Breaking boundaries


After nearly 13 years of anticipation, “Avatar: The Way of Water” took the world by storm with its recent release on Dec. 16, 2022, becoming the sixth highest grossing film of all time with a total of $2.024 billion. However, many wonder if the film really deserves all the hype. 

“I really enjoyed the new Avatar movie(…) I would definitely recommend [it] to anyone,” Caroline Byars, senior, said.  

The movie’s main critique concerns its overly long runtime: a total of three hours and 12 minutes. This beats out several of the biggest films from the last few years, including “Black Panther: Wakanda Forever” (two hours and 41 minutes), “Avengers: Infinity War” (two hours and 29 minutes), and “Top Gun: Maverick,” (two hours and 10 minutes). This long screen time caused many to become uninterested, as it began to feel repetitive and drawn out. In order to prevent this problem, scenes that did not relate to the plot could have been taken out to keep the audience from getting bored.  

“Despite the inspiring, action-packed plot, the movie did feel a bit too drawn out, with it being over three hours, and I ended up falling asleep for a minute about halfway through,” Cooper Gilreath, junior, said.  

Others feel that the usage of CGI technology, computer animation, and special effects makes the long runtime worth it. In order to capture complex expressions, filmmakers used facial motion capture which involved markers on the actors’ faces that tracked what muscles in the face were moving. Since the majority of the movie involved water, the filmmakers created a tank that was 120 feet long, 60 feet wide, and 30 feet deep and held more than 250,000 gallons of water. Using an underwater camera, actors were filmed swimming and diving in and out of the tank, all while holding their breath.  

“We did not want to simulate [the water scenes].  We did not want to do what people called ‘dry for wet.’ We wanted to put Zoe Saldaña, Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, and others in water—to have them feel the current, the movement, the waves, and to give a performance. No one has ever done performance capture underwater,” Jon Landau, producer, said.  

Whether or not one enjoyed the movie, there is no denying that the film broke several barriers and will go down in animation history.