Marvel's The Avengers
Feature Review and Blu-ray Review by Greg Bishansky

It's taken us four years, but we finally got here. Marvel's The Avengers. What started as a small teaser scene at the end of the credits for Iron Man turned into a six movie epic where it all came together into this little flick. We do owe a huge thanks to John Favreau and Robert Downey Jr though, because had Iron Man bombed, we would not have gotten any of this.

Continuing the epic big-screen adventures started in Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel's The Avengers is the superhero team up of a lifetime. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as SHIELD, finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

I thought Marvel's The Avengers was excellent. It was also a big middle finger to all the people who use phrases like "popcorn movie" and "turn your brain in at the door" and "it's a movie about fighting robots, what did you expect?" I'm not saying it's The Godfather but it was well directed, well paced, likable actors, many genuine character moments, a plot that wasn't convoluted and great dialogue, i.e. everything that movies like Transformers are not. I should not be surprised considering it was directed by Joss Whedon, a man who understands and reveres these characters, and who has a history of juggling ensemble casts.

Everyone in this movie had their moments, and no character was diminished to make another character look good. Iron Man and Captain America were the heart and soul of the flick, naturally. But Thor, Black Widow, Hulk and even Hawkeye got their moments. While Hawkeye got the shortest end of the stick, we still got enough of him to satisfy, I think. As for Hulk, I think this is the first time they got him right, and I would not mind seeing him carry another movie after this.

Tom Hiddleston's Loki was even more vicious this time, and for good reason. As Hiddleston noted in interviews, he was a lot more self possessed, and this time knew exactly what he was and what he was after, and he made deals with some pretty bad people. For the three of you who still haven't seen this, I won't give anything away, but people cheered during the mid credits scene.

I'm trying to keep this review spoiler free, but there is a ton in this movie to gush over. It was a great movie. Was it the best superhero movie ever made? Well, that's up for debate, but I loved it. I have no complaints about it. I liked the other movies leading into this one, but none of them were perfect. This, no complaints, no nitpicks. As a lifelong Marvel geek, it more than satisfied me. The biggest compliment I can give it is this, ask me who my favorite character is, and my answer will be: I liked them all.

What I especially liked, and this happened by having Joss Whedon at the helm, was how unapologetic this movie was about its comic book origins. It knew what it was, where it came from, and it embraced it. So many comic book movies seem to be almost ashamed of their roots and try as hard as they can to hide them. Not this movie.

Now, if you'll excuse me... I'm off for some shawarma.

Moving on to the Blu-ray release!

I'll admit, I'm not a sound technician. I took one sound class at film school. Nor do I own a fancy sound system. But I was pleased with what I heard on my Hi-Def Samsung Television's speakers. The audio is in English 7.1 DTS-HDMA. There is also a French-Canadian track presented in 7.1 DTS-HDHR, a Latin Spanish track in 5.1 Dolby Digital, and another English track in DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital.

The video - now this is gorgeous. As I mentioned earlier, I own a Samsung Hi-Definition TV and the transfer to Blu-ray is just perfect. The film is presented in the original 1.78:1 aspect ratio. English, French, and Spanish subtitles are also available.

The bonus features offer a nice helping of additional content. As with "Thor" and "Captain America" before it, "The Avengers" includes a little Marvel One-Shot called "Item 47" about a wannabe Bonnie and Clyde who find a Chitauri laser cannon and use it to rob banks, while being tracked by S.H.I.E.L.D.

The gag reel is genuinely hilarious without ever feeling like a series of random outtakes. The two featurettes are nice, but I admit I would have liked some more. A documentary on the history of the Avengers comic books and the creative teams who have carried on that legacy started by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby would have been welcome. The deleted scenes are great, but I understand why they got cut. As nice to see as they were, they would have thrown off the movie's pacing. The music video by Soundgarden to "Live to Rise" is fun to watch once, but I don't see myself watching it again.

Finally, there's the audio commentary by Joss Whedon. Whedon is a fascinating man to listen to, he loved making this movie and it comes through. He does get a little candid in places. Like some fans, he was not satisfied with Iron Man blowing up the Chitauri flagship just magically shutting down the Chitauri army, but felt it was a necessary evil to get that moment with the Avengers at the end. I think it would have been nice if he had someone else recording the commentary with him to play off of though.

Overall, I give this set a solid A. It was easily the best movie of the 2012's summer, and I am happy to have it in my extensive movie collection. I'd urge you all to go out and buy it, but you made that decision back in May.


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