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A view on Blu-ray by Gary W. Tooze

 

Avatar [Blu-ray]

 

(James Cameron, 2009)

 

 

Review by Gary Tooze

 

Production:

Theatrical: Twentieth Century Fox Film Corporation

Video: 20th Century Fox Home Video

 

Disc:

Region: FREE! (as verified by the Momitsu region FREE Blu-ray player)

Runtime: 2:41:41.691

Disc Size: 46,175,762,127 bytes

Feature Size: 44,897,476,608 bytes

Video Bitrate: 28.81 Mbps

Chapters: 36

Case: Standard Blu-ray case

Release date: April 22nd, 2010

 

Video:

Aspect ratio: 1.78:1

Resolution: 1080p / 23.976 fps

Video codec: MPEG-4 AVC Video

 

Audio:

DTS-HD Master Audio English 4146 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 4146 kbps / 24-bit (DTS Core: 5.1 / 48 kHz / 1509 kbps / 24-bit)
Dolby Digital Audio English 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio French 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Portuguese 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio Spanish 448 kbps 5.1 / 48 kHz / 448 kbps
Dolby Digital Audio English 224 kbps 2.0 / 48 kHz / 224 kbps / Dolby Surround

 

Subtitles:

English (SDH), English, French, Portuguese, Spanish, none

 

Extras:

• Avatar DVD

 

Bitrate:

 

 

Description: "Avatar" is the story of an ex-Marine who finds himself thrust into hostilities on an alien planet filled with exotic life forms. As an Avatar, a human mind in an alien body, he finds himself torn between two worlds, in a desperate fight for his own survival and that of the indigenous people

 

 

The Film:

Watching "Avatar," I felt sort of the same as when I saw "Star Wars" in 1977. That was another movie I walked into with uncertain expectations. James Cameron's film has been the subject of relentlessly dubious advance buzz, just as his "Titanic" was. Once again, he has silenced the doubters by simply delivering an extraordinary film. There is still at least one man in Hollywood who knows how to spend $250 million, or was it $300 million, wisely.

"Avatar" is not simply a sensational entertainment, although it is that. It's a technical breakthrough. It has a flat-out Green and anti-war message. It is predestined to launch a cult. It contains such visual detailing that it would reward repeating viewings. It invents a new language, Na'vi, as "Lord of the Rings" did, although mercifully I doubt this one can be spoken by humans, even teenage humans. It creates new movie stars. It is an Event, one of those films you feel you must see to keep up with the conversation.

The story, set in the year 2154, involves a mission by U. S. Armed Forces to an earth-sized moon in orbit around a massive star. This new world, Pandora, is a rich source of a mineral Earth desperately needs. Pandora represents not even a remote threat to Earth, but we nevertheless send in ex-military mercenaries to attack and conquer them. Gung-ho warriors employ machine guns and pilot armored hover ships on bombing runs. You are free to find this an allegory about contemporary politics. Cameron obviously does.

Excerpt from Roger Ebert at the Chicago Sun-Times located HERE

 


Image :    NOTE: The below Blu-ray captures were taken directly from the Blu-ray disc.
 

This is NOT the 3-D, 2.35:1, version that will undoubtedly come out later in the year but it is the 1.78: 1 (IMAX ratio version). NOTE: Bob tells us in email: "In an interview Cameron said that 1.78 was his preferred ratio and that the 2.35 was a cropped 1.78. He claimed that with the extra top and bottom strips you got a greater sense of 3D depth on the screen. So there may not be a 2:35 release." (thanks Bob!)

 

There isn't much to say - the Blu-ray transfer is perfect. Non-effect visuals are exceptionally strong with impressive detail and plenty of depth. The 2 3/4 hour film takes up almost 45 Gig of the disc giving full support to the progressive rendering producing quite a high bitrate (approaching 30 Mbps) sharing the disc with nothing else. The effects are fairly seamless - you can't help but swoon at some of the more dynamic aspects of the presentation - colors are brilliant and the image quality runs smoothly. Contrast is top shelf and nothing appears to have been altered in the way of boosting or DNR. It is, obviously free of damage and there are no digital artifacts visible. I had high expectations but visually this looks even better than I was anticipating. It is surely reference material as the overflowing grandeur of eye-candy leaves your jaw-dropped and eyes super-glued to the screen. I heard James Cameron in a radio interview the other day and he is well aware of the specifics of the HD transfers, bit rate and maximizing the full capacity of the 50 Gig Blu-ray. It is quite flawless producing a home theater spectacle that you will surely revisit.    

 

CLICK EACH BLU-RAY CAPTURE TO SEE ALL IMAGES IN FULL 1920X1080 RESOLUTION

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Audio :

The audio is just as good with a pristine DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 at 4146 kbps. Effect noises are sprung to every corner of your system with crisp intent. It again might be considered reference for some with the plenty of strong bass and subtle high end spreading throughout the room. There are DUBs and subtitle options (see samples above) with the Na'vi language translations, to English, in a different font. My Momitsu has identified it as being a region FREE disc playable on Blu-ray machines worldwide.

 

 

Extras :

As previously made public - there are no supplements. Cameron is stated as saying he didn't have the time - and wanted to do them right - but with the film's enormous popularity thought it prudent to have the film itself available for consumers - also cashing-in on present marketing. Later this year a fully stacked package will undoubtedly surface with BD-LIVE and multiple production featurettes - maybe even a commentary. The case does come with an SD-DVD disc of the Avatar - likewise with no extra.

 

 

BOTTOM LINE:
I didn't see this in the theater and wasn't so keen after my first viewing of Avatar - but I waited a few days and gave it another spin and my attitude significantly changed. This is still weak on narrative but strong on the visual - but, I think, that is okay as it focuses exactly in the areas the filmmakers desired. The length didn't bother me at all and the Blu-ray, in my opinion, is a perfect choice to demonstrate your system's capabilities. The only trouble is turning it off can be a problem and then, whooosh, 3-hours is gone. I'll be interested in the 'next' digital version (3-D, 2:35?) but as it stands this produces and absolutely mesmerizing presentation. One of the most memorable of the year so far. Recommended! 

Gary Tooze

April 24th, 2010

 

 


 

About the Reviewer: Hello, fellow Beavers! I have been interested in film since I viewed a Chaplin festival on PBS when I was around 9 years old. I credit DVD with expanding my horizons to fill an almost ravenous desire to seek out new film experiences. I currently own approximately 9500 DVDs and have reviewed over 3500 myself. I appreciate my discussion Listserv for furthering my film education and inspiring me to continue running DVDBeaver. Plus a healthy thanks to those who donate and use our Amazon links.

Although I never wanted to become one of those guys who focused 'too much' on image and sound quality - I find HD is swiftly pushing me in that direction. So be it, but film will always be my first love and I list my favorites on the old YMdb site now accessible HERE.  

Gary's Home Theatre:

60-Inch Class (59.58” Diagonal) 1080p Pioneer KURO Plasma Flat Panel HDTV PDP6020-FD

Oppo Digital BDP-83 Universal Region FREE Blu-ray/SACD Player
Momitsu - BDP-899 Region FREE Blu-ray player
Marantz SA8001 Super Audio CD Player
Marantz SR7002 THX Select2 Surround Receiver
Tannoy DC6-T (fronts) + Energy (centre, rear, subwoofer) speakers (5.1)

APC AV 1.5 kVA H Type Power Conditioner 120V

Gary W. Tooze

 

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