When I first heard about AVATAR I was not in hurry to see it but after reading all the buzz about it on the blogosphere, especially by Catholics> Again I saw a huge popular media event brought everyone out to defend or condemn the "religious" ramifications on our culture. Most of it you can read on Mark Shea's bolg.
I needed to judge it for my self. My feelings on not wanting to see this film were based on the fact that James Cameron does not make great movies. And my $10.00 could be used elsewhere. Yes, he makes visually stunning cinematic experiences but really is a second rate story teller. Seeing AVATAR did not change my opinion on that.
Anyone over sixteen years old could see the borrowed plot line (Pocahotas, Dances with Wolves, and even Ewoks vs. Strom troopers) and stereotypical characters. Cameron not only tells a shallow story sans sub text he telegraphs each upcoming event. There are never any surprises or plot twists in his films. A second or third viewing will add nothing to your understanding to the film or of the human condition. But. BUT it was absolutely, with out a doubt, the best visual candy I have eaten in a long time.
In this way he is not unlike Thomas Kinkade who creates an pretty imaginary world where the viewer would like to live and everyone is happy and at peace. It also seems that Cameron borrowed Kinkade's color palette. (the picture on this post is Kinkade's and not from the film). It is a pastel world without hard edges. Even when there is sudden and bruttal death in a Cameron movie it does not make your cheeks pouch together because it is all about the visual which is only 1% of reality.
You might wish you were one of his characters, (who wouldn't want to fly a giant lizard!) but you never get emotionally attached to his characters. Which I guess that is what escapism is all about. I have heard some say that the Na'vi are blue skinned to represent democrats no no it is that they needed to be pastel and green skin was to much of a cliché even for Cameron.
However casting Sigourney Weaver was a great joke. Even when we first she her she is coming out of the "box" and asks for a cigarette. Watch the first 10 minutes of ALIEN if you need a reminder. (OK, I was the only one in the theatre to laugh).
And really who believes the corporation is just going to give up and leave all that potential money. Can you say sequel? And yes I will go see the sequel and be dazzled for a few hours. I love circus side shows too.