20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Cast: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez
As everyone probably knows by now, James Cameron's "Avatar" is the most successful movie ever made, and courtesy of 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment it is now making an appearance on Blu-Ray Disc for everyone to enjoy at home. I did not see "Avatar" in movie theaters because quite frankly the trailers were not all that appealing to me, and when the disc finally arrived on my desk I was eager to see what the hubbub is all about.
In the year 2134 technology and space travel has developed to the point that mankind has not only found live in outer space but has managed to travel to such distant planets. Further we have the ability to control artificially created beings, called avatars, through our brains remotely from the safety of a pod somewhere in a lab.
As mankind plans to destroy yet another paradise, in order to mine a precious metal, human intelligence has obviously been in retardation over all these centuries and greed still dictates over common sense. As they prepare the exploitation of the paradisial planet Pandora, humans make use of the avatars. Trying to gain their trust and ear, the plan is to not only learn about them but also to get them to relocate to other parts of the planet. But as the avatar drivers begin to learn more about the indigenous Navi, some of them begin to feel an incredibly strong attachment and begin to question their mission as a whole.
To put it bluntly, I do not understand why everyone is so crazy about this movie. To me it is nothing more than a glorified video game trailer. The story is every bit as banal and uninventive as the backstories of video games have been for decades and the plastic look of the computer generated characters only adds to the impression that the technology just didn't keep up with the creators' imagination. Maybe, having worked in the games industry for over 25 years, makes me unduly biased, but in all honesty, all this talk about the groundbreaking technology made me expect a little more than what flickered over the screen here. Character movement is still every bit as stilted as it was ever before, facial expressions still lack nuances and credibility and the overall animation is still bordering on the absurdly and physically unrealistic. Sorry, but "Avatar" clearly became a victim of the Uncanny Valley syndrome – maybe even more so than other films, because it tried to so hard to perfect the illusion. I certainly applaud James Cameron for trying, but the result is certainly not as rewarding as the hype and the media would make you believe.
For me, however it is not the technical side where "Avatar" really fails. Instead, it is the storytelling that makes the film a dud in my book. The story is so simplistic and unimaginative that it was possible for me to predict virtually the entire film after the first 15 minutes. For a movie that runs 3 hours, that is not acceptable. Not only is this film the story of "Pocahontas" on a distant planet, it is that story told with every stereotype and cinematic platitude in place. I am not usually someone who has gripes with a straight storyline, but "Avatar" was so simplistic, it was truly distracting from the experience as you always hope for some interesting twist or take on the subject matter, only to find worn-out plot elements repeated over and again. The banality of it, coupled with the film's success and acclaim, is truly frightening.
There isn't much to say about the technical presentation quality of this Blu-Ray disc, other than that it is pristine. Clearly, a film of such stature and being brand new, coming straight off digital masters, the high definition transfer is one of the best in the market, reveling in colors and detail like you would not believe. Although "Avatar" was a major 3D release in theaters, this home video release features a regular 2D presentation only.
Just like the video, the audio presentation of the release is pristine to say the least. Aggressive and very effective, it makes use of all the latest technologies and capabilities audio has to offer these days, making sure you won't regret the purchase of your home theater equipment.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment has released "Avatar" as a 2-disc Blu-Ray set, featuring not only the high definition version of the film but also a DVD version. Absolutely no extras are found on either of the discs.
To me it was not the revelation I had expected and hoped for, but your mileage certainly varies. In technical terms, this Blu-Ray presentation is perfect and deserves your attention, no doubt.