A decade after James Cameron's "Titanic" broke box-office records, the director's much-anticipated new film, 'Avatar,' premiered Thursday in London. "Avatar" — the story of a paraplegic former marine stationed at a mining colony on a lush, tropical planet — is rumored to be the most expensive film ever made, with a budget estimated at $500 million. The film, rated PG-13, opens worldwide on December 18. In the meantime, here's what critics had to say when they finally got a look: (Watch James Cameron interviewed at the London premiere of "Avatar")
The next "Titanic" hit? (The London Times)
"Movie events don’t get bigger than this. James Cameron’s long-awaited follow-up to 'Titanic,' the most successful film to date, is immense in every way: from the ambition and scope of its vision, to the ground-breaking technological wizardry, to the staggering size of its budget.... Will the film match Titanic’s gigantic box office haul of $1.8 billion. Possibly not...but I would be very surprised if James Cameron didn’t have another sizable hit on his hands."
Underwhelming and over-hyped (The Guardian)
"Avatar tries to have it both ways, to be preachy and a thrill-ride at the same time. I can't in all honesty say it pulls it off — it's baggy, longwinded and, for all the light-speed imagery, just not quick on its feet. Cameron used to be the tautest film-maker around, but he just got slack."
An "immersive" masterpiece (Chud.com)
"This is what 'The Phantom Menace' should have been," raves the influential "fanboy" blog, Chud.com. "It's proof that the only downside to 'Avatar' is how it allowed us to forget what a powerhouse James Cameron is. ... Is ['Avatar'] perfect? No. Is it immersive, entertaining, and breathtaking? Yes. Is it a masterpiece? ... I think it just may be."
Sensory overload (BoxOffice.com)
"If James Cameron's storytelling abilities matched his soaring visual imagination he might have delivered the world a grand masterpiece in the long awaited Avatar. Instead, this 3D, Sci-fi, action adventure ... is a pleasure to the eye but jarring to the ear, its hackneyed plot and ridiculous dialogue transform what ought to be awe-inspiring and moving into something often unintentionally funny."
A game changer (TotalFilm.com)
"Avatar is much more than a film. It’s a prescribed cinematic experience. Pure effect. The greatest sideshow on Earth.... Game-changing — yes. Spectacular — absolutely. Occasional dodgy dialogue and dramatic imperfections — of course. But still...a titanic achievement."
Too soon to tell (Cinematical.com)
"Cameron's latest is scary and exciting and entertaining as hell...[but] it's far too early to herald it as any kind of masterpiece."