Film Title: The Avengers
Release Date: 2012
Runtime: 143 minutes
Region Coding: Region Free
Studio: Marvel (Disney)
Audio Format: Dolby Atmos
High Dynamic Range: HDR (HDR10)
Aspect Ratio: 1.85:1
Formats Available: 4K UHD Blu-ray | Blu-ray
Version Reviewed: 4K UHD Blu-ray & 4K Steelbook
Street Date: 8/14/18
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Samuel L. Jackson
“The Avengers” is the first film in the “Avengers” series of films in the Marvel Studios “Marvel Cinematic Universe“ – or MCU for short. This film was both directed and wrote (for the most part) by Joss Whedon. Whedon is best known for creating the “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” TV series, also for creating the TV series “Firefly”, and directing its feature film “Serenity” (2005), as well as for his writing (and creation) of comics over at Marvel. Yes, Marvel Studios (at one time) had a writer/director that had actually worked not only on comics but their comics to be specific. Was this something too good to be true? Perhaps, if you take into consideration that Whedon would not end up doing the third film in the “Avengers” series.
This film has had been building up ever since the first Marvel Studios film, “Iron Man” back in 2008. Throughout each of the films’ end credits bonus scenes you were introduced more and more to new characters in the “Marvel Cinematic Universe” through S.H.I.E.L.D. “Agent Coulson” (Clark Gregg), as well as the leader “Nick Fury” (Samuel L. Jackson). It was throughout the other previous films like “Iron Man 2” (2010), “Thor” (2011), and “The Incredible Hulk” (2012) where we introduced to some of the characters that will be vital members of this group of Marvel heroes.
As the group comes together over the course of this film, we get to see “Tony Stark” / “Iron Man“ (Robert Downey, Jr.), “Bruce Banner” / “Hulk“ (now played by Mark Ruffalo), “Steve Rogers” / “Captain America“ (Chris Evans), “Thor“ (Chris Hemsworth), “Clint Barton” / “Hawkeye“ (Jeremy Renner), and “Natasha Romanoff” / “Black Widow“ (Scarlett Johansson). Some other familiar faces from those previous “MCU” films play important and/or supporting roles in this film. Those characters include Thor‘s brother “Loki“ (Tom Hiddleston), Thor‘s old friend “Doctor Erik Selvig” (Stellan Skarsgård), Tony Stark‘s assistant / love interest “Pepper Potts” (Gwyneth Paltrow), Tony‘s assistant when he’s Iron Man, “Jarvis” (voiced by Paul Bettany), and member of S.H.I.E.L.D. “Agent Maria Hill” (Cobie Smulders).
Here you’ll see the “Avengers” assemble, just as we all had hoped for back in 2008 after we saw the first MCU film. It’s really a sight to behold, with tons of action along the way. You have some top-notch actors here playing some of the most popular superheroes of all-time, a really well put together story with excellent direction from Joss Whedon. That’s in all due honestly why this is personally my favorite of the “Avengers” series of films (to date) and is also one of my more favorite films in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, for that matter.
Movie Rating: 5 (out of 5)
According to the technical specifications listing on IMDb, the film was shot both digitally and on film. Digitally this was shot in 2.8K and 2K resolutions on the Arri Alexa, Canon EOS 5D Mark II, and Canon EOS 7D cameras. On film, this was shot using the Arriflex 435 camera using Super 35MM film, for the high-speed shots. The film was mastered in 2K resolution, meaning that what we get here is technically upconverted to 4K resolution. Unlike the previous Blu-ray Disc release (presented in 1.78:1 aspect ratio), this is presented in the original theatrical intended 1.85:1 aspect ratio.
The 4K UHD Blu-ray lacks the option of Dolby Vision as a variety of HDR (High Dynamic Range). It only offers the standard HDR10 form in its presentation, and debut here to 4K. That also has caused some fans to be displeased, who prefer DV (Dolby Vision) over the HDR10 standard format – as I had previously mentioned in my review for “The Avengers: Infinity War“ on 4K UHD Blu-ray.
This 4K presentation now with the addition of HDR (in the form of HDR10) finally does the genius cinematography done by Seamus McGarvey (Director of Photography) near complete justice. “The Avengers”, a film that always looked amazing many years back (in 2012) on Blu-ray Disc, looks even more impressive now. The amount of newfound detail here is impressive, and the color palette is much more rich and vibrant than it ever was before, thanks to the addition of high dynamic range. Everything here, from the heroes costumes, their detail, and their bright vibrant colors stand out much more with HDR. The colors here are just breathtaking at times, and the black level is as solid as ink – again from to the addition of HDR (here via HDR10). Fleshtones also appear to be a bit more accurate, in comparison to the Blu-ray, this time around with HDR helping there as well.
All of the special effects visual shots that were done by the folks at ILM (Industrial Light & Magic) and WETA look spectacular now. The hard work put into the visual effects really shows off wonderfully here in 4K, not at all showing off any flaws. This has aged well in terms of visual special effects and holds up remarkably, as well as helps deliver one near reference level visual Ultra HD presentation, on the 4K UHD Blu-ray format.
I know this lacks Dolby Vision (a form of HDR) and is only coming from (it seems) just a 2K digital intermediate source, but it works and looks amazing, in my honest opinion. I can’t give a perfect rating, knowing that there will be an eventual 4K re-release, and to allow room for improvement. The visual improvements obviously could come in the form of adding Dolby Vision and perhaps using a true 4K master next time around – which could sharpen things up a bit.
Overall, this is one of the more impressive 4K visual presentations I’ve seen lately on a ‘catalog’ title of sorts, having been released roughly six years ago on Blu-ray Disc. This offers up 4K that feels like a definite improvement to the original Blu-ray, which had one remarkable presentation itself, even back then. The 4K feels like it could almost be considered reference material (to me), but falls just short of perfect marks – hence the first time I’ve ever used a 4.75 (out of 5) rating. Regardless of not being absolutely perfect, this is one of my favorite new 4K titles.
Video Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
Audio on this 4K UHD Blu-ray release is presented in Dolby Atmos. This atmospheric audio mix comes as an improvement over the 7.1 lossless mix found on the Blu-ray Disc release of the film if you’re capable of hearing Dolby Atmos. That’s important to point out here. The mix has a 7.1 lossless (Dolby TrueHD) core to it, for those who don’t have the proper equipment to decode Dolby Atmos. So, in other words, it’s essentially pretty much the same (as was on Blu-ray) for those on just a 7.1 system that cannot decode Atmos, or lacks height speakers. If you’re on a 7.1.2 system you’ll, however, notice a pretty big difference this time around. So, with that little bit of audio education out of the way, let’s move on to how this new mix actually sounds.
As most of you know some previous Dolby Atmos mixes from Disney and namely Marvel, have been a little bit less than pleasing. I’m happy to report that “The Avengers” has an impressive Dolby Atmos mix that actually can get a tad bit intense at times, and has a good deal of bass presence, to leave your subwoofer finally getting some attention. The use of height speakers here can range from sound effects or even some narrative dialogue early on, as well occasionally a bit of the film’s original music (Score).
The film’s Score by Alan Silvestri gets mixed very nicely primarily into the front left and right channels, with a tad bit of rear channel presence at times, but only during the really climactic moments. The amount of bass can also come from the music, not just from the action happening, although it certainly has its share of it happening. The action really does a good job of seeming more realistic here in an Atmos configuration with the height speakers and rear channels playing well to leave you feeling somewhat immersed in the mix. Dialogue is delivered distinctly, spot-on, and never once gets “drowned out” by any of the action happening in the form of sound effects or the music.
This time around Marvel (Disney) has really put together a Dolby Atmos mix that makes up for some of the lacking mixes we’ve had to put up with in the past on Marvel films in their 4K releases. “The Avengers” is done pretty close to justice here in terms of audio, but it is admittedly not absolutely perfect, just damn near close. That being said, I’m once again using our rating system to have some “wiggle room” so-to-speak and show that this release has slightly better than Dolby Atmos than the latest film (“Avengers: Infinity War”) did on its 4K UHD Blu-ray release. Why that is? I have no clue. I just know this sounds a bit better than it did.
So, it’s not perfect, but it deserves a 4.75 (out of 5) rating. There’s some obvious room for some improvement, admittedly in comparison to some other superhero films, that pack a little bit more punch. I really wish you didn’t have to amplify your volume on your AVR (audio video receiver) just a tiny bit past where your reference level is of where you listen to films at usually. That’s really where this has the most room for improvement in terms of audio. It’s nowhere as bad as previous Marvel efforts in Dolby Atmos (as mentioned), but it could be better and someday be totally perfect.
Audio Quality Rating: 4.75 (out of 5)
- A Digital Copy of the film is included via Movies Anywhere, which is compatible with iTunes and Ultraviolet formats such as Vudu, and so forth. You get a paper insert included in the packaging with a URL and code to redeem. It is worth noting that the digital version of the film on services like Vudu actually features 4K video with the Dolby Vision (missing here) and HDR10 (used here) forms of HDR. So, if you’re wondering why I opted for the perfect video rating, that played a tiny bit of a part in that decision.
Bonus Materials are not on the 4K UHD Blu-ray Disc but instead are included on the Blu-ray Disc. These are all presented in 1080p HD video with Dolby Digital 2.0 Stereo (@320kbps) sound unless otherwise noted below. They are comprised of the following:
- Audio Commentary by Director Joss Whedon proves to be one of my favorite bonus features on this whole release but sadly is not presented on the 4K disc. Still, I find myself again listening to this (even on Blu-ray Disc). Joss discusses shooting this film for 3D a whole lot, which makes you wonder why they did not bundle the Blu-ray 3D release of the film with this. I personally still own my 3D version, that I’ll be holding onto, but some folks purchasing this for the first time in HD might want to have that included. Overall this audio commentary proves to be very, very informative, enjoyable and at times very funny. Joss Whedon, never a dull moment with this guy. Fans will totally want to give this a listen, even if you didn’t back when it was originally released. This is an excellent audio commentary from start to finish.
- “Marvel One-Shot: Item 47” (11:20 – HD) is a short film featuring Lizzy Caplan, Jesse Bradford, Maximiliano Hernández, and Titus Welliver. It was directed by Louis D’Esposito. An interesting fact here, via IMDb trivia, is that this short film actually is what convinced, owners of Marvel Studios, Disney to greenlight the TV series “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.” – which would later premiere on ABC in 2013. Long before all of the Marvel shows on Netflix were a reality, there was this, a short that would spawn the major network TV series, that made those eventually come to be.
- Gag Reel (4:05 – HD) is one of the funnier gag reels out there. The greatest gag reel was obviously, as focused on here, the one at the end credits of “Smokey and the Bandit” – which this is a bit of a homage to, of sorts, at first. This always cracks me up. I guess that’s what you should expect from someone with such a great sense of humor serving as the filmmaker here, Joss Whedon. You can tell the chemistry and joke around on the set was really something to behold. 4 minutes seems too short, but hey, size doesn’t matter. It’s the quality over quantity here, folks. Six years later, and this still leaves me cracking up at the very first bit especially, featuring Robert Downey Jr. laughingly making the comparison to the film mentioned above.
- Deleted & Extended Scenes (14:59 – HD) has a “play all” option. Eight scenes total are included here. These all prove to be worth the watch, but in hindsight, most of them probably should have landed on the cutting room floor, and here. They add some more story and such, but most of them just wouldn’t have worked in the film. There are some scenes though that I believe should have been left in the final film. The different cameo here by Stan Lee, I think might have been worth keeping, along with the extended scene it ties into. Sadly one action scene in particular features a lot of unfinished pre-visualization (pre-vis) and green screen footage, yet it still proves to be worth the watch, however, I don’t think belonged in the film. Lastly, I would like to say that I love the extended scene with the late Harry Dean Stanton as a security guard, talking to “Bruce Banner” (Mark Ruffalo). That scene really feels like it should have stayed in the film. It’s a pretty powerful scene in terms of acting, with raw emotion, from both Ruffalo and the late Stanton.
- “Featurettes” has a “play all” option, and includes the following:
- “A Visual Journey” (6:28 – HD) starts out in an interview with Joss Whedon (Director). Here you’ll get lots of behind-the-scenes and on-set footage from the making of the film, as well as interviews with Jeremy Latcham (Executive Producer), Louis D’Esposito (Executive Producer), Jerry Carek (NASA Representative), Kevin Feige (Producer), Scarlett Johansson (“Natasha Romanoff” / “Black Widow“), Victoria Alonso (Executive Producer), Seamus McGarvey (Director of Photography), and Samuel L. Jackson (“Nick Fury“).
- “Assembling The Ultimate Team” (8:08 – HD) also starts out in an interview with Joss Whedon (Director). Once again, you’ll get lots of behind-the-scenes and on-set footage from the making of the film, as well as interviews from Robert Downey, Jr. (“Tony Stark” / “Iron Man“), Chris Hemsworth (“Thor“), Mark Ruffalo (“Bruce Banner” / “Hulk“), Tom Hiddleston (“Loki“), Chris Evans (“Steve Rogers” / “Captain America“), Kevin Feige (Producer), Scarlett Johansson (“Natasha Romanoff” / “Black Widow“), Samuel L. Jackson (“Nick Fury“), Clark Gregg (“Agent Phil Coulson“), and Cobie Smulders (“Agent Maria Hill“).
- Soundgarden Music Video “Live to Rise” (4:49 – HD) is from the film’s Soundtrack. This proves to be very emotional looking back on, not just because of the passing of the lead singer of this band, but also when we think about what “The Avengers” have been through since the events we see featured in this music video in the form of clips from the film.
Overall, the bonus materials are nothing more than just the original Blu-ray Disc bonus materials completely “recycled” on the very same disc they were on before, just with new cover art and copyright date. You get no new material here. That’s a tad bit disappointing to see for these first two films in the “Avengers” series in their 4K UHD Blu-ray debuts. This is just screaming out for “double-dip” in terms of just bonus materials someday. Perhaps when the fourth “Avengers” film comes out or when the film comes to the 10th anniversary we can expect some more bonus materials in an eventual 4K re-release.
The bonus is admittedly the only section of this 4K debut that doesn’t impress me. I will admit, though, I didn’t expect they would add any new material (yet). You get roughly 50 minutes (under an hour) of video bonus content, an audio commentary track (on the wrong disc) and a Digital Copy of the film here. It’s just not that much really in terms of supplemental material. The audio commentary is actually one of the strongest things here, and (as mentioned) it’s sadly not available on the 4K disc – while it is on the Blu-ray Disc. That alone is just frustrating when other major studios are putting materials on the 4K discs, especially materials like audio commentary tracks. Still, this is just how things are with the bonus materials.
Bonus Materials Rating: 2.5 (out of 5)
“The Avengers”, looking back on it as the first film, proved to definitely (so far) be the strongest in the three “Avengers” films (to date). It had a lot more comedy that felt right, which anyone who knows Joss Whedon‘s work would come to have expected. Whedon gave us one remarkable film to start things out with, and a great sequel in “Avengers: Age of Ultron” (2015). That film also just debuted on the 4K UHD Blu-ray format, just worth noting.
As far as the presentation goes here on “The Avengers” debut to 4K UHD Blu-ray, you get an impressive combination of both 4K video with HDR and audio (in the form of Dolby Atmos) at damn near perfection. It’s almost exactly what I (and most) had expected out of the 4K release of the latest film. This offers some very nice detail in terms of its 4K visual presentation and downright intense satisfying Dolby Atmos immersive atmospheric sound.
“The Avengers” on 4K is one of my new favorite titles. Marvel (Disney) has done a good job here, and this 4K UHD Blu-ray proves to be worth buying to replace your previous Blu-ray Disc release. This is a very nice upgrade in comparison to that previous Blu-ray, that is for certain. Not that it ever had any problems to speak of, it’s just with the addition of High Dynamic Range for the darker black level, brighter more visually pleasing colors and such alone, it looks superior. It also sounds superior in comparison to the lossless surround mix found on the Blu-ray, especially if you’re able to hear it with the correct equipment in Dolby Atmos. It’s not totally perfect in terms of video or audio quality, but it’s very impressive, and it leaves a bit of room for some improvements (as mentioned).
In terms of 4K UHD Blu-ray release, this gets:
4.75 (out of 5) for video quality
4.75 (out of 5) for audio quality
2.5 (out of 5) for bonus materials