Metascore
83

Universal acclaim - based on 35 Critics

Critic score distribution:
  1. Positive: 31 out of 35
  2. Negative: 0 out of 35
  1. Much of the time, though, you're transfixed by the beauty of a spectacle that seems all of a piece. Special effects have been abolished, in effect, since the whole thing is so special.
  2. A fully believable, flesh-and-blood (albeit not human flesh and blood) romance is the beating heart of "Avatar." Cameron has never made a movie just to show off visual pyrotechnics: Every bit of technology in "Avatar" serves the greater purpose of a deeply felt love story.
  3. 100
    Avatar is entertainment of the highest order. It's the best movie of 2009.
  4. Reviewed by: Nick Starkey
    100
    This is, simply put, one of the most beautiful movies you’ll ever see.
  5. 100
    Once again, [Cameron] has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely.
  6. 88
    Tone-deaf but thunderously exciting.
  7. 88
    Rarely less than absorbing and never boring over its nearly three-hour length.
  8. Avatar delivers. Combining beyond-state-of-the-art moviemaking with a tried-and-true storyline and a gamer-geek sensibility - not to mention a love angle, an otherworldly bestiary, and an arsenal of 22d-century weaponry - the movie quite simply rocks.
  9. Reviewed by: Ty Burr
    88
    An entertainment to be not just seen but absorbed on a molecular level; it's as close to a full-body experience as we'll get until they invent the holo-suits. Cameron aims for sheer wonderment, and he delivers.
  10. The first 90 minutes of Avatar are pretty terrific - a full-immersion technological wonder with wonders to spare. The other 72 minutes, less and less terrific.
  11. Reviewed by: Amy Biancolli
    75
    Vast, beautiful and meticulously detailed.
  12. Reviewed by: Claudia Puig
    75
    The scenes in Pandora -- a planet with an Earth-like environment -- are so breathtaking that the narrative seems almost beside the point.
  13. 75
    By presenting Avatar in 3-D, Cameron is staking his claim and building a fence around his own precious resource, making it unobtainable on any but his own terms to increasingly emboldened and technologically savvy natives.
  14. Avatar is a king's ransom fairly well spent, not least because Cameron's invitation into his superbly crafted universe comes with an unexpected price: He makes it easy to gaze fondly on all this movie magic, but only in exchange for a hard look at ourselves.
  15. Titanic technical achievement.
  16. 63
    Whatever faults Avatar may have -- and there are many -- the movie succeeds in immersing you in a photorealistic, painstakingly detailed world more fully than any science fiction movie before.
  17. Reviewed by: Chris Hewitt
    100
    It's been twelve years since "Titanic," but the King of the World has returned with a flawed but fantastic tour de force that, taken on its merits as a film, especially in two dimensions, warrants four stars. However, if you can wrap a pair of 3D glasses round your peepers, this becomes a transcendent, full-on five-star experience that's the closest we'll ever come to setting foot on a strange new world. Just don't leave it so long next time, eh, Jim?
  18. Avatar clears the hurdle in terms of being optical candy. Its story, though, is pure cheese.
  19. The question lingers as the movie comes to its triumphant body-swapping close: Is this a pro-environment parable or a prophecy of virtual realities yet to come? Cameron's new world may very well be a verdant Matrix.
  20. 89
    It's thrilling and lovely and sad and explosive in all the right ways, and it needs to be seen – on the big screen, in 3-D – to be believed.
  21. 83
    Is it a great movie? Maybe not. But it is a great step forward in moviemaking. Shrug it off if that makes you feel better, but starting today you live in a post-Avatar movie world.
  22. As visual spectacle, Avatar is indelible, but as a movie it all but evaporates as you watch it.
  23. Pantheism, Cameronism: In Avatar, what's the diff? Now he's king of a world he made from scratch.
  24. 100
    At the end of a decade defined by much bellyaching about "the death of cinema" (including, on occasion, by this critic), Avatar concludes, appropriately enough, with an image of rebirth.
  25. 100
    Avatar's shock and awe demand to be seen. You've never experienced anything like it, and neither has anyone else.
  26. Glorious and goofy and blissfully deranged.
  27. 100
    A quantum leap in movie magic; watching it, I began to understand how people in 1933 must have felt when they saw "King Kong."
  28. Reviewed by: Dana Stevens
    90
    Is it or is it not stupendously friggin' rad? And the answer is yes. For most of the first hour, a good portion of the second, and even many of the 40 minutes left after that, Avatar is stupendously friggin' rad.
  29. Reviewed by: Richard Corliss
    90
    Embrace the movie -- surely the most vivid and persuasive creation of a fantasy world ever seen in the history of moving pictures -- as a total sensory, sensuous, sensual experience.
  30. Reviewed by: Todd McCarthy
    90
    Avatar is all-enveloping and transporting, with Cameron & Co.'s years of R&D paying off with a film that, as his work has done before, raises the technical bar and throws down a challenge for the many other filmmakers toiling in the sci-fi/fantasy realm.
  31. 90
    The movie's story may be a little trite, and the big battle at the end between ugly mechanical force and the gorgeous natural world goes on forever, but what a show Cameron puts on! The continuity of dynamized space that he has achieved with 3-D gloriously supports his trippy belief that all living things are one.
  32. 70
    Avatar is a technological wonder, 15 years percolating in King Cameron's imagination and inarguably the greatest 3-D cavalry western ever made. Too bad that western is "Dances With Wolves."
  33. 50
    It is a very expensive-looking, very flashy entertainment, albeit one that groans under the weight of clumsy storytelling in the second half and features some of the most godawful dialogue this side of "Attack of the Clones."
  34. 50
    Avatar is a weak patchwork of his other films: the leaden voiceover from "Terminator 2" here, the military/civilian conflict from "Aliens" there, even a Jack-and-Rose-style forbidden love story cued to adult-contempo soundtrack.
  35. If I never felt entirely transported by Avatar, it's probably because the story thudded just as often as the imagery soared. But Pandora is still a good place to park yourself for three hours.
User Score
7.5

Generally favorable reviews- based on 2560 Ratings

User score distribution:
  1. Sep 14, 2010
    3
    I legitimately have no idea how this film has been getting so many positive reviews. Someone once said great films were a combination of technical innovation and artistic achievement. While Avatar certainly nails the technical side, it's artistic half leaves a lot to be desired.

    A by-the-numbers cookie-cutter plot with poor writing and awful dialogue.
    Full Review »
  2. Oct 17, 2010
    3
    While a beautiful movie to look at, the intense CGI cannot hide the hopelessly derivative story and generally poor acting. While the world of Pandora is nice to look at, it is poorly thought out. All the characters are caricatures of the worst movie stereotypes. We have the badass soldier chick, the angry army commander, the hero who just wants to do the right thing, and the industry crazed maniac.

    It took James Cameron 2h 40m to tell a story that Disney managed to tell in half the time.
    Full Review »
  3. Sep 10, 2011
    8
    Despite "Avatar"'s heavy plot, Blockbuster king James Cameron impresses us with fantastic visuals and CGI of the Na'vi and human battle scenes in (Le Gasp!) 3D. Full Review »