Following his twin brother's death, Jake Sully (Worthington), a paraplegic ex-Marine, is dispatched to the moon Pandora on a unique mission. There he finds himself thrust into hostilities on a beautiful alien planet filled with exotic life forms and native humanoid "Na'vi" with long, cat-like tails. As an "Avatar," a human mind in an alien Na'vi body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people. After he learns of greedy corporate intentions of driving off the native humanoids to pillage their planet's natural resources, Sully becomes a reluctant hero and embarks on a journey of redemption and discovery as he leads a heroic battle to save a civilization. The adventure features a love story between Sully and the beautiful blue alien Neytini (Saldana). (Gary Reber)
This is the three-disc Blu-ray set. Disc One contains the original theatrical release (02:41:41), the collector's extended cut (with 16 additional minutes 02:58:09), and the special edition re-release (with 8 additional minutes 02:50:34). Also included is the optional family audio track with all objectionable language removed. Special features include direct access to new/additional scenes. Disc Two contains special features under the heading "Filmmakers' Journey" and includes 12 deleted scenes never-before-seen (HD 67:51), the exclusive four-part documentary "Capturing Avatar" (HD 98:26), the featurette "A Message From Pandora" (HD 20:12), and production materials (HD 84:25). Disc Three contains "Pandora's Box," which includes scene deconstruction, production featurettes, archives, and the BD-Live Portal. A 3-D version will be available December 1, 2010 through an exclusive Panasonic 3DTV and Blu-ray Disc player purchase promotion. A catalog 3-D release for general retail release is slated for after February 2012, when the Panasonic exclusive expires, in which all 16 minutes of new scenes will be presented in 3D, along with some behind-the-scenes and bonus footage shot in 3D. On Disc Three are two hidden Easter Eggs. Scroll all the way to the end, to the Live Extras selection, and then press right one more time, as if you're trying to loop the selection back to the beginning. When you do this, up pops an egg/spore. Select this to see two hidden 3-D featurettes: the Theatrical Trailer 3D (03:32) and "Pandora Discovered" 3D (04:04) These are actual 3-D content created following the Blu-ray 3D specification, and require a 3D Blu-ray compliant player, display and glasses.
The opening bar sequence to the Collector's Extended Cut tells you that this is a fresh version of "Avatar" with more unseen imagery to follow. As such, the additional imagery has been perfectly edited and seamlessly joined with the original imagery. The movie was produced in the PACE/Cameron Fusion 3-D camera format and originally released theatrically in the IMAX® DMR dual-strip blow-up 3-D and D-Cinema 3-D formats. The 1.78:1 1080p AVC picture is reference quality and sure to establish standards in resolution for other filmmakers to emulate. This is production quality that sets the bar for Blu-ray Disc™ quality. The picture is framed in James Cameron's preferred 1.78:1 aspect ratio. While the resolution exhibited in real objects and people is absolutely superb, remarkably the various CGI creations exhibit unprecedented naturalism and realism with impressive resolution quality. The CGI-created characters have a reality and an emotionality that completely conveys the actors' performances, perfectly captured visually to enhance the "suspension of disbelief." Fine detail throughout is displayed in every frame. Clarity and sharpness are exemplary. Every nuance is descriptive in intricate detail. Everything looks perfectly real and naturally organic. Facial features and "skin" tones are rendered perfectly, as are object textures. Even degrees of gloss level and sheen are perceptible in fleshtones and objects. Human fleshtones are accurate throughout. The natural habitat and foliage is very realistic and eye-catching. Real actors perfectly integrate and blend in with the digital backgrounds, which are wildly complex and beautifully rendered. Color is lush throughout, with a perfectly natural palette of varied hues that often ignite the screen with bursts of intense and rich color. The Na'vi's blue is soothing and distressing and rich in warm hues. The fluorescent jungle night scenes are gorgeous with all sorts of phosphorescent colors. What color and spectacle! The Na'vi village is wonderfully dimensional and colorful. Amazingly, the threaded cloth that adorns Neytini's mother is fabulously detailed and textured. All this splendid Pandora color palette is contrasted against the gunmetal grays of the invading military base and the man-made machinery and weaponry. Contrast is perfectly balanced throughout, resulting in naturally deep and solid blacks and perfectly delineated shadow delineation. The movie's Oscar® awards for cinematography, art direction, and visual effects are unquestionably deserved. The technology used in "Avatar" has been in development for the better part of a decade. The visual design is dimensional throughout, as would be expected in a production designed and shot for 3D. The 3-D Blu-ray Disc version, which will soon be reviewed, will no doubt be unbelievable. When reviewing so many movies on Blu-ray Disc, few, if any, have achieved the vividness and immersiveness that "Avatar" exhibits. One wonders why so many other filmmakers have produced such inferior visual qualities compared to this picture's reference quality. This is a flawless Blu-ray Disc presentation and is pristine throughout. Again, with its spectacular new additional imagery, the "Avatar: Collector's Extended Cut" has set a new bar of performance expectation on Blu-ray Disc. Hopefully, other filmmakers and studios will follow suit and deliver on the spectacular picture quality that is possible with the Blu-ray format. As for the 3-D theatrical trailer and the "Pandora Discovered" 3D featurette hidden on Disc Three, the imagery dimensionality depicts the world James Cameron envisioned with overviews of the various native species and animals, tribes, jungles and religion, as well as depicting scenes of the laboratory and various technologies, with narration by Sigourney Weaver as Dr. Grace Augustine. The 3-D experience is wonderfully dynamic, immersive and compelling, and yet a reminder that for those who have already purchased a 3DTV, they will have to wait another year for the opportunity to purchase the Blu-ray Disc 3D, unless one purchases a Panasonic Viera 3DTV bundle. (Gary Reber)
The DTS-HD Master Audio™ 5.1-channel soundtrack perfectly complements the visually stunning picture. The dynamic soundtrack is magically immersive, powerful, and intimate, all at the same time. Every sound element works and complements each other for an exceptionally holosonic® soundfield experience. The surround channels are constantly engaged with, at times, subtle low-level sounds and at other times aggressively directional sound effects and music. The ambiance is dimensional and establishes the diversity of soundscapes, making the experience feel alive and believable. Atmospheric effects and other sound effects range from minute sounds of habitat rustlings to heavy tree-crashing explosions with directionally accurate cues. Likewise, Foley effects never miss a movement or nuance. Pans are all around as well and descriptive of flying arrows, pterodactyl wings, gunships, and helicopter rotors. At times SPL energy is extremely strong, and deep bass extension rumbles below 25 Hz in the .1 LFE channel. Yet the bass sounds natural and not "overly produced." The orchestral music score is well recorded, with an expansively wide and deep soundstage that wraps deep into the surrounds. Instrumental timbre is clearly discernible. The overall balance and fidelity is impressive. Sam Worthington's narration is also well balanced against the other sound elements. Dialogue is perfectly intelligible and effectively integrated spatially. The epic's climactic destruction scene is a tour de force and potentially challenging to lesser sound systems. The sonic impact is impressive. The "Avatar" soundtrack is absolutely holosonically engaging and is a remarkable achievement in cinema sound. (Gary Reber)