If you dare to go to the theater to watch Dr. Strange in the multiverse of madness This weekend you will probably have to see the first teaser for Avatar: Water paththe long-awaited sequel to the 2009 sci-fi blockbuster Avatar. Director James Cameron has spent more than a decade filming the first of four planned sequels, much of which takes place in an underwater environment.
(Spoilers for the 2009 film below.)
Cameron wrote the treatment for Avatar back in 1994, and it was supposed to be the director’s next big project after he wrapped up his blockbuster Titanic. But Cameron realized that technology did not yet exist to make the film he envisioned. He spent several years working on developing what he needed, including a state-of-the-art virtual camera system to direct scenes to capture movement. (He compared it to “a big, powerful gaming engine.”)
The visionary gamble paid off. After the release, the finished film set new records at the box office; it was the highest-grossing film until Avengers: Endgame briefly took first place in 2019 (Chinese reissue in March 2021. Avatar back to top.) Critics were mostly positive, praising technological advances, although some pointed out that storytelling suffered little. Cameron also consulted with a number of scientists while designing the world of Pandora (the moon orbiting a gaseous giant exoplanet called Polyphemus in the Alpha Centauri A system). Avatar he was nominated for nine Oscars, ultimately winning for Best Artistic Direction, Best Photography and Best Visual Effects.
Even before AvatarFollowing the release, Cameron expressed hope to record two sequels, extending the scope of the story to other Polyphemus months. The first would feature the Pandora’s Ocean and involve taking pictures at the bottom of the Mariana Trench with a deep-sea submarine. (Cameron made his first solo descent into the trench in 2012 thanks to one such submarine.) But once again, he needed technology that didn’t yet exist – namely, to record scenes of motion recordings underwater. As Cameron explained to Collider 2017:
This has never been done before and is very tricky because our motion recording system, like most motion recording systems, is what they call an optical base, which means it uses markers that are photographed by hundreds of cameras. The problem with water is not the underwater part, but the interface between air and water, which forms a moving mirror. This moving mirror reflects all the dots and markers and creates a bunch of fake markers. It’s a bit like a fighter jet throwing a pile of chaff to confuse a missile radar system. It creates thousands of fake targets, so we had to figure out how to get around that problem, which we did. Basically, whenever you add water to any problem, it becomes 10 times heavier. So we threw a lot of horsepower, innovation, imagination and new technology into the problem, and it took us about a year and a half to figure out how to do it.
I expect to hear more about the various technological advances that have been made to make this film as studio marketing increases.
Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana reprise their roles as Jake Sully and Neytiri. Jake decided to permanently merge with his avatar at the end of the first film, so he could be with Neytiri and start a family on Pandora. According to the official synopsis: “It’s been done for more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: Water path begins to tell the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri and their children), the adversity that accompanies them, the lengths they invest to protect each other, the battles they fight to survive and the tragedies they suffer. “
That’s pretty vague, but consistent with what we’ve heard over the years. Jamie Flatters, Britain Dalton and Trinity Bliss play the couple’s three children (Neteyam, Lo-ak and Tuk), while Jack Champion plays a teenager named Spider-Born on a human basis, whom the couple saved and adopted. Sigourney Weaver (Dr. Grace Augustine), Stephen Lang (Colonel Miles Quaritch) and Matt Gerald (Corporal Lyle Wainfleet) will also return, despite all three dying in the original. And CCH Pounder returns as Mo’at, Neytiri’s mother and spiritual leader of the Omaticaya clan. Cameron said Quaritch would be the main antagonist again. The return of that old threat forces Jake and his family to leave their home and explore other parts of Pandora – the “waterway”.