This isn't a review. Really, it's not, I promise. These days you can't do much without getting someone's opinion on James Cameron's latest work. Whatever your opinion of Avatar is, you'll end up loving it in the coming years. The face of film is changing, and it's blue and furry.
Why do we like movies? Well, there are lots of reasons, but almost everybody likes a good story, good characters, and a chance to be so convinced by the action onscreen that we forget ourselves and get sucked in. Escapism! We know it and love it, but there a lot of barriers to keeping us there. Anytime a movie makes us stop and say, "What is that? That doesn't make any sense," we're done.
In other words, if people talk like people and the world doesn't act like Barbie's dreamhouse we'll probably be all right. But if your movie has aliens or monsters in it? That's a tall order. Puppets and CG have worked out alright, but they've always stood out and said, "This is a movie!" loud and clear from the silverscreen. We want to see movies to see a story that's different from our lives, something we've never seen or experienced before, and the stranger it is the better. But the stranger it is, the more work you have to do to keep us in the action. Why should you like Avatar even if you hated it? Avatar proves that not only can you create a convincing world totally unlike our own, but that there are new ways for us to experience it.
I've seen Avatar twice now (yeah, I love it, can't deny it) and each time I left thinking of my favorite worlds and characters that could finally be done on screen. We can make movies that aren't "just sci-fi" or "just a kid's movie". We can bring the fantastic to film and not worry about it looking cheesy or justifying how it works. Instead, we can make a movie around it. A good movie. Avatar has open doors for brand new films, with exciting technical features and a new attitude towards the unreal. So, in 5 years, when that movie you thought would never be made because "we just couldn't do it," say "Thank You" to Avatar.