Before I saw this, I was pointed to a lot of sites with reviews that compared this film to Battle for Terra. While I certainly see the similarities in the stories, to compare these two films is to compare the Williamsport champions to the Yankees. They both play baseball. They are both champs. But come on. Add in the fact that Terra was a blatant Pochahantas in space rip-off... and you have a lot of friendly reviewers out there (seriously, thanks to those who said Terra was actually better).
This film, in all aspects, is a wonder to behold. Terra was a small, clunky script. This story is well-developed and you really care for the characters (except Norm, who I hated and cheered for when he ate it). Everything that is set-up is paid off and Cameron pulls no punches. People we grow to like die. Plenty of them. And unlike George Lucas, Cameron can write dialogue. Even the requisite 'round up the troops' speech Jake Sully (Worthington) gives is pretty rousing.
I honestly don't know where to begin with talking about this. Visually, it may be the most striking film ever created to date. He's a master craftsman and his shot choices in this are equally top notch. Besides the technical aspects, Cameron's Pandora is a world I did not want to leave. It was so dense and so rich with detail I felt as if I had actually been there.
The acting is all pretty good. I've liked Worthington in everything I've seen him in, and Saldana is good as well - but they shine here. It's saying a lot when the worst actor in the picture is Sigourney Weaver. She felt wooden - like the actors in the latest Star Wars. Is this an age thing? Are these actors so used to traditional acting that they can't do it in front of a green screen? Are younger actors better prepared for this transition?
The Colonel was a little one-dimensional, but even still - it wasn't so much that it ruined the picture. A little motivation for his single minded hatred and desire for action or the destruction of the Naa'vi would have been nice. Cameron does save his ass with a line when they first unboard on Pandora - about how the marines here aren't soldiers with a purpose. They are now mercenaries... fighting wherever the money is the greatest. And right now it is on Pandora, mining for a special rock under the surface.
In somewhat short - go see this movie. But do not see it in 2D. Drive to a 3D theater and see it in all its glory. How anyone could watch this in 2D knowing it is out there in a mind-blowing 3D experience is amazing. It's well worth the extra 3 bucks and time in the car.
Hands down, my favorite film of the year. And now I make my end of the year (and end of the decade lists)...