Avengers: Infinity War (Blu-ray) (2018)

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Released 15-Aug-2018

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Details At A Glance

General Extras
Category Action Adventure Introduction
Featurette-Strange Alchemy
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-The Mad Titan
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Beyond the Battle: Titan
Featurette-Behind The Scenes-Beyond the Battle: Wakanda
Deleted Scenes
Outtakes-Gag Reel
Audio Commentary
Rating Rated M
Year Of Production 2018
Running Time 149:21
RSDL / Flipper Dual Layered Cast & Crew
Start Up Language Select Then Menu
Region Coding 1,2,3,4,5,6 Directed By Anthony Russo
Joe Russo
Studio
Distributor
Marvel
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Starring Robert Downey Jr.
Josh Brolin
Chris Evans
Chris Pratt
Chris Hemsworth
Benedict Cumberbatch
Tom Holland
Zoe Saldana
Chadwick Boseman
Scarlett Johansson
Paul Bettany
Mark Ruffalo
Elizabeth Olsen
Case Standard Blu-ray
RPI $29.95 Music Alan Silvestri


Video Audio
Pan & Scan/Full Frame None English DTS HD Master Audio 7.1
English Descriptive Audio Dolby Digital 2.0
Russian Dolby Digital 5.1
Hindi Dolby Digital 5.1
Widescreen Aspect Ratio 2.40:1
16x9 Enhancement
16x9 Enhanced
Video Format 1080p
Original Aspect Ratio 2.40:1 Miscellaneous
Jacket Pictures No
Subtitles English for the Hearing Impaired
Hindi
Russian
Smoking No
Annoying Product Placement No
Action In or After Credits Yes, Post credits scene

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Plot Synopsis

††† The nineteenth instalment in the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe, 2018ís Avengers: Infinity War represents the ambitious culmination of this franchise to date. Itís a sprawling epic which finally unites nearly all of the MCUís note-worthy characters and pays off lingering subplots, making it a pivotal moment that fans have long anticipated. Happily, the movie is in safe hands with the Russo Brothers at the helm, working from a screenplay by Captain America trilogy scribes Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely. After the disappointment of Joss Whedonís Avengers: Age of Ultron, a change in creative team invigorates Infinity War; itís at least as great as the original Avengers, and easily one of the greatest superhero pictures in history. This third Avengers movie may retain the familiar Marvel formula of incorporating humour, heart and mind-blowing spectacle, but itís the productionís psychological depth and daring disposition which makes it one for the ages. It should go without saying, but being familiar with a majority of the previous Marvel movies is a necessity to fully comprehend Infinity War. Although the lack of appeal for the uninitiated might be perceived as a drawback, this is fundamentally the nineteenth movie in a franchise.

††† In the aftermath of Captain America: Civil War, The Avengers have disbanded, with the heroes now scattered around the world. However, intergalactic tyrant Thanos (Josh Brolin) is ready to execute his grand plan to affix all six Infinity Stones to his gauntlet, to allow him to impose his will on reality and re-balance the universe by wiping out half of all life. If he amasses all of the stones, he will be able to kill trillions with one snap of his finger. In a bid to protect the Time Stone, Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) and Peter Parker/Spider-Man (Tom Holland) find themselves transported to the desolate planet of Titan, Thanosís home world. The Guardians of the Galaxy - Peter Quill/Star-Lord (Chris Pratt), Gamora (Zoe Saldana), Drax (Dave Bautista), Mantis (Pom Klementieff), Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Groot (Vin Diesel) - become drawn into the fight after rescuing Thor (Chris Hemsworth), who was left stranded in space following a fatal encounter with Thanos. On Earth, Vision (Paul Bettany) and Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) seek the help of Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Sam Wilson/Falcon (Anthony Mackie) as Thanosís Black Order move in, determined to extract the Mind Stone from Visionís head. Meeting with James Rhodes (Don Cheadle) and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), who has returned to Earth, the team travel to Wakanda where they reunite with Bucky Barnes (Sebastian Stan), while King TíChalla/Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman) mounts a defence against the impending intergalactic forces.

††† The directors and writers have stated it multiple times, but Thanos is the true protagonist of Avengers: Infinity War. Armchair critics have slated Marvelís villains for years, but that all changes with Thanos finally taking centre stage here, after hovering around the sidelines of the universe since The Avengers back in 2012. A hulking, mad titan, Thanos has proper motivation for wanting to expunge half of the universeís population; his concerns relate to finite resources, overpopulation, and the balance of life. Thanos genuinely believes that, despite his extreme measures, his quest is noble and, in the long run, people will be grateful for the significant cull, seeing himself as a saviour of sorts. Flashbacks reveal how Thanos first met Gamora, or how his home planet of Titan fell into ruin, permitting a glimpse behind the psychological curtain, elevating Thanos above a more standard-order blockbuster villain who strives to perpetrate evil for evilís sake. There is a feeling of desperateness as Thanos and his Children effortlessly battle the universeís mightiest heroes, raising the stakes and keeping the action sequences uniquely riveting. We may know that the heroes will ultimately triumph over Thanos, but we donít know the exact cost, creating a tension not often glimpsed in superhero productions. Furthermore, Infinity War culminates with a daring, jaw-dropping finale that could only be attempted by a creative team secure in the knowledge that its immediate sequel is already in production and the movie is still going to make billions of dollars.

††† The narrative of Infinity War does not naturally lend itself to a tidy three-act structure; itís almost wall-to-wall set-pieces, cutting between the multiple factions of heroes who have their own situations to resolve. Thanos represents the through-line, creating a thankful cohesiveness, not to mention Thanosís grand plan creates an urgency which ensures the film is never boring despite its length. Furthermore, while the movie does juggle at least thirty note-worthy characters, it never feels bloated or underdeveloped, thanks to the intricate format of the Marvel Cinema Universe. Whereas DCís ambitious live-action Justice League film fell flat on its face, the MCUís careful decade-long world-building ensures that long-time viewers know each character well enough to become sufficiently invested in the chaos. Nevertheless, Gamora and Quillís romantic relationship should have been better developed prior to the events of Infinity War, particularly since the two only got together at the end of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 after two movies of Quillís schoolboy leering. The romantic angle does play a significant role in the proceedings here, making it slightly disappointing that itís noticeably underdone. However, there is only so much that the Infinity War screenwriters could achieve in a single two-and-a-half-hour motion picture.

††† Age of Ultron scarcely felt like a Joss Whedon script, as the humour was disappointingly forced and flat. Happily, Infinity War ups the ante in terms of humour; the banter is strong, adding appreciable and effective hilarity to an otherwise solemn story. The lovably blunt Drax is as side-splitting as ever, stealing scenes all over the place, while itís a joy to see Quill and Stark meeting at last. In fact, the primary appeal of Infinity War is seeing established characters meeting for the first time - hell, I could spend hours just watching Thor interacting with the Guardians of the Galaxy. Of course, you will inevitably come away wanting to watch more of your favourite characters interacting, but the Russos do need to pay attention to pacing. Infinity War may lack the intricate moral and political debates of Captain America: Civil War, but there is ample humanity thanks to the delightful bantering and amiable heroes, not to mention psychological underpinnings to Thanos, which is rare in this genre.

††† With a gargantuan scope made possible by an unprecedented production budget, Infinity War is visually striking from top to bottom, making this one to behold on the largest possible screen. This is a truly epic movie, travelling to numerous different planets and never feeling restrictive. Luckily, whereas Age of Ultronís gloomy cinematography looked downright ugly, Infinity War is a more vibrant, colourful movie, beautifully captured entirely with IMAX cameras. With the two excellent Captain America sequels under their belts, the Russo Brothers adeptly handle Infinity Warís intimidating requirements, orchestrating exciting action set-pieces which spotlight a selection of gifted characters, each with their own unique abilities. Despite the scale of the chaos, the throwdowns are visceral and pack genuine impact, particularly the immense climactic showdown on Wakanda. Additionally, Trent Opalochís cinematography is agreeably smooth, making the action sequences easy to comprehend and enjoy. There is also enough variety to the action to prevent Infinity War from feeling monotonous or repetitive. Furthermore, Infinity War sees the welcome return of veteran composer Alan Silvestri, who scored the first Avengers back in 2012. Rather than generic action movie music, Silvestriís compositions are full of flavour and majesty, astutely making use of the memorable Avengers theme when suitable to underscore badass action beats, inspiring pure ecstasy.

††† Thanos is a miracle of motion capture; he looks tactile, and carries genuine weight and inertia. Little details in certain shots - such as arm hair, skin imperfections, or tears running into the crevices of his face - drive home the realism of the character, making this one for the ages. The Hulk also continues to impress in terms of sheer texturing, though his presence is minimised compared to previous Avengers instalments. Admittedly, some moments of computer-generated imagery, particularly during the more digitally-driven set-pieces, look obvious or even slightly phoney, lacking in tangibility, but thatís almost par for the course with this much CGI on the screen. You could be forgiven for yearning for the time when the Iron Man and War Machine suits were practical whenever possible.

††† Infinity Warís ensemble cast excels all reasonable expectations; the movie even reintroduces an iconic character in a surprise holy-shit reveal for the ages. The production incorporates supporting characters from various solo movies, including Benedict Wong as Wong, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, and pretty much the entire ensemble cast of Black Panther. There are certain notable exclusions from the cast, including Jeremy Renner and Paul Rudd, but the next instalment promises to rectify this and further up the ante. Brolin is sensational as Thanos, able to convey ruthlessness as well as vulnerability despite performing through a motion capture suit. It would be dizzying to run through the entire ensemble cast individually, but, suffice it to say, all of the performers hit their respective marks nicely. Fortunately, Infinity War further develops the relationship between Parker and Stark, following on from the events of Spider-Man: Homecoming, and itís still a treat to watch their witty interplay. Downey and young Holland both remain exceptional in their roles, oozing charisma and gravitas. An emotionally charged, heartbreaking scene late into the picture is an especially superb showcase for their talents.

††† Considering its insanely polished construction, itís likely that any reaction to Avengers: Infinity War - aside from basic admiration for the refined cinematic craftsmanship on display - will be wholly based on whether or not you feel serviced, dependent on the extent that the movie uses your favourite characters and how well the pieces of the movie work for you. Of course, as with almost any major movie, small things can be nitpicked, particularly certain character actions or moments of mediocre digital effects, but none of the minor imperfections are enough to tarnish this excellent superhero blockbuster. Also, it will inevitably play better following the release of the next instalment given the nature of the conclusion, but again that is not something that can be held against Infinity War. This is a powerful and poignant movie; a must-see for any MCU fan and a revelation in the genre, showing yet again why Marvel Studios convincingly remains at the top of their game. As ever, be sure to stay until the end of the credits.

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Transfer Quality

Video

††† Avengers: Infinity War debuts on home video in a number of different flavours, courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment: in addition to this 1080p Blu-ray, consumers can also watch the Avengers' unforgettable showdown with Thanos on 3D Blu-ray and 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. (There is also a limited edition 4K steelbook, if you're feeling fancy.) For its debut on regular old Blu-ray, Infinity War is presented in AVC-encoded 1080p, framed at its original aspect ratio of 2.39:1. Since this is a long movie, and the disc does contain extras, Disney masters the movie with a respectable but unspectacular video bitrate of 25.06 Mbps, though this dual-layered BD-50 is at least full to capacity and there aren't endless audio tracks taking up space. There is controversy online over the decision for this movie's home video presentation to be framed in letterbox, since the movie was completed in the 1.90:1 IMAX ratio, which means that the 2.39:1 framing is essentially cropped. For such a visually luscious movie, it is disappointing to not at least be given the option to watch the movie in the open matte IMAX aspect ratio. Disney usually save the IMAX framing for the 3D Blu-ray, but in this case, the 3D is likewise framed at 2.39:1. A missed opportunity.

††† In the opening sequence on the Asgardian ship, shadow detail is particularly weak for the live-action elements. Loki and his costume looks particularly smooth and lacking in finer textures, while even close-ups of Thor are likewise on the smooth side, though Thanos and his Black Order are more effective. This carries over into the majority of the movie; details on faces and skin look sufficient given the 1080p resolution, but I've certainly seen a lot better on the format. Other moments look strangely soft, such as a full shot when Banner is trying to awaken Hulk at the 20-minute mark. Nevertheless, some moments fare better than others; close-ups of Gamora reveal ample skin textures and highlights, while fine detail on digital characters is consistently top-notch. Thanos looks perhaps the most impressive, as the transfer brings out every line and imperfection on his nuanced face, allowing you to marvel (heh) at the terrific digital effects work. Detail on Star-Lord's face is also impressed during close-ups on Knowhere. The presentation is not as sharp as it could have been with better encoding, but object delineation is nevertheless solid for the most part; just see wide shots of the decimated Knowhere. Facial hair on the likes of Downey, Evans and Hemsworth also looks well resolved. Of course, the shortcomings of the movie from a clarity and definition standpoint are not as instantly noticeable on smaller screens, but on my 65" LG television, I was left underwhelmed, though the transfer is serviceable.

††† As to be expected from a 1080p Standard Dynamic Range presentation, contrast is not always the best and image depth can be hit-and-miss. Shots of space look slightly flat, as do shots in the dimly-lit Asgardian ship during the opening. Skin tones are often washed out, making actors look sickly. While the movie looks more colourful on Titan, or when the Guardians of the Galaxy come into the picture (particularly on Knowhere), the image still lacks vibrancy for the most part. Indeed, the HDR-enhanced 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray leaves this 1080p Blu-ray in the dust. Furthermore, due to the nature of SDR, the presentation struggles with specular and highlight detail when harsh light sources are visible on-screen - for instance, whenever the Infinity Stones glow, they look simply blown out here and lacking in nuance. Likewise, a shot peering out of the broken top window at Strange's residence in New York City is blown out, losing all details in the sky. Hell, even Stark's arc reactor lacks highlights, which are restored on the 4K Ultra HD edition.

††† Luckily, despite the transfer's shortcomings, the encoding never gives rise to distracting compression anomalies - no banding, aliasing, black crush, macroblocking, or anything else. There are also no signs of unnecessary digital tampering, such as edge enhancement or noise reduction. All things considered, although the presentation has its strengths and will probably prove to be "good enough" for casual viewers, this Blu-ray makes me all the happier that Disney has boarded the 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray train, and that Avengers: Infinity War received such a release that is vastly superior.

††† A few subtitle tracks are available, including English for the Hearing Impaired. I found the track to be free of issues.

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

Audio

††† On the audio front, there are only three primary language options (outside of the descriptive audio track and the audio commentary): a lossless English DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix, and lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 tracks in Hindi and Russian. The disc does not contain Dolby Atmos; that's saved for the 4K Blu-ray. Disney has hit a spot of bother with their audio mixes of late, obliterating dynamic range and making tracks sound both limp and compressed. The trouble all started with Avengers: Age of Ultron back in 2015, and has continued at various stages of severity (Black Panther represented another low point on the audio front). Considering the significance of Avengers: Infinity War, one would certainly hope that Disney have tidied up their act. And how is the audio for this $2 billion blockbuster? Pretty good, though still with certain caveats as certain aspects of the track are underwhelming. From the beginning, it's evident that you'll need to crank up the volume a bit higher than usual in order to get the full experience of the audio track. It's also evident that dialogue is a bit on the limp side, sounding a bit hollow. In addition, the track is primarily front-centred, needing more dynamic range. Nevertheless, there are noticeable placement and panning effects, such as Strange's cape flying around during the initial rumble in New York City - the sound travels through the rear channels and through to the front. During the clash in Edinburgh, the sound of a train comes through the rear channels, and panning effects are used when a spear is thrown.

††† Furthermore, there is sufficient subwoofer impact for explosions, punches, gunfire and other loud sound effects. When Hulk battles Thanos in the opening scene, it's deafening whenever Thanos delivers a mighty blow. When Thanos crushes the Tesseract to retrieve the Space Stone, the sound made my walls and floor rumble. The rockets of Iron Man's suit are accentuated by satisfying subwoofer activity, too. And of course, Alan Silvestri's outstanding original score is almost omnipresent, and boasts agreeable clarity. Moreover, even though the dialogue is limp at times, there are no issues with prioritisation, as you can make out what's being said even during the big action set-pieces. The audio has its strong points, for sure, and when it's on - such as during the big battles - you will scarcely notice the mix's shortcomings. Could this audio track be better encoded? Yes, as it still sounds a tad underwhelming in certain places, and the dynamic range is hit-and-miss. But is it serviceable? Also yes. At least there are no pops, clicks, drop-outs or sync issues. Those watching through soundbars or television speakers, and are therefore accustomed to "tinny" audio, probably won't realise that anything is amiss.

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

Extras

††† A pitiful selection of special features. Avengers: Infinity War is a huge deal for Marvel Studios, and it grossed over $2 billion worldwide, but even Doctor Strange and Captain America: Civil War had more extras. What a shame. When pre-orders first started appearing, a bonus disc was advertised, but it appears that the contents of this disc - a 30-minute director's roundtable discussion - has been relegated to a digital exclusive. You can get it by buying the movie on iTunes.

Introduction (HD; 1:32)

††† In keeping with Marvel's newfound tradition, you can choose to watch the movie with an introduction by the Russo Brothers. They briefly speak about the project, intercut with fun behind-the-scenes footage. Worth watching once. This is only accessible when you select "Play" from the main menu - it is not in the Bonus Features submenu.

Strange Alchemy (HD; 5:08)

††† This feels closer to a promotional featurette; an extended trailer. Cast and crew discuss the pairing of various Marvel characters in a crossover setting. Lots of film clips, most of them irrelevant and repetitive, constitute a considerable amount of this extra's runtime. Again, this feels like something for YouTube, as interviews are surface-level and EPK.

The Mad Titan (HD; 6:34)

††† As the title implies, this featurette is dedicated to Thanos, exploring the character's background, motivations, and how he was brought to life. Brolin's performance is also covered, and there's ample footage of the actor in a mo-cap suit. However, the majority of this extra is unfortunately comprised of film clips, making this feel like a wasted opportunity.

Beyond the Battle: Titan (HD; 9:36)

††† This behind-the-scenes extra at first feels like a more run of the mill making-of featurette, with cast and crew interviews delving into the production at large, its place in the MCU, and how Civil War fed into it. However, the extra soon focuses in on the battle of Titan. Behind-the-scenes footage reveals the soundstage, the previz material, the extent of the digital effects, how scenes were shot, and even alternative dialogue. The directors discuss the visual scheme too, including the choice to emphasise orange and red hues. The emotional ending of the movie is also touched upon.

Beyond the Battle: Wakanda (HD; 10:58)

††† As the title implies, this is a behind-the-scenes look at the enormous, climactic Wakanda battle. Cast and crew discuss the Black Panther film, with production staff consulting Ryan Coogler and his team for aspects of Infinity War, and we get to see the location that was used for the battle: a huge ranch that was transformed by the art department. Digital extensions played a big part in the sequence, though. There is plenty of insightful on-set footage to behold, which shows the actors have a terrific sense of humour and had a good time making the movie. The weather also made the shoot difficult. Of course, the ending is covered again. This extra closes with what feels like a coda of a longer making-of documentary.

Deleted and Extended Scenes (HD; 10:07)

††† The marketing materials for Infinity War contained an untold amount of footage not in the final movie, and the directors are on record stating that over thirty minutes was excised. Which makes it all the more disappointing that we only get four deleted scenes here, totalling ten minutes. Notable scenes from the trailers - including Banner tinkering with the Hulkbuster armour, and (most heartbreakingly) Thor first wielding Stormbreaker - are nowhere to be seen here. Included is:

Gag Reel (HD; 2:05)

††† A Marvel gag reel is always fun, and this is no different. It's a bit short, but here we have two minutes of amusing outtakes, showing the actors having an incredibly fun time on-set.

Audio Commentary

††† For this feature-length audio commentary, directors Joe and Anthony Russo are joined by screenwriters Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely to discuss Avengers: Infinity War in-depth. They touch upon the ever-evolving script drafts, talking about scenes that were either deleted from the script or removed in post-production for a variety of reasons. A mostly scene specific track, the foursome also speak about the difficulties of crossovers; deciding who should be the leader when multiple protagonists meet, the decision to split up the Guardians, and the fact that the movie diverged from the screenplay in the edit, as they figured out how to structure the picture for maximum impact given the multiple stories and characters. One particularly interesting part of the track involves a brief discussion of Star-Lord's controversial behaviour on Titan. Furthermore, discussion of the ending feeds into the track throughout, and they reveal the difficulties of working on the movie when Thor: Ragnarok and Black Panther had not been released yet. Other interesting tidbits include a breakdown of the VFX process, with multiple companies and houses working on various shots. There are slight dead spots throughout, and it's impossible to keep track of who's who, but there is still ample information, making this a worthwhile listen for fans.

R4 vs R1

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

† † No edition worldwide offers the originally advertised bonus disc. Supplemental material is identical across the board. Therefore, this one is a tie. Buy local.

Summary

††† Avengers: Infinity War is revelatory Marvel Studios entertainment. It's an expansive superhero blockbuster which colours outside of the lines, presenting the hero's journey of the primary villain, while giving us more of the characters we have come to know and love throughout the MCU to date. And it stands up to repeat viewings.

††† Disney's Blu-ray is good, but not quite great. Although the video transfer is serviceable, it could stand to be better-encoded, as there are shortcomings from colour and textural perspectives. Likewise, the 7.1 audio track suffers from Disney's ongoing issues with audio tracks for home video, as dynamic range and levels leave something to be desired. Meanwhile, there is an enjoyable selection of bonus features, but a movie of this scope, magnitude and success deserves more. This one comes recommended, but at sale price.

Ratings (out of 5)

Video
Audio
Extras
Plot
Overall

© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Friday, September 14, 2018
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

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