“Avatar: The Way of Water” makes the visual effects in Marvel and other movies look amateurish
- “Avatar: The Way of Water” is one of the best-known movies in quite some time.
- Director James Cameron filmed underwater sequences in a real tank, using new motion capture technology.
- Filmed in a number of premium formats, including 3D, Imax, and high frame rate.
James Cameron is not known for thinking words.
In an interview with ComicBook.com last week, the director shed light on the visual effects in the Marvel films, comparing them to those in “Avatar: The Way of Water,” the long-awaited sequel to his first “Avatar.”
“Thanos? Come on. Give me a break,” said Cameron, referring to the main villain in the latest “Avengers” movie. “I’ve seen that movie. It’s not even close.”
He has a point. I watched “The Way of Water” Thursday night in 3D – this was the first relevant 3D movie in many years. This is why you should also see it in theaters and on the biggest screen possible.
After a year of Marvel films and other big-budget tentpoles whose looks didn’t impress me, the movie was a breath of fresh air.
I’m not the only one pissed at the state of VFX in vogue right now.
In July, The Ringer’s Daniel Chen wrote that “Marvel has a problem with visual effects.” In the same month, a visual effects artist who has worked on Marvel films wrote a scathing article for Vulture, claiming that Marvel is straining VFX houses and demanding last-minute changes.
Of course, it’s not just Marvel in the visual effects department, but since there are more Marvel movies in theaters in a given year than any other franchise, these movies are a good place to start. The truth is, the problems with Marvel movies are a reflection of the state of big budget movies in general.
Vox’s Alyssa Wilkinson nailed it when she wrote that “big-screen dread is rare” and that “Water Road” “filled an awe-shaped void in my heart”.
Few blockbusters make me astonished by how good They’re looking at the big screen these days, and it’s a sad state of affairs for a theater industry struggling to recover from the pandemic.
A lot of the reasons “The Way of Water” looks so good is because Cameron didn’t skimp on the bevy of underwater sequences. Instead of filming in front of walls with blue or green screens, Cameron and crew developed underwater motion capture technology, immersing the actors in much of the filming in a 900,000-gallon tank.
Why? “Oh, I don’t know, maybe it looks good?” Cameron told The New York Times in a recent interview.
The cherry on top? Filmed using 3D cameras. After the success of “Avatar,” many films of the early 2000s were made into 3D films in post-production, riding a wave that eventually died down.
“I think the studios blew it,” Cameron told The Times, when asked what happened to 3D after Avatar. “Just to save 20% of the authoring cost for the 3D, they used 3D post-conversion, which takes it out of the hands of the filmmaker on set and puts it through some post-production that yielded a bad result.”
Ultimately, “The Way of Water” was made for cinemas, and it would be a mistake to skip it for the ultimate home entertainment or Disney+ release.
Yes, there are other big must-see movies in theaters this year to get the best experience, like “Top Gun: Maverick.”
But when I say The Way of Water was “made for theatres,” I mean that it was made in more formats than any other movie being released these days, from 3D to premium large formats like Imax to high frame rates, a number not. Countless combinations. (For starters, the higher frame rate is meant to make effects-heavy action sequences look smoother.)
Audiences already know that these premium formats are the best way to see The Water Way. Disney said the film took in $17 million Thursday in the United States, with 61% of that coming from formats like 3D and Imax.
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