Avatar hit the streets today on DVD and Blu-ray. And what would usually be a great day of celebration as the highest grossing film of all-time rolls onto home video formats is marred by the quality of the release. Instead of a great Blu-ray release, Fox Home Entertainment has decided to release a light-weight version of the film, sans special features. It is a decision that has divided legions of geeks, many of whom lack the willpower to wait for a later release of Avatar, and will ultimately end up purchasing it twice. This morning, upon receiving my own copy of the Blu-ray, I set out to explore the release and answer the question – is it worth it to buy Avatar now, or should we wait? The answer is not as clear as initially expected.
Upon booting up the Blu-ray disc, we are met with a very simple menu. Within this menu are three options. You can play the movie, select audio options (including subtitles) and search for a specific scene. And that’s it. Missing from this very pedestrian disc one of one is a whole host of things – behind the scenes featurettes, a commentary track, deleted scenes, the works. All that exists is the film itself.
Then of course, there is the film. As if made for Blu-ray, Avatar is quite possibly the most vibrant and breathtaking thing to ever grace my high definition television’s screen. The colors are bright, the movement is smooth and incredibly sharp. I would venture even so far as to say that the film is more impressive on my television set at home, in 2D, than it was in theaters in 3D. It is absolutely awe-inspiring.
So here we are – caught in the great conundrum of the first Avatar Blu-ray release. The movie is breathtaking on Blu-ray, but the release offers nothing more than the film itself. What are savvy Blu-ray buying people – who don’t want to waste their hard-earned money – to do? I would encourage you to rent the film, so that you can bear witness to one of the most impressive visual experiences Blu-ray has to offer. But wait before you spend $25 on the Blu-ray, because a much better version is on the way. Would it be nice to have a James Cameron commentary track, at least? Sure, but it isn’t here. Am I glad that I had a chance to watch Avatar this morning on Blu-ray? Absolutely.