So then there was the 12 year wait for "Avatar". No reviews, word of mouth, ticket price or natural disaster would keep me from the midnight IMAX 3D screening. I went with moderate expectations, which the film matched exactly. While this kept me from being disappointed it wasn't a good thing.
Movie fans were on edge because if "Avatar" flops, it'll mean the death of creativity in a remake-happy Hollywood. That's a valid concern but the problem is nothing in "Avatar" is creative whatsoever. It is literally "Dances with Wolves" in space, right down to having a "Wind in his Hair" character as a foil to the "new guy".
As the movie progressed it caused the worst of all bad reactions for me as a viewer - I started thinking about other things. Then I kept thinking "well the end battle is supposed to be awesome".
SPOILER WARNING! (if for some reason you can't guess how this movie ends) End battle comes and the movie switches from being "Dances with Wolves" to Disney's "Atlantis" (but that's unfair since both of those movies contained far, FAR better musical scores) Gunship windows that were impervious to arrows a few scenes ago (to show Na'vi desperation) suddenly become brittle and break easily (to show Na'vi heroism). The battle isn't nearly as long as you'd expect, and nowhere near as epic / engaging as the finale of Return of the King. Finally there's a Robo-suit vs Navi fight and it is admittedly pretty good. Unlike 95% of directors these days Cameron knows enough to pull the camera back and let us SEE the fight. However it's an odd choice to spend millions on 10 foot tall "creatures" and then rarely even have them in the same frame as humans.
And of course there's the obligatory scene where characters are dying in slow motion as Middle Eastern vocal music plays (see Gladiator or Munich) Wouldn't have been so bad if I hadn't said to my friend on the way there "How much you wanna bet there's a part where characters die in slow motion over Middle Eastern music?"
As with most movies these days "Avatar" is far too long, glossing over important details (why is Earth dying, what does Unobtainium do, etc) and instead spending time on flight scenes, mystic ceremonies, spirit trees and nature bonding.
Ultimately I just did not care. Since the dawn of cinema Hollywood recycles old ideas every few decades and slaps on a bigger budget / new stars / better effects so you won't notice. I can see re-doing "Ben Hur" with color and sound, but why do we need "Dances with Wolves" with 20 times the budget and blue Native Americans? No amount of impressive visuals, robo-suits, gunship battles, perfect character CGI or Sigorney Weaver can change the fact that I've seen this movie 100 times before. I could even accept the weak story if there were any characters to give a rat's ass about. This film is also dreadfully humorless, a stark contrast to "Titanic" where humor was one of its many surprises.
Regarding 3D... I've seen many films in it now and honestly you don't even notice after the few minutes. It doesn't make the money any better or worse, just more expensive.
Citizen Kane, The Robe, Sound of Music, Jaws, Star Wars, Batman, Toy Story, The Matrix... these movies changed movies. We can say that looking back now. "Avatar" saying it would ahead of time is pure hubris, "unsinkable Titanic"-like poppycock.
But if expensive motion-capture being used to cover up a weak, generic story is the future of cinema then count me out, I'll stick with my PS3.