WHAT I LIKED: James Cameron's 'Avatar,' is primarily remembered for being a visual spectacle that broke ground with its 3D technology and visual effects. But what's most engaging about the film is its colonisation story about one particular coloniser slowly coming to realise that he's a pawn in an evil game that needs to be taken down.
As we gather from the reams of exposition in the script, it specifically follows a corporate Western organisation grappling with the planet of Pandora's indigenous population when attempting to mine their resources. Marine Jake (Sam Worthington) joins a team of scientists who are attempting to convince the tribe from the inside by blue-body-swapping and integrating themselves, but he inevitably falls in love with local girl Neytiri (Zoe Saldana) and ends up going against his corporate masters and fighting back.
That's both thought-provoking and engaging to watch, particularly when the might of the colonising corporation is realised so well against the natural beauty of Pandora.
WHAT I DIDN'T LIKE: It's certainly not a film that plays its cards close to its chest. Dialogue spells everything out to the extent that you know exactly what's going to happen after the first few scenes, and that removes any sense of intrigue or suspense.
That's not inherently a problem - plenty of truly great films are just the same - it just becomes more noticeable when the film spends so much of its time making the same points over and over. Jake looks amazed at some new thing, then returns to his real body and corporate base to increasingly evil-sounding orders from his bosses. That goes on for a good couple of hours until the final-act showdown, and the camera spends very little time observing the jeopardy, awe or frustration on his face, and instead spends its time sweeping around the admirable effects which quickly diminish in their awe and impressiveness after a while.
VERDICT: An engaging and thought-provoking story delivered with an extremely heavy hand, James Cameron's 'Avatar,' is neither worthy of its legendary status, nor the contrarian hatred so often aimed its way.