Oscar-winner James Cameron is a living god among directors and an unparalleled expert at underwater cinematic storytelling. So, of course, he’s going to have some complicated feelings about Aquaman.
The Abyss and Titanic director was asked by Yahoo about the James Wan hit and he seems to try to praise Aquaman while also being candid about how the movie is one that he would never make given his dedication to engineering realism.
“I think its great fun,” Cameron says. “I think its a movie I could have never made. Truthfully. I could have never made that film because it requires this total dreamlike disconnect from any sense of physics or reality. It exists somewhere between a Greek mythic landscape and a fairy tale landscape. And people just kind of zoom around underwater because … they propel themselves mentally? I guess? I don’t know. But it’s cool. You buy it on its own terms. But I’ve spent thousands of hours underwater. I’m very literal about my underwater. It needs to look like it’s real. And while I can enjoy that film I don’t resonate with it because it doesn’t look real.”
Cameron continued: “And by the way, [Aquaman] doesn’t help us with our issues of actually understanding the ocean and exploring the ocean and preserving the ocean — though they did throw in a couple things like whales and things like that to remind us we are using the ocean as a garbage dump, so I applaud the film for that. Yeah, I couldn’t have made that movie. We’re doing a lot of underwater in the Avatar sequels and it’s going to have such a different feel.”
Aquaman shot its underwater scenes on a sound stage and then added water effects in post-production with computer effects. For the Avatar sequels, Cameron pioneered a never-before-seen technique that allowed him to do motion-capture filmmaking underwater.
EW asked Aquaman director Wan months ago if he had competitive feelings about the Avatar movies doing actual underwater photography and he gave a humble reply. “If anything, I think [what Cameron is doing is] amazing,” Wan said. “Rule No. 1 is don’t ever compete with James Cameron. He’s in a whole different game of his own. And No. 2, our movie is such a different-looking film.”
Cameron previously played himself as the director of a fictional Aquaman movie in the HBO series Entourage.
Aquaman and the Cameron-produced Alita: Battle Angel were originally supposed to open head-to-head at the box office in December but Alita was pushed to this weekend where it’s expected to have a modest U.S. debut.