"How many of you have ever wanted to go to another planet?" asked James Cameron, before having his eardrums burst by 6,000 people who knew they were seconds away from seeing the first ever public screening of Avatar footage.
"Are you ready to go to Pandora?"
Another roar went up. The lights went down. Total Film donned its 3D glasses. And about 15 minutes of Avatar footage proved that Jim Cameron's sci-fi epic is likely to be every bit as good as its hype. everyone.
Too real to be animation, never exactly docu-style, Cameron's film is unquestionably something entirely new.
The first thing we see is Stephen Lang's blood-hungry military man giving a briefing on the Na'vi and their home planet ("You're not in Kansas any more..."), while Sam Worthington's Jake listens from his wheelchair.
But most of the footage sees Worthington as his Na'vi Avatar. Feline, elongated and sporting a tail and a long ponytail, it's an incredibly expressive and utterly convincing creature.
Just as a arresting is Pandoran itself: packed with wildly imaginative life (corkscrew plants that whisk into the ground when touched) and fearsome beasts (including a hammer-headed dino-creature which Jake faces off against).
Each sequence just got more impressive. An explosive, helter-skelter chase between Jake and another dino-creature which showed off Cameron's no-limits camerawork.
Zoe Saldana's Na'vi Princess guiding Jake - with whom she shares a agreeably spiky chemistry - through a breathtaking luminious night-time world of forest fauna that glows and shimmers. Jake wrestling a pterodactyl-style creature before taking to the skies on its back.
And the 3D? Remarkable, deepening the immersion and subtly reaching out of the screen (arrows, gun barrels, foliage). We could go on. But you should be excited enough by now.
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