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, Unrated
Feature running time: 162 minutes, 170 minutes, 178 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, Spanish, Portuguese
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: November 16, 2010
"Enter the world"
Director James Cameron is unlocking the secrets of Pandora and taking fans on a guided tour of his vision with the highly anticipated release of AVATAR Extended Collector’s Edition on Blu-ray and DVD releasing November 16th in North America and rolling out internationally from November 15th. These exclusive Extended Collector’s Editions come with iconic, collectible packaging to get fans to experience Pandora like never before. With three versions of the film, AVATAR fans will get an all-new extended cut of the film and hours of never-before seen material including over 45 minutes of amazing deleted scenes!
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.
I reviewed Avatar on Blu-ray when it was released back in the spring. The original release was a barebones edition that contained only the Blu-ray and DVD versions of the film in their original theatrical release editions. This extended collector’s edition contains three versions of the film, the theatrical, special edition re-release, and the new collector’s extended cut which adds 16 minutes to the original and 8 minutes to the re-release. I watched the extended cut and my experience with the film was much the same as when I first saw it. In this day an age 3 hours movies are rare but I must admit that I never once took note of the time or felt that the pacing was sluggish. On the contrary I felt that the majority of the additional components added more depth to the story. The new opening featured a bit more on Jake and where he was at in his life when he received word of his brother’s death and the offer to take his place. There is also a deeper plot relative to Grace, her work with at the Na’vi school and what happened there prior to Jake’s arrival. The remainder is made up of extended sequences, some that proved worthwhile and others that neither added nor detracted. As a fan of the film this is my preferred choice although I wouldn’t say that it makes Avatar a better film I do think that my original rating was a bit low so I have bumped it up. Here are the comments from my original review:
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 there 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 definitely an evening well 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.
In looking at this presentation and comparing it to my comments from my original review my impression hasn’t changed. The integrated elements are cohesively rendered and don’t detract from this alluring video presentation. Here are the comments from my original review:
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.
There has been much debate regarding the application of low frequency effects in this mix during a few sequences in the film with the falling of home tree being the primary topic of discussion. I didn’t and still don’t see this as a detractor but feel it is a component inherent in the original surround mix that wasn’t intended to contain earth shattering LFE. Whether or not I feel it should is another matter but it doesn’t change the fact that this is a great home theater presentation that rocks. Here are the comments from my original review:
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 am the first to admit that I love deep, clean, powerful bass and this track delivers it in spades. 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 demonstrative worthy in every regard as it looks and sounds sublime.
I must admit to being sorely disappointed when the original high definition release of Avatar contained no bonus features. As a fan of James Cameron’s films I have always marveled at the background on his projects and appreciated the documentation provided in his home video releases. When it was announced that this collector’s edition release was coming I had high expectations and in true Cameron fashion no stone was left unturned.
It seems that of late I have come across several Blu-ray Disc sets packaged in a unique configuration and this Collector’s Edition of Avatar falls into that category. The set comes house in a book style keep case that is comprised of three “pages” (one for each disc) containing sleeves. The discs rest on a thin glossy sleeve (held in place by a flap) that slides into the “page”. The “book” slides into an attractive and sturdy cardboard slipcover with the requisite store shelf type slipcover sliding over that (see photo). Getting the discs in and out is straightforward enough but the flap holding the disc precludes a smooth transition and must be tucked in for a good fit. It’s far from being problematic and overall I would rate the quality of the packaging as good.
- Direct access to the additional scenes from the re-release and extended cuts of the film
- Family Audio track (All objectionable language removed) – Theatrical and Re-release versions
- (HD) 28 Deleted scenes including over 45 minutes of never before seen footage
- (HD) Capturing Avatar – 4 part documentary
- (HD) A message from Pandora – A 20 minute documentary hosted by James Cameron
- (HD) Production materials - 14 segment making of that includes ILM prototypes, screen tests, VFX progressions and more
- (HD) Scene deconstruction: 17 segments are broken down and featured in template, capture, and final form which are viewable in an toggled active comparative via a PiP window operated by your remote
- (HD) Featurettes (totaling nearly 90 minutes) :
- Sculpting Avatar
- Creating the Banshee
- Creating the Thanator
- The Amp suit
- Flying vehicles
- Na’vi costumes
- Speaking Na’vi
- Pandora flora
- Performance capture
- Virtual camera
- The 3D fusion camera
- The simulcam
- Editing Avatar
- Scoring Avatar
- Sound design
- The Haka: The spirit of New Zealand
- (HD) Avatar archives:
- Theatrical and teaser trailers
- Avatar: The original scriptment
- Avatar: Screenplay written by James Cameron
- Pandorapedia – Comprehensive interactive text
- Avatar the songs
- (HD) The art of Avatar – A plethora of high definition images
- BD-Live powered Live extras: Screen test footage – Stephen Lang, Zoe Saldana, Sam Worthington, Givanni Ribisi, CCH Pounder, Rehearsal footage, Weta workshop, and a short featuring the film crew
I enjoy Avatar and find 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 this Extended Collectors’ Edition from Cameron and Fox and I was not disappointed. The film 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. This full featured three disc edition which contains three versions of the film as well as a soup to nuts accounting of the production is a fan’s delight. It has found a home in my collection and gets my definitive recommendation for those who enjoy Avatar.
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Reference Review System:
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)
Samsung BD-C7900 Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Toshiba HD-XA2 HD DVD Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Sony Playstation 3 Blu-ray disc Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Philips TSU9400 Pro Series Touch Panel Remote Control
Canton "Ergo" Series speakers
Axiom Audio QS8 Quadpolar speakers
SV Sound PB-13 Ultra (Rosenut finish)
APC AV S15BLK Power Conditioner/Surge Protector
Furman SPR-20i Stable Power Regulator
Wireworld, VizionWare, Audioquest, Better Cables, Best Deal Cables - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package