Today the three-disc Extended Edition of Avatar hits BluRay (there is also a DVD edition), and you’re probably wondering if it’s worth buying seeing as how everyone who owns a BluRay player already owns the movie. Well, if you liked Avatar you’ll love the three-disc set, and if you were lukewarm on the movie the extended cut is actually a little better than the theatrical version.
On the first disc of the set you can choose to watch either the Theatrical Cut, the Special Edition with about nine new minutes of footage, or the Extended Edition that adds roughly sixteen minutes. The longer version of the movie has more in common with the Lord of the Rings Extended Editions as opposed to just splicing in deleted scenes like other “Extended Editions” do. There are slight changes throughout the movie that some people may not notice at first.
The biggest addition is a completely new opening that lasts until the original shot of Jake opening his eyes on the ship. This time, the “opening eyes” shot that bookends the movie takes place with Jake on Earth. We get to see what an Earth city is like, and think Blade Runner but with a lot more people. Jake gets kicked out of a bar for fighting, and while laying in an alley he’s picked up by the two company men who offer him his brother’s contract.
After Jake wakes up on the ship and while the shuttle is un-docking, there’s a quick in-cockpit shot of the shuttle as it’s “upside down” and un-docking from the main ship.
When Jake, Grace, and Norm go out for their first science outing, there’s a quick introduction to the Sturmbeests as they fly over the forest. After that comes another one of the big additions where they come across the ruins of Graces school. There’s a new bat-like Pandora creature inside the school and Jake sees bullet holes in the chalk board, and asks Grace what happened there. That explanation won’t come until later in the movie.
After Jake is accepted into Home Tree, there’s an addition at the dinner fire where Jake learns Neytiri’s name and tries the Na’vi food.
There’s a small extension when Jake is going into the Link after Grace shows him the slides. She explains that Neytiri and her sister were her best students and we learn that Neytiri’s sister is dead. After the montage of Jake learning to be a Na’vi and when Grace gives him food at night we finally learn what happened at the school (and Neytiri’s sister’s fate) and that Grace ran it for ten years. Also during that montage is a little extended bit with the “helicopter” bugs. During Jake’s first flight on the ikran is the hyped Sturmbeest clan hunt.
The much hyped Na’vi sex scene is included and is really nothing to get excited about. It also begs the question that if Na’vi use their ponytails to have sex, but also use them to link with the animals, does that mean they’re having sex with the animals?
After Jake stops the bulldozer there’s a new bit where Tsu’tey’s warriors burn them and they show the aftermath where the humans find the slaughtered bodies and Quaritch uses that as the excuse to launch his war on the Na’vi. Prior to Trudy coming in to tell Grace, Jake, and Norm about the impending attack there’s additional dialog where Grace explains that Quaritch was setting the whole war up by deliberately attacking sensitive targets.
There’s a lot more added to the final battle, including more of Jake and the warrior’s lying in wait for the humans, the addition of the Sturmbeests towards the end and more of Tsu’tey’s fate. Now you see him hit the ground after his fall, and he actually kind of survives it. After the battle, Jake and Neytiri find him and he tells Jake to lead the Na’vi.
The extended cut runs about three hours long and feels like a more complete and fleshed out story. The theatrical cut feels like an abridged version, where the extended cut is the complete movie. It’s definitely worth seeing if you liked Avatar at all.
Disc two includes even more deleted scenes. Some are finished while others are in various stages of completion. The big feature on disc two is a documentary that runs for over an hour and a half. This is an excellent making of Avatar and goes into great depth on the making of the movie and its history. Disc three includes even more featurettes, and several scenes that you can watch either completed, partially completed, or how they filmed it on the performance capture stage. There are also unbelievable amounts of artwork, the original screenplay and scriptment, and the entire Pandorapedia. Really, the only thing missing from the three-disc set is a commentary track.