Avatar lives up to its reputation as a game-changer, one of those cinematic events that, whether it is ultimately to your aesthetic and political taste or not, becomes required viewing for anyone with an interest in the art and science of movie making.
It's a striking hybrid between work of great genius and work of shuddersome mediocrity, in which one sees things never seen before along with things seen oh so many times. And the 3D is both completely immersive at times and at others rather like looking into one of those View-Master things I had as a kid, where two dimensional images protrude disconcertingly into the foreground.
Avatar also represents a meeting of east and west, wild west in particular: one is equally reminded of the green-spirited anime classics of Miyazagi as of countless frontier epics where the forces of heedless exploitation meet their mythological match.
I first discovered Gaia via the superb BBC series Edge of Darkness back in the 80s, now (worryingly) a Mel Gibson movie of imminent release. Cameron has pushed on with the notion in a startling way: humankind is not just the species its own planet wants to spit out, but seems destined to get stuck in the gullet of distant worlds as well. But these worlds have sentinent beings whose 'primitive' worldview is somehow more complete and connected than our own science could ever hope to be.
The nature as network, "everything is connnected" idea could be the basis of an extremely indefinite philosophy, especially within a culture such as ours, where religious traditions have ossified. Like Tolkein, he's found it necessary to create an entirely new world to get the message across in a particularly powerful way. Who knows how many of the millions who have seen it in the past month will internalise it?
Grade: if I must, A-
PS: I'm watching The Longest Day right now, back at home with my father. Another three hour stint... The Ouistreham sequence is extraordinary. More like an Eisenstein run around than real war I suspect.