In the year 2154, a group of militant earthlings lands on the Alpha Centauri moon Pandora, planning to subjugate the locals and mine its sylvan depths for a precious mineral. Making his first fiction feature since the unsinkable blockbuster Titanic, James Cameron marshaled hundreds of artisans for a dream project and created the most vivid and convincing fantasy world seen in the history of moving pictures.
The romance of the American Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) and the 10-ft.-tall, blue-striped Neyfiri (Zoe Saldana), daughter of the Pandorans’ tribal chief, fits the contours of the Titanic romance — a grunt falls in love with a princess — but transmits far more emotive power. Instead of embracing on a ship’s prow, Sully and Neyfiri ride their banshee steeds in ecstatic communion across the faraway sky; think of them as the prince and princess of the world. The climactic battle is stage-managed for maximum thrills. But the supreme joy of Avatar is in its long central portion: a safari through the luscious landscape of Pandora. It’s an impossible but completely seductive world that invites the viewer’s total immersion in a state-of-the-art experience that for years to come will define what movies can achieve — not in duplicating our existence but in dreaming new ones.