For those wanting a review of the film itself, may I refer you to my cinema coverage.
First up is the insertion of the disc itself, which has the longest load time in the history of load times. It’s been said that several models have had difficulty playing back the Blu-ray, which I believe is on account of its employing a new type of copyright protection. The disc played fine on my Sony BDP-S360. Apologies for the lack of screenshots as I don’t have the capability to provide them.
Avatar is presented with an aspect ratio of 1.78:1, in adherence to James Cameron’s personal preference for its IMAX screenings. Those curious about a 2.35:1 version should note that there are plans to release it at the end of the year as part of that big swanky edition they’ve announced. The BD-50 - utilising the MPEG-4 AVC - almost maxes out the disc’s storage capacity in delivering an outstanding 1080p transfer, which even goes so far to surpass its theatrical screening; referring to the slight darkness caused as a result of polarization stopping down photography. Things here are exceptionally strong and I can quite confidently say that this is the most vibrant and ludicrously detailed looking presentation I’ve seen on digital disc. I’m not going to harp on about it as by doing so would be superfluous, suffice it to say that everything looks splendid, and with not an inkling of compression artefacts. The only caveat is that I’m picking up some very high frequency edge enhancement, which is only really apparent on wide sky shots, such as around the Scorpion helicopters, Home Tree and the Halleluiah Mountains. Frankly its not enough to undermine the overall presentation of what is undoubtedly a reference quality disc.
The 5.1 DTS HD Master Audio track is pure aggression. An incredibly immersive experience, it dishes out plenty of fine ambience throughout Pandora’s captivating environment. A huge draw is the amount of work required from the sub-woofer, which creates a thunderous amount of bass and solid rumbling effects, lending a lot of extra weight to the human weaponry on display and helping to manage some highly tense battles, which is guaranteed to wind up your neighbors. Dialogue is crisp and clear, while James Horner’s score also benefits from a healthier bass.
This is a bare-bones release, coming only with a DVD copy that frankly looks terrible by comparison: soft and incredibly washed out, it’s the perfect adage in promoting Blu-ray as this generation’s overall format of choice.