Let me get this out of the way: go see this movie. It’s amazing.
Does it have an amazing story? Well…no, not really. It’s not ‘There Will Be Blood’ or ‘The Maltese Falcon’.
Does it have truly memorable characters? Again…no, I can’t say that it does. It’s no ‘The Big Lebowski’ or ‘No Country for Old Men’.
What it does have, though – in spades – is tremendous design and effects, which will certainly solidify it in the minds of film tech geeks and most sci-fi fans for all time. Think of the effects in Blade Runner (made in the early 80’s, remember) and The Lord of the Rings movies (the effects in Avatar were done by the same people that worked on the LoTR movies) and what they did for their time.
Unfortunately, the story and most of the characters were secondary to the filming technique and FX and that’s what will make or break Avatar in the minds of sci-fi geeks. Forgetting about the ‘zoom-enhance’ scene in Blade Runner, that movie had amazing design, FX, story and acting. The same can be said for The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
Don’t get me wrong, I loved loved loved this movie, but as a total package, on its own, it doesn’t stand up to most other single-movie sci-fi franchises.
I’m hoping for a fantastic DVD set, but I’d rather have sequels (which James Cameron said he would do if the first movie was successful) that more fully explain some of the underlying backstory and maybe more details of the planet, etc.