After Titanic came out in 1997, many film fans predicted that James Cameron would never be able to match it in terms of scale. But they clearly hadn't reckoned with the director's vision and dedication, and 12 years later he gave us Avatar, a nearly-three-hour, motion-capture, sci-fi opus that delved into all manner of ecological issues and even introduced a new language – that of the alien Na'vi race – to the world. Such was the lure of the movie, it went on to become the highest-grossing film of all time worldwide – overtaking Titanic – and more than a decade later it still holds that title.
Cameron always said he wanted to make several Avatar movies, and he's starting to fulfil that ambition. Not only is there a sequel coming out later this year, called Avatar: The Way of Water (in Cineworld cinemas from 16 December), the director claims that he's already got a third film wrapped and ready to go. Exciting stuff! Before any of that happens, though, the original movie is being re-released in Cineworld cinemas on 23 September. Cameron's 2009 blockbuster has been restored in stunning 4K HDR and will be shown in a number of different formats, including 4DX, IMAX and RealD 3D. In anticipation of the release, we thought we'd highlight some of our favourite moments from the movie, and why we reckon they'll be awesome on Cineworld's giant screens.
Arrival on Pandora
James Cameron described the making of Avatar as “a complete leap into the unknown. Like a jump off a cliff and madly fabricating a parachute on the way down.” And no doubt the crew of ISV Venture Star experience similar emotions as they descend towards the planet Pandora on a mission to mine the precious mineral unobtanium – which has been earmarked as a long-term replacement for Earth's depleted natural resources. The whole opening scene, from the 2001: A Space Odyssey-style shots of the ship drifting serenely through space, to the landing craft bearing down on Pandora's mist-covered mountains, is absolutely breathtaking and one that promises to look even more spectacular with the film's new 4K HDR restoration. We can't wait to see it in Cineworld's IMAX format, whose grand scale and jaw-dropping detail should really do justice to Cameron's vision.
A thanator attacks
Tasked with infiltrating and researching Pandora's native tribe, the Na'vi, as an avatar, the film's hero Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) must've known that it would be a difficult job. But any residue of doubt will have been wiped away by the appearance of a deadly thanator during his first field trip into the jungle. Like some kind of demon stegosaurus, this fearsome carnivore shows off its drooling fangs before relentlessly pursuing Jake as he scarpers through the undergrowth. Packed with heart-pounding suspense, this scene should be truly terrifying in 4DX, with your seat twisting and turning to mimic the deadly chase that's unfolding on the screen. By the way, if those monster sounds make you think of Jurassic Park, that's probably because they were lifted directly from Steven Spielberg's classic dino thriller.
Jake tames an ikran
In one of the film's most iconic scenes, Jake is forced to undertake a dangerous rite of passage, having to tame a mighty ikran – mountain banshee – in order to prove himself to the Na'vi people. Surrounded not only by winged predators but also sheer drops into oblivion, the newcomer must lasso his roaring prey before mounting it and steering it skywards across the ravine. As well as being a breathtaking achievement in special effects, the scene manages to elicit a wide range of emotions in the viewer, from terror to suspense and finally exhilaration as the warrior and his vanquished foe take flight. Whether you watch the new Avatar restoration in 4DX or IMAX, this frenetic five-minute sequence is going to blow you away.
The Tree of Souls
Of course, a scene doesn't have to contain all-out action to look incredible on the big screen, and the moment where Jake and his Na'vi squeeze Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) visit the Tree of Souls is a lesson in ethereal cinematography. Against a spectacular, luminous backdrop, the fledgling lovers watch wide-eyed as dozens of ghostly woodsprites fall from the tree around them, before gravitating towards Jake. For Neytiri, it's a sign that the goddess Eywa has accepted her new-found friend. But for the rest of us, it's simply a magical piece of cinema, and one that should look stunning in the new 4K HDR restoration. For an especially immersive experience, watch it in Cineworld's RealD 3D format, which will give you the feeling that you're right there in the jungle with the two young lovers.
The final battle
By the time Avatar came out, James Cameron had already delivered some of cinema's most memorable battle scenes in Aliens and the first two Terminator films, but his handling of Avatar's climactic tussle between Colonel Miles Quaritch's (Stephen Lang's) invading force and Pandora's heroic natives still took us by surprise. Monumental in its scale and vision, it's magnificently choreographed, with the primitive defenders – aided by a fleet of mountain banshees – giving as good as they get against the Earthlings' heavy artillery. Seen in Cineworld's 4DX format, the scene promises to be a real thrill ride, as movement, wind blasts and authentic aromas thrust you right into the heart of the action. But however you choose to watch it, it's sure to be utterly exhilarating.
The restored version of Avatar is being shown in Cineworld cinemas from 23 September. To book your tickets, click here. Which of our formats will you be watching it on? Let us know by tweeting us @cineworld.