If you've seen any of James Cameron's work - Aliens, Terminator 1 and 2, The Abyss, Titanic to name a few – you'd expect revolutionary film-making, grandiose new ideas, never-before-seen special effects... and in Avatar, you get it in droves for nearly three hours! Hey, for US$300-million, you'd be a bit pissed if you DIDN'T get all that and more! From now on, Avatar will be the yardstick for any movie with a high level of computerised art. It was extraordinary, the 3D effects drawing you into a different world which became 'real' so quickly and easily.
The storyline was pretty simple and formulaic: two opposing forces clash, bad guys with muscle, good guys with heart, a baddie falls in love with a good gal and joins the good side...and the goodies just scrape in before the credits roll! It's been done many times – Dances With Wolves is an obvious example. That doesn't make it bad...but I expected more after all the hype. However I was carried along by the astounding effects and wasn't overly aware of my plot dissatisfaction until it was over. (The NY Times has an interesting article about turncoats who become heroes.)
If you want a very impressive visual escape with no brain-strain, Avatar is it and, as it's rocketed past Titanic at the box office, I won't be surprised if there's a sequel.
Just remember when you return to reality...beware of PAD – that's Post Avatar Depression! No joke...