In the eight months that have passed since Avatar first hit theaters, we’ve been subjected to a lot of 3D movies.

Some were really bad (Clash of the Titans, The Last Airbender), some were really good (How to Train Your Dragon, Despicable Me), and some were just plain ol’ cheesy-good (Step Up 3D, Piranha 3D), but nothing has come close to matching James Cameron’s epic in being 3D for all the right reasons.

Back then, I was astounded by the sheer scope of Avatar, from the floating Hallelujah Mountains to the broad, sweeping panoramas of the Pandoran landscape, and I still am. Cameron took us to a whole new world with new species of animals, a new language, and new customs. He didn’t forget anything when he put this planet together.

And that, I realized, is exactly what makes Avatar so special and such a game-changer. It wasn’t the big things. It was that Cameron truly didn’t forget anything.

About a half-hour in (the night after Sully first gets his Avatar), he, Grace (Sigourney Weaver), and Norm (Joel David Moore) are all lying down for the night in their cabin. There’s a two-second shot of Grace going to the door, and we can see little (computer-generated) Pandoran bugs hovering around the outside light. It’s such an extremely minor detail, but it’s a detail that just makes this fake world of Pandora even more believable.

Avatar is full of things like that. They may seem inconsequential and go unnoticed the first time through, but when you add all of them up together, they make the highest-grossing movie of all time that much better.

If it’s been a while, you owe it to yourself to give it another viewing. The colors are even more vivid than you remember, the local plants and wildlife are still just as amazing (including the little jellyfish-like seeds from the sacred tree), and the action helps make a three-hour movie seem like it’s normal-lengthed.

No, it’s not perfect… Stephen Lang’s Colonel is still only two clichéd lines away from a Schwarzenegger flick, and the eco-friendly theme still smacks you in the face with all the subtlety of a Mack truck, but if you’ve never seen it, or if you’ve forgotten how truly incredible it is, it’s well worth catching Avatar in the theaters one last time. (Then again– does anyone really think this is the last time Cameron’s gonna put this thing in theaters?)

Note: In all, about 9 minutes was added to the original for the ‘Special Edition’ re-release.

Added footage includes:

–An additional scene of Sully and the other Na’vi flying their banshees and hunting the hammerhead rhino things. It’s a really good scene, and it’s an excellent use of 3D.

–An additional scene of Sully, Grace, and Norm finding an abandoned Na’vi classroom, complete with an old, battered copy of The Lorax on the floor. (See? There’s that Mack truck.)

–An expanded version of the Neytiri/Sully alien-sex scene. It only amounts to about 15 seconds, but you finally see how the Na’vi, um… enjoy each other.


–An additional scene after Tsu’tey gets shot and falls through the forest, of Sully following tribal law and ritualistically killing his fellow warrior, to put him out of his pain.

4/5 stars