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DVD Review: "Avatar"

By It's My Life on April 30, 2010 5:14 PM | No TrackBacks

avatar_dvd.jpegWhen director James Cameron's "Avatar" came out in theaters last year, its groundbreaking visuals and 3-D effects blew a lot of people's minds. The movie, which tells the story of a far-off moon called Pandora and the peaceful Na'vi people who live there, quickly became the highest grossing movie of all time, earning over 2 billion dollars worldwide.  

Now "Avatar" is out on DVD and Blu-ray, which means that even more people have a chance to check out this sci-fi blockbuster. IML nabbed a copy, and here's what we think:

We Liked:

The Visuals. Currently, the DVD and Blu-Ray of "Avatar" is 2-D only. A 3-D release won't come until next year (2011), and even then you'll need expensive new equipment, including a 3-D TV, to watch it. So for now, 2-D is what you get. We're gonna be honest here...the movie definitely loses something when you take away the 3-D. How could it not? "Avatar"'s 3-D was so awesome that you can't just take it away and say that the movie doesn't suffer. But even in 2-D, this movie is visually dazzling. We could fill pages trying to describe the look of this movie, and write endless praise of the blue, 10-foot-tall Na'vi. But you really have to see it for yourself, because words just fail. Even in two dimensions, "Avatar" is a giant bucket of super-sweet eye-candy.

The World. The moon of Pandora is a pretty amazing place. Not only is it beautiful to look at, with floating mountains, glowing trees, and countless awe-inspiring creatures, but it feels like the kind of place we'd really like to explore ourselves. Cameron has already said there will probably be two "Avatar" sequels, and that they might feature some of the other moons near Pandora, so we'll get that chance (if only in a "watching-more-movies" way). We can't wait.

The Story. A lot of people criticize "Avatar" for having a simple story. But hey: "simple" isn't the same as "stupid."  In fact, sometimes simple is better. "Avatar" tells a classic story of good and evil, good guys and villains, and tells it well. That's all we really need from an action/adventure movie, thank you very much.

The Characters. Jake Sully, the main character, is a strong protagonist, and we enjoyed going on this epic journey with him as he discovers the world of the Na'vi, and begins to question all the beliefs and assumptions of his former life. Neytiri, the proud, strong, and wise princess of the Na'vi, is a wonderful character as well, and we come to care about her and the fate of her people. And scar-faced tough guy Colonel Quaritch makes a fantastic baddie, perfect for taking all of our boos and hisses as he goes about his dastardly work for the company that's trying to wipe out the Na'vi.

avatar.jpgThe Message. Okay, the pro-environment message in "Avatar" isn't exactly subtle. It's more like, hit-you-over-the-head obvious. But we don't mind, because it's a great message, and one we all should think about. The bad guys in "Avatar" are greedy -- they want the valuable stuff that lies in the ground beneath the Na'vi's home, and they'll do anything, including kill and destroy, to get it. They don't care about nature or life...just money. There are plenty of people in our world who feel the same way, and that needs to change. By taking the central message of this movie to heart, perhaps we can all start working to make that change a reality.

We Didn't Like:

The Rating. "Avatar" is rated PG-13, mostly for the battle sequences and warfare, as well as some (mild) bad language and heavy-duty kissing. We're not saying that the movie doesn't deserve to be PG-13, because it does. It's definitely too intense for IML's younger users. But wouldn't it be nice if the filmmakers had made a second edit of the movie, one that could get a PG rating? That way a lot more kids could watch it, and not be exposed to all the violence and scary stuff. We really think the story, characters and themes of this movie, as well as just the fantasy/wonder of the visuals, appeal to a lot of tweens and kids who are younger than 13 (which is why, when the movie was released in theatres, McDonald's did a Happy Meal promotion with it, which we found kinda weird since most Happy Meal eaters were not the target audience). "Avatar" is going to be edited for broadcast TV why not just put the edited version on the DVD too? That way parents could choose to show a less violent version to younger viewers. We're just sayin'...

The Extras. Umm...There aren't any. This is a bare-bones release, and the only thing on the disc is the movie itself. A deluxe edition is due out for the holiday gift-buying season, but doesn't that really mean that the studio wants people to buy the movie twice...once now and then again in six months? Hey, Hollywood guys...this movie has already made TWO BILLION DOLLARS! Why so greedy? It doesn't seem right to us, especially when one of the biggest messages of the movie is "Greed is bad!"

IML's rating: A

"Avatar" is rated PG-13 for intense epic battle sequences and warfare, sensuality, language and some smoking.

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