Let’s get the negatives out of the way first. The movie pits good against evil in a tired old storyline that has less subtlety than a spaghetti western. The postcolonial spin on the tale is that here the indigenous people are so exotic and pure they can make you cringe—especially their religious rituals, which are about as complex as “Kumbayah.”
But I forgive these foibles for what the movie does so well. It’s simply beautiful. Breathtaking. Stunning. Especially if you see it in 3-D. (Don’t even consider anything else.) The natural world of the movie is a cornucopia of delights painted in lush greens, pinks, blues, and golds. Someone—lots of someones—had fun designing it. I loved the magical effects dancing in 3-D just over the heads of the people in front of me. I adored leaping through the forest and flying through the air on the backs of winged creatures—movement as joyous for viewers as for the paraplegic main character. The buzz is that Cameron’s technical creativity will change movie making forever.