As people gush about Avatar, allowing the beauty to make up for a storyline that seems to leave most fans disappointed, I wonder: By buying into this whole love-the-pretty-visuals bend, are we helping to end the art of storytelling? Actions have a reaction. Money talks. Merge those two together and it seems like we're sending a loud and clear message to Hollywood that we don't care if the story sucks as long as everything looks pretty. It would certainly account for the neverending barrage of crappy, big-visuals, big-action features.

Of course, it's not so easy to just ignore a film like Avatar. It's been buzzed about for eons. It has infiltrated television shows and plastered its message near and far. We've got to see it. The curiosity is too high. At the same time, however, how the frak can James Cameron have cooked this story up for a decade, waiting for technology to catch up with his vision, and not want the story to be killer? How can he not at least work that script into a form that can at least begin to rival the visuals it's matched with? It seems like an insult. Sure, as Todd Gilchrist pointed out, the man isn't known for his stories. But they usually don't have the push, the marketing, and the time that this one did. While waiting for that technology to meet your needs, why not get some trusted opinions and hone the script? Make each word, each moment, and each scene parallel the beauty of Cameron's cinematic eye -- imagine what the film would've been then.

The production budget was enormous. It was a project that took a decade to complete. If we can't expect 10 years to bring us solid storytelling, one of the most basic essences of cinema, that doesn't bode so well for Hollywood's cinematic future. Long-gestating projects are a different cinematic beast than something like Transformers, which got a sequel quickly to capitalize on the box office, which was meant to be nothing but goofy spectacle. At least those popcorn flicks have the excuse of speed and fluff.

What could Cameron have done? It seems all too simple -- workshop the script, get advice from trusted names, put similar effort into all aspects of the film. But there's also the cinematic world at large to consider. Do you think we're approaching the death of storytelling, and how can we avoid it or fix the problem? Must we rob ourselves the pleasure of beautiful films in protest? Thoughts?

For more on Avatar, its story and the controversial aftermath, see Elisabeth Rappe's Geek Beat, "Bury My Heart on Pandora".