Easily one of 2012's biggest releases, "The Avengers" also arrives in home video as one of the year's biggest home video offerings. Its Blu-ray debut features a number of disc releases, including a two-disc Blu-ray and DVD combo pack. This major mash-up of Marvel legends revolves around a cosmic weapon experiment gone awry, which prompts the recruiting of the members of the Avengers Initiative, a team led by Nick Fury and the super-secret spy agency S.H.I.E.L.D. This new band of superbeings must save the Earth from the annihilation by extraterrestrial invaders. The stars behind the iconic Marvel figures include Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, and Jeremy Renner.
Polished to demo-worthy perfection, this superhero blockbuster is absolutely gorgeous in HD format. Never overly tweaked to avoid robbing the film's natural quality, images always boast strong attention to detail. The first half of the film looks rightfully dark and moody, while the second half becomes considerably brighter and richer. The crispness and depth of the shots really hook the viewer from start to end. The final battle scene kicks the action into the highest gear with nothing less than a riot of great object detail, robust and well-saturated colors, and impeccable contrast.
This excellent slice of superhero entertainment hosts an astoundingly effective seven-channel lossless track, as well as a seven-channel track in French and a five-channel track in Spanish. The fantastically robust sound design provides enough breathing room before launching a new sonic attack that can surely shake every inch of any entertainment system. Yet, the beefed up elements amplify the theatrical impact of experiencing the film all over again, this time, in a home theater setup, without the risk of suffering from an all-out assault to the listener's eardrums.
The surrounds are consistently aggressive. The crystal clear dialogue is never sacrificed in the mix. Music is always kept at a healthy level. With impressive dynamic range and sterling fidelity, this material aptly fills the sound field with incredible atmosphere. It helps punctuate every single scene without issues on distortions, crackles, and other aural flaws.
The package supplies the film with a director's audio commentary, a gag reel, a collection of deleted and extended scenes, a production featurette, the direct-to-video release short film "Marvel One-Shot: Item 47," and the Soundgarden music video "Live to Rise." It also offers viewers with "The Avengers Initiative: A Marvel Second Screen Experience," which allows them to access a S.H.I.E.L.D. database containing information about the characters and the story via a computer or tablet. Subtitles are available in English SDH, Spanish, and French.
"The Avengers" fares great on Blu-ray with an all-consuming quality that overwhelms in a fun and immersive way. This reference-quality work is the type of large-scale movie adventure that requires the audience to simply cut loose and enjoy the ride. Indeed, it is a fun film to own.
Bringing a number of superheroes together for a cinematic spectacle definitely sounds like an exciting idea, but this is actually quite challenging to pull off for a single movie. It takes genuine talent and vision for a writer and director to juggle around many strong characters and their respective plotlines to create a compelling two-hour superhero ensemble. Joss Whedon pens and directs this project with a grand vision and a mighty execution. Instead of using its stars and their characters as mere sentient action figures, he impressively unifies their pulsating energies to get some real bites of action, suspense, drama, and humor.
- Arts & Entertainment