts projecting a debut between $150 million and $175 million

Projections: Avatar: The Way of Water hits theaters worldwide on December 16, with box office analysts projecting a debut between $150 million and $175 million

Jack's review: Jack Shepherd praises Avatar: The Way of Water

Jack’s review: Jack Shepherd praises Avatar: The Way of Water

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