Absent from the big screen for over a decade now, Oscar-winning director James Cameron returns armed with a reported half-billion dollars, a story he’s been desperate to tell for 15 years, and the very latest in cutting-edge visual technology. The result is “Avatar,” a sanctimonious thud of a movie so infested with one-dimensional characters and PC clichés that not a single plot turn – small or large – surprises. I call it the “liberal tell,” where the early and obvious politics of the film gives away the entire story before the second act begins, and “Avatar” might be the sorriest example of this yet. For all the time and money and technology that went into its making, the thing that matters most – character and story – are strictly Afterschool Special.
What a crushing disappointment from one of our most original and imaginative filmmakers.
I can't say I share Nolte's disappointment because I wasn't expecting much from Avatar. 10 years is simply too long to be out of the creative game, whether you're a musician, a writer, or a block-buster film maker. As Nolte notes, the much ballyhooed 3d technology that was supposed to make Avatar a techno-wonder is completely unconvincing:
Visually “Avatar” doesn’t break any new ground. It looks like a big-budget animated film with a garish color palette right off a hippie’s tie dye shirt. Never for a moment did I believe the Na’vi or the world of Pandora was something organic or real. The fairly pointless use of 3-D certainly doesn’t help, but Steven Spielberg’s sixteen year-old dinosaurs are light years ahead of “Avatar” in the reality department.