The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/Video total rating:
( Max score: 100 )
Studio and Year: 20th Century Fox - 2009
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Feature running time: 162 minutes
Disc Format: BD-50
Encoding: AVC (MPEG-4)
Video Aspect: 1.78:1
Audio Format(s): English DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio, Spanish/French/Portuguese Dolby Digital 5.1
Subtitles: English SDH, Portuguese, Spanish
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez, Sigourney Weaver, Giovanni Ribisi, Laz Alonzo, Wes Studi, CCH Pounder
Written & Directed by: James Cameron
Music by: James Horner
Region Code: A
Blu-ray Disc release Date: April 22, 2010
"Enter the world"
A reluctant hero. An epic journey. A choice between the life he left behind and the incredible new world he's learned to call home. Return to James Cameron's Avatar - the greatest adventure of all time.
Let’s face it James Cameron knows how to create a motion picture that seems to truly represent his vision as a filmmaker. I am probably one of the only few reading this that didn’t see Avatar in the theater. My kids saw it but my wife and I just never got around to it. I am a fan of Cameron’s and have been for years but this is a film that deep down I felt I wanted to experience for the first time in my own theater room. I wasn’t disappointed. Avatar is the name given the biologically engineered, genetically matched and remotely controlled “suits” created so that humans could interact with the indigenous humanoid Na’vi of the distant planet of Pandora. A fertile and lush world inhabited by a host of alien species and a precious material known as unobtainium, a room temperature, super-conductor for energy, which makes it very valuable. A joint military/civilian scientist outpost has been established on Pandora for the purposes of mining it however the Na’vi are not open to intruding outsiders and their colony rests on the area where the highest concentration of unobtainium is located. Jake Sully is a former marine and paraplegic whose recently deceased twin brother was slated for the Avatar program. Because Jake is a genetic match for his brother he has been brought to Pandora to take his place. He meets with both the military and civilian personnel who both have completely different agendas. The military is employed by a corporation seeking the unobtainium and the scientists, holding the key through the Avatar program, seek to study the planet and its inhabitants. Jake is brought into the fold and quickly learns how the corporation/military want their agenda met when they instruct him to use his recently acquired relationship with Neytiri, a female of the Na’vi to gather intelligence to help supplant the tribe. After living among the Na’vi and being instructed in their customs through Neytiri Jake begins to lose focus on the mission. He becomes enamored by their world and finds himself falling for Neytiri. Once this becomes evident the corporation instructs the military to move in forcibly which results in a standoff that leaves Jake right smack in the middle. Does he assist in the destruction of the Na’vi and the world he has grown to love or does he stand with them in defense of their home against a mightier and better prepared army?
Avatar’s premise about an undercover that becomes seduced by the world which he is infiltrating is certainly nothing new. Formulaic or not this story strikes all the requisite chords and has enough substance to keep interest from waning. Quite honestly I think that for me the real attraction here is found both in the combination of the story’s elements and the visual stimulation contained in the imaginary world created by James Cameron. I am a sucker for the good versus evil, little guy taking on the giant concept so this one lured me in early on. Being a fan of Cameron’s past works this felt like slipping on a brand new pair of shoes and already having them broken in. I can’t say that everyone will feel the same but I found Avatar to be highly entertaining and well worth an evening spent.
The rating is for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking.
AUDIO/VIDEO - By The Numbers:
REFERENCE = 92-100 / EXCELLENT = 83-91 / GOOD = 74-82 / AVERAGE = 65-73 / BELOW AVERAGE = under 65
**My audio/video ratings are based upon a comparative made against other high definition media/blu-ray disc.**
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Low frequency extension:
- Surround Sound presentation:
- Dialogue Reproduction:
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Black level/Shadow detail:
- Color reproduction:
Avatar comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p AVC encoded video that has an average bitrate of 33 mbps and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 mbps.
This is a stellar high definition presentation that boasts rich, delineated primary colors, beautifully lush pastels and vibrant hues that are vivid, bold and striking in high definition. The video quality is nothing short of mesmerizing in its depiction of the film’s digitally crafted images. Objects onscreen are exquisitely detailed with a luminous and sparkling clarity that seems infinitely lucid and three dimensional. It never left me wanting for fine degrees of subtle refinement and texture. The attention to detail in the construction of the Na’vi’s physical characteristics is truly impressive and can be fully appreciated thanks to this presentation’s exquisite level of definition. Contrast is strong and blacks are deep without compromise to delineation. Shadowy areas exhibit excellent depth of field and visible gradational stages. The various wide angle shots of the visually complex world of Pandora look absolutely stunning. Flesh tones are not overtly complex in tone but appear diverse in subtle structure and complexional makeup. This is a sophisticated visual design that uses real imagery mixed with CGI. The end result is a flawless and superlative video presentation that truly evokes the spirit and emotion of the film.
The DTS-HD Master Audio soundtrack is reference quality and is sure to please those who like to play their systems loud. I had high expectations for this soundtrack and this lossless audio presentation didn’t disappoint. I was treated to an impeccably detailed, powerfully dynamic, and demonstrative surround sound experience. Multi-layered sound effects are appropriately placed within the soundfield so that their purpose was definable yet never overstated. The mix makes effective and often aggressive use of the surround channels to elongate the front soundstage and reproduce the spatial and discrete sounds of this demanding soundtrack. The front and rear sound fields are integrated with precision which enables a seamless transference during panning sequences. The listening position is submerged into a 360 degree web of sound that is sometimes riveting as it bombards the senses with a combination of well placed sound effects and musical ambience. Dialogue is supremely articulated with excellent focus, clarity and descriptive intonation. Low frequency detail can be substantial as it occasionally reaches seismic levels that will test the limits of lesser subwoofers. The extended dynamic range of the recording coupled with the inherent high resolution audio encoding renders the bombastic nature of battle with superlative high level sonics and authoritative bass transients that are deep, powerful and sometimes timber rattling. I found its ability to render fine detail, and subtle nuance to be excellent. As viewers I think we sometimes miss some of the intricacies that go into the design of soundtracks such as this. Not so in this case as even seemingly inconspicuous minutia within the recording is detectable. I thoroughly enjoyed every minute with terrific soundtrack.
Avatar on Blu-ray is truly demonstration worthy in every regard as it looks and sounds sublime.
There are no bonus supplements included with this release. Disc one is a BD-50 Blu-ray Disc containing the high definition version of the film and also includes a new THX trailer that rolls after the credits. Disc two is a DVD containing the standard definition version of Avatar.
So was all the hype worth it? I think so. I enjoyed Avatar and found it to be a highly entertaining film indicative of the large scale and visionary style productions that we have come to expect from writer/director James Cameron. I had high expectations for its release in high definition on Blu-ray from Fox and I was not disappointed. This is a technical marvel that exudes the very best that we as enthusiasts have come to expect from the Blu-ray format. No matter how large your screen or how precise your audio equipment this presentation will knock your socks off. The lack of any bonus supplements is of course a disappointment. With the announcement of the multi-disc special edition slated for release later this year the decision to buy this one may be questionable. Personally I feel that this is worth adding to your collection but if you’re on the fence give it a rent. Either way I guarantee you won’t be disappointed with its visually arresting images and superb sound quality. Enjoy!
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JVC DLA-RS20 1080p High Definition Front Projector (Calibrated by Jeff Meier)
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Anthem AVM50v THX Ultra 2 Preamp/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-83 Universal disc/Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
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Oppo 970HD universal disc DVD Player (480i HDMI)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
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SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package