Guillermo del Toro Reviews ‘Avatar 2’ — Raves James Cameron Is a ‘Master at the Peak of His Powers’

Critics won’t comment on James Cameron’s long-awaited ‘Avatar’ sequel for another few weeks. But if Guillermo del Toro is to be believed, this groundbreaking water adventure is sure to wow audiences and box office on December 16.

“A staggering achievement”, del Toro tweeted Thursday. “[‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is chockfull] of majestic vistas and emotions on an epic, epic scale. A master at the height of his abilities…”

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That’s high praise for the director behind “Titanic,” “Aliens,” and “The Terminator,” made even more meaningful by del Toro’s own cinematic chops. The Mexican filmmaker’s most recent project — a stop-motion “Pinocchio” for Netflix — is a frontrunner for Best Animated Feature at the 95th Academy Awards. Cameron and “Avatar 2” are similarly positioned in the Oscar race for Best Visual Effects.

Del Toro’s glowing review came with a retweet from producer Jon Landau celebrating one of the film’s final post-production milestones as the cast and crew enter the final days of promotion before their film hits theaters during the holiday season.

“Congratulations to the entire ‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ family,” Landau wrote earlier on Thursday. “Yesterday we completed our final mix and picture mastering and I took this picture of our post-finishing team. I am grateful to all of you for your contributions to the film.”

In 2009, the first “Avatar” outing blew moviegoers away with an unparalleled visual experience that, as IndieWire’s Bill Desowitz explained in his exposé of the 2023 Visual Effects Oscars race, “rewrote the photorealistic playbook for character animation, world-building, lighting, and rendering. ”

“[Visual effects supervisor Joe] Letteri reunites with Cameron on ‘Way of the Water,’ where they explore new frontiers of Pandora, particularly the vast oceans, which take up much of the film,” Desowitz said. “The oceans hold innovative water development, including capturing underwater performance for the first time.” According to Cameron, the innovative technology required actors to be able to hold their breath for extended periods of time.

In an interview with Collider in 2017, Cameron described the film’s pre-production process: “We did a lot of testing. We have six teens and a 7-year-old, and they all play an underwater scene. We’ve been training them for six months now, how to hold their breath, and they’re all within the range of two to four minutes. They are all perfectly capable of acting underwater, very calm while holding their breath. We don’t do all this with diving. And we get really good data, beautiful character movement and great facial performance capture. We have, in fact, cracked the code.”

You can read more about the new technology in “Avatar: The Way of Water” from IndieWire’s sneak preview at D23 — or see the footage for yourself with the trailer below:

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