I saw Avatar again last night, which was my fourth time seeing it.
The first time was when I was in it, the second time was when I screened it at my house, the third time was last night, and the fourth time was also last night.
As such, I am now ready to review the movie - you'll note I don't do this often, because I won't review a movie until I've seen it at least 4 times.
(Since you're wondering, the movie I've seen more than any other is my own Brad Radby's Magic Basketball Wishes, which I've seen 320 times since its release in 2002.)
Alas, Avatar is a powerful visual experience - to be cliche, an achievement. My primary problem lies not so much with the main thrust of the story, but with the main character, and said character's casting.
After this performance and Terminator: Salvation, Sam Worthington has shown me an ability to bring nothing to a role other than deliverance of his lines in an acceptable manner. There is a notable lack of spark, charisma, life, and/or personality.
(Say what you will about Keanu Reeves and his monotonic delivery - at the very least, the man carries a unique presence onscreen. Much like me in BR's MBW.)
This Sam Worthington problem is only heightened by the utter lack of character arc for his Jake Sully. Rather than complain, I shall explain what would've made it better.
I would have abandoned the wheelchair and made Jake the most kick-ass of all the many kick-ass Marines. His superiors put him in an avataric Na'vi body with one mission: infiltrate their society and determine the best way to surgically wipe out that large tree.
With his 10-foot body and type-A Marinic attitude, Jake is an unstoppable weapon, and undeniably racist against these blue savages, whom he perceives as blue and savage. He literally cannot wait to infiltrate and then help wipe them out.
Subsequently, he begins to understand their ways and why what he was doing (and who he was) maybe was wrong. He falls in love with Blue Saldana, and eventually leads the Na'vi in driving the humans off Pandora. That's more or less the same overall plot, but you've given the main character some charisma and an actual character arc.
Avatar is a fine film and a wonderful experience, but it's not the completely engaging experience it could have been.
As a male, I firmly believe you need a charismatic lead character in these types of action-adventure films - you must want to be that guy in some manner. That is what sells action figures.
All the special effects and otherwise wonderful elements will be brought down a tad if that is not there.
As I posed the question to Petey and Coach Dewbers, imagine Top Gun with Sam Worthington, and tell me if it's the same exhilerating airplane-based experience.