Screenings for James Cameron’s highly anticipated sequel to his 2013 epic Avatarhave started, and the reactions to Avatar: The Way of Waterare pouring in. 

While most of us expect nothing less than pure cinematic entertainment from one of the masters of the blockbuster, our desire for spectacle and meaningful cinema has left us hungry as we wait to see what Cameron has to offer us when the film debuts in theaters everywhere on Dec. 16. 

For now, we can enjoy the first few reactions from critics and filmmakers alike who attend one of two screenings to take place this week. Filmmakers like Guillermo del Toro and Dan Nolan have taken to Twitter to write their impressions of the movie, calling it a “MOVIE-MOVIE.” 

The Oscar winner wrote in another Tweet that The Way of Water is “a staggering achievement,” adding, “It’s chock-full majestic vistas and emotions at an epic, epic scale. A master at the peak of his power.”

Outside of the praise from Cameron’s fellow filmmakers, the critics can’t help but gush over The Way of Water. Following the movie’s world premiere in London, members of the press are sharing their reactions to the film, with many writers blown away by Cameron’s boundless imagination and groundbreaking visual effects.  

“James Cameron once again shows filmmakers how it’s done,” Zack Sharf writes for Variety.  “I’ve said it a thousand times. Never doubt him. Avatar: The Way of Water is how you do epic blockbuster-ing. Emotional, visceral, and as big as movies get.”

Fandango’s Erik Davis writes that The Way of Water is “Bigger, better & more emotional than Avatar, the film is visually breathtaking, visceral, and incredibly engrossing. The story, the spectacle, the spirituality, the beauty – this is moviemaking & storytelling at its absolute finest.” 

The Way of Water once again centers on Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldaña), who are now parents and are forced to protect their family from a new threat to Pandora. The cast includes Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, and Kate Winslet. 

The film’s three-hour-and-10-minute runtime hasn’t seemed to bother anyone even though they might have to miss a moment of beauty to relieve themselves. Cameron has said that he doesn’t care if viewers leave the theater to use the bathroom because his vision is fully realized in the runtime. 

Plus, Cameron’s Avatar sequel comes at a time when longer movies are becoming the norm. 

While many of us at No Film School have not had the opportunity to behold the spectacle of The Way of Water ourselves, we will be there on opening night with all of you to learn what Cameron can teach us through his second installment of one of the greatest franchises to ever exist. 

Avatar: The Way of Water opens in theaters nationwide on Dec. 16.

Will you be watching Avatar: The Way of Water on opening weekend? Let us know in the comments!