Review for Avatar
It has been many years since I sat down to write a film review for DVD Reviewer (now for MyReviewer of course!). Following a move to a new house, I once again have no neighbours, space to setup a decent sound system, and enjoy watching films again, all I need to do now is upgrade my ageing 42" plasma television and I'm fully back in business - I've retired my DLP projector for the time being as I want my new living room to look relatively sensible J
Anyway, James Cameron's Avatar needs little or no introduction, this is the film that did the unthinkable - blowing away the previous most successful film at the box office (not accounting for inflation), James Cameron's Titanic. Avatar's total gross at the big screen was over $2.7 billion and it has re-ignited the craze for 3D. I saw Avatar twice at the cinema, in 2D at the local Cineworld, and in 3D at the Imax in Glasgow. In 2D the film was amazing, a visual and aural feast, in 3D it was a mindblowing experience.
Avatar takes computer generated images to a whole new level, and finally makes computer generated characters believable and watchable, the story may not be to everybody's tastes, but the technical achievement was lauded by critics across the board. Some people think that 3D is a gimmick, and until Avatar it was - set piece scenes designed to make the audience duck, Avatar is different, the 3D is about immersing you into the world of Pandora.
Having purchased a new sound system and a Blu-ray player, I chose Avatar as my first movie to watch on the basis that the film's visuals (even on my 6 year old Plasma TV) would semi justify my purchase. I have been reluctant to take the plunge into Blu-ray until now for one reason - I know what happened when I moved from VHS to DVD - I replaced my entire VHS collection with DVD discs. I now have around 1200 DVDs, and I know exactly what will happen...
I've bought 10 Blu-ray movies so far, 9 of which I already own on DVD, some of which I also used to own on VHS. It has started already...
Avatar has raised the bar for visual effects and the combination of live action and CGI, and I was expecting the Blu-ray to give me the same wow factor that my first DVD gave me. Avatar delivered resoundingly.
Even on a 6 year old Plasma (720p, not full HD, hence the need for a new one...), the picture quality is staggering. For those of you (and there can't be many given the box office figures) Avatar isn't the sort of movie with a few set piece special effects scenes that stand out from the rest of the movie, the whole movie is a visual treat. Every scene is crammed full of details, vibrant colours and every aspect of the picture is crystal clear. I can't wait to watch this again when my new 50" 1080p set arrives...
When I moved into my new house, I decided that I would take advantage of being able to have a big sound system again and ditched my old (but good) satellite + subwoofer system for a new setup with big Cambridge Audio floorstanders front+rear, with matching subwoofer and centre. I've made a temporary downgrade from 6.1 to 5.1 but will add the centre rear channel shortly. This is hooked up to a 6 x 120w Sony QS amplifier and cabled with Cambridge Audio Symphony 300 all round. As you could imagine, I had high hopes that this system combined with the Blu-ray would justify the investment.
Well, I was not disappointed. Avatar delivers devastating power combined with superb clarity across all channels. The dialogue was beautifully clear at all times, the bass was powerful (house-shakingly powerful at times), the music fantastic and the ambience and effects a joy to behold. Even at relatively high volume, there was no distortion and the power of the sound matched the quality of the visuals.
Not having watched anything else on Blu-ray yet, I don't have a reference disc to compare Avatar to, but if anything sounds better than this, it must be something truly special.
Well, aside from having a DVD in the case as well (waste of time, why watch a DVD when you have a Blu-ray...) this is a bare release. No doubt some uber director's cut/special edition blah blah will follow later in the year.
I bought Avatar on Blu-ray hoping that it would justify (to me) the expense of a Blu-ray player and new sound system and would provide a noticeable upgrade to DVD. Whilst the upgrade isn't comparable to the one from VHS to DVD, it is significant, but I think that in order to make the most of it, you need a decent sound system - whilst the picture was good, it was the sound that really blew me away with this disc.
The movie is fantastic, the picture is superb and the sound quality is truly mindblowing. Sure, there are no extras, but then I don't have time to watch them nowadays anyway, so that didn't really both me.
In summary, if you want to show off a big sound system, or need to justify the purchase of a big sound system to she who must be obeyed, this is a good candidate for doing so. Recommended.