Avatar Blu-ray/DVD Combo
More than a decade on from Titanic the self-proclaimed King of the World made a much anticipated return with a mind on transporting us to a new one, delivering a cautionary eco-warning packaged as an all-action frontiersman's tale amongst the stars and once more shattering both budget and box-office records in the process. Fulfilling the promise of an idea that had been rattling around inside his head since 1995 Cameron made the whole world hold it's collective breath the moment he uttered the fateful words "waiting for the technology to catch up" (George Lucas said the same thing and look how that turned out). More than $2.7 billion (and counting) taken worldwide showed that the whole world and his wife was awed enough to trek out to those massive IMAX screens to soak up the full effect of this glimpse into the future of moviemaking to come. Cameron promised a game changer, an experience unlike any you had ever seen, and on the big screen few can argue that he duly delivered.
So now the questions turns to whether or not the experience translates to the home, and presented here in a 1.85:1 aspect ratio and containing no extras of any kind (those are being saved for the special edition due in November, with the 3D version following in 2011) you would have to say no. But that doesn't mean that this is not still a stunning piece of filmmaking from an absolute master of his craft, now snugly nestled in the bosom of a genre he understands like no other. Apologies to Ridley Scott, but James Cameron is the king of science fiction cinema, and his track record is second to none. The likes of Terminator and The Abyss demonstrate a commitment to character, while Titanic showcased his innovation and ability to technology instead of simply being a slave to it.
Some of Avatar's most vehement critics (and there were a few) zeroed in on the supposed weak story, likening it to Pocahontas, mockingly labeling it as "Dances With Smurfs" and generally bemoaning the seen-it-all-before-just-not-in-day-glow-blue nature of it all. For any other filmmaker, yes, this might have been a huge problem. But then again, strange as it sounds, Cameron's best films are sequels. Both Aliens and T2 are very rare commodities indeed, sequels that genuinely surpasses their predecessors in almost every respect – not only offering due diligence to the pre-existing story and its weighty mythology, but expanding those ideas while simultaneously taking them in a completely new direction.
So yes, you may well have seen plenty of clash of civilization sagas centered on the wanton destruction of the noble savage by the unfeeling white man in your time. But you've never seen it like this. Not on Pandora, a gorgeously realized alien ecosystem teeming with energy and aglow with a pulsating bio-luminescence, populated by a race brought to life through mapping technology so sensitive and exact that every twitch of an actor's face is there on the screen. It's not perfect, but nothing ever is. Yes, the lack of a real ticking-clock plot robs the story of some of its momentum in what is admittedly a bulky second act. Yes, there is something unintentionally ironic in a man sinking $400m whilst employing the most sophisticated technology around all in aide of crafting a tale that is essentially espousing how we should all just get back to nature. But who cares, honestly? In terms of scope, and vision, and sheer cinematic spectacle there really has never been anything like this before.
Blu-ray/DVD Special Features:
No extras included.
Starring: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Stephen Lang, Sigourney Weaver, Michelle Rodriguez, Giovani Ribisi
Director: James Cameron
Runtime: 162 Minutes