Director: James Cameron

Stars: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
Reviewed by Brian M. Sammons

What can I say about this, the biggest movie of all time, that hasn’t already been said? I mean is there anyone out there who hasn’t seen this film yet that wants to? That means you have either decided to skip this one, or you’ve already seen it and made up your mind about it by now. So there’s nothing I can say to change your opinion, not that I would try to do such a thing. But I can tell you about this newest, super-duper Blu-ray release and let you know if it’s worth your hard earned scratch. But first, a bit of truth and a word of warning.

Now I’m nothing if not honest and I must say that I think this release is part of a one-two-three punch. You know, an attempt to not double, but triple dip into the wallets of the Avatar fans. Because Lord knows, this poor little movie just hasn’t made enough money. I mean, first they release this film on DVD & BD in a version so bare bones it should have been hanging in a high school biology class. (psst, that’s a skeleton joke). Now there is this deluxe, wiz-bang edition and that’s fine as long as it stops here. As I’m about to make abundantly clear, this is all you need even if you are the most die hard Navi lover. But I have a sinking feeling that in a few months, maybe a year at the most, there will be a third edition of this movie to capitalize on the 3D TV market. Because after all, this is the movie that started the whole “let’s make everything 3D” craze and convinced electronics companies to try and shove 3D TVs down our throats. Gee, thanks a lot, Mr. Cameron. Anyway, if that turns out not to be the case, then I apologize in advance, but if I’m right then shame, shame, and more shame on everyone involved. Who do you think you are, Avatar, releasing so many versions of yourself so quickly? I mean, you’re not the Evil Dead movies, so what gives?

Ok, that bit of silly finger wagging aside, I must confess that this Blu-ray release of Avatar is simply amazing. It looks fantastic and I have never seen a movie look better than this one. If you like bright, shiny eye-candy then this movie will send you into a diabetic coma. Good looks aside, this three Blu-ray set also has all the bells and whistles, with a sizable chunk of kitchen sink tossed in for good measure.

First there are three version of this film. There’s the original theatrical release, the special edition re-release that was just in theaters a little while back with an extra 8 minutes, and now the never before seen collector’s extended cut with 16 minutes of extra content. Or as I like to call it, the “Don’t make any plans and bring a lunch if you’re going to watch this in one sitting” edition. Yeah, it’s a damn long movie but does it add anything good or is it just fluff? Well I was quite surprised to discover that yes; the extra moments were pretty darn good. The bulk of the extra footage is used for a different beginning to the movie that shows the overcrowded, dirty future Earth and explores a bit more of the sad plight of our wheelchair-bound hero. There are also some more bits once the action moves to the alien world of Pandora, but such additions are pretty quick and spread out.

In addition to the extended cut, this package comes with a spaceship full of extras. How much additional goodness, you ask? Well as amazing as it sounds, all three versions of the movie are on the first Blu-ray. That leaves two more Blu-rays just chock full of bonus material. There is a four part, one hour and forty minuet making of documentary, an informative, eco-friendly 20 minute doc about how we humans are royally messing up the rain forests, a collection of 14 odds and ends, such as screen tests, FX tests, art reels, a speech by Cameron, and so much more all bundled together under the title, “Production Materials.”

Do you dig deleted scenes?

Well this baby has dozens and dozens of them.

Are you a fan of featurettes?

Well you’ll find 17 here ranging from speaking Navi, to the stunts in the film, to the plants of Pandora, the cool robo-suits , how they did the groundbreaking 3D, and everything else imaginable. There are photo galleries galore, theatrical trailers, the original scrip in its entirety, an interactive “Pandorapedia,” a collection of Pandora inspired songs in both English and Navi, and a ton more of neat-o stuff. A favorite of mine was a neat scene deconstruction application where you can watch all the different layers of technical wizardry used to bring this movie alive. It’s always good for a laugh, watching the actors run around in motion capture suites, acting to nothing. I especially like the scene when Jake went to tame his own flying raptor thing and in reality it was just a bunch of extras hissing and flapping their arms at him.

If you want to have Avatar in your home, then this is definitely the Blu-ray set to get. Beauty and brains, all wrapped up in a great package, what’s not to love?

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has penned stories that have appeared in the anthologies: Arkham Tales, Horrors Beyond, Monstrous, Dead but Dreaming 2, Horror for the Holidays, Deepest, Darkest Eden and others. He has edited the books; Cthulhu Unbound 3, Undead & Unbound, Eldritch Chrome, Edge of Sundown, Steampunk Cthulhu, Dark Rites of Cthulhu, Atomic Age Cthulhu, World War Cthulhu and Flesh Like Smoke. He is also the managing editor of Dark Regions Press’ Weird Fiction line. For more about this guy that neighbors describe as “such a nice, quiet man” you can check out his infrequently updated webpage here: http://brian_sammons.webs.com/ and follow him on Twitter @BrianMSammons.

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