After years, humans return to Pandora. Among them is Quaritch (Stephen Lang), the avatar of the Colonel killed in the last conflict, who knows only one goal: the death of Jake (Sam Worthington), who has meanwhile sought refuge with the sea people. Brilliant (underwater) landscape shots and fair-minded whaling criticism make this second Avatar film fly by.
Jake (Sam Worthington) and Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) live with the Omaticaya and now have a real family. Their sons will soon be able to take part in warrior training themselves. With Spider (Jack Champion), a human child lives with them, who has to wear a mask almost all the time. Kiri (Sigourney Weaver), Grace's daughter, has taken Spider to her heart. When humans unexpectedly return to Pandora, Jake immediately has a bad omen. But reality soon uncovers to be worse than expected, as aboard the spaceships there is a new group of Na'vi-human hybrid clones that have been cultivated, including a "descendant" of Colonel Quaritch. The new Quaritch (Stephen Lang) has the Colonel's memories and the blue body of the Na'vi. And his goal is revenge: he wants to wipe out Jake and accepts any collateral damage if needed. General Ardmore (Edie Falco), the new military ruler on Pandora, is fully in line with him.
As Jake comes to terms with Quaritch's goals, he makes a painful decision. He and his family leave the Omaticaya tree people and move to a faraway part of Pandora where water people live on a coral reef, seeking asylum. But he and his family are completely unprepared for the different way of life and have to learn how to deal with underwater nature, how to dive and how to adapt to the local animal flying and swimming partners. But a new danger unexpectedly appears: Since a high price is paid in the human homeland, "whalers" hunt down giant, peaceful and intelligent sea creatures and thus upset the balance of nature.
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Anyone who loved the first Avatar film because of its kitschy, colorful and visionary nature shots in often crystal-clear and stunning 3D optics will get exactly what they expect from this sequel. At the beginning again a potpourri of the most beautiful tree world elements, followed by beautiful underwater shots. At least a third of the film is spent watching some of the main characters dive through the reef with all its fish and other sea creatures. At least I couldn't get enough of these pictures and enjoyed every moment, every shot.
The filmmakers placed a second focus on the whale hunt scenario, in which the spectator is held up to a mirror by the character of the young Spider. You experience emotions ranging from amazement to distancing to disgust, although James Cameron deliberately went through this scene in all its depth of detail and to the bitter end in order to make a mark. Looking the other way (as usual for this topic) would be easy - but in this overly long film with its otherwise often wonderful visual values, the contrast of this heinous animal cruelty couldn’t be more effective.
A lot of times James Cameron deliberately played with his predecessor film and the viewer's memory: This is most obvious with the - otherwise completely unimportant - character of General Ardmore, who stands next to the pilot with the RDA coffee cup in hand, just as in the first part Colonel Quaritch. But there are many other details to discover, too.
The fact, that the story itself doesn't give much, is actually irrelevant. And let's be honest: father-son conflicts and revenge have always been good motives, which could carry whole star sagas. So why not here, too? In addition, James Cameron played it safe in the finale, and has reflected on his own film history. The level of suspense and dramaturgical course of action are as confident as usual, which also makes this part of the film good to watch.
When the opening credits start playing as the end credits, you should be fed up, but wonderful shots spoil the eye right up to the last tracking shot, so that you want to keep the 3D glasses on and continue diving through the reef.
The first Avatar movie started a 3D boom. The second impressively reminds us of how great perfectly staged 3D optics can be and raises the bar for other films. Let's just hope it gets done right this time and that we'll see more good 3D movies in the future (and just as many who prefer not to use 3D instead of doing it half-heartedly). Finally, the answer to a question that I was often asked right after attending the press screening: Yes, there are parallels between Avatar 1 and 2, and yes, the running time is long, but it definitely makes sense to watch both parts one after the other. However, this is not necessary to understand the second part.