Went to see the film. Plot is straightforward; story is, at times, actively obnoxious (technological man=BAD, BAD, BAD; noble savage=GOOD and let's ignore their technology, mmmKAY?). Review + spot-on snark from Tam.
But damme, the visuals are...stunning. Not just well-realized CGI, but beautiful; a delight to the eye. And the yarn's not poorly told, either.
It is, for a wonder, pretty much mainstream SF and uses familiar notions; there's a huge borrowing from Clifford D. Simak's Desertion, (which I am stunned to be reminded was published in 1944; Simak's SF was well ahead of its time) (Tam points out Poul Anderson's Call Me Joe from 1957 as an even closer parallel), with additional elements reminiscent of Anne MacCaffery's Pern stories, Andre Norton's Janus novels and a few odds and ends from other (M..A..T..R..I..X) SF films. There's also a pervasive detail or two that may have been inspired by Zenna Henderson's The People, but I'll leave that for readers to figure out (bonus points if you notice the botanical "koomatka" connection, at least as the latter was depicted in the ABC TV movie).
I have some tech nits to pick ("unobtanium?" Rilly?) and the conflict and its resolution was trite and formulaic (just damn once, I'd like to see the Noble Savage pull a sharp real-estate deal on The White Man, or at least take him to court and win; you can blame my Cherokee ancestors for that; but would even once be too often?) but it's still a nifty film -- and it bodes very, very well for sbsequent SF.
We have reached the point where They Can Film It. Pern? Done. Heinlein? Not a single novel is unfilmable. Eric Frank Russell's delightfully diverse (and yet nearly anarchist) space-crews? Easy as pie.
The old SF writers are mostly gone; they wrote lot of great yarns, the film rights to which would set their inheritors up nicely. Wouldn't a film of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy be a treat? (...Speaking of the Noble Savages winning a fair shake without The Usual Villains...)
Avatar is big, lush, and pretty. The 3-D effect works well and they don't milk it (unless you're really acrophobic). Still, for me, one of the best things about this film is what it promises for future SF films.
3 months ago