Now that the trailer for James Cameron's Avatar is out, we can get a better idea of its plot. Cameron has said he had the idea for the 3-D film (due out Dec. 18) many years ago but waited until digital technology caught up with his vision. However, based on what the trailer tells us, that vision now looks pretty stale. Watching it, I couldn't help feeling how very familiar it seems to both Cameron's and other films of various genres.

Take for instance its story of the paraplegic marine whose consciousness is placed into genetically bred body of a race of indigenous humanoid inhabitants of a planet rich in ore. Earth corporations (that is, according to the accents, Americans companies) send their military to eradicate the blue skinned creatures standing between them and the valuable metal. The young marine, now undercover among the "aliens," grasps how this low-tech culture is doomed by human greed and decides to go native and join the resistance, sort of like Dances with Aliens. And of course we see the military evil incaranated in the officer with the southern accent, Stephen Lang, who probably loves the smell of napalm in the morning. And we see the aliens fight back against a supposedly superior force, drawn from every movie from The Return of the Jedi's cuddly Ewoks to Cameron's own Aliens. This is Cameron's first directing of a fiction film since Titanic, 12 years ago and I'm getting the idea that this will be no more original than the recent films of another once cutting edge director, George Lucas, who gave us so much empty eye candy spectacle in the Star Wars prequels. In fact, like those bloated CGI behemoths, Avatar's battle scenes look a lot like video games, smooth and pristine but lacking the feel of real. With his long record of success, Cameron should not be underestimated but based on the trailer that's supposed to entice viewers, it offers little we haven't seen before.

Posted by: Alex Wainer