Now to the 'what'. The story is mediocre. It reminded me of a sugary chick-flick called Titanic. Almost every plot point, turn and twist in Avatar is predictable. First generation Star Trek episodes were filled with plot lines such as these. Where Kirk & Co refused to tamper with planet natives but situations sometimes forced them to get involved. Very similar to one of those episodes, this movie's story involves Earth people invading planet Pandora for a piece of rock that sells for $20 Million back home. The director explores all the usual cliches of clear cut black and white heroes and villains. There are no shades of grey. There is a bold marine in a scientists boots and the movie brings out the contrast between his casual recklessness and their careful timidity. There is a falling in love part with a native, a conflict in mission, and finally an action showdown with a clear-cut villain - who is just a bad.
The dialogues (especially the ones by Army men) are just plain bad. That's the only part that reminded me of Star Wars. Some plot holes are too gaping. The natives aren't rally as scary as the initial war briefing made them out to be. The Na'vi, who like vedic rishis believe in a 'brahman' like life-force that pervades all beings, surprisingly take Scully into their confidence, train him, do upanayanam for him (twice-born) and finally get betrayed. There seems to be no scrutiny on him because he is the "chosen one". Cameron was once this bold director who employed, a forceful plot line, violence, unique characters and gave an incredible adrenalin rush to the viewer. You sat on the seat-edge wanting John Connor to live although you knew he will live. You get this edginess when Jake is on the loose and is being hunted down on his first night alone in the forest. But this feeling gets diluted over time. When the trees were attacked and natives killed, I did not feel anything for natives. The empathy was never established. Post Titanic, the effemination of Cameron is indisputable. Playing to the gallery of "Green" lovers is the last straw. "Green" has become a religion unto itself where people seem to appreciate anything around this as "noble". I now suspect that the favorable movie reviews for Avatar is colored by it.
The review might seem a tad negative probably because no movie can surpass the unbelievable expectation one has built up in mind for a Cameron movie. The unbelievable visual ecstasy this movie offers matches every expectation you may have built up. My father, while walking out of the movie hall mentioned that he felt transported into the world of Na'vi and wondered how movie technology had changed from 'parting of the nile' days. This is really true. You feel like one among them. The scene where Jake tames and adopts a flying-dragon thing is a fantastic scene. Avatar will thrill any teenager or child and fill their mind with endless imagination. Just feels like I was given dessert when I went in expecting a 3-course meal.