As it clocks in at three hours and 12 minutes, only the foolhardy would take a seat while sucking down one of those cinema-sized vats of fizzy pop. But when the action moves to a new watery outpost of the planet Pandora, the gorgeous alien vistas should pin everyone to their seats.
As with the original, the story isn’t the main draw. Sam Worthington’s injured soldier Jake Sully is now perfectly at home in his avatar body and deliriously happy with his 10fttall blue wife (Zoe Saldaña).
Since the last film, they’ve been living an idyllic life as leaders of their Na’vi tribe and loving parents to four kids, three of them teens.
There’s also Spider ( Jack Champion), a dreadlocked white human boy who hangs around with the family like an aimless gap-year student.
Then warlike Earthlings arrive, intent on colonising the planet. With the mind of Colonel
Quaritch (Stephen Lang) now implanted in the avatar of an alien assassin, the Sullys seek sanctuary in a remote island realm inhabited by their amphibious cousins, the Metkayina, who are ruled by Kate Winslet’s matriarch.
As in the first film, Cameron wows us with 3D introductions to the world’s fantastical creatures, including the skittish ilu which the Metkayina ride under the waves.
This watery world is immersive but the high frame rate – double the norm at 48 frames per second – can break the spell.
Sequences featuring the human boy look jarringly hyper-real.
Although the effects aren’t as groundbreaking as in the original, Avatar 2 is still a spectacular blockbuster powered by thrilling action scenes.
Hopefully, the next three sequels will have more heart, a shorter running time and a lower frame rate.