Sorry, folks, but this poor slob just saw it and now I see what all the fuss is about.
Yup--it IS terrific. Amazing, amazing world building. The Na'vi are gorgeous (yes, they're blue, but they're TALL and THIN!!), their world, Pandora, is beautiful, and the fantasy engrossing.
Maybe a little too engrossing.
You know the saying--how do we keep 'em down on the farm after they've seen Paree?
Just sub Pandora for Paree and you'll get my drift.
According to the London Daily Mail's online site, some viewers are having trouble coping with the real world after experiencing James Cameron's virtual one. For example, on the Avatar Forums site you can choose from hundreds of responses to the thread "Ways to cope with the depression of the dream of Pandora being intangible."
Fans on other sites use words like "grey" and "meaningless" to describe the world we live in as compared to Pandora. One fan even thought suicide would be viable--if s/he could be assured of rebirth on Pandora. And one poster on the Naviblu site wants you to join him in forming his own Na'vi tribe.
Come on, guys, let's get real.
I confess I felt a bit like an avatar myself after watching the movie. In fact the entire moviegoing experience is very much like that--your body is in this world but the rest of you--mind and spirit--is submerged in the world of the film. I felt this way after seeing War of the Worlds as well as after Avatar. But, trust me, I didn't want to be reborn into the former.
As for the other critiques of the film? Yeah, the military gets short shrift. Talk about stereotypes. Then again, if Cameron had cast a subtler actor (or directed a more subtle performance) that might have been undercut. Stephen Lang, who plays the leader of the Marine security force protecting the work of the evil corporation out to destroy Pandora, does not know the meaning of nuanced.
On the other hand, I'm doing research for a new book, and after reading Peter Maas's Crude World--a book about the violent world of oil extraction--what happens on Pandora IS as real as it gets. I just wish Cameron had made the corporate stooge as prominent a villain as the soldier.
The racial issue is obvious, though I see it more as a take on first world vs third world conflict. The Chinese are just as rapacious in places like Sudan as we and other European powers are. Avatar's 'savior' may be white-skinned, but what really matters is he's a representative of the larger, more sophisticated power. We may wish for the indigenous population to "save themselves," but if you look at what actually happens on Earth, the locals enrich themselves at the expense of their own people far more than they save them. Just look at Nigeria.
No wonder everyone wants to escape to Pandora.