By Roger Longenbach
Sep 29, 2012 10:22 PM EST

Marvel's The Avengers Blu-ray Review

Marvel's The Avengers Blu-ray Review
Purchase  Blu-ray | Digital HD
If there is one genre that Hollywood has tried over and over again, with some success and countless failures, it is the comic-book hero.  But unlike others, The Avengers is not just about one comic-book hero, but several.  Because of this, the movie is also unlike the others.  This probably explains its' wild success, leading it to be the most popular movie of 2012 and the third highest grossing film in United States history, behind Avatar and Titanic.  The premise of the movie is simple:  A supervillian, Loki, wants to rule Earth, and to do so, he must bring an army from another part of the universe.  The only ones who can save the world belong to S.H.I.E.L.D. (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division) who happen to have a beta plan to bring together Earth's mightiest heroes.  In this case they are Thor, The Hulk, Ironman, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow.  These heroes, who are normally used to working independently, must find a way to work together to vanquish the enemy.

Countdown to the release of Marvel's The Avengers 2 with the iPhone Movie Countdown Clock App.

Now usually when you have many leading characters in a story, it is hard to keep track of each one and either some of them get lost in the shuffle or the entire movie suffers as a result.  Marvel found the solution for that.  The Avengers, while not being a sequel per se, really is one.  The main characters have been introduced to the audience before.  Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth, The Cabin in the Woods/Snow White and the Huntsman/Red Dawn), Hawkeye (played by Jeremy Renner, The Hurt Locker/The Bourne Legacy) and Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) were introduced in Thor.  Captain America (played by Chris Evans, Fantastic Four) was introduced in his own movie, Captain America: The First Avenger.  Ironman (played by Robert Downey Jr., Tropic Thunder/Sherlock Holmes), Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson, Die Hard with a Vengeance/Pulp Fiction) and Black Widow (played by Scarlet Johannson, Lost in Translation/The Prestige) were introduced in Ironman and Ironman 2.  The Hulk was introduced in the 2008 reboot The Incredible Hulk, but unlike the other characters, this movie introduces a new actor playing him.  While Edward Norton (Fight Club), who did a wonderful job of portraying the always-vigilant-about-getting-angry Bruce Banner in the 2008 film, he was replaced by Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island).  Being the new to his character compared to his counterparts it would have been easy to gloss over any differences in the way Bruce Banner was portrayed, but in fact, Mark Ruffalo's performance easily overshadows the others.  While Bruce Banner/The Hulk is not really one of the leaders of this group of superheroes, Mark is able to deliver not only the Bruce Banner that gets angry and wants to remain calm, but also the Bruce Banner that is compassionate and intelligent.  His best line is delivered at the beginning of the finale battle though, as he is turning into The Hulk.  Watch the movie and you'll agree.

Even with all these leading characters, The Avengers is able to completely pull it off with the perfect blend of action, comedy and some additional character development.  While you may be used to hearing cheesy dialogue during light-hearted "popcorn" movies, The Avengers keeps those down to a bare minimum, and in the context of the character who delivers them, it actually makes sense and keeps a smile on your face even when our heroes are at the lowest point.  Now, if you have seen all of the previous movies related to the characters, there are some subtle references made back to them, but even if you haven't seen them all – don't worry.  You will still enjoy the movie without knowing the entire backstory.  The important stuff will be brought up during the movie.  Couple that with amazing special effects – some of the backgrounds you see in the movie is completely CG but look like they really filmed the scenes on location.  The Avengers is an amazingly entertaining movie that will keep you in your seat the entire time, and will leave you wondering if the heroes will be able to win in the end.
The Blu-Ray transfer is exceptional with proper surround sound encoding and crisp visual details – you can see every scratch on Ironman's armor as one example.  The 3D is also very good, considering that the movie is a post-production conversion to 3D rather than being filmed in 3D.  The CGI portions were obviously rendered for 3D, while the post-production conversion becomes evident in some of the scenes involving the actors, and while it is noticeable, it's not overly distracting and isn't a huge enough negative to reduce my rating for this release.  The 2D Blu-Ray also includes many extras, from a gag reel (A scene with Chris Hemsworth trying to catch Mjolnir is really funny), to deleted scenes and featurettes.  It also includes the outstanding short film "Marvel One-Shot: Item 47" which follows the story of a piece of alien technology that wasn't recovered after the film's final battle and stars Lizzy Caplan (Party Down, Bachelorette).  While it only runs about ten minutes, it is still worth watching.

The set also includes a DVD copy of the film, a digital copy (which is only the SD version of the film.  In the past I used to downgrade releases that didn't include digital copies, it may become necessary to downgrade digital copies that are not both SD and HD versions, which is what The Hunger Games included with their Blu-ray), and a digital copy download of The Avengers Assemble Soundtrack: Music inspired by the film.  It contains the end credits song and the rest are songs inspired by the film.  That extra addition, similar to the download included with The Muppets, makes the full combo pack an extremely cost-effective set to purchase.
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MPAA Rating: PG-13
Running Time: 143 minutes
Distributed By: Walt Disney Pictures

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About Roger Longenbach

FlickDirect, Roger  Longenbach

Since he was very young, Roger has enjoyed going to the local theatre and seeing a good film on the big screen. Starting with the lines for The Empire Strikes Back, Roger has especially enjoyed the Star Wars franchise, culminating with his attendance at the Washington, D.C. premiere of Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace. He enjoys movie music, especially those from most Disney animated features. Read more reviews and content by .

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