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Is Avatar this generation's Star Wars? Is Avatar BETTER than Star Wars? The debate begins!

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I saw Avatar on Saturday. My opinion of the film isn’t all that important or interesting — but I basically agree with EW’s estimable Owen Gleiberman, although I must admit I continue to think about it more than the usual “B” grade movie. More interesting and perhaps more noteworthy was the reaction of my 8-year-old son Ben. He’s a big Star Wars fan (so you know that I’m raising him well) and interested in sci-fi stuff (especially sci-fi stuff that involves spaceships and loud battles), and so he’s been obsessed with Avatar for weeks. Until now, Ben’s only cinematic experiences have been 3-D animated movies like Wall-E, Up and Madagascar. I tried to take him to Speed Racer last year, but he asked to leave one hour into it, saying, “Daddy, I think I’m too young for this movie.” (I was pretty impressed that he could think that way for himself.)

With this as context, Ben walked out of our 3-D Imax screening of Avatar totally blown away. And then he said the words that left me floored: “That was even better than Star Wars!” Not sure I heard him correctly, I asked him, pointedly: “What’s your favorite movie: Star Wars or Avatar?” He said, without hesitation, “Avatar.” Three days later, he’s still talking and buzzing about it, and more, he’s suddenly hungry for more cinematic experience — very similar to my reaction to A New Hope when I first saw at as a 7-year-old in ’77. With Avatar, the medium of movies (or what it is movies have become) has captured my son’s imagination.

My questions: Have I gone horribly awry in my parenting? Is my son just peculiar — or is Avatar this generation’s Star Wars? And if you can’t relate to the question because you don’t have kids, let’s make it relevant to all. Star Wars or Avatar: Which one is better — and which one do you like better?

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