Avatar, James Cameron’s muscular fantasy of cross-cultural warfare and romance, has spent its first month in release bludgeoning its way nearly to the top of the all-time grosses pile. And it inches ever closer to unseating the highest grossing (without adjustment for inflation) film of all time: James Cameron’s Titanic. As of this writing, it’s taken home Golden Globes for Best Director and Picture, and now seems destined for Academy Award success. It’s taken us a while to get around to reviewing it, but there’s value in viewing a film like Avatar from this vantage point, well in the wake of the weekly critics, the blogs, the backlash, the backlash to the backlash, the film’s massive financial windfall, and the curious cases of fans suffering a “blue dip” from their inability to join the Na’vi race on Pandora (not to mention amateur Na’vi porn sites). Larger questions than how successful the film is as art enter into the equation; assessment of the film’s aesthetic merits shouldn’t be avoided, but it’s clear by now that Avatar represents something important, something very big to the industry—in the sense of how films are made, distributed, exhibited, and received—but what that is remains unclear. It feels likely at this point that we’ll look back on the last major release of the aughts as a watershed moment and feel that big budget entertainments were different post-Avatar. But how?