I'm too lazy to write something long and complete up for Avatar (plus, I strongly suspect I'll be buying the DVD when it comes out), but I wanted to at least write something. I saw the movie yesterday and really enjoyed it (although, again, probably not good for my hearing...). The visuals were gorgeous - I liked it all so much that I actually got teary-eyed when it was all being destroyed. There were times when it was easy to forget that the Na'vi weren't humans dressed up with prosthetics, the movements and facial expressions were that good. As a general lover of romantic stories, I loved the romantic storyline. One of my favorite parts was when Neytiri first got to see Jake in his real body and not his Na'vi body. Seriously, if someone hasn't already written romantic Na'vi fanfic, it's probably only a matter of time.
Now, let's say the movie hadn't looked as good as it did, and let's say I weren't a sucker for romance. The movie's basic story has been done before. One example would be Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough's Powers That Be. A damaged military-type person going to a strange new planet because he/she doesn't have much of a choice? Check. A planet where everything is connected and alive, threatened by people who just want to take what they view as its only riches and leave it a dead husk? Check. A main character who slowly learns the local ways, even as he/she is supposed to be betraying new friends, and ends up falling in love? Check. There may be more similarities that I haven't thought of, but you get the idea. I'm sure there are other books or movies out there that also share a lot of similarities with this movie. No, it's not exactly an original story. Also, with all the time what was spent on shots of the scenery, Jake learning stuff, and Jake and Neytiri being together, there wasn't time to give everything else the same attention, so some aspects suffered from that. Several of the military guys and the corporate guy were cardboard bad guys. Cardboard bad guys kind of annoy me.
Considering the time frame in which this was all supposed to be happening (a little more than three months for all of it, I think), some things were just unbelievable. Other than a bit of stumbling at first, Jake got used to an entirely new and differently proportioned body (with a tail and "hair" that can interface with almost anything on the planet) in a few minutes, maybe a few hours. For some unknown reason, Jake was allowed to be a guard for a sample-collecting research group despite the fact that he apparently had had no training on the planet's flora and fauna. When Jake is taken in by Neytiri's people, he manages to learn everything he needs to know, including how to speak their language fluently, in only three months. I'd have to see the movie a few more times to get a better idea of the language, but, at the very least, it seems to have a very different sentence structure than English, either Object Subject Verb or Object Verb Subject. Either way...he learned it in three months?!
And still, I enjoyed the movie. I only saw it in a regular movie theater - I'd probably go see it at an IMAX theater if the closest one weren't two hours away.