Trying to sit down and write a review for AVATAR, four months after it came out at theaters, makes me sympathetic to anyone that tried to write a review for TITANIC in April of 1998. Much like the sinking boat, AVATAR is suffering from the overhype machine and people are getting sick of hearing about it. When I saw AVATAR at theaters, I was blown away by the 3D and how great the film was. I truly loved it and felt that it was one of the best movie going experiences I’ve ever had. But now, it has a “been there, done that” kind of feel to it. And I’m not going to lie to you; the lack of 3D really does change the perspective of the film.
So, you’ve read that AVATAR is basically THE LAST SAMURAI, which is basically DANCES WITH WOLVES and there’s no arguing the lack of originality in the story. Cameron didn’t write ‘War and Peace’ here, he just took a tried and true story and made it his own. I don’t fault him for that because the story is great and it’s easy to get the audience emotionally involved with an innocent people as they’re being ambushed by the more powerful, evil people. The simple story helped us accept the blue Na’vi and made the whole story more real. Original it was not, but it was definitely a strategic move on Cameron’s part. While we’re getting mesmerized by the effects and 3D, we find ourselves actually caring about the characters.
But the combination lacks a little bit in 2D. Now we focus more on the story and the acting and we don’t have the extreme grandness of Pandora to sweep us away. That makes certain scenes a little less forgiving and some of the CGI problems more noticeable. For example, the dialogue between Jake and Neytiri in the beginning was tough to stomach without trees and flowers coming to life and distracting you from the cheesy dialogue. Now, it’s just two blue people that can’t seem to hit their marks.
However, the action is still fantastic and the 3D towards the end became less and less anyway, so it won’t be missed during the final battle. I still found myself enthralled with everything that was going on and it was just as intense as it was the first time around. Cameron is a master of the big finish and whether you watch AVATAR in 2D or 3D, the finale is a fun ride.
I feel like I’m being hard on the film, but if you had talked to me in December of 2009, I would have given you an hour-long diatribe about how great AVATAR is and would have encouraged you to go see it. But that was in 3D Imax and the film loses a little luster on a smaller screen. I will say that if you don’t have a big screen HD TV, then you shouldn’t even bother with this. For fun, I popped it into a few different sized TV’s and each time I went smaller, the movie lost a lot of its “uumph”. Much like AVATAR was ahead of its time when it was released at theaters, it seems to be ahead of it’s time on Blu-ray.
Video: You already know that there’s a super, uber-edition of AVATAR that’s coming this November, so the real question is; “how does it look”. I can safely say that this is an amazing picture. It is absolutely stunning and it’s clear that what they didn’t include in special features, they made up for with video and audio quality.
Audio: The audio is also incredible. I feel confident recommending this as a purchase, just to use as a reference disc to show off to your friends. If you’ve poured some money into your home theater system, don’t hesitate to check this out.