Avatar is one of those movies whose ads had the opposite effect on me than the one intended. At first, way back when it was all just secrets and mystery, there was no question that I wanted to see James Cameron's next sci-fi epic. I mean, c'mon! Terminator! Aliens! Yes! But then I saw the commercials, and they were boring. I didn't see anything exciting or interesting there. It looked like a sci-fi version of Dances with Wolves. I just didn't care.
But then it came out, and everybody was seeing it, everybody was talking about it, and everybody had a different opinion on it. I felt like in order to be part of the conversation, I had to see it, too. And anyway, Ebert liked it. So I decided I would go. But I knew if I was going to do it, I had to do it right. I wasn't going to see the plain version, or even the 3D version. I was going 3D IMAX all the way.
And I'm glad I did, because I'm not convinced the movie would be as effective in any other format. The story is a reasonably predictable one, whose structure is not particularly imaginative - which is not to say the film as a whole is devoid of imagination. In fact, the visuals, the technology (both that which made the film, and that which exists within the film), the various alien creatures and plant-life, and the world of Pandora itself were all clearly born of a very fertile imagination. It's a manipulative film, heavy-handed and obvious about its manipulation, but it was also fashioned by a master manipulator, and so even as I saw it very plainly and unashamedly tugging at my strings, and realized exactly what it was trying to do, I still couldn't help but respond as expected.
I don't think the film would be as effective if watched on the small screen, on your DVD player at home. The 3D IMAX experience takes the already stunning visual effects and incredible imagery to a whole new awe-inspiring, mind-blowing level, and adds an extra spark to a story that, if told another way, could have been painfully dull and melodramatic.
I love the concept of a networked ecosystem, a world-mind. I love the beautiful plants, the strange animals, and the links that the Navi can create with them via their biological network cables. I love the ridiculously bad-ass Colonel. I kind of hate that the simple story affected me on such a deep, emotional level. But yeah, I love Avatar.