Posts with «movies» label

The latest ‘Super Mario Bros. Movie’ trailer pits Cat Mario against Donkey Kong

Over the weekend, Nintendo shared a surprise trailer for TheSuper Mario Bros. Movie. The 30-second clip shows additional footage from a scene that was first featured in the trailer Nintendo released last November. More importantly, it marks our first chance to hear Seth Rogen’s take on Donkey Kong. After Mario dons his cat suit, first introduced in 2013’s Super Mario 3D World, Rogen’s Donkey Kong starts laughing. “You got the cat box! I’m sorry,” the ape tells his one-time nemesis before turning serious. “Now you die.”

🐱#SuperMarioMoviepic.twitter.com/GcgIPZyLV3

— The Super Mario Bros. Movie (@supermariomovie) January 29, 2023

With Sunday’s trailer, Nintendo has now offered fans a chance to hear the entire ensemble cast of The Super Mario Bros. Movie, including Chris Pratt as Mario, Jack Black as Bowser and Anya Taylor-Joy as Peach. Following the release of the film’s second trailer, Mario creator Shigeru Miyamoto said Nintendo redesigned Donkey Kong's model for the first time since the ape made the jump to 3D in 1994’s Donkey Kong Country. The company went for a more comical design reminiscent of Donkey Kong's original character. The Super Mario Bros. Movie will arrive in theaters on April 7th.

'Tron 3' may finally be happening with Jared Leto

It's been over 12 years since Tron: Legacy debuted and those who've been longing for a third entry in the classic sci-fi series may have wished for it on a monkey's paw. Tron: Ares, as the film may be called, could start filming this August with Jared Leto, ol' Morbius himself, reportedly set to star. Joachim Rønning (Maleficent: Mistress of Evil and Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales) is in talks to direct, according to Deadline.

As Variety notes, Leto first signed on back in 2017, but Disney has had a third movie on the backburner since long before then. Tron: Legacy director Joseph Kosinski (who went on to make Top Gun: Maverick) said in an interview that he wrote and storyboarded a sequel "that takes place on the internet with Yahoo and Google and all those sites." Kosinski said he was close to moving forward with it in 2015 but suggested Disney "pulled the plug" as it had bigger, Marvel- and Star Wars-sized fish to focus on.

This time around, Tron: Ares could finally be happening. Unfortunately, it seems unlikely that Daft Punk will return to deliver another banger of a score. The iconic duo split up in 2021.

TikTok users can now tag movies and TV shows, so you can quit asking 'what is this from'

TikTok users in the US and the UK can now tag movies and TV shows in their videos. Each tag (up to five can be included per video) will point to an in-app page that includes details from the film or series, as well as some related videos.

This is all powered by a new partnership with IMDb, which is providing info including cast members, directors, genres, release dates, runtimes and user ratings for each movie and show. TikTok users can add films and TV series to the favorites tab of their profile too.

You can tag a show or movie when you tap the "add link" option right before you post a video. If you select "movie and TV," you'll be able to search the more than 12 million titles that are on IMDb and add the one you're looking for.

This should come in useful for users who share a lot of movie and TV-related posts, as well as those looking for content about their favorite titles. So, if you share a clip from The Menu, a meme from The White Lotus or a Glass Onion explainer, you may not need to reply to people who drop a "what is this from 💀" in the comments. They can just tap the tag for more details (and then maybe watch The Menu, because it's a blast).

Neill Blomkamp's Gran Turismo film certainly looks and sounds like Gran Turismo

So that's what Gran Turismo is really about. The first Gran Turismo teaser shows off sleek cars and angles ripped straight out of the game franchise, all from the lens of District 9 director Neill Blomkamp. Blomkamp helped introduce the short video during Sony's CES 2023 show, where executives played up their plans to adapt even more game franchises to film and television. Gran Turismo is due to hit theaters on August 11th.

The film is based on a true story, apparently — it follows a teenage Gran Turismo player who uses his sweet gaming skills to become a real-world racecar driver. The teenager is played by Archie Madekwe (Simon from Midsommar), and the movie also stars David Harbour (Stranger Things), Orlando Bloom (the early 2000s) and Geri Halliwell (Ginger Spice).

The Gran Turismo movie has spent some time in development hell — much like the video game series itself, which has a reputation for being delayed. A version of the film was completely scrapped in 2018 after spending five years in development, and Blomkamp is the second director to be attached to a Gran Turismo project. However, things have moved quickly since development on the current movie started in May 2022, with filming wrapped by that December.

Gran Turismo isn't the only game-film crossover project in the works at Sony. There's a whole HBO series based on The Last of Us premiering January 15th, a Twisted Metal show heading to Peacock, and a film based on Ghost of Tsushima still to come.

Disney+ is adding DTS audio to IMAX Enhanced Marvel films

Disney+ is bolstering its IMAX Enhanced films, including some Marvel Cinematic Universe movies, with another audio option. The streaming service will enable IMAX signature sound by DTS on select titles this year, offering viewers high-fidelity audio to go with the expanded aspect ratio.

You'll need compatible equipment to hear DTS audio, however. At the outset, some IMAX Enhanced-certified TVs from manufacturers such as Sony and Hisense will support DTS on Disney+, as will certain AV receivers from the likes of Denon, Marantz and JBL. However, you don't need any particular devices to view IMAX’s expanded aspect ratio of 1.90:1, which offers up to 26 percent taller pictures during certain sequences.

Some may find that the addition of DTS audio will help them to better replicate the IMAX experience at home. DTS will provide a higher bitrate alternative to Dolby Atmos, but many folks prefer the latter. In the near future, you may be able to watch a Disney+ movie in either audio format and decide for yourself.

Meanwhile, Disney+ has announced when Black Panther: Wakanda Forever is coming to the platform. You'll be able to stream the most recent MCU movie at home starting on February 1st. The film will have IMAX Enhanced support.

Marvel Studios’ Black Panther: #WakandaForever is streaming February 1, only on #DisneyPlus. pic.twitter.com/FRMxxsTkAd

— Disney+ (@DisneyPlus) January 4, 2023

A Stan Lee documentary will hit Disney+ next year

Today is Stan Lee's 100th birthday and Marvel marked the occasion by revealing that a documentary about his life will hit Disney+ next year. Lee, who died in 2018, is a critical part of Marvel’s legacy. The many, many characters he’s credited with co-creating include Spider-Man, Iron Man, Black Panther, Ant-Man, X-Men, The Fantastic Four and The Incredible Hulk.

Marvel didn’t reveal many details about the project, though it did release a teaser containing some of Lee’s cameos in Marvel Cinematic Universe movies. It’s unclear whether the documentary will take a warts-and-all look at Lee’s complex life or who will be involved in telling his story. 

Disney has mined its history for several documentary projects for its streaming service. When Disney+ debuted three years ago, it featured a docuseries on the Imagineers, the creative minds behind its theme parks. It later added one about the stories behind its rides. The platform is also home to documentaries on Mickey Mouse, MCU shows and movies and the cultural impact of Marvel.

The best sci-fi movies, books and shows to consume over the holidays

If you need a break from the hustle and cheer of the holidays, there’s nothing better than the ultimate escapist genre: sci-fi. This year has been a good one for those who like their entertainment off-planet or otherwise removed from our reality. We finally got a Predator sequel that isn’t silly; the author of Station Eleven released her highly anticipated new book; Star Wars proved it’s ready to grow up; and the production company A24 brought us one of the most exhilarating movies in years. There are even a number of sci-fi podcasts that can keep you company while you wrap presents or decorate your home with tinsel and lights. Here are some of the best sci-fi movies, books and shows as of late that you can binge over the holidays.

TV

Resident Alien

Syfy

If you still miss Northern Exposure 27 years after its finale aired and thought Wash was the best part of Firefly, you’ll find something to appreciate in Syfy’s Resident Alien. Now in its second season on the Syfy app and Peacock, the show follows a doctor, new to a small, snowy town, who’s actually an alien that came to Earth to exterminate humanity – except he’s misplaced his world-killer device. The extraterrestrial, played with gusto by Alan Tudyk, pretends to be Harry the human while getting into plenty of sitcom-style hijinks with a roster of quirky characters.

Two subplots expand the fish-out-of-water story: one about the recent murder of the former town physician, the other involving a secret government organization that’s hunting down the alien and his ship. It’s spit-your-drink-out funny and expertly plays with the small-town TV tropes we know and love. It’s also occasionally touching, particularly in moments between Harry and Max, a 10-year-old boy who happens to be the only person who can see past Harry’s human disguise.

Severance

Apple

In my personal accounting, Apple TV+ wins the streaming war this year, and Severance is among the best of their offerings. That’s saying a lot, considering Slow Horses, Afterparty, Pachinko and Black Bird all debuted on the streaming service in 2022. Not to mention the intelligent and pitch-dark time traveling serial killer thriller, Shining Girls. Where that show was awash in visceral, back-alley terror, Severance occupies a cleaner, tech-washed version of reality, but one that’s no less nightmarish.

Weaponizing the ideals of modern working life against us – the minimalist, high-design office, a strict work-life balance – Severance tells the story of employees at Lumon. While we’re not sure what they do, we do know they’ve all undergone a surgical procedure to separate their work brains from their personal brains, effectively creating two different people. The delight lies in figuring out who these people really are (and what that even means), and sussing out what’s actually going on at Lumon. Gorgeous in a sterile, Apple Store kind of way, Severance is anchored by exacting performances from Adam Scott, Patricia Arquette, Christopher Walken and John Turturro. And yes, to keep us from rioting in the streets after season one’s cliffhanger, there will be a season two.

The Peripheral

Prime Video

With a William Gibson novel as source material and Westworld creators as producers, The Peripheral has a strong sci-fi pedigree. The assured performance by Chloë Grace Moretz and a particularly lush set design make Amazon Studios’ new production a treat for the eyes and ears – it gives your brain something to chew on, too.

Set both 10 years in the future in North Carolina and 77 years in the future in a post-apocalyptic, hologram-clad London, the show centers on Moretz’s Flynne, a woman trying to make enough money to care for her ailing mother by working her job at the local 3D print shop and by helping rich folks level up in VR games. When her brother lands a gig to try out a new headset, Flynne, being the better player, heads into the sim. Turns out, it’s not a sim, but a quantum tunnel into the future in which she controls perfectly rendered robots – the first one modeled after her brother, then one based on herself. Of course, putting on the headset ignites a world of troubles, some of which show up on Flynne’s doorstep.

There’s plenty of Gibson’s characteristic techno-cool terminology, and metaphysical and temporal intricacies that you’ll have to watch closely to figure out – you’ll get little hand-holding here – but the head-scratching opaqueness that obscured Westworld’s later seasons don’t really apply. Look for answers and you’ll find them, plus you’ll have a lot of cyberpunk-fueled fun along the way.

Andor

Lucasfilm/Disney

The scads of people who are calling Andor the best product in the Star Wars franchise aren’t wrong. Turning the camera away from the galaxy’s royal Skywalker family, the new Disney+ series follows Cassian Andor, who you may remember from Rogue One as the relative nobody in a band of nobodies who made sure the Death Star plans got into the hands of the Rebel Alliance so Luke could do his thing.

The series takes place five years before the events of Rogue One and replaces the melodrama of the saga and grandiosity of the Force with a human story on a human scale. It’s about a man who makes his own journey towards rebellion, instead of that rebellion being a predestined fact. Faced with an Empire that’s disturbingly bureaucratic in its repression, Cassian assists with a heist that prods the Empire to bring down its fist across the galaxy. Watching it gives you a detailed sense of the universe where Star Wars takes place, with fully realized worlds, mature storylines, and characters that don’t feel far, far away.

Movies

Prey

HULU

The 1987 sci-fi action classic Predator pits a band of heavily armed and macho soldiers against an extraterrestrial who likes to occasionally drop by Earth to hunt humans. Peak-form Arnold Schwarzenegger is the last man standing, and honestly looks pretty ragged in that final chopper ride out of the jungle. So how would a young Comanche woman in the early 1700s fare against a similar alien encounter? Pretty damn well, as it turns out.

Easily the best sequel in the Predator franchise, Hulu's Prey takes place on the Great Plains where Naru, played with steel by Amber Midthunder, dreams of proving herself as a hunter and warrior. With her dog by her side and a throwing axe in hand, Naru gets a chance to do just that as she faces off against predators of the animal kind (bears and mountain lions), the human variety (French fur trappers) and ultimately, one from another planet. Special attention was paid to historical fidelity with on-set Indiginous advisors and a largely Indigenous cast playing the Comanche tribe members, proving that when Hollywood makes an effort to get things right, everything only gets better.

Everything Everywhere All at Once

A24

We need films like Everything Everywhere All at Once to remind us of the pure joy movies can make us feel. Picture a mashup of multiverse tropes, Kung Fu action, family drama and absurdist comedy, and you’ll get a sense of what to expect from EEAAO. Michelle Yeoh plays Evelyn, a Chinese-American immigrant living in Simi Valley with her husband and daughter. The laundromat they run is being audited by an IRS examiner played by an uncharacteristically dowdy Jamie Lee Curtis. But before Evelyn makes it to her IRS appointment, she’s told she’s an important player in an inter-dimensional battle against a chaos-loving force known as Jobu Tupaki. Eveyln flits through parallel universes, gaining skills and perspectives as she does, ultimately braiding threads together to figure out what existence “means.”

The film comes from A24, a production and distribution company with an uncanny knack for fostering wholly original movies in a world awash in reboots and franchises. EEAAO is already racking up awards and nominations to match its overwhelming public acclaim. If you haven’t done so already, watch it and never see hot dogs, rocks or Ratatouille in the same way again.

Nope

Universal Pictures/Monkeypaw Productions

After the psychological terror of Get Out and grisly horror of Us, director Jordan Peele made Nope to prove he’s not out of ideas. Daniel Kaluuya plays the lead, as he did in Get Out, this time as a laconic cowboy in a trucker hat. Kaluuya’s OJ and Keke Palmer’s Emerald are a brother and sister team running a struggling ranch outside of Hollywood where they train horses for the movies. When nickels and house keys fall from the sky and the horses start running off, they see there’s something parked above the ranch, hiding in an immovable cloud – something that’s not from here, and definitely not friendly.

Like everything Peele makes, Nope has plenty of humor to shoot through the tension, and there’s a dose of abounding weirdness – particularly in a side plot about a sitcom chimpanzee. You also sense a clear love of movies coloring the film, with nods to classics like Jaws, Close Encounters of the Third Kind and Alien. In fact, the idea of movie making itself drives the team that comes together against the UFO. The need to get the shot, to document the alien, is just as, if not more, important than self-preservation.

Books

Sea of Tranquility

Alfred A. Knopf

If you caught the dreamy, post-apocalyptic miniseries Station Eleven on HBO last December and wondered if there were any more ideas where that came from, check out Emily St. John Mandel’s latest novel, Sea of Tranquility. St. John Mandel wrote the book upon which the HBO series was based, and this time around, she’s exploring what life on a colonized moon would look like while also considering the effects of a space-time anomaly that links together a British Columbian forest, an airship terminal in Oklahoma City and four points in time running from 1912 to 2195. A time traveling agent is sent back from 2401 to investigate, tying together the narrative threads.

As in Station Eleven, St. John Mandel pairs wondrous speculation about our future with deeply human stories. Even minor characters are layered and complex, and her philosophical explorations feel important without coming across as dry academic exercises. Also, her sentences are beautiful. Read it now and you’ll be ahead of the game when the adaptation, which is currently in development at HBO Max, comes out.

The Candy House

Simon & Schuster

Jennifer Egan won a Pulitzer Prize for her essentially perfect 2010 work, A Visit from the Goon Squad and this year’s The Candy House is the sequel. Like Goon Squad, this is a novel told in stories and shifting perspectives. But where the first book focused on music and Gen X aimlessness, this time we’re looking at the technology we willingly give all parts of ourselves to. It’s not hard science fiction, but it does what the genre does best: speculating on a probable future and seeing how we humans react.

In the near future, a tech giant named Bix (a fleetingly minor character in Goon Squad) creates the next big thing in social media, called the cube, into which you can upload your unconsciousness and share it. Needless to say, there are repercussions. But the effects of the cube aren’t the focus. Instead, technology slips into the lives of the characters, just like all the previously impossible-seeming tech we live with today. Egan is one of the most assured writers I’ve ever read, and the prose is top-form literary stuff. It's never ever boring, and, like the teeming memories of the cube, impossible to look away from.

Dead Silence

Tor Nightfire

Pulitzer Prize-level literature is great. But sometimes you just want a gripping sci-fi story with a missing luxury cruise-liner spaceship in which all the people inside have violently died. Written by S.A. Barnes, who previously wrote under a pen name in the YA space, Dead Silence is part shipwreck hunter, part Event Horizon horror, and part Newt from Aliens’ epilogue.

Taking us to the year 2149, the novel centers on Claire, the team lead on a repair crew responsible for maintaining communication beacons at the edge of the solar system. The team gets a faint distress signal from a Titanic-esque spaceship that disappeared decades ago, halfway into its maiden voyage. Naturally they investigate, and things get disturbing when they discover bodies upon bodies inside the ship. Claire also happens to be the sole survivor of a viral outbreak on a Mars outpost when she was eleven, an experience that has left her with PTSD and more than a little unreliability in the narration department. The book is creepy and scary and mind-trippy and reminds me of the twitchy gratification of reading Stephen King as a teenager (with the lights on).

Podcasts

Celeritas

Magnesium Film

The creators of Celeritas (available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and others) bill it as a “cinematic podcast,” which doesn’t mean it’s about movies, but rather that listening to it feels as immersive as experiencing something with both sound and picture. And that description is correct. The narrative centers on an astronaut who pilots the first light-speed space flight, and ends up deep in the future after things go awry.

From episode one, Celeritas expands the possibilities of the aural medium, which you first notice in the thrilling and densely layered sound design. Then there’s the storytelling, which ditches the audiobook “once upon a time” formula for an approach that takes full advantage of radio-play dynamics. Instead of an astronaut on a space walk delivering exposition or narration to us, we instead hear him intersperse his communication with mission control with a message he records for his daughter as he takes care of mundane EVA procedures. The eighth of 12 planned episodes dropped in late November, and new episodes are released roughly every two months.

Flash Forward

Flash Forward

Initially called Meanwhile in the Future when it was launched back in 2015, Flash Forward (available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify and others) isn’t usually a sci-fi podcast but rather, one that takes a speculative notion – say, what if all the world’s volcanoes erupted at the same time? – and then talks with experts to try and answer the question.

It’s a fascinating show in its own right, but then in October of this year, 27 three- to six-minute episodes dropped all at once. They tell the story of Vanguard Estates, an AI-automated retirement home where “you” are deciding whether or not to leave your father. It’s a choose your own adventure podcast that cleverly brings up the increasingly entwined issues of aging, healthcare and robots. Afterwards, creator Rose Eveleth explores those issues in the usual Flash Forward style.

Escape Pod

Escape Artists

Throw a dart at any one of the 865 (and counting) episodes of Escape Pod (available on Apple Podcasts, Spotify, their website and more) and you’ll be transported elsewhere. Each weekly episode tells a new short sci-fi story, written by a roster of different writers and narrated by talented voice actors. The episodes range from around 20 minutes to an hour long and cover every sci-fi angle possible: cyberpunk, space exploration, time travel, post-apocalypse, AI and far more. It has amassed numerous awards for podcasting and short fiction and, while I wish each episode included a brief description to make it a little easier to pick and choose, grabbing an episode at random will rarely let you down.

'Avatar' sequel's cutting-edge tech crashed some movie projectors in Japan

Despite being the widest release of all time in Japan, Avatar: The Way of the Waterfailed to claim the top ranking last weekend as it was topped by an anime basketball picture called The First Slam Dunk. On top of that, multiple theaters in the nation reported technical problems, with one in central Japan forced to reduce the 48 fps frame rate down to the traditional 24 fps, Bloomberg reported. 

Fans were reportedly turned away from other screenings and issued refunds. Some of the theater chains cited by fans as having issues, including United Cinemas Co., Toho Col, and Tokyu Corp., declined to comment on the problem.

Not many movie theaters support high frame rate (HFR) 48 fps playback, as it requires the latest projectors or upgrades to existing ones. Normally, movie theaters would be aware of which formats they can play and plan accordingly. But HFR has been used so little that it would be understandable if errors cropped up. 

Avatar: The Way of the Water is available in multiple formats, including 2D 48 fps, 3D 48 fps and regular 24 fps. If you see the 48 fps version, it only uses the HFR tech for action sequences, while dialog and slower scenes are dialed down to 24 fps (by duplicating frames). Engadget's Devindra Hardawar saw the film at 48 fps and liked it, but added that the technology remains divisive.

Other notable films using HFR were Ang Lee's Gemini Man and The Hobbit trilogy. When the latter came out in 2012, I argued that high frame rates work best with the 3D format as it helps eliminate potential eye strain and even nausea. That's not an issue in 2D, so 24 fps gives the most natural look with none of the video game/soap opera effect that many people dislike.

'Death Stranding' will get a movie adaptation

Kojima Productions is working with LA-based Hammerstone Studios to develop a movie adaptation of Death Stranding. The 2019 action game already provides quite a cinematic experience with lengthy cut scenes and dramatic expositions, which is probably part of the reason why they aren't directly adapting its story into film. According to Variety, the movie will introduce new elements and characters into the Death Stranding world, so we will see something fresh at the very least, even if they don't create a brand new story for the big screen. 

The game is set in an apocalyptic version of the United States, where invisible creatures called "Beached Things" showed up and triggered nuclear bomb-like explosions. Death Stranding was a star-studded production, since Kojima chose to get known actors to play its characters. Norman Reedus portrayed Sam Porter Bridges, the game's protagonist that the player controls. The game also stars Mads Mikkelsen and Léa Seydoux and even uses the likeness of director Guillermo del Toro. It's unclear if any of the actors in the game will also appear in the film. 

Hideo Kojima will serve as the film's executive producer, along with Hammerstone co-founder Alex Lebovici. "We are thrilled and honored to have the opportunity to partner with brilliant and iconic Hideo Kojima on his first film adaptation," Lebovici said in a statement. "Unlike other big budget tentpole video game adaptations, this will be something far more intimate and grounded. Our goal is to redefine what a video game adaptation could be when you have creative and artistic freedom. This film will be an authentic ‘Hideo Kojima’ production."

This announcement comes after Kojima announced Death Stranding 2 at The Game Awards. The upcoming sequel is just as star-studded as the first game, with Norman Reedus reprising his role, Léa Seydoux coming back and Elle Fanning playing a character that still remains a mystery. 

'Avatar: The Way of Water' is the first great high frame rate movie

Avatar: The Way of Water is a triumph. As a sequel to the highest-grossing film ever, which was criticized for its formulaic story (and the surprisingly small ripple it had on pop culture), the new movie is a genuine surprise. It's a sweeping epic that reflects on the nature of families, our relationship to the natural world and humanity's endless thirst for violence and plunder. Fans of the original film often had to make excuses for writer and director James Cameron's stilted script, but that's no longer the case for The Way of Water, thanks to additional help from Amanda Silver and Rick Jaffa (who both worked on the recent criminally under-loved Planet of the Apes trilogy).

Perhaps most impressive, though, is that James Cameron has managed to craft the best high frame rate (HFR) movie yet. Certain scenes play back at 48 frames per second, giving them a smoother and more realistic sheen compared to the standard 24fps. That leads to 3D action scenes that feel incredibly immersive — at times HFR can make you forget that the lush alien wildlife on Pandora isn't real.

Fox/Disney

Unlike the handful of high frame rate movies we've already seen – The Hobbit trilogy, as well as Ang Lee's Gemini Man and Billy Lynn's Long Half-Time Walk – the Avatar sequel deploys the technology in a unique way. Rather than using HFR throughout the entire movie, Cameron relies on it for major action sequences, while slower dialog scenes appear as if they're running at 24fps. To do that, the entire film actually runs at 48fps, while the calmer scenes use doubled frames to trick your brain into seeing them at the typical theatrical frame rate.

If this sounds a bit confusing, your brain may have a similar reaction while watching the film. The Way of Water often jumps from hyper-real HFR to pseudo-24 fps in the same scene — at one point, I counted around a dozen switches in a few minutes. This is a strategy Cameron has been discussing for years. In 2016, he noted that HFR is "a tool, not a format," and later he rejected Ang Lee's attempt at using HFR for Gemini Man's entire runtime.

Cameron's dual-pronged approach to HFR is bound to be controversial. Even for someone who appreciates what the technology has to offer — pristine 3D action scenes with no blurring or strobing — it took me a while to get used to flipping between high frame rate and 24 fps footage. With Gemini Man, my brain got used to the hyper-reality of HFR within 15 minutes. In The Way of Water, I was almost keeping an eye out for when the footage changed.

Fox/Disney

Despite the distracting format changes, The Way of Water’s high frame rate footage ultimately worked for me. At times, the film appears to be a window into the world of Pandora, with breathtaking shots of lush forests and lush oceans. It makes all of Cameron’s creations, from enormous flying fish-like creatures that you can ride, to alien whales with advanced language, appear as if they’re living and breathing creatures. HFR also works in tandem with the sequel's more modern CG animation, making the Na'vi and their culture feel all the more real.

 Over the film’s three hour and twelve-minute runtime, I eventually managed to see what the director was aiming for, even if his ambition exceeded his grasp.  (Cameron, who has the world’s first [Avatar] and third-highest grossing films [Titanic] under his belt, and who dove into the Marianas Trench in a self-designed personal submarine, suggests you can use the bathroom anytime you want during The Way of Water. You’ll just catch up the next time you see it in theaters. Baller.)

The re-release of Avatar earlier this month also used a combination of HFR and traditional footage (in addition to brightening the picture and upscaling the film to 4K). But even though that revamp grossed over $70 million on its own, there hasn't been much discussion about how it integrated high frame rate footage. (I saw it on a Regal RPX screen, which offered 3D but no extra frames, sadly.) There's a better chance you'll be able to catch Avatar: The Way of Water exactly how Cameron intended. It'll be screening in 4K, HFR and 3D at all AMC Dolby Cinema locations and select IMAX theaters (single laser screens get everything, some dual-laser screens will only offer 2K 3D with HFR). While you could see it in 2D, why would you?

After suffering through the interminable Hobbit movies in HFR, I figured the technology was mostly a waste of time, yet another money-grab that Hollywood can use to pump up ticket prices. Director Peter Jackson struggled to recreate the magic of his Lord of the Rings trilogy, and amid production issues, he also failed to change the way he shot the Hobbit films to account for HFR. So that led to sets that looked like they were ripped from B-grade fantasy movies and costumes that seemingly came from a Spirit Halloween pop-up.

Ang Lee’s more studious attempts at using the technology, especially with the action scenes in Gemini Man, convinced me HFR still had some potential. But even he struggled along the way. Billy Lynn’s Long Half-Time Walk is a cinematic curiosity, where HFR makes slow dialog scenes appear too distractingly real. Gemini Man was cursed by a messy script and the need to be a big-budget Will Smith blockbuster.

Fox/Disney

Avatar: The Way of Water benefits from the creative failures of all of the earlier high frame rate films. For many, it’ll be their introduction to this technology, so it’ll be interesting to see how general audiences respond. Video games and hyper-real YouTube action footage have made 60fps footage far more common, so I could see younger audiences, those raised on hundreds of hours of Minecraft and Fortnite, vibing with Cameron’s vision. Everyone else will need more convincing. For me, though, I’m just glad there’s finally a high frame rate film that’s genuinely great, instead of just a technical exercise.