fatpie42’s review published on Letterboxd:
Went in with low expectations. It sucked. The headache from those bloody glasses wasn't worth it.
Did Sam Wothington really have to mumble the whole time? Did the film have to be so chock full of cliches? Did the characters have to be so one dimensional? Did there have to be absolutely no suspense? There were points where I was bored during the action scenes ffs!
So what about the 3D effects? Well as everyone's been told over and over again by now, Pandora is very pretty. One of the most annoying things about this is that tons of the colour is taken out by the 3D glasses. It's like watching a movie with sunglasses on. Also there's something very controlling and demanding about this form of 3D. Asides from when something in particular is coming out of the screen or falling into the screen it's difficult to know what you are supposed to be paying attention to. However, the 3D is constantly forcing you to focus on a particular part of the screen, leaving other parts out of focus. In spite of this, the camera work still involves the old "things are moving too fast for the camera to keep up" effects so even when you are focussed in the right place you it can go a bit blurry.
There were many parts in the movie where I needed to look over my glasses to check the difference between 3D and 2D. In the end, depth 3D is a little too subtle and the bits which really stood out were bits where things go in or out of the screen or sometimes when they went across the middle. In fact it was noticeable during the first half that there were several points where someone going in one direction goes past someone going at right angles to them. This method of having people almost bumping into someone going in a different direction got a little overused at this early stage in the movie.
Can I also note that in spite of the wonderful effects, it was quite blatantly obvious that most of what we were looking at was CGI? I've never understood why CGI animals are always less convincing than the dinosaurs in Jurassic Park. Why is that, after all this time?
One awesome use of the effects though was the mechs. We saw mechs in Matrix Revolutions and they didn't look very impressive, but the way that the mech imitates the actions of the driver in Avatar was just perfect. The best use of the 3D effects was the jellyfish type seed things which come from the tree.
The biggest problem with the movie, it seems to me, is the complete lack of suspense. We know from the beginning of the movie that there are a whole bunch of guns for hire on Pandora. Why are they there? Well, presumably they are venturing into parts of the planet to mine for unobtanium, but we never see any of them doing that (and the name of the material suggests that they aren't getting hold of much of it anyway). But if the military people aren't getting hold of much of it then what are they all doing exactly. The general impression is that there's a whole bunch of soldiers just waiting around for the opportunity to blow something up. The military leader in charge of the soldiers makes very clear that it's only a matter of time before they blow things up, so we haven't come to that impression from nowhere. After a while of being somewhat shown, but mainly just told, how wonderful this blue alien tribal civilisation is, we eventually come to the inevitable of the military trying to blow it up.
On first attempt to hold back the humans the Na'vi's arrows are absolutely no use. Later on though it seems they have bigger arrows which work much much better. During the inevitable cliche of "everything might not be working out after all" I felt extremely disconnected from the action. I found myself more focussed on the fact that the music for this part of the film seemed identical to the music at the end of part one of "The Hogfather".
Essentially I found that for most of the movie I found myself asking "so?" I barely cared about anyone in the movie. And no, the special effects don't make up for the bad story.
My review is here: