Avatar: Extended Blu-ray Collector's Edition

Thought you'd seen all that Pandora has to offer? James Cameron begs to differ.

Avatar is a frustrating film in so many ways, not least the fact that while Cameron has clearly spent years creating an engrossing and entirely believable new cinematic world, he then uses it as the backdrop for a fairly ordinary tale packed with wooden acting and leaden dialogue.

But for all of its flaws, there’s no getting away from the fact that the film is a technological triumph and packs in just enough of Cameron’s trademark heart-pounding action scenes to make it a film you’ll return to again and again. And this new Blu-ray release offers more reasons to do that with the inclusion of three different cuts of the movie (162min original, 170min re-release and new 178min extended cut) that don’t really change the in any significant way, but the longer versions do offer even more spectacle and do a solid job of fleshing out a couple of subplots.

Picture: Back when Fox released the original Avatar Blu-ray producer Jon Landau claimed that it was devoid of extras in order to ‘give this movie the best picture and sound possible’. Well, you can rest easy that despite the addition of 16mins of extra footage across the two expanded versions of the film on the first disc, the AVC 1.78:1 1080p encode is as dazzling as ever. Like its predecessor this is pure demo material from start to finish, with insane detailing, incredible colour reproduction and there’s not a trace of any technical issues like compression noise or edge enhancement. In other words, it’s absolutely perfect.
Picture rating: 5/5

Audio: For all intents and purposes this is the same DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 mix that appeared on the previous release (albeit with a few new scenes). In that earlier review we stated...

'About as perfect a blockbuster soundtrack as is possible to imagine, Avatar makes for a thrilling audio experience. Delivered in 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio, the sound design offers layer upon layer of detail and incident. From Jake Sully’s arrival on Pandora, where he narrowly avoids the clumping LFE of an AMP mech, to the numerous pounding action sequences that lead to the assault on the Tree of Souls, this is delicious demo material. Of course it’s not just the action sequence that rock. The atmospherics are (ahem) three-dimensional as well. When you’re in the Pandorian jungle, you’re enveloped with subtle Foley effects. Back at the RDA base, the sound of military-grade hardware is equally omnipresent. In many ways the level of total immersion offered by this audio ingenuity compensates for the lack of 3D'.

...and we’ve no cause to revise this opinion now.
Audio rating: 5/5

Extras: Unsurprisingly, this three-disc set is packed with bonus features that explore pretty much every aspect of the film’s production. With the film given priority on Disc One, the only bonus content there is the chance to directly access the 17 new scenes that didn’t appear in the original theatrical cut.

Disc Two is where things get really good with 28 additional deleted scenes (in various states of completion), the excellent feature-length four-part Capturing Avatar making of… documentary, a short piece about Cameron’s environmental activism and 84mins of ‘Production Materials’ running the gamut from test footage and VFX progressions to screen tests and a speech by the director from the start of filming.

Disc Three continues the everything-and-the-kitchen-sink approach with 17 scene deconstructions that allow you to flick angles between motion capture footage and various stages of FX work. Following this is Production Shorts, a collection of 16 short featurettes focusing on specific aspects of the production, and Avatar Archive containing trailers, the screenplay, song lyrics (in English and Na’vi), the exhaustive Pandorapedia guide to the planet and its flora/fauna and 15 art galleries! Oddly though, the UK release doesn’t have the Full HD 3D Easter Egg that appeared on the US release.
Extras rating: 5/5

We say: The definitive 2D release of Cameron’s epic sci-fi blockbuster.

20th Century Fox, Region A/B (Disc 1) B/C (Disc 2 & 3), £25 approx, On sale now