James Cameron doesn't believe in doing anything small. We saw that with "Titanic" and "Terminator."
Now, he hammers home the point with "Avatar," a film that's so supersized it could singlehandedly ensure the future of movie theaters.
Sam Worthington stars as a paraplegic veteran who agrees to infiltrate a tribe on the planet Pandora. He does so through an avatar, or surrogate.
The planet is about as beautiful as they get. It's thriving with unusual plants and animals and it boasts a rare mineral called unobtanium. Humans want control of it, so they figure their best way is to divide and conquer.
The avatars slip in, become friendly and realize Pandora shouldn't be disrupted. Even worse, Worthington's character falls in love with a native girl.
Cameron makes the adventure immediate, pulling us in in ways we haven't seen before. His animation is perfect, too, and his 3-D effects are as good as they get.
This is like visiting an interactive Museum of Modern Art. Still, the film is at least 30 minutes too long, particularly if you see it in 3-D.
The performances are good, even though Stephen Lang is pretty one-dimensional as the bad guy.
That said, "Avatar" isn't a second-rate substitute for a great action film. It's the real deal.