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After a 13-year hiatus this falls short of being the masterpiece that some may have been hoping for – but deserves immense praise for being arguably the greatest spectacle in movie history.

And if the narrative was ‘tauter’ – and therefore the running time ‘trimmed’ accordingly – it could have been a classic.

As it stands, director James Cameron’s highly-anticipated sequel still solidly impresses, to come in at about a similar standard as – or maybe even a ‘shade under’ – the 2009 original.

But boy, the WETA FX technology used for blending underwater filming and performance capture – which took Cameron and his team 18 months to develop before shooting began – is worth the admission price alone.

Which at the very least makes this without doubt one of the most breathtaking visual achievements to ever adorn the big screen.

Despite that though, the storyline is a surprisingly linear – if more than serviceable – affair, with some recycled plotlines which leads to an unnecessarily bloated storyline which portrays Cameron’s more arrogant side. Three hours and 12 minutes? With some better editing this could – and should – have been two and a half, maybe two hours and 40 minutes. Tops.

Said story sees Sam Worthington’s dread-locked Chief of the Omaticaya tribe, Jake Sully, now settled on the alien world of Pandora with his mate Neytiri (Zoe Saldana), who only seems to have two states of mind, heavily emotional or borderline psychotic.

They have four children – eldest son Neteyam (James Flatters), second son Lo’ak (Britain Dalton), adopted teenager daughter Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), and youngest daughter Tuk (Trinity Jo-Li Bliss) – who are all learning the ways of the Na’vi. They also have another surrogate family member in the form of Jack Champion’s human Spider – the teenage son of the original’s main antagonist Colonel Miles Quaritch – who was born on the planet and was unable to return to Earth in cryostasis due to his young age.

But alas – and quite predictably – after more than a decade, humans have returned to prepare Pandora for colonisation to resource its vital materials with Earth dying... and

the battle between Sully and Quaritch recommences.

That’s because the latter (played once again by Stephen Lang) is the leader of a new group of Na’vi DNA-spliced marines – known as Recombinants – who are avatars with the minds and memories of the deceased soldiers from the first film.

And when this puts his family in danger, Sully decides to exile his clan and retreat to the reef people of Metkayina on the planet’s multi-islands eastern seaboard, where they are given shelter by Chief Tonowari (Cliff Curtis) and cynical pregnant wife Ronal (Cameron’s Titanic star Kate Winslet), whose children befriend – and ‘butt heads’ – with Sully’s.

And swapping their usual forest-setting for this water-laden basin isn’t going to be quite as easy as they thought. Even though Kiri takes to it literally like a ‘duck to water’ and Lo’ak befriends Payakan, a member of a whale-like species known as Tulkun – who coincidentally also have brain enzymes for anti-ageing remedies that the humans desire.

This eventually leads to the inevitable conflict in which there’s multiple kidnappings – how many times the kids’ get tied to railings reaches a dizzying amount – and re-hashed (although mightily impressive) combat scenes as the Recombinants look to take out Sully for good.

Fortunately doing this to the background of such luscious imagery detracts away from the plotline being ultimately paint-by-numbers fare, as Cameron fails to capture some of the script ‘magic’ he has in previous films such as Terminator 2: Judgement Day, Aliens and Titanic, to name a few.

But Avatar is a completely different ‘kettle-of-fish’ as it’s currently more immersive spectacle over narrative substance – with Cameron promising further character and Pandora-scaling story arcs in forthcoming entries.

Which makes this a worthy sequel that leaves the appetite whetted for more – simply by the way it manipulates the water.

ESP Rating: 4/5

Gavin Miller

Showcase Cinema De Lux Peterborough, Out Now

Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Britain Dalton, Sigourney Weaver, Jack Champion, Cliff Curtis, Kate Winslet, James Flatters, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Bailey Bass, Edie Falco & Giovanni Ribisi

Running Time: 3 Hrs 12 Mins

Director: James Cameron

Go to for all the latest film information & showtimes at Peterborough’s Showcase Cinema De Lux


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