Big Joe’s Blu-Ray Buys #1: Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition (2009)

The Premise
I put it off for as long as long I could but, realizing that the Blu-Ray was to become the repository for high quality video extras as well as the wave of the FUTURE, I finally broke down and installed a drive on my desktop computer…okay, the guys at the computer repair store installed it for me, but I paid for every cent of it. After one shells-out the big bucks for this impressive hardware, you are undoubtedly left with a big decision. You gotta buy the Blu-Rays. In the days of DVD, I put a lot of thought into every purchase. This is because, early on, I decided that movies you own come to express who you are as a person.  Some people might buy only the works of Fellini and Ingmar Bergman, thinking that, by doing so, everyone who views their collection will assess them as deep and insightful. For Blu-Ray discs, I have a different set of criteria; I’m looking for movies that:
1. Benefit from the added detail and quality of High Definition – this will skew the picks towards visuals and spectacular action set-pieces  but, c’est la vie
2. I will watch multiple times and enjoy
3. I don’t already own – this guideline is somewhat flexible but I’m going to stick to it for now.

The Movie:

Could we possibly make the title even longer?

Unfortunately, soon after this picture was taken the woodsprites pictured embarked upon lives of crime and indigence

James Cameron broke his own record of the highest grossing movie of all time (Titanic) by releasing Avatar. And while that’s not a reason to buy a movie, the impressive visuals are. Love it or hate it (and there are countless reasons to hate it), right now there is no better film to view in high definition on a big screen.

Just in case you’re not familiar with the story let me take a crack at a description:

In the near future, Jake Sully, a recent parapelegic, is hired to go to Pandora, a distant planet, to aid in a mining operation. Filling the shoes of his dead twin brother, Jake, a former marine, pilots an “avatar”, a genetically-created clone of his brother, combined with the DNA of the local alien populace (the Na’vi). It allows him to move freely in the poisonous atmosphere of the planet. Shortly after arriving in Pandora, he meets Neytiri, an alien female. As he learns about the Na’vi he finds himself conflicted between the world in which he was born and the world in which he now lives. The choices he makes could have lasting repercussions and affect the entire planet.

Ground-breaking and gorgeous, Avatar represents the pinnacle of studio film-making. This might be the biggest movie James Cameron ever makes. While the animation is flawless, it is the world-building that is unparalleled.  However, if you think about the little details too hard you’ll go crazy from the fridge logic of it all. Don’t buy it for the story or the acting, buy it for the spectacle.

The Blu-Ray

This is a great package. It’s three discs, chock-full of special features including multiple featurettes that discuss many of the parts and the people that came together to make the film. While some of the information gets repeated between the full-length documentary and the featurettes it was still enjoyable and informational.  I was disappointed to see that there was no commentary tracks on the movie itself but since you can watch it in both it’s original theatrical length and extended versions I feel that this is the best release of the film that will be available for a long time. My next two purchases more than made up for the lack of commentary tracks on this release.

My Favorite Feature:

While the Maori haka that the stunt crew presented to James Cameron was impressive. I enjoyed seeing it interpreted into an unreleased (and unfinished) scene from the movie.

Most Worthless Feature:The Family-friendly audio track, which removes all swearing from the film but leaves the violence, murder, and half-naked natives left untouched…so to speak.

BTW: this is currently selling for $39.99 at Best Buy. I took advantage of their Father’s Day sale and picked it up for $19.99. I feel that at  that price, and not a penny more, the purchase is justified. But, what do you think?

Next on Big Joe’s Blu-Ray Buys: Dark City (Director’s Cut)

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