I see on the poster to the left that the catch-phrase for Avatar is "Believe it, or not." I was reminded of the phrase used in connection Christopher Reeve's Superman: "You'll believe a man can fly." Okay, in both cases, I believed. Especially in Avatar. Not many minutes passed in the movie before I believed that Pandora was entirely real and that instead of watching a screen full of special effects, I was seeing the real thing. It's that good.
The movie's not without problems, especially in the storytelling. Cameron appears to have changed his mind about a potential conflict between two characters in the middle of filming and resolved it with a throwaway line, for example. So what? The story's just an excuse for the visuals, and I was swept away by them and let them carry me along.
SF fans will have fun pointing out all the influences: Poul Anderson's "Call Me Joe" is certainly there, and so is Clifford Simak's "Desertion' (a favorite of mine). Burroughs, for sure, and a dash of Le Guin, too. John Scalzi? Maybe. And then there are Dances with Wolves and FernGully. Again, so what? It doesn't matter when you're sitting enthralled in the theater. Avatar isn't a great film, but it's wonderful movie-making. You might even find out the old sense of wonder's not dead yet. I know I did.
I'll close this out with Seepy Benton's commentary on the film: "By the way, the word 'Na'vi' used in the film is also the Hebrew word for 'prophet.' It literally means 'mouthpiece' which is how a prophet was viewed in ancient times, as someone who became a mouthpiece or 'avatar' for God's voice. Also, 'Eywah,' the name of the diety of the Na'vi in the film, is an alternate pronunciation of the Hebrew 'Yahweh.' Recall that in Hebrew there are no vowels, and hence, you can take the same spelling for 'Yahweh' and pronounce it instead as 'Eywah' or Yaywah.' By the way, 'Yaywah' is also the most sacred name for God in the Cherokee language, and that name, too, was only pronounced by their priests. Of course, all of this information will be on the test next week."