Avatar: 3-Disc Extended Blu-ray Collector's Edition (2009/Fox Blu-ray)
Picture: A- Sound: A Extras: B
Avatar surprised the world when it finally released two years ago, after
years spent in development, as available technology caught up with Jim
Cameron's vision for the film. He did his fair share of pushing, as well - much
of the new computer tech used, he has been behind creating and maturing for
That investment has had quite the pay off, as there is nothing comparable to
the world he has created - one that feels real and tangible in a way that other
films that feature prominent CGI do not. It's paid off outside of the world
within the film as well, having grossed nearly $3 billion worldwide between its
debut and subsequent re-release.
A film such as this one is going to create lasting change in the movie making
world, and some will be good, some bad. On the positive side, there is a new
yardstick for the digital effects in other films to live up to - and as someone
who prefers practical effects, I will concede that there is some impressive
stuff here. As a downside, Avatar has also sparked a radical change in
theaters themselves, as movie houses are now ditching film projectors in favor
of digital ones that can show 3D images. That this change has been so sudden is
alarming and sad, but times change.
It can also be said to have been a major catalyst in the mass acceptance of
Blu-ray disc. This is definitely one movie that you want to get the best
possible home experience from, and Blu-ray provides the rich colors and crisp
visuals that make that giant new HDTV worthwhile. Previously, it was available
only in a bare bones release without special features, and you can read our
opinions on that release here:
Now, though, we've been given the ultimate
treatment with the set currently under review.
There are three cuts of the film presented here, including the original
theatrical release, and two extended cuts. The first of these is the theatrical
re-release, with an additional 8 minutes of footage. Then we have the extended
Collector's Edition cut, with 16 minutes added to its runtime. Of the new
scenes, the best comes earliest in the film, as we see Jake's life on Earth in
the year 2154. Having watched the rest of the new stuff, most of it was too
short to add much to the overall experience for me, but it is of course great
The extras consist of several featurettes and deleted scenes. These behind the
scenes looks are fascinating, but at least one commentary track would have been
a nice inclusion. I do question the necessity of having this be a three-disc
set, as it would seem that the content on second and third could have fit
comfortably on a single disc.
The picture is presented in 1.78:1 anamorphic widescreen, and looks as good as
it did theatrically. The only shame is that we won't have an affordable 3D edition
of the film available until the contract with Panasonic runs out. Only then
will it be available outside of boxed set that includes the required glasses,
but costs a pretty penny.
Sound is great, with excellent use of surrounds. As with the visuals, this is a
great demonstration disc for your home theater. The audio is presented in both
5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio, as well as Dolby surround.
For a movie that was predicted to fail as miserably as this one was, it is
amusing that so many detractors have been left eating their words. I would give
this set a strong recommendation to just about anyone, especially if you have
not yet looked into the world of Pandora. It is definitely worth the trip.
- David Milchick