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!
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.
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.
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.
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
Disc 2: Filmmaker’s Journey
Disc 3: Pandora’s Box
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!