I never heard much of this movie at all during it's production, It had more of a viral following that I wasn't part of. I only heard of it once 1 about 2 years back while I was digging around Weta Works website. Weta Works are the ones who did a phenomenal job on the Avatar CGI. I was looking for info on a movie they were making, which wasn't listed, but under the heading "Under Production" was a movie called Avatar. I clicked the link and all there was was a picture of an AMP suit in a swamp. After that, I never heard of it again until the Hype Machine finally turned on months before release.
I never thought much of it after I saw the previews, it looked nice, I may go see it, but never anticipated it. Then after its release, its all people are talking about, how amazing the story, characters, the visuals, and if you don't see it in 3D you are missing out on something outstanding. So, Christmas break happens to be going on, a few of my buddies are back home from college, and I hammer a get together to go to the theaters. But I wanted the ultimate experience, so we set our eyes on an IMAX, which is an hour away in a mall. Show time is 7, we show up at 6:30, and its sold out, next IMAX showing, 10:40, so we buy our tickets right there, and waited for 4 hours. Got out of the theaters 1 in the morning, went home speechless.
I'm an a huge Fantasy fan. There has been a HUGE lack of decent to amazing level fantasy movies probably since Lord of the rings. Not only was it an outstanding Fantasy, it is original, no rehashing of dragons, orcs and goblins
I'm also A pretty big SCFI fan, and more of a realistic SCFI. When the tech can be explained in a reasonable matter, which is true with 90% of the avatar tech. (psyonic link breaks this trend) Even though the tech is never really explained in the movie, they still were stunning to see and it didn't take to much more effort to look it up.
I'm a sucker for a love story that isn't a soft one, The way the relationship between Jake and Neytiri was right up my alley, not mushy in the least. The connection was made through all their hard work and training, and it just kinda creeped in.
I saw it in an IMAX the first time, that is the ultimate showing of the technology that has been born with this film. I too am a tech nut and I was blown away by the stereo camera lens and the EMOKAP systems. Plus the 3d wasn't about throwing objects into the crowd or poking with spears, it was immersive instead, it changed from watching a 3d movie to being there in the story.