Daniel Cruse’s review published on Letterboxd:
We watched this in sci fi film class today and it’s the first time I’d seen it in at least 6 or 7 years. Not only did it still hold up but I actually liked it a lot more than I had thought. There’s a hate jerk that has developed for this movie lately, or maybe an indifference jerk is the best way to describe it. People, myself included, have come out of the woodworks to say that this film is forgettable and mediocre and not well made and that nobody talks about it anymore. But I must say, I urge anyone who feels that way to give it another go sometime and see how you feel cause I enjoyed it a lot on this rewatch. The visual effects are slightly dated by the amazing improvements that have been made over the last decade but the nature and animals and Navi still look pretty amazing.
I love Sigourney Weaver and Zoe Saldana in this movie and surprisingly I found myself really liking Sam Worthington who many criticized for being wooden and emotionless. I thought he made Jake charming and fun while also leaning into the fish out of water scenario very well.
The weak character development, editing, and stilted dialogue are among the film’s primary issues, but Alita had similar problems and I didn’t hold it against them there so I don’t think it’s fair to here either. The writing isn’t great and some characters do things for weird reasons, like Norm beginning to treat Jake poorly out of nowhere only for it to be brushed aside 20 minutes later with a throwaway line about how his attitude has improved. There was no reason given as to why he was being rude in the first place and it didn’t make much sense to me. The military characters are so thin and cliche as well.
But in general, I enjoyed the movie a lot. I like the effects and the world of Pandora is beautiful, the main characters are compelling, and the pro environment message is sometimes preachy but overall something that is important and it makes me happy that one of the most financially successful movies is about the importance of nature and the environment.