Marvel’s box-office behemoth, Avengers: Infinity War, tries to cram all of your favorite MCU characters (except two) into one giant movie, and does so rather spectacularly, paying off what was set in motion at the end of 2012’s The Avengers.
The Production: 4.5/5
Warning: spoilers ahead….
Avengers: Infinity War picks up shortly after the conclusion of Thor: Ragnarok, with Thanos (Josh Brolin) and his Titan army laying waste to the Asgardian’s escape ship, capturing the Space Stone, and leaving Thor (Chris Hemwsorth) for dead, floating in space, but not before Heimdall (Idris Elba) hurtling Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) back to Earth by summoning the Bifrost one last time. With two stones down and four more to go (he captured the Power stone on Xandar while the audience was getting their popcorn), Thanos begins his ultimate quest to obtain the Infinity Stones to enable him to course-correct the universe by wiping out half the population wit a snap of his fingers. Two of those stones are on Earth and Thanos has sent Ebony Maw (Tom Vaughn-Lawlor) and Cull Obsidian (Terry Notary) to retrieve the Time stone from Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) while Proxima Midnight (Carrie Coon) and Corvus Glave (Michael Shaw) try to obtain the Mind stone from Vision (Paul Battany). The Maw kidnaps Strange, with Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Spider-Man (Tom Holland) hot on his tail. Proxima Midnight fails in her attempt, thwarted by Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Wanda Maximoff (Elizabeth Olsen), and Falcon (Anthony Mackie). With Thor rescued by the Guardians (Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, Pom Klementieff, and the voices of Vin Diesel and Bradley Cooper), nearly everything has been set in motion for one doozy of a cliffhanger after all-out battles on Titan and in Wakanda. Let’s just say things do not end well for The Avengers, at least until the story comes to a conclusion next summer.
Joe and Anthony Russo, who excelled at directing the two previous Captain America features, Winter Soldier and Civil War, take over for Joss Whedon, and bring a sense of fun and definite humor to a very dark story, stuffing just about every major and supporting character we’ve seen in just about all of the movies within the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the last ten years, and finally bringing Thanos to the front and center after being a puppet master to Loki in The Avengers and Ronan in the first Guardians of the Galaxy. Josh Brolin brings some empathy to Thanos, brought to life on screen by Weta Digital as a performance capture, with the screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely portraying him as an eco-terrorist, wanting to do what he believes is the right thing, regardless of what the ultimate cost is. The only major complaint is that most of the characters we’ve grown to love over the years are often delegated to supporting roles, with Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr,) Captain America (Chris Evens), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), and Gamora (Zoe Saldana) getting most of the screen time, and rightfully so, as they are the major plot points of the epic story. I did get a kick out of Peter Dinklage as the giant dwarf Eitri on Nidavellir.
3D Rating: NA
Avengers: Infinity War was captured in 6.5K resolution on Arri Alexa IMAX cameras and at 8K on Red Weapon Dragon VV and Helium S35 cameras, and was completed as either a 2K or 4K digital intermediate with Dolby Vision high dynamic range color grading. Disney’s 4K UHD Blu-ray features the film in 2160p resolution with HDR10 color grading and retains the 2.39:1 aspect ratio as it was presented in traditional movie theaters. This is an excellent transfer, although some may feel the difference between the 4K and Blu-ray are minimal. There is a noticeable increase in fine detail, particularly in fabric textures and facial features. Take a good look at chapter 2, starting around the 14:00 mark. This is a darkly lit scene inside the New York Sanctum with Doctor Strange, Tony Stark, Bruce Banner, and Wong discussing Thanos and the Infinity Stones. You can clearly see the stress of being Iron Man in Tony’s weathered face, the intricate and ornate stitching and textures in Strange’s cloak, the various layers of reds, browns, and blacks in Wong’s costume, and there is a perceived depth between the characters and the various items within the Sanctum. Looking at the disc overall, colors are more vibrant and consistent, blacks are deep and inky, whites are bright without clipping, and there were no banding issues whatsoever.
Nearly everyone it seems, including myself, have been giving Disney a hard time lately with the audio on many of their 4K UHD discs. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that Avengers: Infinity War corrects all of those complaints, but, like the recent Wrinkle In Time and Star Wars: The Last Jedi, it’s another small step in the right direction. Disney has provided only one English language track, Dolby Atmos, and did not include a Dolby Digital Plus 7.1 ort any other English track (possibly due to the length of the film). The big news is that I did not have to really crank the volume on Infinity War to obtain a more reference level of audio. That being said, I found the amount of surround activity (both rears and heights) to be a bit underwhelming for a movie with so much action happening on and off the screen. The track isn’t necessarily front-heavy, and it is obvious those speakers are in use, but one just expects much more from this type of film. Dialogue is clear and understandable, but still a tad weak compared to other Atmos mixes. LFE, while nowhere as anemic as it was on Thor: Ragnarok, could have been a bit more punchier. I did not have the chance to see this film theatrically, so I cannot say whether it is the home video mix or the source mix.
Special Features: 4.5/5
I have one very major complaint regarding the authoring of the 4K UHD Blu-ray disc, and that’s the fact that after selecting the menu language, the disc then takes you the UltraPlay menu asking if you want to go right to the movie or to the main menu. The only problem, though, is that the selection options are in the lower left corner, the same exact place where my Sony UBP-X800 overlays the UHD Blu-ray Paused on-screen display, and by the time I hit the display button twice to clear it, the menu chooses Play Movie for me. I’m done griping.
As usual, the 4K UHD disc contains only the movie. The included Blu-ray edition has a nice set of Special Features, plus a few m ore are supposed to be available on-line when you redeem your Movies Anywhere digital copy code.
Introduction by Directors Joe and Anthony Russo (1080p; 1:32): At the very least, this should have been included on the 4K UHD disc. This can only be found under the Play option on the main menu on the Blu-ray edition. The brothers discuss very briefly their thoughts on the making of the film.
Featurettes (1080p; 32:18): A series of featurettes on the making of the film, viewable individually or as one complete feature – beware of spoilers. Strange Alchemy, The Mad Titan, Beyond the Battle: Titan, and Beyond the Battle: Wakanda.
Deleted Scenes (1080p; 10:13): Four mostly extended scenes, one or two I thought should have been left in. Happy Knows Best, Hunt for the Mind Stone, The Guardians Get Their Groove Back, and A Father’s Choice.
Gag Reel (1080p; 2:05): The obligatory blooper reel.
Audio Commentary with Directors Joe and Anthony Russo and Writers Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely: This is a very enjoyable and knowledgeable track, with the four discussing the development and production of this massive undertaking, while still managing to keep things light, such as their ability to not include any kind of Sherlock Holmes references when Robert Downey, Jr. and Benedict Cumberbatch first meet on-screen.
The Director’s Roundtable (1080p; 32:50): “Eight amazing directors reflect on how their movies contribute to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s larger storytelling adventure.” Available when you redeem your Movies Anywhere digital copy code, and viewable on Movies Anywhere, Vudu, and FandangoNow. May also be available on Amazon Prime Video and iTunes, but cannot confirm since Amazon lumps all the special features at the end of the film and can’t figure out how to watch the special features on iTunes without an Apple TV.
Digital Copy: An insert contains a code to redeem a digital copy on Movies Anywhere. It looks like when redeemed on Movies Anywhere, you will get the movie in 4K UHD plus special features on Vudu and FandangoNow, movie only in HD on GooglePlay Movies, movie plus special features (added on to the end) in HD on Amazon Prime Video and reportedly on iTunes.
Avengers: Infinity War is a movie told on a very epic scale, and the 4K UHD Blu-ray excels in the video department, and Disney is starting to improve upon the Atmos audio tracks they are including on their releases.http://www.amazon.com/AVENGERS-INFINITY-Robert-Downey-Jr/dp/B07BZ5F71X/ref=sr_1_1?ie=UTF8&qid=1534214061&sr=8-1&keywords=786936858112