This Week in DVD & Blu-ray is a column that compiles all the latest info regarding new DVD and Blu-ray releases, sales, and exclusive deals from stores including Target, Best Buy and Fry’s.

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AVATAR
(Releases on Thursday, April 22)
Avatar’s crowning achievement is that it could not have been made at any time prior to right now. Put that into perspective: it took over 100 years of film history transpiring to allow for this movie’s existence. And in utilizing that century’s worth of technological progress, James Cameron managed to create one of cinema’s most awe-inspiring spectacles: the world of Pandora. Without Pandora, and without the visual effects that made Pandora possible, Avatar would be nothing. It is by far the most compelling character in the film. While the design of the creatures, botanical life and Na’vi may not be especially unique, it’s the vibrant, gorgeous rendering of these elements that makes the world feel so lush and alive. Avatar is an ‘experience’ movie, more successful at taking you on a journey filled with beauty, excitement and discovery than it is at telling an engrossing story. This is also the reason the film is bound to lose much of its appeal in the transition from IMAX 3D to home video. The plot and characters just aren’t that compelling, seriously lacking in both originality and emotional resonance. Viewers keep fixating on the similarities in plot to Dances with Wolves, Pocahontas, Ferngully, The Last Samurai, and so on, but really, the familiarity of the story would not have been a problem had Cameron expanded or added onto the formula in any meaningful way, instead of stripping it down to its bare essence. Characters fare even worse, with central protagonist Jake Sully (played by Sam Worthington) doing his darndest to earn the title of cinema’s blandest hero, and the supporting cast leaving even less of an impression than him. All of the characters are relegated to embodying the most stereotypical traits of their societal roles, often feeling like a naïve 15-year-olds interpretation of what scientists, the military, and Native Americans act like (having apparently been learned from years of comic books and Saturday morning cartoons). The only two characters that inspire any sort of an emotional response are Neytiri (played by Zoe Saldana) and Colonel Quaritch (played by Stephen Lang), and that’s due entirely to the engaging performances of the actors playing them, as even they’re not exempt from Cameron’s groan-worthy dialogue and simplistic characterizations. If it weren’t for the film being so damn pretty, I’d probably hate it.
Available on Blu-ray? Yes.
Notable Extras: DVD – None. Blu-ray – Includes a copy of the DVD.

BEST DVD PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$15.99 $15.99 $15.97
Amazon – $15.99

BEST BLU-RAY PRICE
Target Best Buy Fry’s
$19.99 $22.99 $19.97
Amazon – $19.99

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