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The World of The King

"Avatar" ***1/2 (out of four): James Cameron's long-awaited, unspeakably expensive 3-D epic may not change the way we watch movies, but it's undeniably beautiful, engrossing, and sets a new bar in computer-generated animation. Not bad for the King of the World.

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You have to hand it to James Cameron. The man doesn't do anything halfway. The self-proclaimed "King of the World" - who might more accurately be called "King of Hyperbole" - boasts that his new 3-D extravaganza "Avatar" will do no less than "change the way we watch movies." Well, no. It's still all about sitting in a theater, facing front. And, if Mr. Cameron's marketing machine has done its work, it's still all about standing in hair-pullingly annoying lines waiting for the privilege. The 3-D also still requires those silly glasses (though the new ones are far more stylish than the cardboard variety of the past). All that being said, there's no denying that Mr. Cameron is a fine storyteller with a vivid imagination - plus, he could teach Michael Bay a master-class in the art of filming an action sequence. His long-awaited, unspeakably expensive (literally, you can't get anyone to talk about it) epic may not change the way we watch movies, but it's undeniably beautiful, engrossing, and sets a new bar in computer-generated animation. Not bad for a once and future King.

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