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

But the HFR technology remains divisive.

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.

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Image Credit: Fox/Disney

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