The Avengers Blu-ray Review

The Avengers (Blu-ray)
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Joss Whedon (screenplay), Zak Penn and Joss Whedon (story)
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner

At this point there can’t be many people left in the world who are unfamiliar with The Avengers. When the movie hit theatres back in May, there may still have been some minor concerns about this particular line-up of superheroes being second stringers in the eyes of the general public, but these concerns were soon obliterated as it went on to become the third highest grossing movie of all time. Now that it has arrived on DVD and Blu-ray, it’s not really a question of whether the movie is worth your time, it’s more a question of whether or not it holds up to repeat viewings. Is it a must own title for your home movie collection?

Rather than rehash my entire theatrical review of the film, I’ll simply state that I loved The Avengers the first time I saw it — which was somewhat surprising to me, considering that I wasn’t blown away by many of the Marvel movies leading up to it. I was impressed by how well all of the characters played off of each other and the fact that the amount of screen time and key moments assigned to each were fairly balanced. It also proved that a comic book movie doesn’t have to be dark and gritty to be worthwhile, replacing a realistic or grounded story with personality, humour and colourful action sequences instead.

That being said, upon revisiting it this time, I did find that a few minor flaws became apparent, particularly with regards to pacing. The movie is almost two and a half hours long, and it strains the limit of what a fun popcorn movie can typically support. The first hour definitely drags a bit on a rewatch, and a lot of the time spent at the helicarrier feels extraneous. Fortunately, the film’s final 40 minute action sequence is still quite spectacular and expertly executed, which definitely makes it worth the wait.

Getting to the technical details of the Blu-ray, I watched the movie in 2D and the 1.78:1 1080p presentation is incredibly crisp and clean, bringing out a lot of the vibrant colours in the costumes and the environments. However, it also draws attention to the overabundance of scenes that take place at night or in darkness, which are a bit murky at times, not so much due to the transfer but rather the original cinematography. The audio is a fantastic 7.1 DTS-HD Master Audio mix that delivers on everything you would expect from a blockbuster of this magnitude with plenty of explosions to shake the room but also some nice ambience as well.

As far as extras go, the 2-disc combo pack is not the most heavily loaded release I’ve ever seen, but it is more than adequate. The meatiest component is probably the audio commentary by Joss Whedon, which is both entertaining and interesting although it does come with a dose of Whedon’s typical self-deprecating humour as well. Since he wrote and directed the movie, he is able to cover a lot of different aspects of the film from dialogue choices and actor’s performances to special effects and cinematic influences. He has plenty to say and there aren’t really any lulls throughout the running time.

The two featurettes, “A Visual Journey” and “Assembling The Ultimate Team”, cover the production design and casting of the movie respectively. They are not particularly deep, nor are they very long, but there are a few amusing bits of interview footage with some of the actors. Speaking of amusing, the gag reel is hit and miss, but Robert Downey Jr. at least delivers a couple of decent laughs. As for the deleted and extended scenes, there is nothing that didn’t deserve to be cut from the film, but it’s interesting to see that Cobie Smulders originally had a slightly bigger role in the film. (The original opening scene with her being interrogated by S.H.I.E.L.D. is pretty terrible, however.)

The so-called “Second Screen Experience” is something I have heard about being included on a few other Blu-ray releases but this was my first time trying it out. It is an app that you can download for an iPhone or iPad (or access on a PC or Mac), that displays trivia tidbits and other interactive elements while you are watching the movie. It’s kind of an interesting idea, but I found it hard to watch both screens at once. If you ask me, it’s a poor substitute for a true picture-in-picture experience, which I would have preferred.

Last but not least, there is the Marvel One-Shot, Item 47, a short film that stars Lizzy Caplan and Jesse Bradford as a couple who stumble across a Chitauri gun after the alien attack. They decide to use it to rob a bank and end up being pursued by S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Sitwell (Maximiliano Hernandez). The production values were a lot higher than I expected, but overall it is still pretty forgettable, although it could serve as an indication of what to expect from Marvel’s proposed S.H.I.E.L.D. TV series.

Oh, and there is also a Soundgarden music video.

Overall, The Avengers still ranks among the top tier of superhero movies ever made and is a great example of how to cram a ton of big personalities into a single film without sacrificing anything as a result. The Blu-ray release is an easy recommendation for fans, and probably deserves to be on just about anyone’s shelf. The only real qualm here is the slightly underwhelming collection of extras, which could indicate that there is another special edition release being planned for the near future. But is that a risk you’re really willing to take? — Sean

SCORE: 3.5 stars

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  • Stinker

    Sean is lucky, the UK and the German version has no Commentary and a minor „cut“.

    The only good thing in Germany is the German Steel book, which contains the same Documentary (90 Min) as was most likely contained in the US Target exclusive bonus Blu-Ray.

    It’s a nice 90 Min Documentary about al the movies leading up to the Avengers, and Avengers itself. Nice, but not earthshaking like the Prometheus Making of.

  • dan day

    Nice review, thanks Sean.

    How was the extra Cap scene? Does he visit his bird from WW2?

  • It’s mostly just him looking at files. Stan Lee also has an alternate cameo in it.

  • Brendan

    I liked the deleted Cap scenes the most. It did a better job of showing him dealing with the passage of time during his Cap-sicle years. But I think it was good they cut it, since it seems like ground they’ll cover in Cap 2.

    The gag reel felt forced at times. It seemed like the actors were told there was going to be a gag reel, so they should try to do something funny for it.

  • Krystalis

    Although I really wanted to, I didn’t get the chance to see The Avengers in the movie theater. From what I heard I really missed an event and that watching it with fellow comic book nerds was awesome. So last night, after waiting for what seemed to be forever, I finally got to see it when it came in the mail from Blockbuster @ Home. I definitely appreciated not having to fight the crowds at the kiosks. This movie was a visual masterpiece and while I did see some things that could have been done differently, I really enjoyed it. I work at DISH so I’ve been using Blockbuster for some time now and I love that it’s so convenient. I give this movie a big thumbs up as it was more than I ever expected and Loki was played so well once again by Tom Hiddleston. He plays him so well it’s scary and is by far one of the best comic book villains I’ve seen on the big screen. This is one of the better Marvel movies in recent years and I’m looking forward to the sequel.