Peter Travers only reviews one film in this week's At the Movies, but that one film might dictate how we see movies in the next decade and beyond: James Cameron's 3-D blockbuster Avatar. By now, thanks to a marketing campaign that probably cost almost as much as the $250 million film itself, you know Avatar's premise: A wheelchair-bound soldier, played by Sam Worthington, takes on the avatar of the blue-skinned Na'vi (the creatures who live on the alien moon of Pandora) in an effort to help infiltrate Pandora and secure a mineral the Earth requires for survival. Soon, however, Worthington's Jake Sully finds himself falling in love with Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana, and siding with the Na'vi in their fight against humans.
Cameron has spent the better part of the decade since Titanic working on the technological elements of Avatar, and while the film exceeds all expectations visually, there are aspects of the script that seem like they were written in 15 minutes. The dialogue is littered with hokey military talk, the plot itself seems undercooked and heavy-handed, but this isn't Transformers 2. Cameron has created a world that no one has ever seen before, employing a 3-D technology that could ensure movie theaters will forever be filled in the age of Blu-ray and HD.
The film is also hypocritical in a sense: While Avatar's message is one of peace, the best parts of the film are the battle sequences, including the stunning final fight that will leave audiences amazed. There's also a parable to our social networking society that doesn't exactly hit its target. However, Avatar is a cinematic event, one that only the director of Titanic can bring us, and an experience that everyone should witness on the big screen.