AVATAR: COLLECTOR’S EDITION
MOVIE: ***** (out of 5)
BLU-RAY EXPERIENCE: ****1/2 (out of 5)
BY KEVIN CARR
WHAT IT’S ABOUT
James Cameron’s record-breaking highest-grossing film of all time finally comes to DVD and Blu-ray loaded with hours of additional features in a special collector’s edition. Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) is a marine whose twin brother is killed in an accident, so he is tapped to help with a science expedition on another world. Using genetically engineered bodies, scientists are able to link their minds with the native people of Pandora known as the Na’vi. However, when he learns the true objective of the mission and what it will do to the Na’vi, he takes matters into his own blue hands.
WHAT I LIKED
My thoughts on “Avatar” the film should not be a surprise to anyone who knows me and my reviews. I thought it was one of the best films of 2009, not necessarily because it told a great or original story, but rather because it was a true theatrical experience. 3D or not, “Avatar” is a fantastic space adventure that brings up images in my mind of the brilliant artwork on the covers of old pulp magazines like “Amazing Stories” and “Astounding Science Fiction.”
But beyond just the excitement surrounding “Avatar” the film, this Blu-ray set is what the fans have been waiting for since the disappointment of the bare bones release this past spring. There’s additional footage to help fill out the story, a whole 16 minutes (which is more than you got from the theatrical re-release this fall). Sure, it’s not critical information, but it doesn’t seem out of place, either.
Ultimately, “Avatar” on Blu-ray is a great reference disc to have so you can show other people how gorgeous 1080p can look. Personally, I have pulled this movie out on several occasions to show off my HDTV and then compare it to the DVD as well. The fascination with “Avatar” does not end in the IMAX theater row, but can be realized as good as it can get in your home theater system.
And this three-disc Blu-ray or DVD set is definitely worth the affordable price, considering all the additional bonus material that you get with it.
WHAT I DIDN’T LIKE
There really isn’t much I didn’t like about this release, aside from the fact that a commentary track is noticeably absent from the bonus materials.
Sure, you can complain about the preachy environmental message, the wooden acting of Sam Worthington or the “Pocahontas” rehashed storyline, but those are all forgivable considering what bloody good fun “Avatar” is to watch.
First, let’s just quote some numbers off the cover box…. 8 hours of new material, including 45 minutes of deleted scenes. This alone makes up for the sparse release that we got in April (which everyone knew was just there to sell a lot of copies, leaving the loaded set for the collectors around Christmas).
The first disc includes several versions of the film: the theatrical cut, the collector’s extended cut (with 16 more minutes) and the special edition re-release cut (with 8 more minutes). There’s also an optional “Family Audio Track” for the theatrical release, which cleans up the language so as to not offend the “PG-13 is too racy for me” crowd.
The second disc, labeled “Filmmakers’ Journey” includes a whole slate of deleted scenes, production materials, “A Message from Pandora” bit and a feature-length documentary “Capturing Avatar,” which brings the viewer through the genesis of the computer generated imagery.
Disc three, cheekily labeled “Pandora’s Box” includes 17 of production featurettes that take you beyond the motion-capture process from disc two, including looks at the scoring, the use of the 3D Fusion camera system and the stunts, plus multi-angle analyses and deconstruction of scenes in different stages of production, and the “Avatar Archives,” which contains hundreds of images.
WHO’S GOING TO LIKE THIS MOVIE
Fans of “Avatar” and James Cameron, and anyone who has been living in a cave for the past year.