It's been interesting looking at the criticisms levelled at this film. One said they hated the film because the theme was, basically, as long as you have one US soldier with you, you'll be right. ?Another said they hated the film because it was fundamentally just another attack on the US military. Did they both see the same film?
The Vatican has given the film the thumbs down because it says Avatar turns environmentalism into neo-paganism.
The Russians (or at least a few of them) are saying that Cameron took his ideas from Russian writer Strugatsky, who came up with the planet name Pandora and a race called the Nave (Cameron of course has the Na'vi). Hmm, I have a Hell's Gate Woods in my novel, which will feature a lot in the third book, but I came up with that all on my own. I note that Hell's Gate is the main human camp in Avatar, but that doesn't mean I drew on the film. I had this name years ago. I mean, Pandora's box -- hello? Sound familiar. I did like the rather hilarious adaptation of the summary of Pocahontas though, to make it sound like Avatar. Yes, lots of similarities in the premise but the delivery is quite different. There are only so many stories around (though the number varies -- sometimes it's as few as three, sometimes in the twenties).
A science fiction site says the film is an allegory for the fight between science fiction and fantasy, and fantasy always wins because people prefer utopias over dystopias, and in the end we have our utopian happy ending. On the other hand, in the article I read about the Russians, the film was described as being anti-utopian.
The racist comments -- that the Na'vi have to be saved by a white American male, I think are silly. I mean couldn't you also argue that the white "American" male can't become heroic until he gives up his white American ways -- until he abandons what most of his people stand for? (It's not black and white enough to say "his people" because the scientists do not embrace the corporate greed but the quest for knowledge.) And it wouldn't be "racist" as much as "speciesist" -- we are not the same race as the Na'vi. (And, remember, all of humanity is one race.)
One thing I've loved reading is a comparison of the original script and the final script. In the original, Tsu'tey lives but has had his queue cut off so can't commune with nature anymore, ride any beasts, or even mate. He begs Jake to kill him, and Jake does. I'm rather glad this was cut -- I'm not sure about the message behind that: that man who has escaped (rather than overcome, I suppose) his disability kills one who has become disabled because he understands the frustrations? Hasn't Jake found something worthwhile to do with his life? Mightn't Tsu'tey? I hope they do bring him back. I thought he was a great character -- he delivered one of the most moving moments for me, when he finally agrees to fly with his long-standing adversary who has now exceeded anything he (Tsu'tey) has ever dreamed of achieving. I could imagine all sorts of potential conflicts about leadership if he's around. Also, if he were to have broken his back or suffered the loss of his queue, there's lots of conflict potential there too, both for him or Jake. (But please don't have Jake kill him! Jake might stop other clan members from doing this or fail to stop them and then have to deal with his own demons.)
Having seen it multiple times, I can't tell you how many people I've overheard saying, "That is the best film I have ever seen!". It was about my third go when I decided that. People can criticise the plot and characters all that they are like: the bottom line is that this film is moving a lot of people. Part of it may be the special effects, but I think it's more than that -- I think that this is a film that has a great heart beating beneath the spectacle. It has great heart.