I don't think many people seen an inherent link between SOUTH PACIFIC and AVATAR. But, at least for me, there are a few similiarties: I saw both at Lincoln Center in the first week of 2010, both are over 2.5 hours, both deal with warfare in tropical locales and troubled relations with "natives", but are absolutely stunning, stunning enough to negate some substantial flaws.
With the amateur productions I've seen, these dramaturgical quibbles were enough to seriously taint the experience, but the production at Lincoln center was so stunningly designed, acted and sung that most of the more bizarre elements of the book didn't reveal themselves until I allowed myself the think about them afterwards. Even those tedious "listen to the exciting stuff happen off stage" scenes were styling enough to hold my interest.
So at what point is it okay to ignore flaws and relish in the abundant resources of a production? Is it somehow "cheating" or "quitting" to allow a movie like AVATAR wow us with razzle dazzle, even if it was somewhat (though not entirely) lacking in substance? Another example: I loved FINNIAN'S RAINBOW. A friend of mine hated it. He loved the score, but couldn't get over the lack of conflict in the book, or the underdeveloped characters, or the hastily created romance. I, for one, didn't care how hasty the romance was, since it created an excuse for me to hear the delightful "If This Isn't Love". Sure, the character development was fairly crude compared to that of, say, A CATERED AFFAIR, but the richness and joy in FINNIAN'S score made it the more satisfying evening. And really, most everything can be picked apart if held up to close enough scrutiny; the whole is almost always greater than the sum of its parts. It's a fine fine line indeed.