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Avatar Review Critics


Dave White Profile

Battlefield Smurf Read full review


Jen Yamato Profile

Dances with Na'vi Read full review

Other Critics provided by

Critics scores range from 0 to 100, with higher scores indicating more favorable reviews.

  • 5.0

    out of 100

    Universal acclaim
    based on a weighted average of all
    critic review scores.

  • 100

    out of 100

    ReelViews James Berardinelli

    Avatar is entertainment of the highest order. It's the best movie of 2009.

    Read Full Review

  • 100

    out of 100

    The Hollywood Reporter Kirk Honeycutt

    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.

    Read Full Review

  • 75

    out of 100

    USA Today Claudia Puig

    The scenes in Pandora -- a planet with an Earth-like environment -- are so breathtaking that the narrative seems almost beside the point.

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  • 75

    out of 100

    Entertainment Weekly Owen Gleiberman

    As visual spectacle, Avatar is indelible, but as a movie it all but evaporates as you watch it.

    Read Full Review

  • 90

    out of 100

    Wall Street Journal Joe Morgenstern

    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.

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For Families provided by Common Sense Media

OK for kids 13+

Action-heavy epic has dazzling effects, familiar story.

What Parents Need to Know

Parents need to know this highly anticipated James Cameron sci-fi epic may be too intense (and long, at 161 minutes) for some tweens. There are several effects-heavy battle and hunting sequences that include missile-launching military aircraft, nerotoxin-laced arrows, scary Pandora-dwelling fauna and flora, and lots of explosions -- all of which has more impact when the movie is seen in 3-D. Salty wartime language includes many uses of "s--t" and comparable words. As in his previous epics, Cameron infuses the action-driven story with strong female characters and a morality tale centered in a romantic relationship -- though the human-Na'vi relationship in question gets a bit complicated, because the human is actually in his avatar. The romantic leads' chemistry is made more sensual by the barely dressed bodies of the Na'vi. (Note: Fans of the animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender should know that this movie is in no way connected to that show or the movie based on it.)

  • Families can talk about the movie's revolutionary special effects. Do they overwhelm or support the movie's story? How does the portrayal of the Na'vi affect the movie's emotional impact?

  • What themes does Cameron consistently work into his films? Compare the strong female characters in Avatar, Terminator, and Titanic. Any similarities?

  • What political messages is Cameron exploring in the movie? How are its themes relevant to what's going on in today's world? Do you think these messages will stand the test of time?

The good stuff
  • message true2

    Messages: Overall, the movie's message is that we could all stand to learn something from a (fictional) peaceful, nature-loving alien population. Strong environmental and pro-peace themes. Some viewers may see the message of occupying a foreign land to usurp their cultural riches as a political dig at America's involvement in the Middle East.

  • rolemodels true3

    Role models: Several characters make difficult but moral choices. Jake chooses to defend the Na'vi even though it's against orders to do so and means he must fight (and kill) fellow human soldiers. Neytiri, Grace, and Trudy all make personal sacrifices to help the clan; they're strong, courageous, and assertive female characters. (In both the human and Na'vi populations, female characters are just as brave and important as the males -- even the Na'vi mating ritual requires that a female accept/choose the male who chooses her.) On the flip side, the Colonel and corporate boss Parker are portrayed as bloodthirsty and greedy.

What to watch for
  • violence false3

    Violence: Characters (supporting and extras) die due to explosions, bullet wounds, arrows (some treated with toxins), precipitous falls, and asphyxiation. There are several intense scenes involving frightening Pandoran creatures and plants, as well as tension between Jake's rogue group of pro-Na'vi humans and the rest of the humans sent to Pandora.

  • sex false2

    Sex: Many longing looks between Jake's avatar and Neytiri, which eventually leads to kissing and "mating" (only kissing and touching are seen on screen). The Na'vi's humanoid bodies are barely dressed.

  • language false3

    Language: The word "s--t" is said several times (as well as its brothers, "bull s--t" and "holy s--t"). Other colorful language includes "goddamn," "piss," limp-dicked," "hell," "oh my God," "ass," and mild insults like "stupid," "ignorant," etc.

  • consumerism false2

    Consumerism: No product placement in the movie, but there are dozens of tie-in merchandising deals tied to the title -- including toys and books aimed at young kids.

  • drugsalcoholtobacco false3

    Drinking, drugs and smoking: Sigourney Weaver's character, Grace, smokes cigarettes and somewhat glamorizes the activity.