Friday, 23 April 2010

Avatar: Blu-ray disc review

This afternoon I forgo sunshine to watch James Cameron's Avatar, which arrived courtesy of those fine folk at Amazon.co.uk.

How would Cameron's ocular opus translate to home cinema and the limitations of 2D? Rather well as it, unsurprisingly, turns out!



No still image will ever do the transfer, framed in the director's preferred 1.78:1 aspect ratio, justice! Colour, contrast and deep, deep, blacks culminate in a striking image that is the new benchmark for 1080p. There are no noticeable motion artefacts, which is most likely due to the high bit rate (Avatar's footprint almost takes up an entire 50GB disc). I didn't see any artefacts on my Panasonic VIERA LCD TX-37LZD800. Your mileage may vary.

Then there's the glorious DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1 surround mix to underscore the abundant eye candy. By turns nuanced, subtle and bombastic when the action goes into overdrive. This bests Terminator Salvation's surround workout, which I use as a reference disc when showcasing the merits of Blu-ray to family and friends. Plaudits to Panasonic Hollywood Laboratory (PHL), a creative partner on James Cameron's most technologically ambitious project to date, and THX.

OK, there are no extras on this disc, but James Cameron hasn't pretended that this would ever be the definitive release. Double dipping, later this year, for the win.

James Cameron raised the bar on home video with his lauded special editions of The Abyss and Aliens (even the booklets, masterclasses in film production written by the man himself, were worth the price of admission alone): in doing so creating a cottage industry that has been exploited by less visionary directors.

As in digital 3D cinemas across the globe. Avatar's Blu-ray disc bow is reference material and will sell complete home cinema systems at savvy retail locations worldwide - even without the allure of 3D or the impending 2010 FIFA World Cup. However, make sure that your home cinema is properly calibrated before returning to Pandora!