Avatar is a pretty amazing flick. The graphics are beautiful, the acting fairly decent and believable enough to not think, "Wow. That's some pretty bad acting." Action scenes are a-MAY-zing. Story line? A little predictable, but I found that I didn't mind that. But I know some people might. The movie is a bit clean-looking, like many sci-fi and space movies are. District 9 is a good contrast; very gritty and heavy handed. But this isn't about District 9. The claims that it have revolutionized the way future movies have been made? I can't say for certain, but it will definitely be a hard pill to swallow if future computer generation images aren't as well executed or realistic.
The first time I saw Avatar was in IMAX 3-D and I can say with certainty that made me absolutely love it. Sheer escapism done exquisitely. The movie implemented a few shots of traditional 3-D tricks, such as an arrow pointing straight at the audience, and when the main character Jake Sully is running for the first time in his avatar (he is a parapalegic Marine embarking on this adventure), dirt is kicked up and seems to fly directly into your face. But those shots are well implemented and not over done in the slightest. Instead of having multiple things coming at my face, it made me feel more like I was experiencing the world with Jake instead of observing it like on a traditional flat movie screen. When Jake is in the jungle running, I found myself moving my head to avoid the leaves, but they weren't blocking me from seeing anything. As an outdoorsy person, I appreciated the sensation and really enjoyed that high a degree of realism. If you can call ten foot tall aliens and their surrounding world real, that is. The one element in the movie that destroyed my suspension of disbelief was the mineral that the humans were going after: 'unobtanium'. Wow. Subtle, isn't it? And the message the movie is sending is one that many movies are using now, such as Wall-E.
I would give it out of , because it is a beautiful film that allows you to forget yourself and the visuals are stunning. The story is formulaic and average; think Dances with Wolves, but with blue aliens instead. 'Unobtainum' seems like a slap of, "Oh crud! We forgot to name the metal!" "How about 'unobtanium'?" "Sounds good, we'll keep it!". Very last minute and not thought about. But being placed in the world, instead of watching it, more than made up for it. Experiencing the world made the joyful parts of the movie feel like your heart was soaring, while the sad parts were completely heart wrenching. And the satisfying feeling at the end? Incredible, because you feel full of hope.
So if you want a bit of pure escapism, see Avatar and do yourself a favor: see it in 3-D. Flat screen will still be good, but the 3-D offers much more. If you don't like such cut and dry stories, it might be a little hard to stomach. But if you can forgive mediocre story lines and have an open mind, Avatar will reward you in ways you could hardly imagine.