Avengers, The (4K Blu-ray) (2012)

If you create a user account, you can add your own review of this DVD

Released 15-Aug-2018

Cover Art

This review is sponsored by
BUY IT

Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure None
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2012
Running Time 142:55
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered
Dual Disc Set
Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Joss Whedon
Studio
Distributor
Marvel
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Robert Downey Jr.
Chris Evans
Chris Hemsworth
Mark Ruffalo
Scarlett Johansson
Samuel L. Jackson
Jeremy Renner
Tom Hiddleston
Clark Gregg
Cobie Smulders
Stellan Skarsgård
Gwyneth Paltrow
Paul Bettany
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English Dolby Atmos
English Dolby TrueHD 7.1
French Dolby Digital 5.1
Spanish Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
Japanese Dolby Digital Plus 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 1.85:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 2160p
Original Aspect Ratio 1.85:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
French
Japanese
Spanish
Korean
Mandarin
Mandarin
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Mid and post credits scenes

NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.

Plot Synopsis

    Four years after Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk signalled the beginning of an interconnected cinematic superhero universe, 2012's The Avengers - the culmination of Marvel's Phase One - finally entered cinemas to unimaginable success. Arriving with the intimidating burden of expectations following five interconnected Marvel superhero films, not to mention the decades of comic book history preceding it, The Avengers is in safe hands with self-professed geek Joss Whedon (2005's Serenity) serving as writer-director. Harnessing his unparalleled talent for witty dialogue and character dynamics, Whedon defies the odds to deliver the ultimate summer blockbuster spectacle. With more intelligence and dramatic heft than the Transformers franchise, and boasting many breathtaking action sequences, fanboys can rest assured that The Avengers is worth both the wait and the hype.

    When Asgardian prince Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the mischievous brother of demigod Thor (Chris Hemsworth), arrives on Earth, he steals a powerful cosmic cube known as the Tesseract. Loki plans to put Earth under his submission and enslave humanity with the aid of the Chitauri. Faced with an unprecedented threat, S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) works to unite the only beings capable of saving the planet from total annihilation: genius billionaire Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), WWII super-soldier Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), brilliant scientist Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor, as well as master assassins Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Although initially only recruited to find the Tesseract, it fast becomes apparent that large-scale combat is inevitable to defend the Earth.

    Whedon had ample baggage to handle when going into The Avengers. On top of formulating a self-contained story, Whedon also needed to advance the individual stories of each character and balance the large congregation of iconic heroes...and all without making the flick seem bloated. Against all the odds, Whedon pulls it off. Indeed, The Avengers feels like a complete and cohesive motion picture, as opposed to a "greatest hits" montage of CGI-laden action sequences. Admittedly, the first half occasionally keeps us at arm's length due to the narrative's complex machinations, but the second half is pitch-perfect beat-by-beat. Everything works perfectly from the midpoint onwards - the drama, the one-liners, the ensemble dynamics, the narrative goings-on, and the action sequences are all spot-on. Furthermore, Whedon does not short-change any of Earth's Mightiest Heroes, as they all play meaningful roles in the story, and receive adequate screen-time for their respective arcs to grow and percolate. Additionally, Whedon leaves logical room for both another Avengers movie as well as solo adventures for the central characters. However, one should not watch The Avengers without viewing the previous films (though The Incredible Hulk is wholly optional and inessential). Whedon does briefly reintroduce each character to bring the audience back up to speed, but the experience is more richly rewarding and cathartic for established Marvel Cinematic Universe viewers.

    Unlike less skilful blockbusters, no plot holes or bewildering story elements blemish The Avengers, and, despite a narrative involving intergalactic flights of fantasy and extraordinary advances in technology, the story's internal logic never collapses in on itself. Plus, unlike The Dark Knight, this is not a joyless superhero experience - instead, a fun atmosphere (similar to films like The Dirty Dozen) enlivens The Avengers, with fun derived from both snappy banter as well as the action set-pieces. Anyone familiar with Whedon's writing (Firefly, Buffy the Vampire Slayer) should not find it surprising that the dialogue sparkles as vibrantly as the digital effects, with several genuine laugh-out-loud moments scattered throughout the picture. Luckily, though, the story's dramatic elements are still taken seriously, and there is always the sense that a lot is at stake. Although Whedon abides by the established formula of the heroes coming back together to save the Earth after utterly failing, this story development carries genuine weight after the events of the second act.

    21st Century blockbuster filmmakers too often rely on disorientating rapid-fire editing and shaky cinematography to generate the faux illusion of excitement. On the other hand, Joss Whedon eschews lazy shortcuts like this, instead staging enthralling large-scale action sequences which benefit from elegant, sturdy cinematography. Most audacious is a single tracking shot which moves through the climactic devastation, shifting from one Avenger to the next, showing us awe-inspiring capabilities of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. Moreover, during the climax, Whedon focuses more on the interactions between the heroes as they banter and plan strategies, in addition to observing the innocents caught up in the mayhem. This approach generates a crucial sense of humanity, again elevating The Avengers above Michael Bay's regular output. Indeed, Whedon (working with editors Jeffrey Ford and Lisa Lassek) favours rhythm, suspense and dramatic payoffs as opposed to empty, frenetic bombast. Additionally, the special effects and production values consistently impress, thanks to the gargantuan $220 million budget. The Avengers delivers the goods time and time again, leaving you in utter awe. The definitive touch is Alan Silvestri's stimulating original score, which bursts with flavour and majesty, giving The Avengers a distinctive cinematic identity. In particular, the main Avengers theme is brilliantly memorable.

    The Avengers boasts a cast of staggering enormity, yet the ensemble shares fantastic chemistry and works exceptionally well together. Leading the pack is Downey, who retains the razor-sharp comedic timing and irresistible charm which originally rendered him the perfect cinematic Tony Stark/Iron Man. Downey provides the lion's share of the comic relief, particularly while interacting with the supporting cast as personalities clash. Alongside him, Evans remains note-perfect as Captain America, once again showing an innate sense of boy scout goodness and morality while also advancing his character maturation. In addition, Hemsworth is still a fine Thor, and Renner makes a strong impression as Hawkeye despite limited screen-time (something he resentfully spoke about in interviews). Reprising her role from Iron Man 2, meanwhile, Johansson is a complete delight as Black Widow - she's sexy and believable, and kicks some serious butt. The last Avenger is the Hulk, who confidently steals the show. After two Hulk movies of mediocre quality, Whedon finally does the character justice. Taking over the role from Edward Norton, Ruffalo is an appealing Bruce Banner, while the digital effects that bring the Hulk to life are spectacular. Plus, yes, the Hulk smashes stuff real good and, yes, it's f***ing awesome.

    Luckily, the supporting players equally assured. Jackson was born to play Nick Fury, as he oozes cool and charisma, and looks intrinsically badass with an eye-patch. Similarly excellent is Hiddleston, who here reprises his role from 2011's Thor. Hiddleston is both charming and sinister as the Norse God of Mischief, making for one of the best villains in recent memory. Rounding out the cast are a few more robust carryovers from prior MCU films, including Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson, Stellan Skarsgård as Dr. Selvig, and Gwyneth Paltrow as Tony Stark's loyal companion, Pepper Potts.

    An exhilarating victory lap for Marvel Studios, The Avengers is simultaneously a superlative Marvel blockbuster and an outstanding Joss Whedon film. It's refreshing to see a summer movie which provides popcorn-munching delights without insulting one's intelligence, and it's equally refreshing to see a superhero movie which avoids the "dark, gloomy and gritty" approach. The benefits of Whedon's involvement cannot be overstated; without his talent for handling ensembles or writing snappy dialogue, The Avengers could have been a messy letdown. Thus, let's be thankful that the end result is an extraordinary success with infinite replay value. It will inspire absolute ecstasy in comic book enthusiasts, and, thankfully, casual viewers should also find The Avengers to be a deliriously enjoyable, crowd-pleasing blockbuster. Be sure to stick around for additional scenes during and after the credits.

Don't wish to see plot synopses in the future? Change your configuration.

Transfer Quality

Video

    According to IMDb, The Avengers was mastered with a 2K digital intermediate. Whedon's massive Marvel debut was captured with a variety of camera systems - mostly Arri Alexa cameras, as well as Canon 5D DSLRs for some shots, while high-speed shots were lensed on 35mm film with the Arriflex 435. Released in 2012, The Avengers was produced when digital photography was growing more prevalent, but a few years before 4K was a thing. As a result, there are inherent limitations to the digital intermediate at source level; imperfections which were masked by 2012 cinema projection methods (i.e. film-outs added a layer of grain, 2K digital projection had noise/grain). With that caveat out of the way, Disney's wholly welcome and anticipated 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray release of The Avengers is extremely good, ostensibly limited only by the source. Disney's HEVC/H.265-encoded 2160p presentation retains the movie's original theatrical aspect ratio of 1.85:1 (the only MCU movie to date with an expanded aspect ratio), and is squeezed onto a dual-layered BD-66 (as per standard Disney practise) which results in an average bitrate around the 45 Mbps mark. Thankfully, the movie gets the disc to itself, and it isn't crammed with endless audio tracks, so the video isn't unnecessarily compressed (though a triple-layer disc would have been ideal for maximising the presentation). With the improved resolution, superior video codec and High Dynamic Range grading, The Avengers is mighty pleasing on 4K, one of the most pleasing UHD upgrades to date.

    Once upon a time, The Avengers was considered the gold standard for 1080p Blu-ray (this site awarded it five stars). Indeed, the release garnered gushing reviews in 2012, which was still about a year away from the first consumer 4K televisions. Although the Blu-ray is still watchable in 2020, it is a dated encode in several respects, particularly since 4K is now a thing. For lack of a better word, this 4K Ultra HD presentation kicks the s*** out of the Blu-ray, which is now unwatchable in comparison. For the most part, this 4K presentation is "clean" and glossy, free of grain and noise. However, grain is apparent during the high-speed shots which were captured on 35mm film; just see the slow-motion shot of Hulk chasing Natasha in the Helicarrier at 77:04. It doesn't look as if any digital noise reduction was applied to the master; although the transfer is clean for the most part, the 35mm shots retaining grain is an encouraging sign. And my word, the UHD encode brings out as much detail as the source allows, with gorgeous, firm texturing on faces and costumes. There's no unsightly smeariness, either, as the transfer looks stable, and the digital effects stand up to the added scrutiny of the heightened resolution. As ever, it's the wider shots which show the most improvement compared to the Blu-ray, but close-ups look terrific, with crisp sharpness immaculately resolving facial hair on Downey, Jackson or Hemsworth. Again, there are limitations to the original photography, as The Avengers lacks the definitive textural pop of native 4K productions, but that's the only shortcoming of this handsome 2160p transfer.

    As ever, it's the use of HDR which sells the presentation. The movie is only encoded in HDR10 as opposed to Dolby Vision, though the movie is streaming on Disney+ in DV. As enjoyable as the film has always been, The Avengers carries the appearance of a television movie due to the digital photography and the style of grading, in addition to the glossy look. For all of the money that was thrown at it, it doesn't have the sophisticated cinematic feel of the first Iron Man. Nevertheless, the High Dynamic Range grade does a hell of a lot to restore a sense of cinematic majesty to the widescreen compositions, with deeper colours and improved contrast. Furthermore, the superior highlights serve to augment the realism of the CGI, particularly with the Hulk, who looks borderline photoreal here. Comparing this 4K disc to the 1080p Blu-ray, the difference is almost night and day, thanks to the HDR grading. I mean, the Blu-ray has never exactly been much of a slouch, but now it's genuinely difficult to go back to it. Every explosion is emphasised all the more, as well as every muzzle flash or burst of light from Iron Man's weaponry. Hell, the HDR grade even restores subtle specular highlights to Stark's Arc Reactor. Indeed, the Arc Reactor has always looked completely blown out on Blu-ray (and DVD, and streaming), but the HDR changes that. Likewise, the skies surrounding the Helicarrier suddenly have more specular detail and depth, making the digital compositions look more tangible. Another vast improvement is the portal above NYC - the 4K HDR transfer brings back so much more highlight detail, whereas said portal looks frequently blown out on regular Blu-ray.

    Another benefit of the HDR grade is improved shadow detail, which is evident whenever a scene unfolds in lower light - see Natasha talking to Bruce at the 17-minute mark (especially a Ruffalo close-up at 17:45, which absolutely murders the Blu-ray). The added luminance of HDR, as well as the improved chroma resolution, results in a more vibrant palette, while bright lights leap off the screen. Another thing is that the New York City finale has always looked slightly off in Standard Dynamic Range 1080p, since it was shot against green screens, but it all looks much better with HDR grading. And whereas colours occasionally looked off in SDR, the HDR grade ensures colours are always accurate. Furthermore, skin tones are richer and truer in 4K, Captain America's outfit looks a bit less chintzy, black levels are significantly improved, and highlights are bolstered tremendously, especially on costumes and skin. Still, the movie cannot entirely escape its "TV look" at times - see Thor battling Loki at the 105-minute mark, for instance. I cannot remember precisely how the movie looked during its theatrical run in 2012 - that was eight years ago - and therefore cannot be certain if the HDR grade can be considered revisionist or not. Nevertheless, Disney's HDR grade is spectacular, enhancing the colour palette and adding highlight detail that we've never seen on home video before. When compared to the Blu-ray, The Avengers is a revelation, and the HDR grade makes this one look better than it did at the cinema.

    The Avengers and Avengers: Age of Ultron were the first MCU catalogue titles to come to 4K Blu-ray, and it was an encouraging start for the studio. (The remaining MCU movies hit 4K gradually, with the last batch landing in October of 2019.) As previously stated, there are limitations to the digital intermediate in terms of textural "pop" at times, but such limitations are inherent to the source, since nothing was actually filmed or composited natively at 4K. With that said, however, Disney's remastering and encoding team have done a tremendous job transferring The Avengers to 4K Blu-ray, and this is one of my favourite upgrades to date. I was also unable to spot any compression issues, as the video encode is rock-solid from start to finish. The 1080p Blu-ray is officially useless to me now.

    Several subtitle options are available. I sampled the English SDH subtitle track, and there were no issues with formatting or spelling/grammar.

Video Ratings Summary
Sharpness
Shadow Detail
Colour
Grain/Pixelization
Film-To-Video Artefacts
Film Artefacts
Overall

Audio

    Whereas the Blu-ray came with a DTS-HD MA 7.1 track, Disney upgrades The Avengers to Dolby Atmos (with a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 core) for the movie's 4K UHD debut. Thankfully, Disney's normal mastering practises aren't evident for this Atmos mix; it's pristine and impactful, not to mention adequately dynamic and active. You will have to raise the volume above normal listening levels, but aside from that, I have no complaints. As Fury's helicopter approaches in the opening sequence, panning effects shift the sound from the rear speakers to the front channels. Similar panning is evident when Fury and co. take an elevator down to the laboratory right afterwards. Low-frequency effects give sound effects superb impact, with rumbling engines, deafening explosions, and deep rumbling - just see Loki's first appearance at 4:30, as the impactful rumbling fills the surround channels to excellent effect. Gunshots, blasts of energy from Loki's sceptre, and helicopters are sufficiently impactful throughout the opening sequence, and this standard is maintained throughout the movie. The Helicarrier taking off exhibits exceptional subwoofer and LFE, while the use of AC/DC's "Shoot to Thrill" as Iron Man beats down Loki at 42:20 is satisfyingly deep, not to mention it fills all available channels to superb effect. The sound of thunder and lightning as Thor emerges in the subsequent scene, too, shows off active surround activity and subwoofer accentuation. When Iron Man blasts off, you can feel the impact of the sound effects in your stomach. I could go on and on, but suffice it to say, the Atmos track delivers at every opportunity.

    Furthermore, dialogue remains clear and comprehensible throughout the movie, as there are no prioritisation problems, though some lines are a tiny bit soft. Outside of this, though, I was unable to detect any shortcomings in terms of LFE or dynamic range. Several Disney releases have come up short in this department, but The Avengers is safe from emasculation - nothing seems lacking, underwhelming, or compressed in any way. As previously stated, you'll need to raise the volume a bit higher than normal listening levels to get the full experience of this Dolby Atmos track, but thankfully increasing the volume doesn't introduce any issues. Indeed, the audio mix is free of bothersome hissing, popping, clicking, drop-outs and sync issues, as there are no encoding or source-related anomalies. Some reviewing sites have accused this track of being another limp "Disney Atmouse" effort, but I honestly cannot agree with such evaluations - for my money, The Avengers sounds sensational in Dolby Atmos, and I can't imagine it sounding much better. The disc also contains English Descriptive Audio, as well as additional Dolby Digital tracks in several other languages, but I concentrated on the Atmos mix for the purposes of this review.

Audio Ratings Summary
Dialogue
Audio Sync
Clicks/Pops/Dropouts
Surround Channel Use
Subwoofer
Overall

Extras

    As with most 4K releases, there are no special features on the 4K disc. All of the extras are instead included on the accompanying standard 1080p Blu-ray.

    It's worth pointing out that, when The Avengers first hit home video in 2012, the Americans got an exclusive bonus disc with a lengthy documentary covering all of Phase One. This bonus disc is only available exclusively through Target in the United States, and has never been released here, but you can view the entire thing on YouTube via Marvel's official channel: Assembling The Avengers, Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers. Enjoy!

R4 vs R1

NOTE: To view non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually also NTSC compatible.

    This appears to be the same 4K disc released by Disney in the United States. However, the U.S. 4K set contains more special features on the standard 1080p Blu-ray. Technically that makes the U.S. set the winner, but judging purely from a 4K perspective, it's a tie.

Summary

    A raging success when released in 2012, The Avengers confidently holds up in 2019 as both a standalone superhero blockbuster, and the culmination of the five Marvel movies preceding it. It's a joyous victory lap for Marvel Studios; an insanely entertaining action-adventure pitched at just the right tone, and executed with a pleasingly witty screenplay from Joss Whedon. It's still one of the best films in the MCU, and it was a pleasure to revisit in 4K.

    This is one of my favourite 4K Ultra HD upgrades to date, as The Avengers has never looked or sounded this great before. With the HDR grading, improved video encoding, and superior chroma resolution, the transfer breathes new life into this sensational movie, while the Dolby Atmos soundtrack is a winner in nearly every conceivable way. Unfortunately, Disney didn't take the chance to give Aussie consumers the full supply of special features. That aside, this is a smart buy. Highly recommended.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Tuesday, February 11, 2020
Review Equipment
DVDSony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output
DisplayLG OLED65E6T. This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
Audio DecoderBuilt in to amplifier/receiver. This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
AmplificationSamsung Series 7 HT-J7750W
SpeakersSamsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up

Other Reviews NONE
Comments (Add)
Correct Film Title - Anonymous REPLY POSTED