Guillermo del Toro reviews ‘Avatar 2’: James Cameron on ‘His Peak’

The Mexican filmmaker, most recently responsible for a stunning adaptation of Pinocchio, also praised the long-awaited sequel’s “majestic” landscapes.

Critics won’t be addressing the much-anticipated sequel to James Cameron’s Avatar for a few weeks. But if Guillermo del Toro is to be believed, the borderline aquatic adventure is sure to dazzle audiences and hit the box office on December 16th.

“An overwhelming achievement” del Toro tweeted Thursday. “[‘Avatar: The Way of Water’ is chockfull] of majestic views and emotion on an epic, epic scale. A master at the peak of his powers…”

That’s kudos to the director behind “Titanic,” “Aliens,” and “Terminator,” made even more meaningful by del Toro’s own cinematic skills. The Mexican filmmaker’s latest project – a stop-motion film Pinocchio for Netflix – is a front-runner 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 rave review came with a retweet from producer Jon Landau celebrating one of the film’s final post-production milestones as the cast and crew move into the final days of promotion before their film hits theaters ahead of 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 image mastering and I took this image from our post finishing team. I am grateful to each of you for your contributions to the film.”

In 2009, the first “Avatar” outing wowed moviegoers with an unparalleled visual experience that, as IndieWire’s Bill Desowitz explained in his breakdown of the 2023 visual effects Oscar race, “the photorealistic playbook of character animation, world-building, lighting and much more rewrote rendition.”

“[Visual effects supervisor Joe] Letteri reunites with Cameron in Way of the Water, where they explore new frontiers of Pandora, particularly the expansive oceans that take up much of the film,” Desowitz said. “The oceans contain innovative water development, including the first-ever capture of underwater power.” According to Cameron, the innovative technology required the actors to be able to hold their breath for extended periods of time.

In a 2017 interview with Collider, Cameron described the film’s pre-production process: “We did a tremendous amount of testing. We have six teenagers and one seven year old and they all act out a scene underwater. We’ve been training them on how to hold their breath for six months now and they’re all in the two to four minute range. They are all perfectly capable of acting underwater, very calm and with bated breath. We don’t do any of that while scuba diving. And we’re getting really good data, beautiful character movement, and great facial capture. We basically 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 check out the visuals for yourself with the trailer below:

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Lindsay Lowe

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