This week's must-see DVD/BD, and why we're lovin' it.
What? Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition
Who? Directed by James Cameron and starring Sam Worthington, Sigourney Weaver, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Michelle Rodriguez and Giovanni Ribisi
Why? Inevitable Avatar backlash set in after the sci-fi epic became the highest-grossing film of all time and the best-selling Blu-ray ever. Blu-ray Bob doesn't want to hear any snarky cracks about "giant Smurfs" or your argument that Avatar is basically Dances With Wolves or Pocahontas in space—he has heard it all before. If the basic premise is derived from classic archetypes (i.e. a native tribe fighting oppressor invaders) and the movie's tree-hugging message conflicts with your "drill, baby, drill" mindset, that doesn't detract from the fact that James Cameron has redefined the outer limit of what filmmakers can do on-screen by creating an immersive, fantastical world that makes you forget you are watching extensive green-screen magic. Put simply, it was unlike anything we'd ever seen before and puts other recent CG-heavy films (that's you, The Last Airbender) to shame.
Avatar is already available on barebones DVD and Blu-ray editions, but fans will want to check out the Extended Collector's Edition for access to three different versions of the movie: the theatrical cut, special edition re-release and the extended cut with 16 minutes of additional footage. The basic story, of course, remains the same: Paraplegic former Marine Jake Sully (Sam Worthington) enters the Avatar Program and ventures to the planet Pandora, tasked with gaining the natives' trust so the military can mine a valuable mineral. Instead he falls for one of the Na'vi and ends up fighting to defend Pandora from literally being mined to death.
At a recent Avatar
press day, Cameron told us this would be the final version of Avatar
on disc except for a 3-D version "maybe one, two years out" for the general public. If you're in the market for a new Panasonic 3-D TV, however, you can get the Avatar
Blu-ray 3D as early as December 1 with the purchase of a new TV set. For the rest of us, this is the one Avatar
to rule them all.
What Else? Both the DVD and Blu-ray take you behind the curtain on creating Avatar with a feature-length documentary, over 45 minutes of deleted scenes in various stages of completion, 17 featurettes, an art gallery with 633 images, an exclusive alternate opening on Earth and even a "Family Audio Track" with all objectionable language removed for the wee ones. You'll want to check out: the Blu-ray's "Interactive Scene Deconstruction" where you can explore the various stages of production by instantly switching between three different viewing modes. In other words, you can see the actors in their motion-capture suits (see photo) or with crude animation or the finalized version by clicking a button on your remote.