“Avatar: The Way of Water” is here, and it’s already making a splash. A sequel to the most successful movie ever made, James Cameron’s blockbuster return to the planet of Pandora arrives 13 years after the original “Avatar.” Whether it reaches the financial highs of its predecessor–it reportedly needs to be the third or fourth highest grossing film in history just to break even–is still unclear, but one thing that’s crystal clear is how invested Cameron is in the film’s depths–literally.
This time around, audiences get a glimpse of Pandora’s oceans, which receive the amount of attention you’d expect from a man who has broken deep sea diving records. A man so obsessed with oceanic verisimilitude he had actors perform scenes in massive underwater tanks, which required teaching actors like Kate Winslet how to breathe underwater for up to seven minutes. But did all that work pay off? How realistic is Cameron’s depiction of an alien ocean? And does that even matter?
Brian Helmuth, a professor of marine and environmental sciences at Northeastern University, says it looks like Cameron pulled it off. “Cameron has spent a lot of time in the ocean, so I think he and his people have a really good sense of what the biological reality is,” Helmuth, a long-time “Avatar” fan, says.