My, Sort of, ‘Avatar’ Blu-ray Review

ON

I received my review copy of Avatar on Blu-ray one day after its April 22 street date. I watched it that night and am rolling out this semi-review/commentary just over four days later. In the movie world four days has quickly become an eternity and the multi-billion dollar box-office juggernaut has once again made an impact.

I guess it could have been predicted, but it is mildly astonishing to me Avatar is already the biggest selling Blu-ray of all-time after just four days in stores, with an astonishing 2.7 million units sold in North America alone. It’s managed to do this without carrying a single special feature. I mean, not even the theatrical trailer is included on this disc making use of every inch of this 50 GB dual-layered Blu-ray for the feature film and it shows.

Director James Cameron was interviewed by Entertainment Weekly prior to the disc’s release and had this to say after EW’s Chris Nashawaty eased into the feature debate saying, “There aren’t a lot of extras.”

There’s zero extras! There’s so few extras that you put it in, you push play, and the movie starts. There are no trailers, there’s no bulls**t at the beginning that you have to endlessly go through. I have a deal with the studio and it goes like this: Any movie I make that makes over a billion dollars goes out without a bunch of crap trailers for your other movies.

As for the group of fans that want the features he has an equally impressive answer:

I appreciate that. But so much of Avatar – two-thirds of the film – is CG. And a lot of the material we cut out of the movie [before its release in theaters] are CG scenes. So we’ve identified six minutes of those scenes and gotten Fox to agree to pay the money to finish those scenes. But that takes some time. It’s not something you can do right away. And I don’t think people wanted to wait until Christmas for their Avatar DVDs. The other thing for me is philosophical as a filmmaker: Avatar is the highest-grossing film in history, it got nine Academy Award nominations, why would I want to f- with that? Why would I want to change that? I want to drive a stake in the ground and I want to say, This is the movie we released and you can now own it. And then after that, with the fun new DVD and Blu-ray technology, you can do a brand new experience and add scenes back and to do supplemental stuff and we will bombard you with extras!

With all that said is there really any more left to tell you? If you are a feature junky, not willing to double-dip and can stand the seven month wait to own Avatar for yourself you are likely to do just that. The film will be re-released in theaters with the additional six minutes of footage Cameron mentions in the interview and will then be released on an Ultimate Edition of sorts, with what is expected to be an edition for 3D-TVs some time in 2011. You know, the TVs that cause seizures in sleep deprived and overweight, drunk people.

However, for those of you willing to plunk down the $19.99 Amazon is currently charging, I can tell you I loved every second of my return to Pandora in high-definition 2D with accompanying 5.1 DTS-HD audio. I loved it even more than the first time around, just as I suspected I would after I reviewed it theatrically.

When it comes to filmed entertainment on the grandest of scales there are few recent comparisons. Sure, you can offer up suggestions and I would even say Star Trek fits in that category for me, but this is a film that thrives on thrills and images of the spectacular. It’s concerns are not the same as other films allowing you to forgive some of the flaws and just take part in its sheer awesomeness.

If I were in your shoes I’d ask myself just how much you enjoyed the film when wondering if you should buy it or not. In all likelihood if you are even considering the purchase you are already going to be buying the special edition later this year. In that case is it worth the $20? I enjoyed it enough to say I think it is. When Cameron says, “I don’t think people wanted to wait until Christmas for their Avatar DVDs,” I think he’s right. Few movies provide the kind of entertainment Avatar provides on such a spectacular level and I am sure I’ll be watching it a couple times before it releases with the additional footage in November, prior to which I plan on catching it in IMAX in August. Of course, a Netflix membership can grant you the same access. The decision is up to you.

Buy Avatar