After making the top-grossing movie of all time with Titanic, is James Cameron's Avatar a worthy follow-up?
My answer is a big "Yes!"
Avatar is a visual breakthrough-- it brings photo-realistic 3D graphics to life like no other film in the past. The movie combines live action and CGI and the effect is a rendering of one of the most imaginative and mythical worlds I've seen in a movie. Add to that I watched this movie in an IMAX 3D theater, the experience was mind-blowing. It was really like a video game that came to life.
The storyline is very similar to Tarzan: Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) uses his "avatar" (a hybrid alien being) to spy on the Na'vi, planet Pandora's indigenous population. As he becomes an adopted son of the tribe, he soon understands how life in Pandora really is. He ultimately faces the decision to either be part of the tribe or stay loyal to his original mission. The story and the CGI fit seamlessly together if you ask me.
While the story-telling is classic James Cameron, the film is not able to escape clichés like the man who falls in love with the exotic local, the "everything is connected" angle (Something explored in Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within), and the "save the planet" routine (FernGully comes to mind). Even though the story is something we may have seen before, the world Avatar presents is totally new.
One final thing: If you can, try to watch Avatar in a 3D theater. I think it's the best way to see the imaginative world James Cameron created come to life.