Late-August through mid-September is typically a graveyard for Hollywood features. During this time studios dump quirky films, those with good ideas that were poorly executed and those that were just plain awful. So, in a canny move, 20th Century Fox and James Cameron have decided to re-release Avatar, the highest-grossing movie of all-time, with a few minor tweaks and a "special edition" title slapped across posters. While critics were hesitant to recommend a return to Pandora, they've stressed that, for fans of the film, it appears to be a decent proposition. Plus, there's really nothing else coming out in theaters right now.
Here are a few reasons for fans to check out Avatar: Special Edition (and one reason not to). And if you haven't seen it yet, of course there's a SPOILER ALERT caveat.
- The Undeniably Odd Extended Death Sequence Critics were mixed on the addition of an extended death sequence for marine Jake Sully's main Na'vi rival, Tsu'tey (he's the one who dislikes Sully at first but eventually comes around to embracing him before inevitably being killed off). The added scene has been called "tonally weird", "melodramatic" and "compelling" and appears to be the most notable new clip.
- Time Spent in Digital Playground The camera spends time swooping around Pandoran vistas, a gift to fans of the film's inter-galactic ecology. But "the newly added sequences, which are almost interchangeable with those already present, make this part of the film even flabbier than it was before," writes Ryan Lambie at Den of Geek.
- More Pandoran Buffalo James Cameron deemed the "Sturmbeest", a cross between the (also-fictional) triceratops and the buffalo, as one of his favorite animals. Which is apparently the reason why three of the new scenes in the re-release feature the beasts, notes Los Angeles Times blogger Geoff Boucher, including an extended Na'vi hunting sequence.
- The Attention to Detail Cameron has "an insatiable eye for attention to detail and an incredible knack for immersing you totally into this expansive universe," observes John Nugent at Obsessed With Film. The extra sequences do seem a bit inconsequential, but then again, "Avatar feels as fresh and exciting as it did nine months ago."
- The Final Battle The bulk of the additional nine minutes takes place during the last no-holds-barred CGI showdown, notes Nithya Romani on Rediff. The sequence, of course, pits the mineral-hoarding humans against what appears to be the entire planet of Pandora.
- Not The Na'vi Sex Scene Which is, apparently, trumped up media nonsense, according to critics who saw the re-release. What James Cameron described as "alien-kink" was to others simply "ludicrous", "hardly worth the editing time" and "far less steamy than some were probably hoping."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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