avatar_640_1-thumb-640xauto-10665 There are some movies that are relentlessly hyped for years but when they appear on the big screen are largely a disappointment. The Star Wars prequels, for example.

Avatar…is not one of them. For the most part, anyway.

The problem is that if you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve seen basically the whole plot of the movie. It is Dances with Wolves, FernGully, Pocahontas, every other cliché you’ve ever seen of the Noble Savage rolled together and mixed with the military-industrial complex from the Alien franchise. Rifftrax is going to have a field day.

There are a lot of movies where this would be a handicap, where you would walk out of the theater feeling unsatisfied for sitting through yet another cinematic retread. But Avatar manages to transcend that fate through sheer application of budget and technology. In short, this is the most realistic CGI ever put to film.

Go and see this movie on the big screen for the sheer prettiness. Definitely see it in 3D. The 3D is what makes this movie—which is appropriate given that (James Cameron’s lobbying for proper venues for) this movie was the entire reason we’ve got so many 3D screens now in the first place. It’s gorgeous. It’s hyper-real. (Real enough that some of the aerial scenes gave me a twinge of vertigo.)

Also, it has mecha in it.

It was pretty enough that I happily forgave the lack of originality in the storyline. It was even pretty enough that I forgave it for causing the Last Airbender movie to have to drop the word “Avatar” from the title. On the small screen, even on Blu-Ray and HDTV, it will be just another Dances with Wolves clone.

Now, if only Cameron would get around to making Battle Angel