It takes a lot for me to really like CGI ladened movies. I have to qualify that I am one of the few who hated the Star Wars numer-olgy series. I like animation cause it does not pretend to be anything but cartoons even with better CGI. I tolerate the Transformers cause its action, but it has no soul. I am not a keen sci-fi fan as well, except when it has a good heart, like Close Encounters of The Third Kind and Contact. I loved The Matrix series, it is SF, CGI and a very deep story to tell. Hence after all the hullabaloo over the $230m James Cameron spent on the movie Avatar, and taking more than a decade to make, I seriously wanted him to succeed since it obviously is a work of passion as he is filthy rich already from Titanic.
Cameron made sure the story is there first and foremost, and its a great story. Any great movie story teller, like Spielberg will know that you want the audience to identofy and empathise with the main characters, and Cameron does that very well. Both the real world and the world of Pandora moved in and out brilliantly. The CGI was outstanding, the details, the wings flapping, surrounding sounds and every yips and shrieks and rustle of leaves were there. The alien world was well thought out, and I especially loved the long ponytail which acts as a USB port of sorts - what a wonderful concept.
The movie is grand and ambitious and yet it touches on issues of mother nature, devastation, displacement, culture, belief systems, ... and yet making obvious statements such as "if we want what they have, they become our enemy". In that sense it is also a movie for our times, its a "green" movie in many ways. It more than entertain like a normal movie, the visuals leave you in awe... I can't wait to see in again in 3D and maybe even IMAX.
James Cameron has turned one man's dream of the movies into a trippy joy ride about the end of life -- our moviegoing life included -- as we know it.
-- Manohla Dargis, New York Times
Avatar is an entertainment to be not just seen but absorbed on a molecular level; it's as close to a full-body experience as we'll get until they invent the holo-suits. Cameron aims for sheer wonderment, and he delivers.
-- Ty Burr, Boston Globe
For all the grandeur and technical virtuosity of the mythical 3-D universe Cameron labored for years to perfect, his characters are one-dimensional, rarely saying anything unexpected. But for much of the movie, that hardly matters.
-- Claudia Puig, USA Today
James Cameron's Avatar is the most beautiful film I've seen in years.
-- David Denby, New Yorker
It extends the possibilities of what movies can do. Cameron's talent may just be as big as his dreams.
-- Peter Travers, Rolling Stone