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Blu-Ray : Highly Recommended
Ranking:
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Release Date: June 20th, 2023 Movie Release Year: 2022

Avatar: The Way of Water - 3D

Overview -

Hopefully a sign of things to come, Disney/20th Century delivers Avatar: The Way of Water to Blu-ray 3-D. The film looks amazing in2-D 4K, but the 3-D is an impeccable delivering a genuinely exciting immersive viewing experience that pulls you into James Cameron’s sci-fi universe. The 4K HDR10 disc is excellent but the 3-D is viscerally exciting. With solid audio and all of the bonus features of the 2-D sets, if you’re rocking a 3-D capable TV or projector, there’s no debate, this is an essential addition for the collection. Highly Recommended.

Avatar: The Way of Water reaches new heights and explores undiscovered depths as James Cameron returns to the world of Pandora in this emotionally packed action adventure. Set more than a decade after the events of the first film, Avatar: The Way of Water launches the story of the Sully family (Jake, Neytiri, and their kids), the trouble that follows them, the lengths they go to keep each other safe, the battles they fight to stay alive, and the tragedies they endure. All of this against the breathtaking backdrop of Pandora, where audiences are introduced to new Na’vi cultures and a range of exotic sea creatures that populate the majestic oceans. Nominated for numerous Academy Awards® including Best Picture, the James Cameron-directed film became the third highest-grossing box office film of all-time and set a new benchmark for visual effects. Produced by Cameron and his longtime partner Jon Landau, the Lightstorm Entertainment production stars Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldaña, Sigourney Weaver, Stephen Lang, Cliff Curtis and Kate Winslet. Joining the illustrious adult cast are talented newcomers Britain Dalton, Jamie Flatters, Trinity Jo-Li Bliss, Bailey Bass and Jack Champion.

Bonus Features*

Inside Pandora's Box (A series of featurettes on the challenges facing cast and crew as filmmakers devise new technologies to push the limits of cinema)

·         Building the World of Pandora – James Cameron and a team of talented artists combine years of research with their design skills to build the world of Pandora with new characters, creatures, indigenous clans, underwater environments and the take-no-prisoners hard-tech world of the RDA.

·         Capturing Pandora – James Cameron’s approach to performance capture has the cast performing in a volume rigged with infrared cameras to capture their movement, and head rig cameras to capture emotion on their faces with only the boundaries of imagination to limit them.

·         The Undersea World of Pandora – Co-production designer Dylan Cole and his team conceive of the marine creatures required for Avatar: The Way of Water while James Cameron and his stunt team devise extraordinary means to bring those creatures to life in a performance capture tank.

·         The Challenges of Pandora's Waters – James Cameron tackles the “non-trivial challenge” of performance capture above and below the water’s surface, utilizing a wave machine and current generator to reproduce ocean conditions, and underwater vehicles to replicate creature movement.

·         Pandora’s Returning Characters – James Cameron reunites with his returning cast – Sam Worthington, Zoe Saldan?a, Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang. Together they discuss the amazing evolution of their characters in Avatar: The Way of Water.

·         Pandora’s Next Generation – Meet the talented young newcomers who have been cast as the next generation of Na’vi and follow them through the adventure of making Avatar: The Way of Water.

·         Spider's Web – James Cameron introduced the human character of Spider into the fabric of Pandora – thus creating a host of technological challenges on set…and an incredible journey for the young actor, Jack Champion.

·         Becoming Na’vi – The Avatar cast is immersed in the culture of the indigenous Na’vi, living off the land in the Hawaiian rainforest and training in a multitude of disciplines in preparation for their roles.

·         The Reef People of Pandora – In true James Cameron-style, the Metkayina reef clan has been developed with great attention to detail, bearing unique evolutionary traits and a culture – with new dwellings, new clothes and different way of life – all a result of living off the ocean.

·         Bringing Pandora to Life – Once James Cameron completes his virtual production process, every sequence is turned over to We?ta? FX to bring Pandora to life – with unprecedented advancements in facial performance, environments and making CG water look real.

·         The RDA Returns to Pandora – Co-production designer Ben Procter and his team present an armada of new vehicles and human technologies that the RDA brings to Pandora – in concept design and with practical builds.

·         The New Characters of Pandora – Meet the important new characters of the Avatar saga played by Kate Winslet, Cliff Curtis, Edie Falco, Brendan Cowell and Jemaine Clement.

·         The Sounds of Pandora – Hear how James Cameron worked with composer Simon Franglen to create the distinctive music of The Way of Water while building on James Horner’s brilliant score for Avatar, and learn how Chris Boyes created the immersive sounds of Pandora.

·         New Zealand – Pandora’s Home – The production of the Avatar sequels is so thoroughly ensconced in New Zealand that James Cameron considers The Way of Water a “New Zealand film.” Hear reflections from the cast and crew, including the remarkable New Zealand crew, on making the film.

 

More from Pandora's Box (Additional featurettes that highlight special teams within the production)

·         Casting – Discover the screen tests that won the talented young cast their roles in Avatar: The Way of Water.

·         Stunts – The Avatar stunt team isn’t just creating breathtaking action, they’re driving the story. From racing underwater on ilus, flying the skies on ikrans, to maneuvering RDA speed boats, the stunt team leaves you breathless and wanting more.

·         The Lab – Explore the Lightstorm Lab, the backbone of virtual production for the Avatar films. Comprised of specialized teams, the Lab builds & supports every aspect of the production – environments, motion edit, Kabuki, sequence, post-viz and software development.

·         The Troupe – Avatar’s Troupe is the Swiss Army Knife of acting, while playing dozens of roles on set, in the performance capture volume and on live-action sets, they bring life to Na’vi clans and RDA Recoms. They also play Na’vi-scale puppets on the live-action sets.

 

Marketing Materials & Music Video (Marketing materials used to build audience awareness of the film)

·         Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength) Music Video – Multi-Grammy-winning, music superstar, The Weeknd, performs his emotionally packed end title song in the official music video for the smash hit “Nothing Is Lost (You Give Me Strength).”

·         Theatrical Trailers 1 & 2 – Avatar: The Way of Water used two theatrical trailers to engage the audience. The first was a teaser trailer released 7 months before the film. The second was a standard trailer that premiered 5 weeks before the film’s release.

 

English Family Audio Track – 5.1 Dolby Digital

 

*Bonus features vary by product and retailer

 

OVERALL:
Highly Recommended
Rating Breakdown
STORY
VIDEO
AUDIO
SPECIAL FEATURES
Tech Specs & Release Details
Technical Specs:
Blu-ray 3D + Blu-ray + Digital
Video Resolution/Codec:
1080p/AVC MPEG-4
Aspect Ratio(s):
1.85:1
Audio Formats:
English 5.1 DTS-HDMA , English 5.1 Dolby Digital, English 2.0 Dolby Digital Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital
Subtitles/Captions:
English SDH, French, Spanish
Release Date:
June 20th, 2023

Storyline: Our Reviewer's Take

Ranking:

I already reviewed Avatar: The Way of Water 4K UHD Streaming so I won’t subject you to those thoughts again here, you can click that link and read it if you so choose. 

For another less-positive opinion, you can read Bryan’s Avatar: The Way of Water - Film Review 

Vital Disc Stats: The Blu-ray 3-D
For years now the only way anyone in the U.S. could get a Disney-released title on Blu-ray 3-D was through the import market - even going so far as to have to buy it from Japan! Thankfully that trend reverses course with Avatar: The Way of Water. A four-disc Blu-ray + Digital set, the 3-D version of the film is spread over two BD-50 discs, a BD-50 disc for the 2-D presentation, and a BD-50 for bonus features. All discs are Region Free. The discs are housed in a multi-disc case with identical slipcover with raised features. The discs are stacked, two to a side, but thankfully the case is wide and doesn’t feel too tight or stiff that they could slip off their cradles or scratch. If you have a 3-D capable set, the 3-D discs automatically trigger the digital polarizing so keep your glasses ready. 

Video Review

Ranking:

I gotta say between the 4K release and now the 3-D Blu-ray release of Avatar: The Way of Water, the 2-D 1080p people are kinda getting the proverbial shaft. Stuck with a lower bitrate encode and a worse audio mix option - collectors of 4K or 3-D Blu-rays get the better experience all around. In this case, the film is spread over two discs allowing for a much higher bitrate to fully enjoy this visually stunning sequel in three dimensions. Right away depth along the z-axis is simply stunning. Foreground objects hover outside your screen while deep background objects feel like they stand miles away without any parallaxing issues or ghosting. While things don't protrude to poke you in the eye, it's not simply a "window into another world." Even scenes within tight interiors have an engaging three-dimensional experience. But the best sequences - to be expected - are any flying or underwater action set pieces. The film’s last hour is a three-dimensional visual feast with near, midrange, and deep background objects swimming and floating throughout the screen. 

Details are also in great shape, and arguably stronger than the 1080p 2D counterpart. The bitrate averages higher so little extras in skin textures, fine lines, hairs, and clothing all look appreciably sharper. Black levels and shadows are well managed, maybe not as pristine as what 2160p HDR10 can offer, but it certainly holds its own. Colors are vivid and striking with rich primaries and natural human and Na’vi skin tones to match. This was an incredible experience in IMAX and the only thing I wish I could do for home viewing is enjoy a screen that matches the size and scope of the theater. On the scale of home video options, I’ll tip my hat to the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray as technically better, but I also have to admit this 3-D Blu-ray is to me the most visually exciting experience. Admittedly I am a 3-D junky, but if I’m earnestly going to sit down and watch Avatar: The Way of Water - I’m going to pull out this 3-D disc.

Audio Review

Ranking:

While this 3-D Blu-ray doesn’t pick up that lovely Atmos track, it isn’t stuck with the middling DTS-HD MA 5.1 track like the 2-D Blu-ray. Here 3-D Blu-ray fans get to enjoy a robust DTS-HD MA 7.1 mix that may not quite have the range and finesse as the 4K Atmos mix, but it holds its own nicely. There’s a terrific amount of imaging and channel movement throughout the film, it’s not as refined as the Atmos, but it’s an exciting experience nonetheless. Dialog is clean and clear without issue. The big action beats are lively and engaging - that first forest assault where Sully saves his kids is damned exciting pulse-pounding audio. Then you have the final hour of wall-to-wall action and it’s great stuff. Giving that 5.1 mix a trial I thought it was alright, it worked well enough for key sequences, but then I spun this 3-D Blu-ray’s 7.1 and it’s not even a comparison. I don’t know the why’s and what for's in the decision-making there, but if you’re not rocking 4K and Atmos, the 3-D Blu-ray has the better auditory experience.

Special Features

Ranking:

In another fine turn from Disney/20th Century - all of those bonus features that were issued on streaming carry over to this bonus features disc. Totaling over three hours of content, it’s a very thorough and detailed collection of materials. The beast of the mix is certainly the Inside Pandora’s Box content. Made up of several featurettes, you can use the play-all function and they roll together like one big long documentary exploring every facet of the production. I’d say the most interesting segments involve all of the underwater motion capture work and what it took to bring that biome to life on screen and in the giant studio swimming pool facility. Again, no Cameron commentary, but he’s present throughout the extras so much so that I doubt a commentary track would really add anything. Fans will definitely want to dig through everything here.

  • Inside Pandora’s Box (HD 2:32:14)
    • Building the World of Pandora
    • Capturing Pandora
    • The Undersea World of Pandora
    • The Challenges of Pandora’s Waters
    • Pandora’s Returning Characters
    • Pandora’s Next Generation
    • Spider’s Web
    • Becoming Na’Vi
    • The Reef People of Pandora
    • Bringing Pandora to Life
    • The RDA Returns to Pandora
    • The New Characters of Pandora
    • The Sounds of Pandora
    • New Zealand - Pandora’s Home
  • More From Pandora’s Box (HD 28:06)
    • Casting
    • Stunts
    • The Lab
    • The Troupe
  • Marketing Materials (8:51)
    • Nothing is lost - Music Video
    • Theatrical Trailer 1
    • Theatrical Trailer 2



While I’m a fan and supporter of the 4K format, I readily admit I’m more excited about 3-D when and where I can get it. And that’s the case with James Cameron’s Avatar: The Way of Water. I saw the film multiple times in theaters in 3-D and that’s the kind of experience I want to have at home. While the 2-D 4K disc certainly has a leg up in image clarity and HDR with Atmos audio, I have to say I had more fun in 3-D with my glasses on. The visuals are so striking and entertaining in multiple dimensions I give this an overall edge. While it doesn’t get to enjoy Atmos, these 3-D discs sport an impressive-on-its-own DTS-HD MA 7.1 track - which is notably better than what the 2-D 1080p folks get to endure. Tag in all of the bonus features and this is a very welcome sign that Disney might actually be giving a damn about physical media again and giving physical media collector's their money’s worth. If I had to pick just one copy of Avatar: The Way of Water - this 3-D Blu-ray would be it. Must Own - if you’re a diehard 3-D junkie like myself, otherwise very Highly Recommended