James Cameron has made some pretty incredible movies over the past 25 years, and Avatar will end up doing for movies what the iPod did for digital music.
Most of the 3D movies I’ve seen in years-past have been very gimmicky. The 3D is overbearing, and the directors seem to think it’s funny to break “The 4th wall.” Avatar is an entirely new approach to bringing 3D into films. Not only did they have to invent new technology to do the 3D film work, but the way that 3D was used in this film did a lot to enrich the experience. No gimmicks, no games.
The only way to see this film is in IMAX 3D. The use of 3D made the entire world of Pandora so much deeper and richer than anything I’ve seen before. It almost made you feel as though you were right there with the soldiers, the Na’vi, flying on the backs of the dragons, and trying not to get crushed by the construction equipment. It’s been quite a while since I’ve felt that immersed in a movie.
That being said, the story itself was fairly mediocre and predictable. If you compare the story of Avatar to the stories of Terminator (I & II), Aliens, The Abyss, Strange Days and Titanic, it just doesn’t compare. All of the other movies he’s written have either had deeper, richer story lines (Terminator, Titanic), have had better action (Aliens, The Abyss), or have been darker (Strange Days).
At one point, the film’s political message got so heavy-handed that my B.S. meter jumped the tracks and it actually pulled me back out of the movie. James, I didn’t come to see this movie so that you could preach to me, m’kay? But really, this is the same political message that was at the end of the special edition of The Abyss. On the other hand, the story line is still better that most Hollywood blockbusters or summer action flicks — I had just expected something better from James Cameron.
Bottom Line: A-minus.