You can't read a review of Avatar without reading about the visuals, and for damned good reason. This is a beautiful movie even without the 3D effects; the bona-fide next gen 3D pushes it into "You have got to see this!" territory.
Because really, you do. If you want to know what the hell all the hype is about, you need to experience this in a theater. If you wait for home video, I expect you to wonder what everybody was smoking.
Because subtract the delicious eye candy and you're left with ... eh.
Not nothing, certainly. The story is effective enough, but that's all I'm willing to give it -- "effective." "Unpredictable," "inventive," "smart" ... no, those adjectives stay in the bag. If you've seen the trailers you know what this movie is about, a mash-up of Iraq and the American West set in a jungle populated by dragon-riding humanoids that are part enormous idealized American Indian, part smurf. Director James Cameron has never really gotten behind the notion that antagonists should possess any sort of depth or humanity; and when his badguys are giant cockroaches (Aliens) or killer robots (Terminator 1 & 2), that's just fine. For this time out, our primary badguys are a recycled Carter Burke from Aliens and a not-quite-psychotic version of Lt. Hiram Coffey from The Abyss, surrounded by interchangeably despicable goons. They exist to exploit and murder our Idealized Giant Nature Spirit Indian Smurfs and be hated by the audience, and they get the job done competently.
The goodguys aren't really much better drawn. Every character starts as a broad stereotype, and then spends the movie trying to overcome it. A few even manage to get close, most notably Sigourney Weaver playing a hybrid of Ellen Ripley and Jane Goodall.
This is not a movie that wants you to think. In fact, it would much rather you didn't; if you think, you're liable to start asking questions it doesn't have good answers for. You're going to get hung-up on things like "Unobtanium" being the wholly unironic object of the badguys' lust. You're going to ponder whether flattering stereotypes of indigenous peoples are really that big an improvement over unflattering stereotypes of indigenous peoples, and wonder why they couldn't be treated as people instead of stereotypes in the first place. You're going to wonder what happens when somebody plays the "Nuke the site from orbit" card.
This movie wants you to feel. As an exercise in visceral emotion it is indeed majestic, from its world-beating visuals to its unchallenging predigested good-vs-evil plot to it's luscious action set pieces. Go along for the ride, and this movie will entertain the living hell out of you.
Just, you know, try not to think too hard.
That'll just mess things up.