I’ve heard it described as Dances with Aliens and that is a pretty good description, though I think Dances with Wolves had better character development. Avatar tells the story of a paraplegic soldier, Jake, who goes to the planet Pandora where evil corporate humans want to mine for a super-expensive, rare mineral, but the local population (Na’ vi) stands in the way. Jake is taking his dead brother’s place in a science program that infiltrates the Na’ vis by using avatars, earth people inhabiting Na’ vi bodies as they sleep in the lab. At first Jake is a gung-ho Marine ready to do his duty, but once he becomes a Na’ vi, falls in love with the head guy’s daughter and gets into their new agey lifestyle, he predictably decides to fight the power.
The movie is just one special effect piled on top of another and there are places that seem like gratuitous CGI to me, (“Look what I can do!”) not really adding anything to the story, but giving effects heads something to talk about. I saw the 3D version, but I’m not sure it makes all that much difference; with the exception of a couple of places there aren’t a lot of things that come out towards you. The alien world Cameron created here is beautiful and the reason to see the movie is entirely effects. There’s nothing special about the acting and the wall to wall music gets annoying. My 12 year old nephew told me he would not recommend it to his friends. I think that says a lot! It will no doubt make a lot of money around the world, but it isn’t worth the 2 hours and 40 minutes to me.