Avatar: Overrated or Overhated?

James Cameron’s Avatar broke several box office records when it was released in 2009. It’s been listed as the highest grossing film of all time and was nominated for nine Academy Awards. However, it’s been over a decade since its initial release and, during that time, moviegoers have gained lukewarm feelings toward it. It’s not uncommon to see the film referred to as “overrated” nowadays. Because of this, it’s worth looking back at the movie to see if it truly is overrated or if it’s being overhated.

Upon release, critics raved about the film’s groundbreaking special effects. James Cameron created new 3D tech to bring the beautiful world of Pandora to life and to fully immerse moviegoers. It certainly paid off because it’s still one of the most beautiful-looking movies over a decade later. That being said, according to those who weren’t fans of the spectacle, the visual effects are the only thing that people actually enjoy about the film. They believe that the gorgeous visuals hide a mess of a movie. 

Those who look down on Avatar often bring up that its central plot mirrors that of Dances with Wolves or Pocohantas an awful lot. It’s certainly true that the premise is the same. Outsiders come into a land new and strange to them and try to take it from the native people, who fight back with the help of newcomers who side with them. At the very least, Avatar is still an entertaining and interesting version of Pocahontas, though. Media is also inspired by past stories anyway, like Joker being clearly inspired by Taxi Driver. It’s something that happens frequently and there’s no need to get one’s shorts in a twist about it happening with Avatar.

These critics often forget to mention that Avatar has incredible worldbuilding as it teaches us about the wildlife and plantlife of Pandora and the culture of the Na’vi. It also features plenty of spectacular science fiction ideas, like the ability of humans to enter and control genetically-created “avatars,” as well as awesome action sequences. There’s no shortage of heart, either, with the protagonist, Jake Sully, being a parapalegic who uses the avatar technology to be able to walk again and the main romance actually feeling organic (which is often a miss with many sci-fi action flicks). 

Was Avatar worthy of the amount of hype it received back in 2009? Perhaps not. Because of this, it can be said that it is a bit overrated. However, it is a great movie. It’s extremely entertaining with memorable worldbuilding and fantastic visuals. It seems that the primary reason it receives the amount of hate that it does is because of how much it was overly praised early on. It’s absolutely overhated as well. It gets a lot of flack from a lot of people for very minor flaws. It’s likely the film wouldn’t have been hated by so many if it wasn’t so overhyped. Because of this, it’s somehow both overrated and overhated at the same time.

It’s not the greatest film of all time, but it’s far from terrible. Again, it’s a really enjoyable science fiction action movie (that happens to also have stunning visuals). People on both sides of the “Avatar” debate need to take a step back and realize it isn’t the best or the worst and that it’s simply just a good movie. It’s also worth noting that the sequels will likely be worth checking out since they probably will have a more original storyline for those who dislike the plot being inspired by past films, and there will be much more worldbuilding to explore.

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