Question is how did it pan out in actual experience? The opinion about the movie can be neatly divided into two parts – about the technology and about the story
The technology is truly path breaking. Seeing it in 3D makes for an unforgettable experience. Cameron has built an immersive alien world that you feel an intimate part of, a few minutes into the movie. Its as if the greatest creation of science fiction writers, which has hitherto been in the mind only, has been rendered in full colour detail on screen. And this is a movie that has been made keeping 3D in mind. And when the action begins, you feel the thudding of the ground, feel overhead the scream of the giant birds as they dive bomb into you. Movies after Avatar would have work and their dollar cut out to surpass the standard set. The bar for now seems pretty steep.
About the story. The core of the story is pretty standard. The underdog fighting an impersonal military juggernaut. The ‘noble savage’, close to the soil, fighting wanton capitalists who only see the wealth under the ground and completely oblivious to the unity of spirit and energy that forms a life-system of these ‘savages’. Numerous stories, by science fiction or other fiction/non-fiction authors have been written on the same theme. Good over bad, nature over machines – Thoreau would have approved. It has themes that even half-baked activists of every hue would relate to – be it anti-militarists, environmentalists, anti-technologists, anti-imperialists, naturalists and many more
So, no, the story is nothing exciting. There are no stirring speeches either a la Braveheart (the one speech fell pretty flat!!) and the action sequence though brilliant was a tad short for the all the build-up prior to it. And the story or characterization was pretty shallow. You don’t really get to ‘know’ the characters, though considering the epic scale of the movie, that would have been really asking too much.
But the saving grace (and which was a big one) was that this simple theme and story was candy-wrapped in the most gorgeous setting you would have ever seen on screen and that itself almost stops you from looking closely at the shallowness of the story.
So is it for keeps? For me, not really. Without the 3D gogs, I would not want to watch it – the scenery would be too flat. And once the novelty wears off, the story or the acting would not be something I would find enjoyment in.