Reviews

Avatar: Extended Collector's Edition

5

Now 33 extra minutes of game-changing…

Avatar review

Pulling back the curtain to show the machinery doesn’t always destroy the magic of the illusion.

In the case of Avatar, the more you know, the more you marvel. This three-disc special edition takes us on another fantastic voyage with James Cameron, revealing exactly how it all came together across those 14 years.

But before you nosedive into the bonus material, it’s worth hitting play on the new Extended Cut, which adds another 15-odd minutes to the bulked-up theatrical Special Edition – also included here, alongside the (phew) original cut.

For those who’ve only seen the latter, there’s a full 33 minutes of extra scenes, including a fresh opening that adds meat to Jake’s (Sam Worthington) arc, showing him picking fights in bars and visiting his dead brother about to get toasted in a morgue.

Further on, snippets are seamlessly spliced in – including a dramatic buffalohunting sequence and first- person soldier-cam footage of the aftermath of a Na’vi assault – which suggest the migraines Cameron must have suffered in the editing room.

Even in the hour-plus of deleted scenes, smart little moments keep appearing. “I’ve seen a lotta guys leave this place in a wheelchair,” says a soldier, after saving Jake from a pesky Pandoran critter. “Never seen anybody show up in one.”

Perpetual motion-capture

But the main pull is unquestionably Capturing Avatar, a four-part Making Of doc that explores the entire production. Everything’s here. None of it is a slog.

After comparing Worthington’s 2006 audition tape (Aussie accent, pale, thin) with the footage that finally convinced Fox to trust him with the biggest movie of all time, we see Sam and co-star Zoe Saldana running around a real forest in loincloths, learning the Na’vi language and being trained by Jim’s marine brother.

Most fascinating is watching the actors donning mo-cap suits to act out the entire movie in an empty warehouse over two years, before effects guys painstakingly build their Na’vi incarnations.

Even more engrossing insight arrives in the 17 picture-in-picture scene deconstructions that side-by-side the finished footage with the on-set shoot.

Anything not in this epic documentary can be found in over an hour of production materials and 17 further featurettes (on the Blu-ray) that zero in on everything from the 3D Fusion Camera to the Thanator.

Did we mention the Pandorapedia and the doc about Cameron’s eco-visit to Brazil? Did you know he even wrote the lyrics to the Na’vi songs? And yes, they’re here.

Everything’s here – bar the movie in 3D. That’s for the next collector’s edition…

Film Details