I saw this for the first time today, 2D Blu-Ray version. I agree with the previously linked review by Devin Faraci. I don't care that the story was unoriginal, but I do care that it was so indifferently written. Although Pandora is visually striking, the setting still felt lifeless because the characters had no psychological mass - they all seemed like placeholders.
Taken together, Titanic and Avatar provide a good case study on the difference between a plot with inevitable major events (Titanic) and one with predictable major events (Avatar). An event is inevitable if I know it will happen because I can see the characters intentionally, or unintentionally, maneuvering themselves into position - the hubris of the White Star Line in Titanic, or the self destructive despair of Nicholas Cage's character in Leaving Las Vegas, for example. An event is predictable if I can see the writer maneuvering the characters into position without the proper sense of agency from the characters. A predictable story is boring because the force driving events is external to the story, so there's no chance that anything within the story can alter it. A story with an inevitable event - and the Titanic hitting the iceberg is the ultimate example of one - still has dramatic tension because the force driving the story is internal to the story, and therefore a course change (literal or metaphorical) is possible, right up until the last second.
Avatar is being defended with some of the same backhanded compliments which I remember hearing re Signs: "enjoy the experience, don't nitpick the details." Unfortunately, that approach doesn't work for me, because I can't not do that, so I'm unable to suspend disbelief if the story's rivet-count is off. A writer who is willing to spend the extra time can fix plot holes and create believable characters, thus making the "wonder" in the story accessible to both rivet-counters and non-rivet-counters. Aliens-era Cameron was actually willing to do that.
Indifferent is the best word I can think of to describe the writing. The characters are so blah that I actually got bored during the fights between mechs, helicopters, Smelves (Smurf Elves), and dragons. The most damning evidence is the fact that I wasn't offended by the insipid "white people, technology, and the military are evil" horseshit. There's not much I enjoy more than being enraged by hippies, so my non-reaction to that means the movie was thoroughly inert and soulless.
**Please Note: I don't begrudge anyone else their enjoyment of Avatar (seriously, if you spent money on it, you deserve to get what you paid for).
This analysis is interesting. Shorter than Red Letter Media's Star Wars reviews (only 2 parts), and I think they only cut away from the analysis once or twice, but it was worth it for the answering machine message from the Department of Cultural Guilt.