The disc presents Cameron’s preferred widescreen 1.85:1 1080p ratio in both 2D and 3D. As the pioneer of the new 3D technology you would expect this image to be the very best that is currently available, and you would be right, this is, in a word, perfect. The 3D effects are basically flawless in their representation, a few ‘point at the screen’ moments sure, but basically it's just depth, depth, depth. The establishing shots over the vast jungle of the Pandorian landscape are breathtaking, the solidity of the foliage, the depth of the frame, the distance between layers is quite astonishing. Even the simplest shot is filled with enough depth to pull you into the frame. There is distinct fore, middle and back ground, each layer has its own depth, this is a solid world. Look at the mist as it rolls and flows in and out of the frame, look at the leaves on the trees as they sway back and forth into and out of the frame, the depth of the vehicles that have a front, middle and back, each animal has a solidity to it, the photoluminescence in the night time forest shimmers in and out of the frame, the insects that buzz around make you want to swat them away – this is how to showcase 3D, this is how to involve the viewer, this is 3D at it's very, very best.
Add to all this, the incredible amount of detail and colour to the image, pause any frame and you have a post card perfect image in 3D. The detailing of this world in amazing, from the smallest grain of dirt, to the metallic sheets of the spacecraft, everything is in absolute clarity, check out any of the night time scenes in the forest. Skin detail, both human and Na’vi, is good enough to touch, clothing weaves, intricate machinery, computer screens; everything is so clean and precise as to seems touchable.
Colours are bright, bold and crisp, and look so natural, even in this unnatural world that you can’t help but be swept by the majesty of it. Blues and greens shimmer off the screen, reds and oranges explode out. Who would have thought that blue skin could look so real! There is never any hint of wash or bleed and everything grades in a perfect manor.
Brightness and contrast are set to give absolute blacks (given the caveat of 3D technology), which again further deepens the frame. Shadow detail is prevalent in the darker areas, particularly at night in the forests. There is no crush or clip anywhere to be seen.
Digitally there are no compression artefacts, no posterization, no banding or any edge enhancement. Cross talk was at the barest minimum, perhaps once or twice, and never distracting.
Clearly then, Avatar, not surprisingly, represents the pinnacle of the technology so far and can receive nothing less than a perfect 10.
Reviewed is the English DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track. Just as the picture is set to wow you, so too is the surround track. With precision steering of the effects, wide separation across the front/sides and back to front and thunderous bass when needed this is a demo track to go along with a demo picture. Dialogue is always clear, precise and natural sounding, given directionality when needed and is never in any danger of being drowned out by the on screen antics. The surround speakers are in near constant use with discreet effects adding to ambience, whether that be in the forests or in the human HQ, and then really come alive in the more action orientated scenes with guns, arrows, explosions and bullets furiously assaulting the sound-scape creating an immersion that has seldom been bettered. There are LF effects aplenty from beast footsteps, to the wumph of wings to gunshots and explosions, deep and resounding and, at times, enough to rattle the foundations – the destruction of Hometree being the prime example.
Horner’s amazing score comes through loud and clear with a sweeping majesty when needed – the mix is perfect, again looking at the destruction of Hometree, the score, the voices, the explosions, each have their place, their layer and each is clearly identifiable, if you so desire. The track is almost clinical in its representation, a spectacular mix.
- 2D Variant
The film but in 2D – surprised to see this on the disc considering what this disc actually is.
Since this disc is only available as part of the Panasonic package, it is not a commercial release and as such does not contain any extra material. Odd choice again, considering the amount of material that is available for the film – even something about the 3D would have been worth it for the 3D audience who are the only ones that will get this.
Cameron’s Avatar is a phenomenon and there is no denying its spectacle. He paints such a believable, three dimensional (literally) world that one cannot help but be swept away by the majesty of it all. Sadly the story itself is very unoriginal, but Cameron’s skill as a director enables him to tell this story with such efficiency that we, however reluctantly, become embroiled in the plight of the characters. It has that amazing ability to magnetise the viewer into watching, even if you don’t mean too, it’s like finding it on a TV channel, only watching a few minutes, and then suddenly finding you’ve watched it to the end.
Sadly though, for those that want to see the film on 3D Blu-ray, the only way is to buy Panasonic. In a ludicrously short sighted move by the distributors, the film made to showcase 3D should be available to anyone and everyone, right now – 3D is a new technology, it needs acceptance if it is to succeed, but above all it needs content – without it the 3D revolution could fall on its ass before it’s even begun and decisions to hold the best selling film of all time behind a single manufacturer is, in my opinion, the wrong move.
As a 3D Blu-ray, however, this disc is unmatched in its presentation, the yard stick by which all 3D material should be viewed, with reference point picture and sound, it truly is amazing to behold, better even than the theatrical run.
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