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Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)

James Cameron’s Avatar has arrived in a very impressive 3-disc Extended Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray.  Some folks will scoff about this being the fourth or fifth (sarcastic) dip since it was first released as a bare bone disc earlier in the year.  Scoff all you want, but James Cameron and Fox did say that this set would be released in November, so woe is definitely me.  I do hear that there will be a 3-D release in the near future, so there may be some merit to what has already been said.  This, on the other hand, is a review for the 3-disc non-3-D version of Avatar. What’s to say that has already been said?  Read on and find out!

Film 

Basic is as basic does.  Let’s get it out of the way.  James Cameron did not break ground when it came to storytelling with Avatar. Not even close.  What he did accomplish were certain technological feats that had never been seen up to that point.  Avatar can be compared to Dances With Wolves, Pocahontas, and The Emerald Forrest. James Cameron has even gone on record and stated that those very films were his templates in creating the basic story premise for Avatar. No surprises there.

I firmly believe that if James Cameron had totally geeked out and tried to create a world with endless jargon, Avatar would have failed at the box-office.  It’s Avatar’s borrowed simplicity that allowed it to succeed and make it the highest grossing film of all time.  The studios are there to make money after all.  They will not invest 200 million dollars on something “new” and “original.”  Considering it is the number one film of all time now, I wouldn’t be surprised if the sequels ARE filled with jargon and originality. End rant.

The extended collector’s cut of the film runs about 3 hours with credits.  It features 16 minutes of restored footage woven back into the film.  The most obvious restored scene in  this extended cut of Avatar would have to be the new and re-edited opening on Earth that focuses on Jake (Sam Worthington) and what he does from day (or evening) to day.  Some will say that the continuity has been ruined and that it lags or drags and takes a while for us to get to Pandora.  This is not the case.  In fact, the new opening intro reminds me of a slightly polished version of Blade Runner.  The people wear masks over their faces, it’s overcrowded, and the buildings tower over everyone.  Industry is very much alive on this Earth.  Other scenes include a Sturmbeest (buffalo) hunt.  Yes, this scene really stands out, but as with the rest of the film, it is flawless in its execution.  Very exhilarating!  There is a scene extension in which Grace (Sigourney Weaver) tells Sam that Neytiri’s (Zoe Saldana) sister was killed by humans.  The rest of the footage is beautifully interwoven into the film that you probably won’t know what to look for.  This is why it plays so well.

Unless you have been hiding under a rock, this review of Avatar will almost seem like a rehash.  I’m here to explore certain points in the film and to give you some little nuggets of information that I think you will benefit from in your decision to see this version.  If you’re one of the few holdouts that can’t decide on whether to get this or not, I would suggest that this Avatar 3 disc Extended Collector’s Edition is your first class ticket on a one way ride to Pandora.  I don’t think you’ll regret unless you go into it with “hater” mentality.  If so, then you will probably hate it for sure.  If you were a fan of the theatrical version then it’s a win-win scenario for you.

Video  

Avatar is presented in a 1.78:1 aspect ratio.  I’m aware that in theaters the OAR (original aspect ratio varied).  For all intents and purposes Avatar is demo worthy.  What can you say about this transfer?  Nothing.  Don’t question PERFECTION.  The colors leap off the screen, DNR and noise are absent, etc… This is a digital file, so there are no problems inherent to the source.  FLAWLESS.

Audio  

Avatar is presented in DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1.  As with the video, the audio is also a stunner.  I have read and heard some complaints that the bass isn’t “loud” enough which gives the impression that some people are confusing the term.  Bass is supposed to be felt and not heard.  You already get bass from the speakers mixed into the rest of the sound.  If it’s LFE you want, then this film delivers it.  The low-end bass is there, but is more natural.  I totally prefer a more natural sounding soundscape than something artificial sounding.  Avatar delivers this right between the eyes.

Special Features 

These special features were somewhat tough to grade, because it could have gone either way.  A five or a four.  I couldn’t do a four and a half, though.  The fact that there are three versions of the film is a big enough deal, but there was something that bothered me.  The third disc contains the full featurette that’s on the second disc, but broken up into mini-featurettes.  That’s fine and dandy, but I would rather have more original content than the same stuff I already saw.  Besides that little quip, the extra 45 minutes of deleted scenes is cool to look at and so is the making of featurette (the long one).  What’s even more fascinating is the original Avatar screen test done by different actors almost five years ago and animated by ILM.  It is pretty damn cool.

Disc 1: Three Movie Versions

  • Original Theatrical Edition (includes family audio track with objectionable language removed)
  • Special Edition Re-Release (includes family audio track with objectionable language removed)
  • Collector’s Extended Cut with 16 additional minutes, including alternate opening on earth

Disc 2: Filmmaker’s Journey

  • Over 45 minutes of never-before-seen deleted scenes
  • Capturing Avatar documentary
  • A Message from Pandora
  • Screen tests, on-set footage, and visual-effects reels

Disc 3: Pandora’s Box

  • Interactive scene deconstruction: Explore 17 scenes at three levels of production
  • Pandorapedia: Comprehensive guide to Pandora and Avatar
  • Original script and screenplay

Final Thoughts 

When it comes to the video and audio quality it is DEMO worthy.  The special features are almost there, and as far as the overall film goes, then you already know I’m a fan.  It is a must buy, in my opinion, and I can guarantee that your home theater will get a long overdue workout.  It is priced very cheaply right now, so I suggest you pick it up.  It will hold you over until part two, which should hit theaters in 2014.

*

Bring home Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray!

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Gerard Iribe is a writer/reviewer for Why So Blu?. He has also reviewed for other sites like DVD Talk, Project-Blu, and CHUD, but Why So Blu? is where the heart is. You can follow his incoherency on Twitter: @giribe

13 Responses to “Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition (Blu-ray Review)”


  1. Brian White

    This set are what dreams are made of.

    Gee…I wonder what my #1 Blu-ray disc this year is going to be. Hmm…very very hard decision.

    The 16 minutes of extra footage here was well received by me and it did not feel the least bit intrusive.

  2. Gerard Iribe

    True that, Brian. This and that Alien Anthology set are blu-ray dreams are made of.

  3. Aaron Neuwirth

    A chunk of my weekend will probably be devoted to getting into the special features. And thanks for summing up some of my own opinions on the film’s story.

    Good stuff here.

  4. Gregg Senko

    “is” what dreams are made of.

  5. Brian White

    I just finished watching the doc CAPTURING AVATAR…and I’m just speechless. Words cannot describe how much more appreciation I have for this film. Those virtual cameras and just unreal. I think all Avatar haters should watch this doc.

    I’m glad this film was the financial success it was for Cameron. All the work that went into making this…years worth! Unbelievable.

  6. Sean Ferguson

    I’ve already gone on record complaining about the lack of an original story but the effort and technical expertise that went into this movie is incredible and should be rewarded and appreciated. I just wish that all of that effort had gone into something other than Pocohontas in Space. Nice review Brian! I think I’ll pick up a used copy at some point.

  7. Brian White

    @Sean…all credit goes to GErard above. He came back from Mexico itching to review a title and this was the only one I had in my possession. I sacrificed and sent it to him and bought my own copy ASAP as no one should not have this in their home video collection 🙂

    I keep thinking about those virtual cameras they used. Wow! I dreamt about them all night long.

  8. Brian White

    After all my praise I forgot to comment how much I hate the packaging on this set. What’s wrong with using Blu-ray cases? I don’t like all these cardboard box sets 🙁 The discs are held in by a flimsy cardboard tray. Where’s the protection for the discs? It’s as ridiculous as the Aliens and B2F box sets 🙁

  9. Aaron Neuwirth

    Really? I love the packaging for this set. It beats the hell out of the Back to the Future set, which has me risking breaking discs all of the time. I like this versions book format a lot better.

  10. Brian White

    But what’s wrong with a case like the Godfather set? At least I know my discs are safe and not resting on cardboard.

  11. Aaron Neuwirth

    I like have a flashy box set for things…

  12. Gerard Iribe

    I think the box looks classy. I’m not a fan of BTTF, so can’t comment there. I have the Alien Anthology UK set which comes in a Quadrilogy-like (think of the SD set) box. Looks great.

    Then again, it’s not like I’m gonna be using the boxes as toys. I don’t really care. I watch the blu-rays not the boxes.

  13. Aaron Neuwirth

    After watching the behind the scenes documentary I have to reconsider James Cameron not winning for best director. The amount of work, invention, and further attempts at paving the way for the future of film that is present in what we see here is fascinating. As much as I like The Hurt Locker (and I still think it’s a better film), Cameron’s work was amazing.