Christmas Eve afternoon, we went to see "Avatar."
To answer your first question: No, I did not see the film in 3D. (Note to Fandango: Tell me I have this option next time!)
"Avatar" is a complex film. It has many aspects, most of which I found appealing -- but others that require more consideration.
Directed by James Cameron of "Titantic" fame, "Avatar" is the story of a former U.S. marine (played by Sam Worthington) who goes to another planet to work for a private company that wants to mine a valuable substance from underneath the gigantic "home tree" of a native group on that planet.
The private company has a hired military unit (seemingly all Americans) as well as a team of scientists led by a character portrayed by the amazing Sigourney Weaver. The scientists have developed a program in which their brains control "avatars" that look like members of the "tribe."
That's sufficient background. You can guess what happens. "Avatar" really is "Dances with Wolves in Spaa-aace" combined with a "Titantic"-like romance and great battle scenes.
Did I mention the politics? "Avatar" deals with oppression of native peoples, blatant environmental destruction in the name of capitalism, racial transformation and maybe more.
Religion, too. The "tribe" has a developed belief system, sacred spaces and "prayer" methods. (It's a "connected to the energy of the forest" kind of thing.)
I loved "Avatar" for its effects, which are brilliant and engrossing. This is a beautiful movie to watch.
I enjoyed the romance, too. Cameron isn't the most subtle of directors -- but he knows how to make you care about his young romantic leads as they face unspeakable horrors.
And, the politics and religion? I need to see the movie again before commenting on these. There's more at issue than I can adequately address in this space. (I'll concede I did tear up when the massive bulldozers entered the tribe's sacred space.)
I did take note that the "bad guys" in this movie are quite clearly Americans (and marines!). When did we become the bad guys?! English-speaking bad guys are supposed to dress like Nazis and speak like Brits. (See: "Star Wars.")
I would not be surprised to see "Avatar" nominated for the Academy Award for Best Picture. And, if enough Academy voters prefer it to "Precious," "Inglorious Basterds" and a few other '09 flicks, it could take home the Oscar.
As of this writing, "Avatar" has an 83 percent rating at Rotten Tomatoes. It's deserved.
Over at YouTube, this young man says "Avatar" is the "Star Wars of my generation."