Review: Avatar Blu-ray/DVD

Avatar Blu-ray boxSTUDIO: Fox | DIRECTOR: James Cameron | CAST: Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldana, Sigourney Weaver
RELEASE DATE: 4/22/2010 | PRICE: DVD $29.98, Blu-ray/DVD Combo $39.99
SPECS: PG-13 | 162 min. | sci-fi | 1.78:1 | DTS-HD | English, Spanish, French, Portuguese subtitles

RATINGS (out of 5 dishes): Movie | Audio | Video | Overall

Avatar movie scene with characters of Sam Worthington and Zoe SaldanaWhen a 20th Century Fox PR rep told me the studio was eschewing special features — even trailers, which are promotional tools — on the first DVD and Blu-ray and release for Avatar to ensure the very best picture and audio quality, I was skeptical. On DVD, where there’s more compression, sure, using up more space on the disc with the movie should make a difference. But on Blu-ray, the disc has more space, and although compression is still an issue, the high-definition picture already looks great with most movies.

But I’ve got to say, when we put in the disc, we were blown away.

The effects-laden movie is gorgeously shot. The story of a team of scientists and military personnel looking for different things on a faraway planet (the scientists want to learn and the military personnel want the natives to leave so they can mine a lucrative material) has excellent visuals, an endearing story and, or course, the touching theme of the importance of nature and protecting it. (Hence the release on Earth Day, instead of the usual Tuesday for home video titles.) Sam Worthington (Clash of the Titans) plays the hero Jake Sully well, and he’s joined by Zoe Saldana (whose The Losers opens in theaters today) as the alien Neytiri and Sigourney Weaver as the leader of the scientists. Giovanni Ribisi does a nice job as the greedy corporate lacky, and Michelle Rodriguez brings her usual sexy strength to the movie as a military officer who goes to the good side.

From the Blu-ray menu, which is nice and clean, you can see a brightness, a deepness in the color that’s not in other Blu-ray titles. But when you play the movie itself, the sharpness is apparent immediately. From the bubbles of water in the cryo unit to the details of the scar on Stephen Lang’s face.

When the movie gets to the world of the Navi people on the planet of Pandora, the color saturation is amazing. The greens of the plants, the lit-up creatures on the forest, the tree of souls, they’re all brilliant.

And the sound… The rumble of the ships landing in the military hangar had our seats rocking. The screech of the birds was piercing. And the swoosh of arrows was clear.

The Blu-ray Avatar package is a combo set with the DVD included. So, out of curiosity, we popped that disc in to compare. The difference was miles away.

The DVD, even with no special features or trailers, same as the Blu-ray, had pixelation in the opening scene. The bubbles in the cryo unit were blurred, and the colors were dim. Granted, we were viewing the DVD on a 118-inch screen with a projector, and on a regular sized TV, the pixelation might not be as noticeable. But this is one of those movies where the quality is worth the price.

An Avatar Extended Collector’s Edition also is available with lots of special features.


Buy or Rent Avatar
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About S. Clark

Sam Clark is the former Managing Editor/Online Editor of Video Business magazine. With 19 years experience in journalism, 12 in the home entertainment industry, Sam has been hooked on movies on since she saw E.T. then stared into the sky waiting to meet her own friendly alien. Thanks to her husband’s shared love of movies, Sam reviews Blu-ray discs in a true home theater, with a 118-inch screen, projector and cushy recliners with cup holders.