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Darn.

Early previews of Avatar were stunning. But it looked preachy right from the beginning – like a magnificent sci-fi retelling of the noble green fight against logging in Tasmania.

Jim Schembri at The Age has seen it, and says this is exactly right:

THERE’S no argument that, as a showcase for the immersive potential of 3D visual effects technology, James Cameron’s long-awaited $300 million sci-fi epic Avatar – his first film since 1997’s world-conquering Titanic – is an unqualified triumph.

But as a story designed to engage, enthral and entertain adult audiences for almost three hours, it is a major disappointment strewn with weak characters, environmental platitudes and anti-progress cliches. …

The lush alien world Cameron creates is a magnificent, photo-realistic landscape of multi-coloured dragons, dinosaurs, endless waterfalls and floating mountains. But with its patronising, predictable images of noble savages, evil technology and gigantic bulldozers crunching their way through precious alien rainforests, the film often feels like a megalithic piece of green propaganda. As superbly rendered as his 3D world is, Cameron has populated it with characters who are strictly 2D. And sometimes not even that.

A compulsive envelope-pusher, Cameron invented a pioneering camera system and ground-breaking visual processing techniques for the film, but perhaps he should have spent a little less time obsessing over the technology and a tad more developing the story beyond the compendium of cliches it regrettably is.

But I’ll still go and see it.

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