We went to see Avatar in 3D this morning. I was completely blown away - not only by the 3D animation, but by the story too.
Firstly, the technology. I have seen 3D movies etc before, including at the Pompeii exhibition last week and in various incarnations over the years. The shorts at the beginning of the movie (for the wonderful-looking Tim Burton version of Alice in Wonderland and some other stuff) looked very flat, with layers at different levels. However, Avatar was different. It was rounded, with true depth. It drew you in and made the story seem more believable.
The story itself was not a new one. Earth people raping a pristine world for some kind of commodity that they want and destroying an entire way of life in the process, while one of their own is drawn into that way of life and eventually becomes one of the indigenous people. The twist in the tale was that the indigenous people fought back and eventually forced the "sky people" to leave.
What astonished me was the beauty of the world of Pandora that Weta Workshops created for James Cameron, including a glorious use of phosphorescence in the night-time appearance of the forest and a lovely selection of quite incredible creatures. The culture of the Na'vi people was well-thought out and felt believeable, including a flourishing panantheistic religion. The religious ceremonies that were shown were beautifully done and felt to me a lot like a combination of North American Indian and South Pacific - but it was definitely true to the story. And for the romantics, there's a love interest, for the adventure freaks there's plenty of that, and for the action heroes, well, there's a whole lot of that going on too.
My feeling? Go see it. My poor words are not enough to describe this film.