The Review at a Glance: (max score: 5 )
Audio/3D 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
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: October 16, 2012
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 have previously reviewed the original releases of Avatar on Blu-ray which included the 3D version, containing only the theatrical film cut, that was only available as part of an exclusive offer when purchasing Panasonic 3D products. That was a bitter pill for fans to swallow especially in light of the fact that it remains among the premiere if not the premiere 3D Blu-ray presentations to date. Fox has finally released it much to the joy of those who previously weren’t able to obtain a copy. This review will contain my original comments relative to the film as well as my remarks on the quality of the 3D presentation. Those interested in the quality of the 2D Blu-ray can see my review HERE.
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 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:
3D Presentation: 100
(Each rating is worth 4 points with a max of 5 per category)
- Depth (Onscreen):
- Dimension (Beyond the screen):
- Color reproduction:
Avatar 3D comes to Blu-ray Disc from Fox featuring 1080p MVC encoded video and lossless DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio sound that has an average bitrate of 3.8 Mbps.
I have watched a variety of 3D high definition video both animated and live action. 3D has never truly been something that I have been drawn to however bringing it into the home in high definition intrigued me. I have always found the gimmicky nature of 3D off putting and the imagery combined with the uncomfortable glasses always seemed to give me a headache. I hoped that this implementation would prove to be an improvement which would elevate the experience. I am please to report that it is and so far the most impressive example I have seen is Avatar. Detail is well preserved as the image retains its high level of clarity as objects within the frame are delineated and sharp. I was mesmerized by the depth and realism of the three dimensional imagery.
The separation of objects or people in the foreground/background is incredibly lifelike which serves to visually draw you in by creating a more discerning sense of virtual space occupied by things of various sizes and shapes. This is done to superb effect and rarely resorts to the sort of gimmicks that have things shooting/protruding out of the screen in an obvious attempt to garner audience reaction. That isn’t to say that there is anything wrong with the occasional use of flying objects etc. to stimulate the senses but many times this is overused and can become fatiguing. Fidelity is intact as the film’s gorgeous array of colors, defining contrast and rich blacks bring the world of Pandora to life with startling results. If I had to describe the experience of watching Avatar in 3D I would describe it as natural and completely involving. I didn’t notice any obvious signs of ghosting or 3D related anomalies and never experienced eye strain/fatigue.
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. The LFE channel is mixed on the hot side which occasionally derives deep bass emphasis on sounds where it may not be necessary. Having said that 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 this terrific soundtrack.
- Bonus DVD – Avatar (theatrical cut)
For the first time, every Avatar fan has the opportunity to experience it in 3D via this long awaited release from 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment. The only thing that separates this Limited Edition from the previously released exclusive one is the addition of a bonus DVD and lenticulated 3D slipcover. I have to imagine that somewhere down the road we may see a 3D extended edition Blu-ray release but for now this will do very nicely. Here are the closing remarks from my original review: Avatar 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.
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Reference Review System:
JVC DLA-RS55 3D Ready 1080p High Definition Front Projector
Stewart Filmscreen - Studiotek 130 G3 100” 16x9 Screen
Onkyo PR-SC5508 THX Ultra 2 Audio/Video Processor
Sherbourn Technologies - 7/200 Seven Channel Amplifier
Oppo BDP-93 Universal Disc/3D capable Blu-ray Player (HDMI Audio/Video)
Panasonic DMP-BDT310 3D capable 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)
System Controller: Apple iPad/iRule Pro HD Universal 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
Wireworld, Better Cables (Silver Serpent) - Audio/Video/Speaker Cabling
Cool Components - CP-CP102 cooling package