AndrewC’s review published on Letterboxd:
NOTE: This is for the extended cut.
Since I haven't actually rewatched Avatar in probably close to a decade (if not more), I was due for a revisit before I watch the much-anticipated sequel this weekend since I remember very little about the original film. In the decade-plus since its release in 2009, I think the reception to this film has vastly deteriorated with many criticizing its basic story and lack ofuch depth but this is something I very much still disagree with since I think that this is a very good sci-fi epic, if one that just isn't a great one like so many of James Cameron's movies. As a technical achievement and visual spectacle, there is nothing quite like it so there is absolutely no denying its value as artistic accomplishment since Avatar is still a breathtaking movie to look at just on my TV at home, with the visual effects holding up very well 13 years later and the simple beauty of the world Cameron has created being really stunning. Just for its vibes and visual splendor, this film still works for me, and the work Cameron and his extensive team behind the movie really should be commended for the groundbreaking work they conducted.
Beneath all that however, Avatar certainly is not as great a film as something like Terminator 2: Judgment Day or Titanic (which is another of Cameron's movies I really need to rewatch). The narrative is definitely a little basic and doesn't have much in the way of invention or depth beyond its fairly surface-level themes, but I find that too to be understandable given that this is supposed to be a visual experience first and foremost. Where I disagree further with the detractors is also that I think the movie has an adequate amount of emotion as the characters are for the most part likable and the relationships between them work for me. Story-wise, the plot and narrative is certainly the weakest component of Avatar but it in no way makes the film bad for me and serves its purpose within the film so I cannot say that the movie is bad just because it doesn't tell a grand, richly-written story. The simple fact for me is that in the way it's supposed to as a visual marvel, the film fully succeeds and is still a really immersive epic that is stunning to look at. Hopefully, the sequel will improve upon this movie's weak points and make it an even better film (which I fully trust Cameron to do) but even just with this film, I think there is still a lot to love about Avatar and you cannot deny its success as a truly amazing feat of visual spectacle.