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BRIAN VINER reviews Avatar: The Way of Water 

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Avatar: The Way of Water

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The world premiere of Avatar: The Way Of Water on the Odeon Leicester Square was predictably glamorous, with a luxurious blue carpet reasonably than a red one and the paparazzi clamouring for just yet another slinky pose from Sigourney Weaver.

Accustomed to an adoring public, the celebrities may even have thought that the distant ululating was for them, too.

Film: This sequel is tremendous fun, even bigger and better than the original, but by golly it will test your bladder: BRIAN VINER reviews Avatar: The Way of Water

Film: This sequel is tremendous fun, even greater and higher than the unique, but by golly it is going to test your bladder: BRIAN VINER reviews Avatar: The Way of Water

In reality it was jubilant Morocco fans nearby, wildly celebrating their country’s penalty shoot-out victory against Spain within the World Cup, and incredibly they were still at it once we all filed out into the cold greater than three hours later.

Yes, that is an insanely long film – but so was David Lean’s Lawrence Of Arabia, which director James Cameron cited as a significant influence on Avatar for its ‘good, old-fashioned, adolescent adventure storytelling’, and that was even longer.

Great movies can get away with inordinate length.

Review: James Cameron's sequel to his 2009 sci-fi blockbuster Avatar doesn't quite qualify as great, however, merely very good

Review: James Cameron’s sequel to his 2009 sci-fi blockbuster Avatar doesn’t quite qualify as great, nonetheless, merely superb

Cameron’s sequel to his 2009 sci-fi blockbuster Avatar doesn’t quite qualify as great, nonetheless – merely superb.

For starters, especially from behind a pair of 3D specs, it looks absolutely ravishing.

And the narrative is well inside everyone’s grasp of understanding, whether or not they saw the unique. The unwritten rule for sci-fi blockbusters is: the larger the budget, the more incomprehensible the plot.

Not this time, though. Child-friendly, and for that matter grandparent-friendly, Avatar 2 is mercifully easy to follow.

Positive: The unwritten rule for sci-fi blockbusters is: the bigger the budget, the more incomprehensible the plot. Not this time, though. Child-friendly, and for that matter grandparent-friendly, Avatar 2 is mercifully easy to follow

Positive: The unwritten rule for sci-fi blockbusters is: the larger the budget, the more incomprehensible the plot. Not this time, though. Child-friendly, and for that matter grandparent-friendly, Avatar 2 is mercifully easy to follow

Yet it will not be a movie for the ages, perhaps since it is tailored so fastidiously for our own age, with ecological and environmental messages that might not hit the audience any more forcefully in the event that they got here flying out of the screen at them, which in fact sometimes they seem to do.

We’re back on the exotic moon of Pandora, enough years after the story told in the primary film for Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) to have embedded himself as a fully-fledged member of the blue-skinned Na’vi tribe. He lives blissfully, deep within the forest, together with his partner Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and their healthful children.

But then, shattering the idyll, come the ‘sky people’ – invaders from Earth – led by General Frances Ardmore (Edie Falco, in a job that she surely never saw coming when she was having her nails done in suburban Latest Jersey, as Carmela in The Sopranos).

In the event that they are to show Pandora into their latest home they need to first ‘pacify the locals’ which implies capturing Sully, who’s spearheading the resistance.

Plot: With his adolescent sons keen to lend their muscle, Sully must lead the family out of harm's way, and duly seeks shelter with the Metkayina, Pandora's reef people, who live in joyful harmony with the maritime world

Plot: Along with his adolescent sons keen to lend their muscle, Sully must lead the family out of harm’s way, and duly seeks shelter with the Metkayina, Pandora’s reef people, who live in joyful harmony with the maritime world

That job goes to the fearsomely vengeful Quaritch (Stephen Lang), whose death in the primary film (like that of Sigourney Weaver’s Dr Grace Augustine) is a triviality easily sorted by Cameron and his co-writers Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver, who simply resurrect him as an avatar – normally a web-based representation, but on this case a cross-species transformation.

To make Quaritch a fair more formidable foe, he and his crack squad of troops arrive in Na’vi guise.

Along with his adolescent sons keen to lend their muscle, Sully must lead the family out of harm’s way, and duly seeks shelter with the Metkayina, Pandora’s reef individuals who live in joyful harmony with the maritime world.

This sets up essentially the most beguiling stretch of the movie because the Metkayina, led by their king (Cliff Curtis) and queen (Kate Winslet), introduce their forest-dwelling guests to their semi-aquatic lifestyle. Some underwater scenes are truly wondrous, and when Quaritch and his goons turn up and begin massacring sea creatures to lure Sully out of hiding, it’s genuinely shocking, like watching someone mug Sir David Attenborough.

But that, undoubtedly, is precisely Cameron’s intention. As with the primary film, he wants us to see beyond the blue skin and pointy ears and recognise the marauders, in a way, as avatars for the conquistadores and all white men who displaced indigenous people, seizing and defiling their land.

But he is way too shrewd a storyteller to let the message sully, pun intended, the entertainment. This sequel is tremendous fun, even greater and higher than the unique, but by golly it is going to test your bladder.

Avatar: The Way of Water opens on Friday in cinemas across the UK. 

Talent: Director James Cameron arrives at the world premiere of Avatar: The Way of Water in London last week

Talent: Director James Cameron arrives on the world premiere of Avatar: The Way of Water in London last week

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