By Evelyn Ferguson, Reading Cinemas
Rating: 4 stars (out of 5)

It’s 2154 and the human race has drained Earth dry of all its resources and turned their sights to the stars to find the mythical Unobtanium (I kid you not). Sam Worthington (Terminator: Salvation) plays Jake Sully, a disabled ex-marine who takes his deceased twin brother’s place in the Avatar program on the planet of Pandora, home to the native Na’vi.

Because Pandora is universally known as the planet of “everything trying to kill you”, including the air, humans use genetically modified Na’vi bodies called Avatars that are controlled remotely by their human operators. As Sully’s body lies in a capsule, his mind is linked to his Na’vi avatar and he is able to explore the breathtakingly imagined world of Pandora. There, he meets Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana (Pirates of the Caribbean, Star Trek XI), who teaches him the Na’vi perspective on life and their relationship with nature.

Of course, peace was never meant to be and the Na’vi find themselves at the receiving end of a violent eviction notice from business boss Parker Selfridge and the resident blood knight, Colonel Miles Quaritch, a character potentially more monstrous than any of the creatures that inhabit Pandora.

When you watch James Cameron’s Avatar, you will have to keep reminding yourself that what you are watching is CGI. It’s so good you’ll forget it’s not real. It’s amazing, it’s breathtaking , it’s groundbreaking. Eyes are no longer hollow, skin is no longer rubbery and mouth movements match up with the lines. James Cameron’s seamless blend of live action and computer-generated imagery makes you forget what’s what.

The storyline of Avatar is not the most original thing under the sun (if you think along the lines of Dances With Wolves or The Last Samurai, you’re on the right track) but it is executed with such flair and inventiveness that you’re able to forget that you’re essentially watching a reboot of the American invasion of the wild west. This is eased somewhat by the solid group of actors, particularly Sigourney Weaver as Grace and Worthington.

Avatar is this decade’s Star Wars or Terminator; it has pushed the boundaries of special effects to the limit and raised the bar by which all future CGI and motion-capture movies will be measured. It is as original in its design as it is clichéd in its storytelling, but I can guarantee you will come out in awe.

Stand-out Performance: Sigourney Weaver, playing a no-nonsense woman of action in a James Cameron sci-fi… oh, wait.