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  • “Avatar. “Water Road” is one of the most popular blockbusters of all time.
  • Director James Cameron shot underwater sequences in a real tank using new motion capture technology.
  • It was shot in a number of premium formats, including 3D, Imax and High Frame Rate.

James Cameron is not known for words.

In an interview with last week, the director threw some shade at the visual effects of the Marvel movies, comparing them to Avatar: The Last Airbender.

“Thanos, come on, give me a break,” Cameron said, referring to the main villain of the latest “Avengers” films. “You’ve seen this movie, it’s not even close.”

He has a point. I saw The Waterway on Thursday night in 3D, and it was the first time in many years that 3D was current. This is all the more reason why you should also see it in theaters and on the biggest screen possible.

After a year of Marvel movies and other big budget tentpoles that didn’t quite impress me, the movie was a breath of fresh air.

I’m not the only one angry at the state of blockbuster visual effects right now.

In July, The Ringer’s Daniel Chin wrote that “Marvel has a VFX problem.” That same month, a VFX artist who worked on Marvel films wrote a scathing essay for Vulture, claiming that Marvel was overworking the VFX houses and demanding last-minute changes.

Of course, it’s not just Marvel lacking in the VFX department, but since there are more Marvel movies in theaters in a given year than any other franchise, those movies are a good place to start. The reality is that the problems with Marvel movies are a reflection of the state of big budget movies in general.

Vox’s Alyssa Wilkinson wrote that “the awe of the big screen is rarely lost” and that “Waterway” “filled an awe-shaped void in my heart.”

Few blockbusters amaze me with how ok they’re staring at the big screen these days, it’s a sad state of affairs for the theater industry, which is struggling to recover from the pandemic.

A big part of the reason “Waterway” looks so good is because Cameron spared no effort in the underwater sequences. Instead of filming in front of walls of blue or green screens, Cameron and his crew developed underwater motion capture technology and had the cast submerged in a 900,000-gallon tank for most of the shoot.

Why? “Oh, I don’t know, maybe that sounds good.” Cameron said in a recent interview with The New York Times.

The cherry on top. It was filmed using 3D cameras. After the success of Avatar in the early 2010s, many films were converted to 3D in post-production, a wave that eventually fizzled out.

“I think the studios blew it,” Cameron told the Times when asked what happened to 3D after “Avatar.” “Just to save 20% of the royalties on 3D, they went to 3D post-conversion, which takes it out of the hands of the filmmaker on set and puts it into some post-production process that produced a poor result.”

After all, The Waterway was made for theaters, and it would be a mistake to miss it for its ultimate home entertainment or Disney+ release.

Yes, there are other big movies that should have been seen this year for the best experience in theaters, such as Top Gun. Maverick.”

But when I say Waterway is “made for theaters,” I mean it’s been made in more formats than any other movie out these days, from 3D to premium big formats like Imax. up to high frame rates and countless combinations. (For the uninitiated, the higher frame rate is meant to make effects-heavy action sequences look smoother.)

Audiences are already realizing that these premium formats are the best way to watch Waterway. The film earned $17 million in the U.S. on Thursday, Disney said, with 61% coming from 3D and Imax formats.


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