“Avatar” arrives on Blu-ray, and we’ve got a review!
Wow. Really, wow. Just … unbelievable.
Healthy speculation and a fair amount of skepticism awaits James Cameron’s blockbuster “Avatar” as it arrives on Blu-ray in time for Earth Day. Without the 3-D component that was essential to the theatrical experience, how would the film hold up? Could the story support a drop off in visual quality? And will people want to revisit Cameron’s imaginary planet of Pandora if they can’t see it in a third dimension?
Here’s the thing, though. There is no drop off in visual quality. None. Yes, “Avatar” is presented in 2-D on the Blu-ray. But to date, this is the best-looking Blu-ray transfer of a film I’ve seen, and man, it ain’t even close.
Cameron’s visuals are razor sharp with no excessive brightness. Pandora’s colors burst off the screen, using a wide palette of blues and greens that I didn’t even know my television was capable of replicating. The purple streams in Chapter 19’s “A Son of the Omaticaya” are gorgeously rendered. Skip right to Chapter 17 on the Blu-ray, “First Flight,” and you’ll swear you are soaring over Pandora with Sam Worthington’s soldier, Jake. I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that this will be the film that inspires everyone on the planet to invest in Blu-ray technology.
Now, there is a little grain and background blurring in action sequences like “Flight.” This causes problems in the climactic conclusion, where the Na’vi face off against Stephen Lang’s military forces. Cameron’s film remains long, considering the story it’s trying to tell. And there are no extras attached directly to the package (except for a standard-definition copy of the film on a separate DVD). There’s no commentary track, no deleted scenes, no behind-the-scenes features included to review.
Instead, patrons are given a personalized code and invited to join an “Avatar” program that will unlock exclusive content, updates, coupons and more. It remains to be seen how many fans will bother logging on to the “Avatar” Web site to register for the program. Especially because that would require drifting away from the television screen for a few minutes, and why do that when the picture on screen looks so good?
The “Avatar” Blu-ray doesn’t duplicate the IMAX 3-D experience. But it is a worthy portal back to Pandora for fans of the film, and a breathtaking Blu-ray transfer that instantly raises the home entertainment bar.
The movie — *** out of 4
The Blu-ray — **** out of 4