I saw Avatar yesterday afternoon, and while visually it was absolutely breathtaking, and I appreciate the film's (albeit preachy and simplistic) message, unfortunately there was nothing original about the characters or plot: I guarantee that you have seen every character in this film before, and a child could have written the outline of the story.
The two modestly novel ideas that film possessed did not justify the film's three hour runtime. The clownish 'villains' uttered painfully cliche dialog, and the central treasure of the alien world was called "unobtainium." WTF? My fiancee quipped that it was probably a placeholder name that was never replaced, and that as movies are akin to software development projects, one could label that absurdity "going live with a known defect."
One other comment: my experience of the film was also hindered by the 3D glasses, which were extremely heavy and bulky and pressed my eyeglasses down upon the bridge of my nose until I had a headache. I think that was unnecessary.
I can't beat down this movie too much, though. It was a spectacle of entertainment. And as I mentioned earlier, visually, it is a never-ending feast. When I was a boy I used to gaze wistfully at Roger Dean's fantasy art for hours, immersing myself in his fantastic worlds. Apparently James Cameron, and the art designers for the film, had a passion for his groundbreaking art as well - this movie is his art realized in a motion picture. Sitting in the theater with my friends as the credits rolled, I wondered out loud whether Dean had worked on the film. He did not, but I just looked at Roger Dean's personal website, and it appears that I'm not the only one who spotted the rather striking similarities between the film and his work. Not sure what to say about that.