Avatar: The Way of Water movie poster | photo courtesy of ThePlaylist.net

Avatar: The Way of Water

Avatar fans have been waiting over a decade for a moment that has finally arrived. 13 years after the first movie, and eight years after the sequel’s original release date, producer Jon Landau and director James Cameron have officially announced the long-awaited second Avatar movie. Avatar: The Way of Water, is to be released on Dec. 16th, 2022. Those who have followed the story of this movie’s production understand the significance of this announcement. 

The second and third movies of this series had originally been set to hit theatres in Dec. of 2014 and 2015. However, for a variety of reasons, the films kept being pushed back. 

The original thought for the delay in production was the director’s determination to simultaneously film several of the movies at once. The most popular theory for the delay of this long-awaited movie was  Cameron’s need for the proper technology. With a large part of Avatar: The Way of Water being filmed underwater, the director seemed determined for this film to be as groundbreaking as the last.

Avatar: The Way of Water underwater studio set | photo courtesy of Pinkvilla

In its time, the first Avatar movie was considered a digital masterpiece. The first film took 15 years to complete and later became the highest-grossing film of all time within 41 days of its release. It has only recently been replaced by Spider-Man: No Way Home.

The plot follows a disabled marine by the name of Jake Sully, played by actor Sam Worthing, who travels in place of his recently late twin brother to Pandora, an alien planet. The planet is home to an indigenous species known as the Na’vi, humanoid creatures ranging from nine to ten feet tall. The Na’vi are humanoid creatures complete with animalistic features like animal-like ears, a flattened nose, and a long tail. Pandora is also home to dozens of native animals and a precious metal known as unobtanium, which lies under the Na’vi’s homeland. 

Pandora home planet of the Na’vi | photo courtesy of DisneyParks

Jake works closely with a team of scientists including Norm, played by Joel David Moore, and Grace, played by Sigourney Weaver. Their minds work remotely within bodies that represent the Na’vi’s. Jake and his team are sent deep within the Na’vi world into the Omaticaya Clan to make peace with the natives, in an attempt to coax them off the land so the humans can excavate the unobtanium. Complications arise when Jake begins to develop deeper relationships with some of the Omaticaya and starts to question whose side he’s really on.

The release of this movie in 2009 left fans wanting more and they were ecstatic when the 2014 release date was announced. Five years later, the most recent release date – Dec. 18 2020 – was unsurprisingly pushed back like the hundreds of productions that shut down due to Covid-19. It was nothing new to Avatar fans to hear of the movie being pushed back for the 5th time. 

However, unlike most productions in 2019, Avatar continued live-action filming in New Zealand during Feb. 2019 and continuing  through 2020. Avatar was one of several complex film shoots that continued and concluded in New Zealand during the country’s lockdown. In September of 2020, Cameron announced that “[they were] 100% complete on Avatar 2 and sort of 95% complete on Avatar 3.

In May of 2022, about two years after it was announced that the movie was completed, the Avatar: The Way of Water official trailer was released. Within four months it had over 23.5 million views on YouTube. 

The events shown in the trailer occur more than a decade after the events of the first film. They tell the story of Jake Sully and his family on Pandora, including Neytiri and their kids, as they prepare to fight against the human world Jake himself was once a part of. 

Jake Sully and Neytiri | photo courtesy of The New York Times

The huge success of  Avatar was credited mostly to the creative ways technology was utilized during its production.When it had first come out, people were astounded at the visual technology and immersive experience Avatar had brought. To  achieve this, the production used several different techniques including motion capture. Motion capture records the up close movement of objects or people within movies; this is done through smaller-sized cameras attached to a headset worn by the actors.

At the time, the way this technology was used was almost unheard of, despite it not being new technology. Motion capture, in the time when the first Avatar was being filmed , had been used to assist video game animation and in movies like The Polar Express. Today, motion capture is a huge aspect of the film industry, as seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and the Hobbit trilogy. 

Neytiri showing Jake how to shoot a bow | photo courtesy of WorldPress.com

It was in the early 2000s when James Cameron revolutionized the technology for what it is today, investing heavily in the development of facial motion capture. New equipment was brought in for production, including lighting and  camera systems, which allowed computer-generated actors to interact with real-life props and actors. A record-sized motion capture stage for the time, and a virtual camera system that showed CG characters and environments in real-time were also aspects of Avatar that were new to the film industry. Cameron changed the face of realistic filmmaking and fans were astounded. They can only anticipate what new technology he’ll bring in next.

Millions of people will be waiting for the day they’ve been anticipating for 13 years, December 16th.

Written by Julia Yates

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *