I thought Avatar on the whole was not as original of a movie as everyone made it out to be. As I watched, I had deja vu in so many scenes from other movies. It seemed to me a combination of The Lion King, Fern Gully, Jurassic Park, and ET.
On the other hand, there were several cool science fiction elements that made it worth seeing. Keep in mind, "science fiction" as a genre typically (although not as a rule) takes place in the future, contains elements of heightened technology, and is partially or completely set in space. Avatar had all of these things. To name the obvious:
- Travel to a planet (that doesn't actually exist in our solar system - to our current knowledge) at a speed faster than the speed of light. Pandora.
- Existence of highly evolved and human-like alien life - that we've managed to assimilate with and teach English (of course); one human even manages to fall in love with them.
- Floating mountains.
- Instant communication/connectedness between anything natural on this planet through the "hair lock."
- Technological advancement of "avatars" - robots that are genetically engineered to be controlled remotely through a mental/physical connection with a human.
- Presence of some element on Pandora that will be used as fuel for energy back on Earth.
Avatar was a regurgitated and cliched representation of practically every other science fiction work. Simply sticking aliens on a foreign planet isn't enough to be considered good science fiction. The work has to say something about humanity as a whole or really push the envelope and do something original. Truly ground breaking sci fi pushes against the barrier of " normal " and Avatar failed to do that.