Starwars meets Dances with Wolves and Sigourney Weaver is the Alien. Avatar is a Luddites wetdream. Resurrecting Rousseau's "noble savage" it takes us back to the Chinese storming the Tibetan Monastery. But in this movie, the Indians don't lose and the Dalai Lama doesn't run away.
The Gaia sophism appeals mostly to the arts student and those who find physics and chemistry too trying so regress before their fears of the very technologies that give them Avatar. In contrast, the spirituality of String Theory requires an open mind but not one so open one's brains fall out. We are made in the Image of God, all is God and all is Imagination. See what happens to Grace in this movie.
That said, it's a marvelous fantasy sci fi that at it's best takes us to the Jungian world of lucid dreaming. Jesus said this world isn't the real world but the after or "other" life is. As in Matrix reality and dream are challenged as we are.
The acting is the finest. The sinister administrator of the Alien series is really the best bad guy of all time. I so wanted to hear Joni Mitchell's, "They paved paradise and put up a parking lot," played in the background as he says with the certainty of ignorance, "It's just a tree!".
I certainly don't like that the clean water is going from the earth, logging companies are clear cutting without replanting, the oceans are being over fished and toxic waste is dumped beside playgrounds. It's a movie that gets to the heart of these concerns. But as Bruce Chatwin showed in Songlines the 'sacred' spaces are sometimes bought and sold by chiefs who too often ape the worst of their adversaries with their drunken womanizing and whole new set of predjudices. There seems to be no monopoly or limit on stupidity.
It's not 'sentimentality' or "sentimentalism" that works but rather 'emotional intelligence' or 'intelligent caring".
Despite the clichés it's 3 hours of great entertainment. Wearing my 3d glasses I was a kid again and I'm so thankful for Hollywood not self destructing because only live theatre is really pure and natural. The movie in a sense says the world really did go wrong with the invention of film.
Meanwhile, animal husbandry and killing deer for meat are okay if you say the right words and "grok" it unless of course you're the beast of burden or food.
Nonetheless Heinlein would be pleased and Arthur C. Clarke would think it a great romp. I loved it and I wouldn't miss it for anything. I couldn't get in twice because it was sold out and bought tickets for the evening show during the day just so I could see it. It is a thorough delight.
The cinematography, writing and directing are astonishing as they take you so thoroughly into an alien world that ultimately seems so very well known. Amazing. James Cameron is a genius.