Avatar 2 - The Way of Water - (2022)
Director: James Cameron.
IMAX 3D - HFR
I went for the tech-demo knowing that the story is not so original and I shouldn't care much about it. But I must say the screenplay was very well written and there was a moment that actually brought me to tears. (When Jake says to his young son "I see you")
So the story was the biggest unexpected surprise here!
Now for all the technical stuff...
I was not impressed by the 3D animation and mocap suits. I was also not impressed by the rendering fidelity, lighting and textures. There is nothing here we haven't seen before in high budget CGI productions and the previous Avatar (not even the water simulations).
What I do think is a step forward from the first Avatar is the ease of viewing experience. It is much less sea-sickening and headache inducing. In fact, the only time the film was sea-sickening was when the antagonist was in zero gravity: the filmmakers induced the 3D sea-sickening as a storytelling device! This is truly innovating, artistic, smart and fun!!!
One of the things I remember clearly from the 1st Avatar was the headache I got every time my eyes wondered outside the focus point on the screen. This time, I could explore the frame with ease. I believe this is because they used a deeper depth-of-field - BIG improvement.
And now to the elephant in the room... HFR:
Where to begin?
I had no problems with the HFR, I actually find it mostly relaxing and immersive. The problems started when they switched back and forth between HFR and 24fps. It is very obvious and unpleasant, I guess they didn't have the budget and time to render the whole film in HFR so they had to make with only ~50%.
For the HFR itself: it works better in some parts than others. I believe it's to do with matching shutter-angles with frame-rates. When the shutter-angle is too low the HFR looks like a video game, but when they nail the shutter-angle with frame-rate it looks fucking awesome!
Seriously the best moving images I've seen on the silver screen.
Sadly, there are only a handful of shots that nail it. Most of the HFR shots look like video games.
- I would guess that HFR prefer a shutter angle of 360 - but that need to be tested with equipment no-one has at the moment.
I can see the lesson learned by the team, I am confident they are aware of the achievements and failures. So in that case, I'm truly excited for Avatar 3.
I'm just worried we will start to see a lot of bad 3D HFR films soon because of the commercial success of Avatar 2.
Verdict: 3.5 / 5 ★ - Not bad.