Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review

by Casimir Harlow
Movies & TV Shows Review


Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition Blu-ray Review
MSRP: £34.09

Avatar Movie Review

Massively popular and seen by millions, Avatar was James ‘Aliens’ Cameron’s eagerly awaited return to the Big Screen after over a decade. Having already set new standards in terms of special effects with the tremendous Terminator 2, he did much the same with the much lesser film, Titanic. And with Avatar, which he had been preparing for almost 15 years, he sought to push the boundaries once again, almost single-handedly bringing 3D into the mainstream, and paving the way for what seems increasingly likely to be the next level of film entertainment.

Having seen the movie in the cinema, my first review of Avatar, back for its May Blu-ray release, looked at the advantages of seeing the film in 3D, and on the Big Screen, and how well the record-breaking beast stood up on the home cinema format in simple 2D. If you want to read more into those comparisons, then I strongly recommend you check out that review, but in brief summary I concluded that the movie made for one hell of a High Definition title – arguably the best looking title that has ever been released on the format – with demo-quality video and audio. Still, the distinct lack of extras, and the 2D limitations, together with numerous press releases from Cameron himself, led me to believe that this was double, probably triple-dip territory, and that not only were we likely to get an eventual 3D release, but also a 2D special edition, and then, possibly a 3D special edition some way further down the line to tie in with the inevitable sequels.

Here we look at the first of those double-dip releases. Still not a 3D-capable edition, it nevertheless boasts not only the original theatrical 162-minute cut, but also the IMAX reissue 171-minute special edition and the all-new 178-minute collector’s extended cut. But is it actually worth your money, particularly if you’ve already stumped up your cash for the first release, and especially in the knowledge that a 3D release (backwards compatible for 2D playback) will be available in a matter of months – possibly even weeks?

If you’ve somehow missed this movie on its numerous theatrical runs (and, if you have, then you may have missed out on seeing the movie in the best way possible – on the Big Screen and in 3D) and you’ve avoided the first home cinema release of the movie in May (probably quite a clever move, especially for collectors), then I shall offer up a plot recap.

We’re midway into the 22nd Century and mankind has expanded to get a foothold of numerous other planets. Their latest conquest – Pandora – is one of the harshest worlds experienced, but one which is distinctly mineral rich. The big companies and their associated Private Military Corporations have decided to rape Pandora for all its worth, and with their lacklustre outreach program failing to negotiation a peaceful resolution with the locals, a more violent approach is set upon. Jake Sully, a paraplegic marine, is dispatched to join the outreach program, ostensibly to help them with their work, but with the secret agenda of getting an inside look at their camp so that the military attack can be more decisive. What Sully finds, however, is a beautiful tribal group with an amazing connection to Mother Nature – offering so much that mankind could learn from them. After he falls in love with the tribal elder’s daughter, his loyalties start to shift and soon Sully is doing all he can to find a peaceful solution without military intervention. But will he be able to stop the greedy corporations and their over-eager military attachment from proceeding with a full-on invasion?

Before its release, many critics and film fans worried that Avatar might tank at the Box Office. Of course, this was not to be the case, but it is interesting to look at the reasons why the project caused so much concern. The obvious answer was the 3D side of things – audiences still did not know whether this was just another gimmick, a fad reminiscent to Jaws 3D in the eighties, or whether it would be around to stay. Of course, thanks to the immense popularity of Avatar, the new 3D format appears to have a serious shot at becoming the next big step in home cinema technology; some would argue that it is as significant as the graduation from black and white to colour all those decades ago. But 3D was not the only reason why Avatar’s potential success was in doubt.

In animation terms, many worried about the prevalent use of CG characters, and about the Uncanny Valley effect, a hypothesis formed in the field of robotics, which posits that the human emotional response to robots that look like humans dips massively somewhere between ‘barely human’ and ‘fully human’. Many CG animators – like Pixar – took note of this theory, particularly after the initial, negative response of some of their test animations (check out the extra on the Toy Story release – ‘Tin Toy’ – whose ‘realistic’ baby looked just plain creepy). Audiences clearly preferred things either less realistic – or totally photo-realistic – with the valley in-between marking dangerous territory, where the audience connection with CG-created characters would suffer.

In the months leading up to Avatar’s theatrical release, I remember seeing the Bruce Willis sci-fi thriller, The Surrogates, where Willis himself had been made to look more youthful (in his ‘surrogate’ body) through lavish CG use. Honestly, it was clearly an example of the ‘next step’ in CG use, the potential being that actors could continue to play (sometimes considerably) younger characters well into the twilight era of their careers. The trouble is that it did not look perfect – the behaviour was still a little stilted. And so we have Avatar, which boasted fully CG humanoid characters supposedly displaying more ‘natural’ characteristics through extensive motion capture work. Cleverly adopting ten foot tall blue alien humanoids as the central species within the movie, it appears that – unlike many of its very-real-but-not-quite-real-enough counterparts – Avatar succeeded in basically introducing us to an all-new CG alien species, complete with detailed humanoid body structure and many similar human behavioural characteristics. Surely it marks the next stepping-stone in the evolution of CG characters? One of the first successful renditions of realistic CG characters in a live-action movie?

Still, despite overcoming expectations, overstepping the chasm that is the ‘Uncanny Valley’ to create one of the first fully-integrated CG/human live-action movies, and single-handedly catapulting 3D technology into the mainstream, what about the movie itself? Beyond the amazing visual presentation, which some would say is little more than a glorified gimmick, is there really anything of substance in this movie?

Well, one thing is for certain: watching Avatar at home, in 2D, without all of the bells and whistles of the ‘3D Big Screen experience’ definitely highlights its flaws even further. The movie itself is decidedly unoriginal. In terms of story it borrows that somewhat clichéd ‘soldier gone native after he falls in love and finds a new way of life’ theme (done before in far better movies, like Dances with Wolves and The New World, and or even popular classics like Point Break or indeed Pocahontas), throws in the ‘controlling other bodies’ idea that you may remember from a little-known film called The Matrix (and numerous other films), and ties it all up with a cheap allegory to the US invading the Middle East. It’s a blunt and grating approach to passing social commentary on the US and its ‘Team America’-style approach to policing the world, and, this somewhat pretentious preaching, coupled with the Braveheart-styled clichéd dialogue and ‘rousing’ speeches did not work on any level. And in terms of characters, it was far less three-dimensional, and more one-dimensional (every stereotype is accounted for, and can be paralleled with the aforementioned films), whether in terms of the CG alien race, or even their human counterparts.

I always blamed a lot of the acting issues on the talent, namely, Sam Worthington. The 2009/2010 go-to guy for action hero leads, he is generic as hell, and, whilst a stronger lead may not have completely saved the movie’s clichéd approach, it would certainly have made this a more interesting ride. Supporting him we had everybody from Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Joel Moore, Giovanni Ribisi and Stephen Lang (on the human front); with Zoe Saldana, Wes Studi and CCH Pounder as the Na’vi aliens. Both Weaver and Joel Moore had Avatar counterparts as well (the vessels used to integrate with the Na’vi) but I have to say that some of the best performances – I’m looking at you Zoe – came from the Na’vi CG creatures. Unfortunately, whether largely because of the lead actor, or whether due to the distinct mediocrity of the performances in general, the cast/characters simply do not come together to make a group of people who you truly care about.

Of course, much of the blame had to also be pointed in the direction of character development, and it is interesting with these newly available extended cuts to finally find out just how much can be changed through 16 minutes of extra material. (Some spoilers ahead)

Avatar originally ran at a length of 162 minutes, and this was the cut that was first released back in May 2010. Already a bum-numbing runtime, particularly for a movie that was ostensibly held together by visuals alone, we now get a movie that teeters on the brink of the three hour mark, a length which I think even die-hard filmgoers would not have appreciated having to sit through. Personally, I’ve only seen the movie twice, once in the cinema (in 3D), and once on Blu-ray. I had no particular inclination to see it again in the near future, but I am intrigued as to whether the Extended Edition could prove worthy of a recommendation to revisit this already over-long monolith.

Changes are not always easy to notice in Extended Cuts of movies, but this one makes them fairly blatantly obvious right from the get-go, kicking off with an entire set of scenes that take place on future Earth. Here the Blade Runner-esque environment is all neon advertisements and hover-trains, but bars are still much the same, as are bar-fights, which is exactly what Jake gets into right at the start. Whilst I appreciate the effort that they put into portraying a believable future Earth, it is far too Blade Runner, and – in some ways – detracts from the events on Pandora later. There’s no need to show life back home, at least not visually. On the other hand, these few scenes lend a tiny bit more dimension to Sam Worthington’s character. It doesn’t make a huge difference, don’t get me wrong, but it actually offers a different side to the dumb grunt.

Most of the rest of the additions come in the form of added story arcs, rather than stand-alone scenes. Across the movie we get more background into what happened to the school that Sigourney Weaver’s doctor set up, and a revelation about Neytiri’s personal involvement in the slaughter. It’s nice to finally understand a plot which is only hinted at in the final cut, but it does not necessarily enhance the characters in any significant way. Similarly we get some flashy new Na’vi/Avatar effects sequences, all relating to them hunting the Pandoran equivalent to cattle. The species are introduced, discussed, and eventually hunted, as an extra initiation for Jake’s character. Honestly, it was an unnecessary, at times over-the-top sequence. Although the CG effects are largely indiscernible from those in the final film, it does not quite suit the mood of the piece, amounting to nothing less than overkill. It also happens to be a scene ripped straight out of Dances with Wolves, a movie which already has had too many elements plagiarised from it to make this story.

The remainder of extra material comes peppered throughout the 3 hour runtime: a line about the mag-lev effect that keeps the floating mountains, erm, afloat; a few seconds of ‘bonding’ between Jake and Neytiri (really, for all the furore surrounding this ‘sex scene’ there is absolutely nothing worth watching here); and an extra scene where the Na’vi are shown fighting back against the bulldozers, and effectively provoking the all-out attack at the end (understandable why this was cut, although it makes the story more logical, and less clichéd). Finally we get a new death scene for one of the supporting characters, a supposedly poignant moment where Jake honours his fallen companion. It’s pointless and, worse still, it is horrendously crowbarred-in immediately after the brutal climax between Jake, Neytiri and the Colonel. I can’t see how it makes any sense, how did Jake get back in his Avatar with the camp destroyed?

When all is said and done, there is nothing here to justify the double-dip of this title – the original Theatrical Cut is easily the best cut, the marginally longer Special Edition marking the next best version (it does not have the distracting Earth opening) and the Collector’s Edition is just too much. But few will listen to me – Avatar is such an unstoppable juggernaut that its fans and followers will want any edition that comes out. It doesn’t matter if the new footage isn’t really any good, all that matters is that it is new footage. More Avatar. And, I guess, in this respect, you can’t fault the longer version. It certainly offers you more, and if more = better for you, then you won’t be disappointed here.

Well, I still stand by my original impressions of Avatar. It is still a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. But, and it’s a big, quality, J-Lo, but we’re talking about here – Avatar works as a 3D experience. Seriously, you can’t deny the visual impact, and the opulence of the new world that has been created and fully realised in such a believable, realistic way, and in 3D it will blow you away. Literally take you to another world, where you get lost running across the floating rocks and diving on the building-sized fluorescent palm leaves; lost amidst the beautiful, disturbingly skinny blue Na’vi, and – in many cases – even wonder what you might look like if you had your own Avatar (there are enough apps to find out these days!). As the biggest (and arguably, only significant) pioneer of 3D, Avatar will always be remembered, and will go down in film history. I think it will quite some time (if ever) before this movie gets topped for sheer spectacle, and if we were marking the 3D version, I suspect this film would get a much higher rating.

“Look you're supposed to be winning the hearts and minds of the natives. Isn't that the whole point of your little puppet show? If you walk like them, talk like them, they'll trust you.”

Unfortunately, without the full 3D effect, however good the movie looks in 2D, it still stands out as a walking, talking cliché. Every idea, every character and story arc, has been ripped from another movie – hell from half a dozen other movies, most of them much better. And the core story, which bluntly attempts to allegorise the whole Middle East conflict, is just trite and pretentious.

Avatar is still solid, colourful, and engaging – basically one of the best-looking movies ever – but it is also, ultimately, less immersive without its third dimension. Even the CG scenes – however breathtaking – just do not appear as convincing. We just don’t get sucked into the wonderfully rendered world as much as we should. Irrespective of cut (and, for what it’s worth, I’ll reiterate the fact you probably all already own the best cut) Avatar is little more than an entertaining blockbuster without its extra dimension, and, honestly, 16 minutes’ longer probably now just makes the movie an even hour too long, rather than just 45 minutes. If you have the stamina, do yourselves a favour and wait a while; first build up your 3D equipment slowly, then pick up the imminent 3D cut and see this movie the way that it was made to be seen.

3D Movie Score 9/10

2D Theatrical Score 7/10

2D Special Edition Score 6/10

2D Collector’s Edition Score 6/10


Despite all fan concerns that this new, longer Avatar cut would not stand up as well on Blu-ray as its predecessor, the reality is that they are indiscernible. The first release basically set the benchmark for the best video presentation possible for a Blu-ray release, and still probably retains that standard, but – according to Cameron himself – the attempt to provide such quality had one big side-effect: it meant that the disc could store nothing but the film itself. Now if we are to believe him, then there surely isn’t any room to accommodate a further 16 minutes of re-mastered Deleted Footage (each minute apparently cost a million Dollars to render and integrate), as is present on the Extended Cut. So what we have here is not technically exactly the same presentation as on the previous disc, it is a marginally lower bit-rate, now making room for the extra footage. But in reality, however, you can’t tell the difference between them – this looks just as good as the previous release, and is also top demo material.

Of course the aspect ratio is still a bone of contention. On my review of the original release, I noted how Cameron had changed his aspect ratio from the broad 2.35:1 framing of the 2D cinematic release to as ‘fatter’ 1.78:1 presentation. Personally I still think that that he should have stuck with the original formatting – there’s a lot of wasted footage here at the top and bottom of the frame, which the Director never intended for you to actually see – but, alas, we are always at the mercy of the Director’s whims.

The video presentation itself is basically the definition of flawless. There is literally nothing to be critical about with this rendition, it is so good that you get lost in it (visually) as much as any 2D title has ever enabled you to do on image quality alone. It is breathtaking, with increasingly wondrous and imaginative spectacles to behold, and you can definitely tell that they spent something like 47 hours working on each individual frame (24 of which you get per second of viewing time). Detail is amazing throughout – and totally consistent, with not even a hint of softness, and no noticeable digital artefacts whatsoever. Even on the effects zoom sequence – those great moments, reminiscent of the excellent aerial work done in the recent Battlestar Galactica series, where effects scenes showcase a forced zoom on a key component, i.e. a plane or an attacking creature – the detail stands up at every level, looking like you’re zooming in on real-life images, not CG creations (which was obviously the intention behind the technique, to trick the viewer into feeling more like the viewed images are real). The colour scheme is broader than you could possibly imagine in any other live-action movie, the breathtaking landscapes come to life in their array of deep lush greens and vivid, animated wildlife. Blues and fluorescents dominate, and there’s no sign of crush at all. It is simply perfect.


To accompany this collector’s edition release, we get the same superior DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 track that you found on the original theatrical cut, and it does just as good a job of almost keeping up with the landmark visuals and their immaculate presentation. It’s an immersive offering that presents the material in a nicely nuanced and well-observed way. Sure, even from the menu sequences, you know this is going to be quite a bass-dominant, all-encompassing mix that brings out the best in the movie, but that is not to say that they don’t pay attention to the more subtle aspects of the track, presenting the dialogue and lighter atmospheric effects well across the array, and never allowing them to get drowned out amidst the heavier noises.

Amidst my personal favourite touches are the satisfying low-level hum that the AMP armoured suits make when powered up and stomping around, and the chattering underbrush as Jake and Neytiri explore the Pandoran forests, which will have you sometimes looking over your shoulder to wonder who’s scratching at the window behind you. The surrounds get a full workout and are in constant use, providing a great atmosphere which immerses you in this other-world environment. They also offer up some keen directionality, where appropriate: the gunships making their natural transition across your living room. The bass is, not surprisingly, pervasively active too, adding to the power of the experience, and really coming into its own during the more explosive battle segments. This track still does not quite meet the sheer perfection standard set by the video, but it is a superior, demo-quality offering nonetheless.


Well even if the extended cut wasn’t enough reason to double-dip, Cameron has gone out of his way to present his film here with the best possible selection of extras – not one but two packed extras discs within the package. Any complaints? Well, they could have provided an Audio Commentary (was there any disc space left?) and they could have provided a Maximum Movie Mode PiP option, but it would have taken some re-working and they’d have probably had to include yet another copy of the film on the second disc, this time complete with forced PiP playing across, and optional Audio Commentary. That’s a bit much to ask for, and really, between the main Documentary, and the plethora of Deleted Scenes, there’s nothing else you really need with this extensive package.

Disc 1: Avatar

Direct Access to Deleted/Extended Scenes

On the first disc we still get only the movie (albeit presented in its 3 different flavours) but there is also the nifty option to watch just the extra scenes, presented with a few seconds of final film footage to bookend them and give them some context. If they’d just added the option of an Added Footage Marker to tag the scenes whilst you’re watching the movie then that would have been the cherry on the cake, but I guess that’s expecting too much, and having them accessible separately here is already a great option.

Disc 2: Filmmaker’s Journey

Deleted Scenes

First up there is a 3 minute introductory guide which shows us how the scenes would have looked had they been completed (with before and after footage to show the differences), explaining how the vehicles would look, how the breathing masks were added in post, and how all of the graphics and effects were left out, as well as showing us a few levels of motion capture/templates that were done. The Deleted Footage itself runs at a whopping 68 minutes in total, and is broken down into 28 individual additions, although some of the scenes contain footage repeated from the main movie, again in order to give the scenes context. Sitting through them all almost seems like watching a movie in itself, and it’s a shame because it takes a while before we get anything really interesting.

To begin with it’s just a few extra lines during the Army brief at the start, a little more of Norm – both in and out of his Avatar – and Jake interacting with the people back on base. Sigourney Weaver gets a few more lines, and we do get some more Na’vi sequences, complete with subtitles, but these are generally fairly poor animatics, sometimes with inset shots of the corresponding actor’s motion capture footage. Norm learns a little about piloting a helicopter during quite a nice – if incomplete – scene where they travel deeper into the forest, and also in subsequent moment which further develops a removed story arc about Norm getting together with Michelle Rodriguez’s pilot. There’s also a removed subplot where she is revealed to be feeding information back to the Colonel as well. A whole motion-capture-depicted dance scene looks hilarious, just because you get to see all the cast lit up like Christmas trees and behaving like fools (I’m sure there’s more of this in the Documentaries) but it goes on far too long for even comedy value to sustain.

Honestly, it’s tough to see why you would really treasure going through all of this footage – do we really need to see Sam Worthington shave? – but, then again, second half is a little more interesting. Jake’s whole ‘dreamhunt’ subplot might have worked well had it been completed, offering – dare I say it – a bit more depth to the characters; and the further development of the corporate chief storyline shown across a couple of scenes here could have given it that a little more substance too. Wouldn’t it have been nice to know that the corporation boss was under pressure too, rather than just a caricatured archetypal ‘suit’. There’s also some bits of dialogue which get across the whole US allegory in an even more blunt fashion.

Finally the additional bit at the end is a little over-the-top, with all of the Avatars back on the base getting activated and taking over the base itself! All in all I know fans will want to trawl through it all, but you’d be better off skipping and watching the second half, and – even then – be prepared for the fact that there’s nothing amazing here, just a few watchable extra moments. Clearly all of the halfway decent stuff was put back in to the movie proper, and even that would probably have been best left excluded.


Capturing Avatar is a mammoth four-part Documentary which runs – in total – at a whopping 100 minutes in length. It takes you on a James Cameron-led voyage through the entire production, from inception through to the completion of the work in post. In the first section they talk about breaking new ground in technological terms in many of Cameron’s movies, and explain that Avatar was the most complicated project that he had ever undertaken. Cameron says the film’s basis is in his childhood ideas, the fact that they had to wait for technology to be at a level where the film was capable of being shot, and explains the massive undertaking that it was, looking at the concept art, the script variations, the effects progressions and the motion capture work. It’s particularly interesting to see how they used colours and motifs in nature to create the alien life, and of course a great deal of time is spent looking at the Na’vi themselves. There’s input from many of the production crew, including Stan Winston himself.

The second part looks at the script, the Na’vi language, the characters and the cast that bring them to life, with corresponding interviews from all the lead performers. The third part takes a closer look at the work done to bring the concept art to life, the effects, the real creations and the model-work, focussing on the two polar worlds – the military stuff and the tribal elements. Finally we get a last part devoted to cutting, editing, scoring and post-production work, with contributions from the Editors and production crew talking about what was left out, the work they did polishing up the scenes for the extended cut, and the ideas they had to drop to make it a reasonable length for promotion.

A Message from Pandora is a 20 minute Featurette again helmed by Cameron, who talks about the environmental messages in his movie, discussing – at length – his interest in the environment, the talks he has given about the rainforest and about environmental damage, and the work he has done to help. It is actually quite interesting to hear Cameron speak so passionately about this subject, and how he championed the use of alternate energy resources in Brazil, and there isn’t too much talk of the significance of Avatar, which lends the extra feature more credibility.

Production Materials

This section of the second disc is quite expansive, split into numerous Effects Tests, some Screen Tests and various VFX Progressions. Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana’s screen tests are the most interesting, but there are plenty of other glimpses on offer here than fans will be keen on checking out, including the interesting live-action Brother Termite animation which tested out the motion-capture technology. The section is split into: 2006 Art Reel, Brother Termite Test, The ILM Prototype, Screen Tests, Zoe’s Life Cast, James Cameron Speech, VFX Progressions (ILM, Framestore, Hy-Drau’lx, Hybride, Prime Focus and Look Effects) and a Crew Film; with a useful Play All function.

Disc 3: Pandora’s Box

Scene Deconstruction

First up we get an hour’s worth of visual effects deconstruction, split into 17 different scenes which you can select from. This is a clever addition, allowing you to further see the levels of effects added to key sequences: from the motion capture stage, to the animatic template done, and then the final image with the two combined and further processed. Showcasing these three levels (which can be switched through using the remote) it is easy, and intriguing to see just how much work went into the movie’s effects construction.


This is a rather odd addition, as it should really accompany the 4-part Capturing Avatar Documentary to be found on the second disc. Basically here we have the 16 full-length Featurettes which were edited together to comprise the bulk of the main Documentary. Some of these Featurettes are worth dipping into, but most will prefer to just watch the Documentary, and will be disappointed that this doesn’t offer anything massively new. The title listings are as follows: Sculpting Avatar, Creating the Banshee, Creating the Thanator, The AMP Suit, Flying Vehicles, Na’vi Costumes, Speaking Na’vi, Pandora Flora, Stunts, Performance Capture, The 3D Fusion Camera, The Simul-Cam, Editing Avatar, Scoring Avatar, Sound Design, and The Haka: The Spirit of New Zealand. All of the individual Featurettes run at between about 5 and 10 minutes in length, the longer ones going into enough detail to make them worth checking out.

Avatar Archives

Avatar: The Original Scriptment is a text copy of the script treatment that James Cameron did which is referred to in the main Documentary.

Avatar: Screenplay by James Cameron gives you the text for his screenplay. Again, you’d have to be a die-hard fan to read through all of this, but it is referred to in the main Documentary, and is worth dipping in and out of for comparison value.

Pandorapedia is a comprehensive interactive encyclopaedic guide to the fictional world of Pandora, complete with creature listings, Na’vi translations and basically everything you could possibly want to know about Cameron’s sci-fi world. The presentation is at times a little limited, mainly text-based, but considering that it’s some 450 pages long, props for the all-encompassing nature of this extra.

Avatar: The Songs offers us all of the lyrics to the Na’vi songs, translated into English.

Trailers: We get the Theatrical and Teaser Trailers to round off the Archive section.

The Art of Avatar: Last but not least we get a selection of over six hundred images relating to the world of Pandora, split into the following categories – Pandora: the World, the Creatures, the Flora, and The Bioluminescence; The Na’vi: their Weapons, Props, and Musical Instruments; The Avatars; Maquettes; RDA Designs; Flying Vehicles; AMP Suit; Human Weapons; and Land Vehicles.

BD-Live:It should also be noted that there is an ever-increasing wealth of material to download using BD-Live, including Screen Tests and Na’vi language tutorials, but there’s nothing particularly worthy of your time.

James Cameron’s Avatar is a marvellous, visionary effort, literally picking you up and dropping you off on a whole new planet. The story is hackneyed, the dialogue clichéd, and the characters encompass just about every stereotype in the book (the cast trying their best with paper-thin roles that are occasionally, and pretty ironically, quite one-dimensional), but the visuals – particularly in 3D – go a long way to keeping you enthralled and entertained nonetheless. However, the cheap shot at the US’s warmongering tactics is thinly veiled, and ultimately this is a production that will never stand up alongside the likes of Cameron’s Aliens or Terminator 2, except in one respect: effects. The sci-fi blockbuster Director has once again pushed the boundaries with his use of technology, and the 3D ‘novelty’ of Avatar (literally) adds a whole new dimension to the movie, and – frankly – makes it infinitely more watchable.

Unfortunately we’re now on its second Blu-ray release of the year and it still has not been presented in 3D, the way it was meant to be seen. A 3D Blu-ray version is already being prepped to ship with certain 3D home cinema equipment, but all the majority of us have access to in the meantime is a Collector’s Edition boasting the same stellar video and audio presentation as May’s release – true demo-quality, so no complaints here – as well as two brand new cuts to play with, and two whole Blu-ray discs of extra features. On the negative side, the cuts add little to the overall production, and fans will enjoy watching them once for curiosity value, but will probably stick with the original Theatrical Cut in the long run. On the positive side, the extra features cover just about all the bases that fans would like covered, presenting a wealth of Behind the Scenes and Interview Footage, as well as VFX Featurettes, Galleries and yet even more Deleted Footage. The sensible – and patient – ones out there would have waited for this release, which makes the original May release totally defunct. And the really clever forward-planners will just wait until they are fully 3D equipped and watch Avatar the only way that it should be seen – in 3D.

But in the meantime, if you haven’t got Avatar already, and are a few years away from full 3D conversion, you could do worse than picking up this near-definitive release and gorging on the extra material. Whether or not you like it is another thing, but at least you will have the option to look at it all. Those who already bought Avatar back in May have a tough decision ahead of them – do you really want to have access to two alternative cuts to the movie if they aren’t actually all that good, and are certainly no better than the Theatrical Version? If the answer is no, then you have to look at whether or not you can survive without the extra features. All in all, it’s a great package, but you have to question how many copies of a movie like Avatar you want in your collection. It may be great demo material, but a timeless classic it will never be, and it will not even stand up like The Matrix to repeat viewings. I still think the only way to really rate this movie is by seeing it in 3D – Avatar will go down in film history only because of its success pioneering the format – but if you can’t wait, then this is now the new definitive edition to own.




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