I went to a Magnolia Pictures holiday party just after tonight’s 7 pm Avatar screening exited, and then the damn wireless wasn’t working for about 30 minutes when I finally got home. The upshot is that I’m too whipped — it’s 12:35 am — to evaluate the ins and outs of this amazing film, but I’ll tell you right now there are very few outs. It’s half CG, half live action and it jumps back and forth so the dreaded sensation of being swallowed by a cartoon never happens. Avatar is a hybrid thing and a wild one at that.

All the energy and the madness and the money are right there on the screen, you bet, and the “yeah, I guess I’ll see Avatar but I’m in no real hurry” phase is over. This is too much of an adrenalized eye-popper not to see it as soon as possible, and absolutely in 3D and most desirably in 3D IMAX. (Believe it or not, 20th Century Fox showed it to the creme de la creme of New York journalists in a regular non-IMAX theatre this evening, although the 3D quality was perfectly fine.)

This is probably the goofiest, craziest, super-budgeted CG romper-stomper I’ve ever seen. A friend said it was three video games rolled into one instead of a movie, which is somewhat true in that the story and action-fantasy elements are aimed at your inner 14 year-old (whom I’d forgotten about until tonight — now I feel pleasantly re-acquainted).

You can’t say Avatar doesn’t impart a feeling of delirious abandon and wild-ass splendor. You could call it a kind of visual opera — a forest-primeval symphonic naturalist hard-on movie that technically knocks you flat, coheres emotionally, isn’t afraid to be silly or simplistic, delivers visual CG wonder like nothing I’ve ever seen before (really) and pays off like a gotterdammerung Apocalypse Now meets Tarzan meets the best-special-effects-flick-you’ve-ever-seen insanity ride. The two and a half hours just fly by, and the last 30 minutes alone — a truly nutty extended battle sequence — are worth the price.

I was in fact open-mouthed — faintly grinning but pretty much agog — during the big-ass finale. As Bruno Ganz‘s Adolf Hitler said in that YouTube satire, the 3D is so good it’s like your eyeballs are having sex. The only problem (which wasn’t a problem for me) is that it’s aimed at teenagers. I was wishing, in fact, that I could somehow revert to age 14 or 15 so I could see Avatar in the proper frame — then I’d really have something to do double-backflips over. I’m a little older than that, unfortunately, so instead of sending me into wet-dream action heaven Avatar gave me the wet-dream action heaven giggles, as if I’d toked up before it started.

I’ve seen and heard all the stuff that Avatar dishes out many times before — in Dances With Wolves and A Man Called Horse, for openers — but it’s thrown together with such punch and frenzy that it’s like Cameron somehow managed to time-machine himself back to his own mid teens in order to make it. This is one surging rush of a 3-D flying banshee jungle flick, and at the same time a respect-the-earth, Bush and Cheney-condemning political movie. They should be showing this to the climate change gang in Copenhagen.

That’s it, I’m finished…I’ll write more tomorrow morning.