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Why is Vatican paper reviewing Avatar, the Simpsons?

L’Osservatore Romano, the famously staid semi-official mouthpiece of the Catholic Church, has been seeking to remake its image, panning the blockbuster 'Avatar' but praising Homer Simpson and forgiving John Lennon for his 'more popular than Jesus' comment.

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Avatar's groundbreaking visual effects have wowed audiences on both sides of the Atlantic but the science fiction blockbuster has received a frosty review from an unexpected quarter – the Vatican newspaper.

While James Cameron’s futuristic 3-D adventure has taken more than $1.1 billion at the box office in the US and Britain, it was described by the Holy See’s semi-official mouthpiece as sentimental, derivative, and bland.

The epic movie, which revolves around a struggle by the tall, blue-skinned aliens of the planet Pandora to resist environmental destruction wrought by humans, received a lukewarm review from L’Osservatore Romano (the Roman Observer) ahead of its release in Italy this week.

"So much stupefying, enchanting technology, but few genuine human emotions," said the newspaper. "Cameron, concentrating on the creation of the fantasy world of Pandora, chooses a bland approach. He tells the story without any profound exploration."

The plot descends into sentimentality, the Vatican newspaper complained, and "a rather facile anti-imperialist and anti-militarist parable.”

The review of what could turn out to be the biggest grossing movie of all time is part of L'Osservatore Romano’s efforts to shrug off its previously staid, stuffy image and strike a more contemporary tone.

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