I finally got around to seeing Avatar this afternoon (in French, worse luck). So, is all the hype justified? Yes and no. As many critics have already pointed out the plot is unoriginal and full of clichés, the dialogue often clunky, and the film far too long. But (and it's a big but), as a spectacle, Avatar is truly impressive (I saw it in 3D). Some of the images are breathtakingly beautiful and the alien world is perfectly realised. My advice? Don't wait for the DVD. See it in 3D at the cinema while you've still got the chance.
As for Avatar being the 'future of cinema', as some have claimed, I don't think so. For a science-fiction or action film (Avatar is both), I can see that 3D adds an extra dimension (forgive the pun). But for a comedy or drama, the 3D would just be distracting.
I saw 33 films at the cinema this year. My movie of the year? Slumdog Millionaire.