Note: The following review originally ran on SciFi Squad, and is being reprinted tonight on Cinematical ahead of the film's theatrical release tomorrow.
The buzz and buzzkill leading up to Avatar, it turns out, found inadequate purchase now that the world has finally glimpsed the fabled film. The echo chamber of hype that believed it would drastically alter the landscape of filmmaking forever, the virulent, vitriolic cries of Dances with Smurfs, the total indifference...all misplaced.
You are not prepared for Avatar. Roll your eyes at that; laugh it off, you've heard that pitch before. It's not hyperbole, though, it's bald truth. Whether it's your most anticipated movie of the year or your least, it is not precisely what you think it is. How could it be? Avatar is a motion picture precedent, after all. It's fair to say that the core conflict is less than revolutionary and that parts of the narrative are broad, but those ills are scarcely symptomatic of James Cameron's ultimate goal. It's not about challenging the formula of Group X oppresses Group Y, who then fight back. Nor is it about only showcasing the bleeding edge technology that Cameron and company have invented and licensed over the last decade. Avatar is about transporting a viewer to the awe-inspiring alien world of Pandora and integrating them into its fantastic way of life for 150 minutes. That's the bullseye Cameron is aiming for, and that is the bullseye he obliterates.