NEW YORK -- It's been more than a dozen years since the release of "Avatar," so expectations are high for "The Way of Water" -- especially since the original grossed a staggering $3 billion at the box office, making it still the highest grossing movie of all time.
The sequel has opened to rave reviews, with one critic in the New York Post calling it "A Blue Wonder," and so far audience reaction has been great with 95% approval on the Rotten Tomatoes website.
Much has been made of the film's $350 million budget, but the only question that counts is: does this epic give you enough bang for your buck? Entertainment reporter Sandy Kenyon's answer is yes.
We're back open Pandora again more than a decade after events in the first "Avatar." A family must flee from human invaders, chased from their home in the trees to the ocean, where a family of warriors is reluctant at first to offer them sanctuary.
"I play the character of Ronal," Kate Winslet explained at the London premiere. "And she is the leader of the Metkayina tribe. The Metkayina are people who live on and in the water."
Once again the stars are digitally enhanced using motion capture techniques, although fans of the original will immediately recognize Sam Worthington as Jake and Zoe Saldana as his mate.
"Stepping back into playing Neytiri is something very special to me," she said. "I gave so much of myself to her, so getting to revisit her, to reincarnate her. It just seems like a gift that keeps on giving."
The sequel has plenty of spirituality and spectacle in 3D.
"It sucks you in, it draws you into the movie," said Director James Cameron. "Some people don't like 3D. That's fine. See it in 2D!"
But to best experience his vision, Kenyon recommends donning the glasses because, after all, "The way of Water" was shot in 3D.
Worthington points out that Cameron, "made this movie an experience that you're going to feel in the cinema, not just see," and, it's best seen on the biggest screen you can find.
"Share that with your loved ones, the movie's about protecting your loved ones," says the guy who plays Jake.
Kenyon see movies for free, but in this case, the price of a ticket seems very reasonable given the size of the spectacle shown here and the length of the experience: 3+ hours.
For those who were thrilled by the first "Avatar," this will seem well worth the wait.
"Avatar: The Way of Water" is from 20th Century Studios, owned by the same parent company as this station.