Martyn Perry’s review published on Letterboxd:
It's a rehash of FernGully, it's giant Smurfs! It's Pocahontas in space!
To be fair, I don't really care much for the criticisms made against the film (plus it helps I've never seen any of the comparison movies). What I care for is this:
Entertainment. This film makes 150minutes feel like 90. I know it's boring for some, but not me. Discovering a brand new and original world through the main character is a well tried and successful method of movie making (MIB, Matrix). This is a new universe, a new world, lets make the main character completely clueless so that we can fill the script with exposition and the audience won't care (it worked for me). Going down the rabbit hole with Jake Sulley and being thoroughly entertained in the process is what this film sets out to do, it succeeds. I'm genuinely interested as we learn about what Pandora has to offer, the creatures and the formalities of the culture. This web-cam, video blog, this montage style for training lessons, it may be lazy, but it works. It keeps the pace snappy but also successfully introduces the audience to all Pandora has to offer. All too often in sci-fi movies, by the time things start getting blown to shit you're still not to sure why, or if you should even care. Avatar - if nothing else - certainly doesn't make this mistake.
This film isn't just visuals. It's not just the best CGI you've ever seen. Or the best 3D you've ever witnessed. This film is discovery. It's action. It's spectacle.
Cameron nails it for me. In this movie he's managed to make me enjoy my time in Pandora, to care about the history of this new world and be thoroughly invested in the outcome when the mammoth climactic battle begins.
Worthington, Weaver, Lang and especially Ribisi all put in some great performances and carry the story with ease. Sure it's clumsy in places (unobtainium!?) and yes it hits the cliche count ("if hell exists you may want to go there for some r'n'r after a term on Pandora") but who cares? It's one hell of a spectacle, an undoubted achievement, and I'm looking forward to see if Cameron can now go forward with two good screenplays to make back to back returns to Pandora worthwhile in 2014 and 2015.
Who knows, I may have just witnessed the weakest link in a whole new sci-fi trilogy. Fingers crossed.