Avatar: Extended Collector’s Edition DVD Review: A Cheesy Cartoon in More Ways Than One

Yes, there are people out there that never saw Avatar on the big screen. Actually, there are 73 of us, and we have meetings. So, to the other 72 of you, I address this review:

Well, gang, I’m not sure if this will get me kicked out of our big holiday party at the Skate-O-Rama, but I watched Avatar on a standard definition television (remember those? I know you do, Todd, cuz your mom told me that is what you have in your basement bachelor pad) and we may have missed the boat. Considering how everyone raved about seeing the film in 3D on the big screen, it must have been visually amazing, because the story is predictable and the characters are one-dimensional no matter where you see the film.

On November 16, Twentieth Century Fox gave James Cameron’s epic the royal treatment by releasing the three-disc Extended Collector’s Edition which consists of three versions of the film (original theatrical release, Special Edition Re-Release with eight additional minutes, Collector’s Extended Cut with sixteen additional minutes); the documentary “A Message From Pandora,” which chronicles the efforts of Cameron and many others to stop the building of a damn that will threaten the rainforest right here on Earth; and “Capturing Avatar” which explores in detail the making of Avatar.

I know what you are thinking: If you have the Collector’s Extended Cut why would you need the other two shorter versions. I asked the same question. Then I watched the Collector’s Extended Cut. It is soooo long, and slow, and plodding, and predictable that it sucked out of me any desire I had to be a “collector”.

In this Dances with Starship Troopers big-budget extravaganza, we meet Jake (Sam Worthington), a former marine who was injured and is now paralyzed from the waist down. Jake had a brother who was killed while working on a special project. Since Jake has matching DNA to his brother, the government sends him off to the planet Pandora where his mind is placed inside an alien body that us Earthlings have managed to create so that he can infiltrate the local culture. He’s kind of an avatar. Get it?

So he goes in, learns everything, meets a girl (Zoe Saldana), falls in love, and changes loyalties. I know! Not a new story, and there is nothing here that you won’t see coming a mile away. The military and government characters are ridiculous stereotypes, and the message in the film is obvious. So what was all the hype about? Apparently the movie looked amazing on a big screen in 3D. So amazing that no one noticed everything that was wrong with the film as a whole.

In the bonus feature “Capturing Avatar” we learn that releases were designed specifically for the screens they would be shown on to ensure that all audiences would view the film in the most technologically optimum environment possible. Unfortunately, that does not hold true when it comes to television. Like the film itself, “Capturing Avatar” is also a bit too long, but certainly tells a more entertaining story. It delves into the technical aspects of making the film, and thus will be a big treat for you geeks out there, and you know who you are (Neal and Allen).

The new release also includes 45 more minutes of deleted scenes, most of which you can clearly see why they were deleted, and a Family Audio track that allows for the viewing of the film with all objectionable language removed. Unfortunately, it does not remove the objectionable content i.e.: the stereotypical characters.

Recommendation: Perhaps there are fans out there that will want three copies of the same film, with each being painfully longer than the last, but if you saw Avatar on the big screen, then viewing it in a lesser form has to be a disappointment. Without the 3D effects, it’s just a cheesy cartoon in more ways than one. “Capturing Avatar” is the piece of this pie worth consuming.

So let’s plan on watching “Capturing Avatar” at our next meeting. See you guys in the rec room on Tuesday. Andy, it’s your turn to call the Bingo numbers, and Ned’s turn to bring the pork snacks.

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Rons Reviews

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