The message of what is now James Cameron's most popular movie thus far, and the biggest-grossing movie in history—like the message of so much else in mass culture just now—is...that "reality" is dispensable altogether; or, at the very least, whatever you care to make of it, provided you have the right gadgets. In this fantasy of a lusciously colorful trip over the rainbow, you don't have to wake up. There's no need for home. Whatever its futuristic setting, and whatever its debt to the past, Avatar is very much a movie for our time.-- from The Wizard by Daniel Mendelsohn.
Cameron see things differently. When Andy Revkin asks, why build a fantasy world? he replies:
People connect to that world, to the Na’vi and Na’vi philosophy, but it really is about reconnecting with our own world here. That’s how I see science fiction, functioning as a kind of a mirror. It’s often talked of as prophetic. But it’s generally been pretty lousy at predicting the actual future. To me, it allows us to step outside our own parochial interests and lets us look back at ourselves, at human nature, at the way we do things, without all the normal guilt-inducing buttons.