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The Avengers Blu-Ray

The Avengers (2012): Blu-Ray + DVD Combo Pack - Page 2

Published September 27, 2012

By Albert Gutierrez

A great alternative to listening to Joss Whedon talk is turning on the subtitles and reading what he says while watching the film.

Bonus Features:

The slate of bonus features begins with a commentary by director Joss Whedon. He keeps up a spirited discussion throughout the film, rarely taking pauses, and going over every facet of production. Whedon is very enthusiastic about discussing the why-fors of his film, addressing issues such as choosing 3-D conversion as opposed to shooting 3-D natively; reasons why he ended up deleting particular scenes (most of which are on the disc); and working in a world that was already "created" in previous films, putting his own stamp on things. I found his discussion about early versions of the script - and what changed - most interesting, since he puts sincere efforts to make sure the audience feels everything is still "real" within that world. It's probably the best feature included on the disc, even for people who don't usually listen to commentaries.

The Avengers Second Screen Experience is a feature-length app that allows you to sync up the film with an iPad, iPhone, or computer. I'm generally not a fan of this type of interactivity, probably because when I watch a film, I want to watch the film, not a "second screen" in the palm of my hand. After several tries, I still could not get Second Screen to sync with my laptop, which is a problem I've encountered in Second Screen apps for Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and John Carter. This makes such features all the more frustrating for general consumers. For those who do get this feature to work, the enclosed ad in the case promises you "personnel files, comic book origins, and exclusive interactive content" inside the S.H.I.E.L.D. Data Base. Hopefully I'll get this to work in the future.

The all-purpose heading of "Featurettes" gathers only two, which are quite disappointing. A Visual Journey (6:28) gives a brief look at the overall look of the film, showcasing such set pieces as the Tesseract Room (a real-life NASA facility) and the helicarrier. Next is Assembling the Ultimate Team (8:09), a one-by-one praise for each member of the cast. This is the kind of extended trailers you'd see in a theatre, where they entice you to see the film without revealing anything in-depth.

If you shop at Target, you can pick up any Blu-Ray edition of The Avengers with a bonus documentary: Building a Cinematic Universe: Assembling the Avengers (1:38:20). This seven-part feature is a play-by-play of the films in "Phase One" of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, showing how they all interconnect with each other. Fans of the previous five films will likely recognize the non-2012 interviews from the making-of features on their respective Blu-Ray releases, but it still is an enjoyable program to watch. Several international releases included this documentary as a regular feature, rather than as a store exclusive. Disney/Marvel should have done the same here.

Marvel One-Shot: "Item 47" (11:20) is a short film similar to previous ones featured on Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Its length allows for a more fleshed-out story, this one involving Jesse Bradford and Lizzy Caplan as bank robbers with a stolen Chitauri weapon from the Manhattan battle. Agent Sitwell is sent to retrieve it and "neutralize" them, culminating in a humorous and predictable ending. Hopefully this means we'll see more of Bradford & Caplan in future Marvel films.

A series of eight Deleted Scenes run nearly fifteen minutes and give us some material that could have vastly changed the entire film: "Alternate Opening - Maria Hill Interrogation" (2:33), "Extended Scene - Loki & Barton Strategize" (1:37), "Steve Rogers - Man Out of Time" (3:03), "Nick Fury & World Security Council" (0:48), "Extended Viaduct Fight - Raw Footage" (1:40), "Fury & Hill Discuss the World Security Council" (0:42), "Extended Scene - Banner and Security Guard" (1:37), and "Alternate Ending - Maria Hill Interrogation" (2:45). Of interest are the alternate opening and ending, featuring Agent Maria Hill being interrogated by the World Security Council. It begins on a sour note, although the end somewhat justifies it all, but I'm glad it wasn't used. Rather, the Fury & Hill scene should have been kept, as it provided brief tension between the pair, which breaks the fiercely-loyal Hill we see in the film. Another scene I would have re-instated was "Steve Rogers - Man Out of Time," since it provides a more direct connection to the Captain America film, as well as a more pained portrayal of Rogers' struggle to adapt to the modern world.

A slickly-edited Gag Reel (4:05) features the usual gaffes, flubbed lines, and general goofiness. Keep an eye out for the Avengers Mascot, a touching moment between Agent Coulson and his man-crush, and Thor struggling to grab his hammer Mjölnir.

Finally, there is a music video for "Live to Rise" by Soundgarden. It is what it is.

The enclosed DVD is the same as the standalone release. It contains the film, Whedon's commentary and "A Visual Journey." With the slight amount of material on the Blu-Ray, surely all of it should have been included on this DVD.

Final Words:

I enjoyed The Avengers immensely, and wish I could say the same for the Blu-Ray. Its paltry amount of supplements leads me to believe that Disney/Marvel is planning a more in-depth release for the future, especially when we realize what kind of material was made but withheld. Interviews with Whedon have revealed that thirty minutes was cut from the film. Since we only get fifteen minutes here, the other fifteen might likely be seen in a future release - either re-instated in the film or with the other deleted scenes as supplements. Likewise, the 98-minute documentary feels like a prime feature that should have been included on a "Special Edition" release, making its Target-exclusive status puzzling. For fans who simply want the film, this set is the one to pick up. But for those itching for more extras, maybe it would be better to wait and see what Disney/Marvel has up their sleeves. After all, the "Phase One" box set that was planned for concurrent release (and now delayed until Spring 2013) also includes an exclusive bonus disc, with the kind of material that we likely should have expected here.

At the end of the day, purchase of this set really relies on your own enjoyment of the film first. Of all the films I've seen in 2012 so far, The Avengers will likely rank as my favorite of the year. It was the cinematic pay-off after five films in four years, and one that was certainly worth the wait. The characters come together in ways familiar to us, yet still bring something new - or something worth revisiting - to this film. Superhero movies often get slammed for being action-heavy and repetitive, which I admit The Avengers can sometimes be. But that's no reason to condemn the film, it merely is fitting into the genre in which it belongs. I see no reason to criticize The Avengers for being two and a half hours of sheer fun at the cinema. Still, deeper meaning can be found in the film, especially in regards to (my personal favorites) Loki and Steve Rogers. I look forward to Marvel's "Phase Two" series of films, which will lead into The Avengers 2, due out in theatres May 1, 2015.

Film: 4.5 out of 5 Mickey Heads

Video: 4.75 out of 5 Mickey Heads

Audio: 5 out of 5 Mickey Heads

Bonus Features: 3 out of 5 Mickey Heads

Average: 4.3125 out of 5 Mickey Heads


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