Good entertainment comes from originality. As I’m fond of saying, many of us go to movies, not to see things we’ve seen or heard before, but to experience something new, whether it’s a new story, a new joke, or a new effect. The buzz surrounding Avatar is about the spectacular new visuals in this movie, and trust me, those visuals are stunning. The visuals are so stunning that they are enough to distract the viewer from a storyline and characterizations that we’ve seen before in numerous different films.
Many comparisons have been made to Dances With Wolves and Ferngully. But the movie shares so many plot points with another science fiction movie that did not get that much buzz: Star Trek: Insurrection. The similarities between Avatar and Insurrection are so numerous that it made the storyline of the movie very predictable.
One of the things that distracted me was the intentional parallel between the Na’Vi and the American Indians. Part of me was filling in dialogue (Movie: "This is unobtainium…" Me: "…which the natives call maize...") because otherwise, I would have just been annoyed at the whole “noble savage” concept. All the boxes were checked: living in harmony with the land? Check. Thanking the animals that they killed? Check. Expert tracking? Check. Not only that, but the voice actors cast as the Na’Vi are all non-white actors, while all the villainous invaders are white. Historically accurate? Perhaps, but it’s not original.
That being said, the movie features enough action, and stunning visuals to make you forgive most of that. The 3D is used to add a sense of height and depth necessary to convey the sheer scale of the environment that makes the aerial sequences all the more thrilling. While the story and characters are pretty much stock, the dialogue and acting make the movie fun to watch. It is a testament to Cameron’s skill as a director that the movie does not feel as long as it is. Avatar is a movie that is worth seeing; you will have a good time.