Avatar 3D Blu-ray review

Full review: The world's biggest 3D movie comes to Blu-ray - if you buy a Panasonic 3D TV

Image 1 of 5 Avatar 3D Blu ray audio selection in 2D
Avatar 3D Blu-ray audio selection in 2D
Image 2 of 5 Avatar 3D Blu ray chapter selection
Avatar 3D Blu-ray chapter selection
Image 3 of 5 Avatar 3D Blu ray format option in 3D
Avatar 3D Blu-ray format option in 3D
Image 4 of 5 Avatar 3D Blu ray disc
Avatar 3D Blu-ray disc
Image 5 of 5 Avatar 3D Blu ray disc box
Avatar 3D Blu-ray disc box

Simply stunning effects, it's a shame general release is in 2012...

It may be light on features but this 3D Blu-ray of Avatar is the single best reason we’ve seen to invest in a 3D TV. Watching it is like seeing the movie again for the first time. File under ‘Jaw-droppingly gorgeous’.

The 3D Blu-ray version of Avatar has seen its resale value on eBay soar to over £200, as fans scrabble to secure a copy of this highly sought after promotional disc. And there’s a possibility that its price could rise even higher. Panasonic has confirmed to T3 that it has exclusive rights to distribute the title with its 3D plasma screens and 3D Blu-ray players until February 2012! 

So what are content deprived (existing) 3D TV owners missing out on? Quite a lot as it happens. We’ve been testing the disc and can reveal that it’s simply the best looking 3D Blu-ray released to date.

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The first thing to point out is that this is a bare-bones disc. While the latest 2D special edition has over 47 minutes of deleted scenes and a movie length documentary to enjoy, this version is buck naked. There is one benefit to this, of course, in that it loads extremely quickly.

Once you’re past the 3D rendition of the Fox Home Entertainment logo, your only viewing option is to watch either in flat 2D or plumpy 3D. The Pop-Up menu offers access to scenes, but nothing else; this is a one way ticket to Pandora with no diversions en route. As with the 2D releases already available, the soundtrack is a 5.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix (although there are multiple language tracks in DD 5.1).

Visually we were blown away by the 3D presentation on this Blu-ray. PHL (Panasonic’s Hollywood authoring operation) has done an exquisite job with the encode. The movie is astonishingly detailed. We auditioned the disc using Sony’s VPL-VW90ES 3D projector and were flabbergasted at how clean and deep the image is.

Avatar 3D Blu-ray: Special effects

Negative parallax (that pokey-out-of-the-screen effect) is used throughout the movie to great effect. The jungle scenes are full of subtle negative parallax effects in the shape of wispy ferns and floaty jellyfish plant things, which all look absolutely wonderful. 

To be honest, we were floored right from the get-go, with three cuts that gently build to a huge dimensional payoff: the opening sequence segues from Jake Sully’s dreams of flight, to the big close up of his face as he wakes from cryo-stasis, moisture floating above his head, to the big reveal as he’s pulled from his chamber. When you suddenly grasp the scale of the space ship, seen in massive positive parallax with the weightless corridor stretching back seemingly hundreds of metres, it’s difficult to contain an involuntary ‘Wooahhh!’

Avatar will, of course, be viewable in 3D over the coming months as it’s played out by Sky 3D and others. But it’s important to remember that these screenings will all be in half resolution side-by-side format. The only way to experience 3D Avatar at its best is to get the Full HD 3D Blu-ray. It may be light on features but this 3D Blu-ray of Avatar is the single best reason we’ve seen to invest in a 3D TV. Watching it is like seeing the movie again for the first time. File under ‘Jaw-droppingly gorgeous’. And, that means shelling out for Panasonic’s hardware package or paying through the nose on eBay. The rest of us will just have to start counting the days until February 2012. . .

Availability: Bundled only with Panasonic 3D TV and Blu-ray hardware packages