I got back from finally watching Avatar about 4 hours ago and I'm finally to the point where my screed against the movie will be fairly succinct rather than a multi-page bilefest.
I'm not going to complain about the "Pocahontas/Dances With Wolves" story, but I'll try to be tot he point since I'm sure everyone has read scores of rants and raves about Avatar by now and I don't want to subject you to any more if you don't to.
One little thing first: I'm also mad I went against my better judgment and watched the film in 3D. To me 3D It always takes an hour of crap swooping out at me before actually don't notice and can really get into the story.
Anyway, the one big thing that pisses me off about Avatar is that I see the potential for a really cool story in there that was cast aside for a poorly done version of the "don't kill the trees/American Imperialism" morality tale I've seen countless times before.
The main plot point of Avatar is this concept of putting someone in another body. Given how people more and more are living their lives through machines and online programs I personally can't think of a better allegory to explore our modern world through storytelling. And here's a movie that takes it one step further by putting people in the bodies of another species that they're in conflict with.
This raised up a lot of questions I would have loved to seen answered in the film. What is it like to be in another body? What is it like to literally see the world through someone else's eyes? What is is like to fall in love with someone who's in many ways not real?
The story points are all there. The big mech suits are essentially avatars. The way when one body is awake the other is basically in a coma. Jake initial motivation for spying on the Navi is so he can walk again, even though he can already walk in his Navi body. It's just that all of that stuff is glossed over in favor of Indian Wars/Vietnam symbolism.
It's like James Cameron found a cool story, but pointed his camera in the wrong direction.
As much as I hate to say it, I do feel like I've got that bullshit post-Avatar depression people have talked about. But not because I'm sad I don't actually live in a world full of technicolor dragons and floating rocks. I'm sad because for better or worse, Avatar was a once-in-a-lifetime moment in filmmaking and it was spent making the wrong movie. And now the movie I wanted to see can't be made.