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Avatar's James Cameron Knows Better Tech Doesn't Always Make A Better Movie

Throughout his decades-long career in Hollywood, James Cameron has earned a reputation for being one of the blockbuster realm's biggest risk-takers. Over the years, his go-for-broke approach has been the driving force behind some of cinema's most singular experiences. And yes, his films tend to hold their own and then some at the box office.

It's easy to argue that part of what makes Cameron's movies unique even in the context of his blockbuster contemporaries is the way he boldly, and often seamlessly, blends innovative special effects into his stories. So much so that the use of cinematic technologies has become as much a part of Cameron's career narrative alongside the list of terrific movies bearing his name. In fact, the Oscar-winning filmmaker has become so keen to utilize innovative gizmos in crafting his films that he's been known to put off tackling certain projects until the technology needed to tell the story properly is up to snuff.

That was just the case with Cameron's 2009 sci-fi spectacular "Avatar," which was pushed by nearly a decade for that very reason. And it remained true for his 2022 sequel, "Avatar: The Way of Water," which was extensively filmed underwater. But though Cameron loves to blend tech into his blockbuster tomes, even he understands better tech doesn't necessarily make for a better movie.

A good story is still the most vital part of the cinematic experience

Much has, of course, been made about the groundbreaking technology James Cameron used to shoot the film's breathtaking underwater sequences. And the filmmaker himself claimed during an interview with GQ that he and his team had to develop all manner of new technologies and techniques to bring the underwater world of "Avatar" sequel to life on screen.

Innovation aside, Cameron remains adamant that technology itself is only part of the equation in making a successful film. "Now does that [tech] make a better movie from an audience perspective? Absolutely not," Cameron said in an interview for the film's production notes (PDF via The Walt Disney Studios). He acknowledged his first order of business on any film is to ensure the tech is used in service of a good story because that's what audiences really care about. "The broader audience only cares about a story, the characters, and how the film makes them feel," Cameron added. "I keep that in mind first and foremost every single day."

Much of the tech the "Avatar" team developed for "The Way of Water" is so advanced, Cameron noted, it'll allow him to forge ahead on the franchise's future sequels without delay. "I don't feel there's anything that I need to say cinematically that I will not say across these four films," he said. And it should be fascinating to see how he utilizes such tech as the wild world of Pandora continues to expand.