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The Screening Room

Even the critics like Cameron's 'Avatar'

"Avatar" is James Cameron's first cinematic outing since "Titanic," the most popular film of modern times.
"Avatar" is James Cameron's first cinematic outing since "Titanic," the most popular film of modern times.
  • James Cameron's "Avatar" had its world premiere in London yesterday
  • The 3D sci-fi epic goes on public release worldwide on December 18
  • Read what the critics have said said so far

(CNN) -- James Cameron unveiled his much-hyped, wildly-anticipated 3D sci-fi epic "Avatar" to audiences in full in London Thursday.

Here's what the critics are saying about the Oscar-winner's first outing since "Titanic," the most successful film of modern times.

Todd McCarthy, Variety: The King of the World sets his sights on creating another world entirely in "Avatar," and it's very much a place worth visiting.

...delivers unique spectacle, breathtaking sights, narrative excitement and an overarching anti-imperialist, back-to-nature theme that will play very well around the world..."

Mike Goodridge, Screen International: ...once again takes cinema to a new level of remarkable spectacle ...

An epic film born entirely of Cameron's imagination, "Avatar" uses tailor-made technology to create the most astonishing visual effects yet seen on screen and blends them seamlessly into a mythical sci-fi story about an ancient alien civilization fighting the encroaching human menace.

It's an unprecedented marriage of technology and storytelling which is on the whole remarkably successful.

Chris Hewitt, Empire: It's been twelve years since "Titanic," but the King of the World has returned with a flawed but fantastic tour de force that, taken on its merits as a film, especially in two dimensions, warrants four stars.

However, if you can wrap a pair of 3D glasses round your peepers, this becomes a transcendent, full-on five-star experience that's the closest we'll ever come to setting foot on a strange new world.

Wendy Ide, The Times: "Avatar" is an overwhelming, immersive spectacle. The state-of-the-art 3D technology draws us in, but it is the vivid weirdness of Cameron's luridly imagined tropical otherworld that keeps us fascinated.

At times it verges on the tacky, like a futuristic air freshener advertisement with the color contrast turned up to the max. The ethically accented orchestral score certainly doesn't help matters.

But mostly, it's a place of wonder full of exotically freakish animal composites -- iridescent lizard birds, hammer-headed rhinos -- and sentient vegetation.

"Avatar:" We shouldn't really be telling you this -- but it's good.

Mark Brown, The Guardian: Perhaps most surprising was the politics. At one stage the deranged general leading the attack, with echoes of George Bush, declares: "Our survival relies on pre-emptive action. We will fight terror with terror."