I miss the ultra-violent Cameron of futuristic hardware and needle-like tension. Today the hardware behind the scenes bloats the budget, and the tension is whether it pays off. He ups the ante on popcorn flicks, but the corny, self-important Avatar shows that he's gone soft. His B movies now come with an A-sized loftiness.
And though it is imaginative and richly detailed, the script is leaden. Midway through I knew I would see this film but once. The exposition is clumsy and the dialogue flat. Whole characters are cliches, from the colonel who spouts nothing but military slang to the wise earth mother who looks grave and says little. As eye candy the movie soars. As narrative it underwhelms. No space western should be this message-y.
Cameron's gift is almost totally visual. And that's fine. Avatar is the best light-show in town. See it in IMAX while you can.
2010-01-18 - Jack Cormack