I'm primarily interested in the storyline differences between special sets and their theatrical counterparts, so here are the differences between the two (NOTE: SPOILERS FOLLOW).
The extended collector's edition runs 16 minutes 28 seconds longer than the theatrical cut, and listed below are the major differences.
1) The opening scene is different, and starts with Jake in a wheelchair on Earth, in a Blade Runner-esque Earth city. The scene moves to scenes of Jake in his apartment, then taking liquid shots in a bar. Jake's narration of "I told myself I can pass any test a man can pass" and "They can fix the spinal if you got the money. But not on vet benefits, not in this economy" are inserted during this new opening scene.
Jake beats up a bar patron who is mistreating a woman, and then Jake and wheelchair are unceremoniously thrown outside by bouncers into an alley. While in the alley, Jake meets the two RDA representatives who bring him news of his brother's untimely death. Then the movie cuts back to the original theatrical cut where Jake sees his brother's body cremated, then awakes in space.
2) During Jake's initial flyover of Pandora in his avatar, they witness a herd of Sturmbeasts, buffalo-like creatures.
3) After seeing the Sturmbeasts, Grace, Jake, and Norm stop by Grace's old English school for the Na'vi. The school is now closed, abandoned, and some walls are riddled with bullet-holes. Norm finds a Dr. Seuss book, "The Lorax", on the ground. This scene explains how Neytiri knew English so well, and certainly gives some further backstory into Grace Augustine's character.
Interestingly, The Lorax can be seen as a metaphor for the Pandoran story. Recall that the seemingly simple Seussian book is actually a lesson on the plight of the environment and industrialization.
4) We see some other different Pandoran flora and fauna, particularly with scenes of the luminescent forest floor.
5) Jake's first dinner with Neytiri is longer and extended, and it's here that she tells him her full name.
6) When Jake, Grace, and Norm first visit the Hallelujah Mountains on the way to the remote uplink station, Grace explains (in a Jake voiceover) that the mountains are levitated [via the Meissner Effect], because Unobtanium is a superconductor. There's a pretty spectacular CGI shot as the characters look around in awe at the suspended mountains.
7) Pictures of Grace and Na'vi children at her previously functioning school. Dr. Augustine tells Jake that she previously taught Neytiri and her sister, Sylwanin. However, one day, Sylwanin and some hunters destroyed an RDA bulldozer, and RDA SecOps troopers killed them at the school, which explains why the school walls were previously seen pockmarked with bullet holes.
8) Sturmbeast hunting scene after Jake tames a Banshee. After Jake successfully kills a Sturmbeast with an arrow, he and Neytiri chortle a "Heck yeah!" and whoop.
9) Jake and Neytiri's love scene comprises them linking braids together. Some kissing, nothing explicit.
10) Tsu'tey leads a war party that destroys the RDA's autonomous bulldozers, as well as the RDA SecOps squad that was guarding them. Corporal Wainfleet leads the search party that uncovers the evidence, via real-time helmet cam footage. Not sure why they cut this scene from the theatrical cut, as it persuades Selfridge to attack the Home Tree.
11) Attack of Hammerhead Titanotheres on RDA forces has been extended slightly; additional scenes of AMP-Suits getting destroyed.
12) Fight between Colonel Quaritch in AMP Suit and Neytiri on Thanator slightly longer.
13) Tsu'tey's death scene; in the theatrical cut, he falls off the RDA shuttle's aft ramp to his death. In the Collector's Edition, he falls to the forest floor, mortally wounded. He passes on leadership to Jake, and asks Jake to ceremonially kill him e.g. hara-kiri, so that Jake will be the last shadow that Tsu-Tey sees. Jake does so.
I preferred the original Tsu'tey death scene, which was more dramatic. Jake, had afterall, already become the de facto clan leader by that point in the movie, so further formal transfer by Tsu'tey (a minor character) seemed unnecessary.
on January 28, 2011
I got this as soon as I found it available on the net. It will not be available commercially for some time and that, of course, means the price is WAY to high for most viewers. I was willing to be taken for a ride but if you do not just have to have it now I would recommend waiting until it is available everywhere.
The video quality is fantastic. I have a Samsung 40" 3D setup and the movie was just beautiful to watch. Not quite the same as IMAX but very close (size of screen being the only difference that I could see). The 3D is, to my eyes, exactly as good as the IMAX on-screen version. I am a huge fan of the movie but believe me I would tell you if the video quality was not great.
I would not hesitate to do the purchase again (even considering the huge rip-off in price at this time) but advise others to consider if you really have to have it right now or can wait awhile.
Great movie, almost unbelievable video transfer quality, and a price that is just not right!
Hope this helps.
SKIP THE 2Disc THEATRICAL EDITION -- BUY THE SPECIAL EDITION OR 3D VERSION INSTEAD
1. A special edition including 20 minutes of additional footage was released just months after Theatrical Edition. (But fans weren't told until it was too late)
2. No special features in 2 disc Theatrical Edition. If you are a fan, of all the discs in your collection this is the one you really want the extra stuff.
3. 3D version also now available, though not in the extended version yet. This movie is considered a reference disc in 3D and the extensive CGI use makes it a great story to be seen in that medium, as are most animated movies. Hopefully a 3D Extended Version will be released soon.
Regarding the multiple releases while holding back on the whole package: The studios are becoming so brazen. Offering bare bones Blu Rays shortly before re-releasing the movie with additional footage was a classless act that kicks dirt in the face of fans. I completely understand the business side of the equation. However, I think we would all like to see them release multiple versions and let fans decide how much they need verses how much to spend. At least release a complete package a year or so on. There still isn't an extended 3D version US general release at the time of my update Dec 2014. The first 3D release was just the theatrical edition, even though the extended footage was already available. It's like pulling teeth to get these studios to release everything fans want in a single package, even down the road. After all the releases we have had, they really owe it to fans to do something for us, rather than themselves. We all understand the business side and multiple releases are no surprise. But seriously, this is somewhat an old movie now! Avatar is a particularly egregious example of this practice.
If 3D doesn't interest you regardless, then you are set with the Avatar Special Edition. That is the one I recommend until the 3D Extended Edition comes out. I originally wrote this article as a one star protest review, but there are so many versions of the movie out now and reviews to all of the versions are linked on Amazon to each release so it's better just to explain what to look for. Other worthy reviews cover both the general plot and the content differences between the standard and extended content. I will leave those aspects to them rather than duplicate it.
on November 12, 2010
There are many low score reviews purely based on the fact there was a release of this movie earlier this year and now the extended version comes out feels like a marketing game. When the first release happened it was known an extended version was coming, but some people just had to have it now. I just watched it on Netflix and waited for the extended version. I agree if you bought the first release version you have little real reason to buy the extended version, unless you love this movie and want the bonus features.
Some of the other low scores talk about the 3D version coming, but that is weak reason for most people because most do not own and will not own a 3D TV set. If you do your research on 3D TVs you will find they clunky and costly. Unless you are among the few who have a 3D TV, then there is no reason to wait to buy this release of Avatar if you enjoyed the movie.
For the few who have never seen the movie, the key factors to consider is if you are a science fiction fan, enjoy action movies, and if you consider yourself picky about dialog/originality, Avatar breaks no new ground when it comes to story, but it does take many of successful elements from other stories and rolls it into this one. The bashing on acting is overkill. In general they did a fine job, not exceptional, but anyone who loves science fiction will find the acting a step above the normal for this type of movie. The dialog is nothing special. There are mostly cliche characters and situations. The key is the entire package is very well done. No movie is perfect and as much as some people bash this, just look at the box office sales. Bad movies would have never set top sales records no matter how much marketing was behind it. This movie is not for everyone, but it is good to great entertainment for many.
BOTTOM LINE: If you loved the movie and do not own it, you might want to get this. If you have never seen the movie, rent it or barrow it first. It is a science fiction classic worth consideration for most people.
on November 11, 2010
There appear to be two kinds of people in today's filmgoing public: those, like me, who regard AVATAR as a pinnacle of SF cinema, and those who find fault with it, and I confess to being utterly puzzled about their carping. Clunky dialogue? Well, I thought it perfectly workable and, at times, brilliant, and I've been writing my own SF and opinion re the same for several decades now. The overly familiar plot? It seemed utterly fresh and beautifully structured to me. Yes, it has historical analogues, but that is true of many, many excellent films.
I have been a devotee of SF all my life, and I'm in my seventies. Notice I do not call AVATAR "the pinnacle," but one of them. To my mind the list must begin with "The Day the Earth Stood Still" (NOT THE REMAKE), and include CE3K, the 1st Star Wars trilogy, and some, though not all, of the Star Treks. But James Cameron has created a myth of enormous power wedded to stunning technology that so engaged me intellectually and emotionally that I had to remind myself on each rescreening to wear my contact lenses, because my glasses always got streaked by tears.
I sympathize with those who do not wish to purchase a 2D extended set because they expect a 3D version eventually will be issued. They are probably correct, but let me offer two observations. First, I saw AVATAR many times, and once, inadvertently, I took a friend to the 2D "flat" version (I didn't know it existed as such). Actually, it worked quite well; little was lost, though I would not have believed what I am saying if I had not seen it for myself. Second, 3D DVDs, in my experience, don't work all that well on TV sets. For example, "Coraline," which I loved in the theatre, was a visual mess in its 3D version; better to watch it flat.
AVATAR Special Edition is a must for me; if it ever does come out in 3D, I may buy it, but I fully expect it to disappoint on home video.
Online columnist for "Space and Time Magazine."
on March 17, 2010
As it turns out, Fox has craftily decided to milk "Avatar" for every possibly penny, since the debut DVD/blu-ray will be a bare-bones release -- and it will be one of the first major films to appear in home video without any of the regular special features, such as theatrical trailers, deleted scenes and behind-the-scenes footage.
If you want all the extra features, you'll have to wait until November, when you can buy a second "Avatar" DVD, currently titled the "Ultimate Edition," which will include all of the fancy stuff. And then, if you have really deep pockets, you can come back to the video store next year and buy a third, 3-D, version of the DVD.
So in a nut shell... This Blu-ray/DVD release JUST has the movie on it! NOTHING ELSE. NO EXTRAS, NO TRAILERS, NO SPECIAL FEATURES.
First off, yes, we have the discs in hand early so this review is based on hands-on experience, not on speculation nor on a general dissatisfaction with studios who feel compelled to "double dip" on major titles like this. I'm as averse to double dips as the next guy and have frequently called out studios who put out multiple releases of a movie in order to squeeze every last drop out of the fans. But there are a few reasons why this particular double dip may be worthy of your high def dollars.
The extended versions of the film (as with Cameron's other SciFi epics, "The Abyss" and "Aliens" before it) really enhance one's enjoyment of the film. If you like being immersed in Pandora, these extra sixteen minutes dealing with such sub-plots as the failed school project (only hinted at in the theatrical version) give you a little more time in this beautiful world and lend further depth to the characters. The extra scenes better illustrate the efforts that some humans have put into trying to understand and respect the beliefs and wishes of the Na'vi - maybe even enrich their lives through broadened horizons. This brings further contrast to the insensitive company men (and women) who are just trying to figure out how to get the Na'vi out of the way so they can exploit the planet's natural resources. These extra scenes took so long and so much computing resources to render and complete that they simply were not ready in time for the earlier Blu-ray release. The extra scenes are incorporated into the film cleanly using Blu-ray's seamless branching feature. You choose which version to watch and it runs through the theatrical, extended or collector's edition cuts. Or you can also choose to just jump to the new and expanded bits if you'd prefer.
We did notice some mild differences in the noise level and black level reproduction in the newest scenes (the scenes added for the Collector's Edition cut). There was nothing to draw major attention to the new material but you may spot subtle quality differences in the new scenes if watching closely. Overall, it is still a stunning transfer, even blown up on a 100-inch projection screen, with rich details and nicely saturated colors. Pandora is a colorful world and Blu-ray is the only way to watch it. The sound is as impressive as the audio, with a DTS-HD Master Audio track that captures the organic environmental sounds of Pandora, the dialog (Na'vi and human), as well as the massive explosions and percussive attack of mortar fire and automatic weapons. New scenes such as a shot of the abandoned school, blend transparently with old as far as the audio is concerned with a stable and immersive soundscape throughout.
Also, a new "family-friendly" soundtrack is offered which omits the fairly plentiful profanity from the mix. This is offered for the theatrical and extended cuts only (not the Collector's Edition cut). Although I've never been a fan of censorship, I do like knowing that I can play this for my young son without fear of exposing him to excessively "colorful" language. Plus the track was created in cooperation with the director, so we know it doesn't stray too far from his vision. Unfortunately, probably due to space considerations, this track is plain old lossy Dolby Digital 5.1, but after watching it with the family, I can say that much of the quality and dynamics of the lossless mix are carried over here.
In the extras department, this set is unlikely to disappoint the fans and those who are simply curious as to how some of the more impressive aspects of the film (like the performance captures of human actors playing Na'vi) were accomplished. Other than the omission of any kind of running commentary track during the film (which would have been nice), you'll find just about everything you could hope for on the making of the film, including even *MORE* deleted and extended scenes that were left out for pacing or logistical reasons. The 28 deleted scenes are on disc two, combining over 45 minutes of new footage with enough transitional scenes to total up to just over 68 minutes running time. Continuing on discs two and three, you'll find various behind the scenes and Making Of segments, screen tests and initial performance capture proof of concept segments, scene deconstructions, art galleries and much more. If you're curious about Pandora or what it takes to pull off a film like this, you'll enjoy poring over these details.
There is, of course, one major omission from this release: it's still not 3D (hence 4 stars, instead of 5). And as much as I wish it were 3D, I can understand why Fox is not putting out a general release Blu-ray 3D version of the film at this time. The market of 3D TV owners simply isn't large enough for ths studio to invest in a separate Blu-ray 3D release at this time. Although sales would probably be impressive, the 3D version of the film would be playable by relatively few viewers. Instead of not releasing a Blu-ray 3D version at all, Fox has partnered with Panasonic to offer a basic Blu-ray 3D version of the film (theatrical cut only) as an exclusive promotion for buyers of Panasonic 3D TVs (past and present). This arrangement allows Panasonic to bring the 3D version of the film to consumers, while also giving Fox the "financial security" to know that they can be profitable with the 3D Disc. This arrangement also gives consumers a major incentive to choose a Panasonic 3D TV. But it leaves buyers of other brands' 3D TVs out in the cold, and frankly, that part sucks. It means these consumers will need to turn to eBay or other secondary markets in order to obtain a 3D version of the film. From our discussions with the studio and manufacturer, we believe this will be a one year exclusivity window. Cameron and Fox have stated (at Blu-Con in Beverly Hills earlier this month), that this Collector's Edition of the film will be the "final word" on the film, as far as 2D is concerned, and a general retail version of the film on Blu-ray 3D will follow, but not for at least a year.
So, is it ideal that we don't have a 3D version of the biggest 3D movie of all time available to general consumers? No. But for the vast majority of Blu-ray and HDTV owners, who are not yet 3D-enabled, this Collector's Edition of the film offers a major improvement over the earlier single-disc edition and earns our recommendation.
Our more detailed review is available on our web site at Big Picture Big Sound (dot com).
on October 18, 2012
Lets break down the release of Avatar for all to understand. The Avatar 3D blu-ray was eagerly anticipated by everyone who spent good money on a 3D system. Even with high prices, little content worth watching, and uncomfortable, goofy glasses we looked forward to the blu-ray release that put 3D technology on the map. First slap in the face, 20th Century Fox strikes a deal with Panasonic for an exclusive release of Avatar 3D. All you have to do is buy a Panasonic Blu-ray player or 3D glasses kit and a bare bones copy of Avatar in 3D is yours. What about people who already own a Blu-Ray player not to mention a better performer than Panasonic? Unless we spend well over $100.00 we don't have access to the movie. So we grit our teeth, and wait. Then what happens? Fox releases just the Blu-ray version of the movie to the public. For those who don't have 3D TVs, this release makes sense, expect once again, no additional features. No problem, Fox will just wait a bit and release another version of Avatar. This time, a wonderful 3 disc version with the extended movie and loads of extra features. This would be the perfect version to buy, except its missing one important detail. 3D! So we continue to hold off for many months and then the announcement we are waiting for. Avatar: Blu-ray - 3D for sale October 16th! The complaining would end here, unfortunately Fox just loves pissing people off. I go to buy the movie and discover it is once AGAIN, just a bare bones version. WOW, you couldn't just release the movie with the extra features that have already been produced. Even it if cost more at the cashier, don't you think people who waited for the 3D version would want to watch extra features that show how the highest-grossing, most technically advanced movie of all time is created? What's the likely response, "Most fans probably own the 3disc version, you can simply buy this release and have it all." Sure, I enjoy wasting my money by buying multiple versions of a movie. It's a complete waste of resources and unbelievably greedy on the studio's end. Even if you get this newest release, you still don't get the 3D extended version of the movie. We can't win. I'm sure yet another version will come eventually. The 5 disc, extended, multi-Platium, limited edition, collectors series with every feature under the sun. It will be glorious, and it only took three years to get it. Is it so hard to understand why people pirate movies and music? Fox, I would love to unleash a whirlwind of profanity laced commentary on you, but for the sake of not making me look even more pathetic than I already am, I will simply say I'm a grossly disappointed.
"Up ahead was Pandora," remarks our central character Jake Sully, and James Cameron has finally unveiled a project to match his planet-size ego. Gazillions of stuff already posted regarding this movie, so chances are I'll only be regurgitating. But I side with all the gushy raves. AVATAR is phenomenal. The CG is bloody brilliant and breathes dimension and life into the twelve-foot-tall Na'Vi. There are significant plot points in the story which echo DANCES WITH WOLVES. In essence, AVATAR is a western masquerading as a sci-fi flick. As far as the premise with the human cripple who casts his awareness into an alien body, off the top of my head, author Lin Carter's Green Star series, written in the 1970s, featured this same basic hook. But AVATAR takes this premise and injects it with solid storytelling, enlivens it with an appealing cast. We sometimes forget that James Cameron, beneath his jonesing for razzle-dazzle, knows how to tell a grand story. Again, the man demonstrates remarkable execution. Man alive, things have come a ways since WHO FRAMED ROGER RABBIT?, hasn't it?
The plotty plot: Jake Sully, a paraplegic ex-Marine, journeys from a dying Earth to the mysterious distant planet, Pandora, and signs up to fill his murdered twin brother's slot in the Avatar project. The inhabitants indigenous to Pandora are called the Na'Vi, and they are humanoid and blue-skinned and twelve-foot-tall. On Pandora, Jake becomes an Avatar driver, able to transfer his consciousness into a clone made up of combined human and Na'Vi DNA. The story's central conflict is that, while the Avatar program is dedicated to peacefully learning about the Na'Vi, there is also a corporate entity backed by a strong military presence intent on harvesting unobtanium, a rare super-conducting mineral, a rich deposit of which lies underneath the local Na'Vi village.
Whether it was a sign from Pandora's goddess or that this dumb grunt exhibits absolutely no fear, Jake's Avatar shockingly gets an in with the hostile Omaticaya clan. And so the corporation also thinks it now has an in. But Jake finds himself wrestling with conflicting allegiances, even as the beautiful Neytiri tutors him in the ways of the Na'Vi. Jake must decide; the Time of Great Sorrow fast approaches. Will it be the blue girl and the exhilarating communion with nature? Or will it be Semper Fi and the Jarhead Clan and a chance to remedy his withered legs? Will it be the carrot or the stick imposed on the Na'Vi?
There really are very few unmissable cinematic events; AVATAR is one of them. The core narrative is not original, but James Cameron embellishes it with such monumental bells and whistles. The CG technology is truly groundbreaking, with eye-popping imagery surfacing every damn minute. I'm not really down with heavy-handed message movies, but I was drawn into the Na'Vi's struggles against the encroaching human predators. You have to credit the cast for making it into a hell of a compelling drama, and Sam Worthington and Zoe Saldana generate massive sparks together. Sigourney Weaver plays the tough scientist, and it's probably a wise move to change her character's surname from Shipley to Augustine ("Shipley" sounds too close to "Ripley"). Giovanni Ribisi gets the slimy Paul Reiser part from ALIENS. Stephen Lang gets one of the juiciest roles he will ever get as the scary Colonel Miles Quaritch. He's amazing. Anyway, I can't rave enough. Like most of you, I've seen AVATAR a bunch of times now, because this is a picture that rewards you with repeated viewings. It works as a sci-fi adventure film, as an environmental call to arms, as an emotional human drama, as a love story. And, Ooo-rah!, there is even some classic deadpan Marine humor. As mentioned, it's a great western cloaked as a sci-fi flick.
This is the 3-disc DVD Set featuring three different versions of the movie, with the movie broken down into two parts and on two discs. Bonus footage includes more scenes of Jake Sully pre-Pandora, Dr.Grace Augustine recounting to Jake what happened to Neytiri's sister at Augustine's school, and one final scene with Tsu'tey as he passes the mantle of leadership on to Jake.
Disc 1 features AVATAR Part 1:
- Original Theatrical Release
- Collector's Extended Cut (with 16 additional minutes)
- Special Edition Re-Release (with 8 Additional Minutes)
- Optional Family Audio Track (All objectionable language removed)
Disc 2 features AVATAR Part 2
- Original Theatrical Release
- Special Edition Re-Release (with 8 additional minutes)
- Collector's Extended Cut (with 16 additional minutes)
- Optional Family Audio Track (all objectionable language removed)
- "A Message from Pandora" - James Cameron reflects on the movie's environmental theme and his own environmental works in the Xingu Basin, Brazil, to prevent the construction of the Belo Monte dam which would negatively impact the tribes inhabiting that region (00:20:11 minutes long)
Disc 3: The Filmmakers' Journey
- Direct Access to New/Additional Scenes for the Special Edition Re-Release (00:16:46 minutes, but these are pretty much the scenes that were added to the Collector's Extended Cut)
- Direct Access to New/Additional Scenes from the Collector's Extended Cut (00:32:47).
- Never-Before-Seen Deleted Scenes: the first few of which are comparison clips showing scenes before the CG folks got to them and then the finished product (01:06:45).
- The exclusive, in-depth documentary: "Capturing AVATAR" (01:38:20)
I wish, though, that there had been an audio commentary track provided by James Cameron and the cast. But that's probably coming, in the next new super-duper, even more special edition AVATAR DVD release. Oh, you know it's coming.
on July 6, 2011
I must admit I was a little skeptical about the quality of the 3D version. I was pleasantly surprised I felt as if I was in the movie myself I loved it!