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Avengers: Endgame (Blu-ray) (2019)
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Details At A Glance
Featurette-Remembering Stan Lee
Featurette-Setting the Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr.
Featurette-A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America
Featurette-Black Widow: Whatever It Takes
Featurette-The Russo Brothers: Journey To Endgame
Featurette-The Women of the MCU
Year Of Production
Dual Disc Set
|Cast & Crew
||Language Select Then Menu
Walt Disney Studios Home Ent.
Robert Downey Jr.
NOTE: The Profanity Filter is ON. Turn it off here.
Since the beginning of the ever-expanding Marvel Cinematic Universe in 2008 it has all been leading to this. 2019's Avengers: Endgame is the second half of the epic concluding chapter of the comic book franchise so far, following on from 2018's Avengers: Infinity War which ended with a traumatic cliffhanger. Directors Joe and Anthony Russo return to the fray, working from a screenplay by long-time MCU veterans Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely (who first scripted 2011's Captain America: The First Avenger). Particularly for longstanding MCU fans who have been on-board since Iron Man back in 2008, Avengers: Endgame is an honest-to-goodness cinematic gift; an enormously satisfying three-hour love letter that will make you laugh, cry, and stamp your feet in giddy exhilaration. Although armed with a behemoth 182-minute running time, Endgame never feels meandering or overlong as it carries an incredible brevity thanks to impeccable writing, direction, and editing.
At the end of Avengers: Infinity War, the Mad Titan Thanos (Josh Brolin) succeeded in his pursuit to collect all six Infinity Stones and eliminate half of all life in the universe with one snap of his fingers. Reeling from their defeat, but unable to accept it, the surviving Avengers promptly mount a mission to reverse The Snap, only to find that Thanos' work can no longer be undone. Five years elapse, and the world is not the same, with the Earth's population struggling to move on. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) still reside at Avengers HQ, liaising with the likes of Rocket (Bradley Cooper) and Captain Marvel (Brie Larson) as they hold out hope that their lost friends can be brought back from the dead. When Scott Lang/Ant-Man (Paul Rudd) returns from the quantum realm, he comes to the belief that time travel is theoretically possible, turning to the Avengers for assistance to mount a "time heist" and make things right. They bring the idea to Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), who is no longer Iron Man and instead lives in familial bliss with Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) and his daughter Morgan (Lexi Rabe). Joining the team is Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Nebula (Karen Gillan), James Rhodes (Don Cheadle), and Rocket, while Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) also returns to the fight.
For a franchise not often taken seriously by snooty cinephiles, the dramatic heft of Endgame is tremendous, further verifying that Marvel movies are not strictly for children. Whereas Infinity War fundamentally amounted to a series of hard-hitting action sequences, Endgame pumps the breaks to reveal the profound drama and trauma resulting from The Snap. Rather than solely concentrating on action set-pieces, the screenplay explores the emotion and psychology of the central heroes who are haunted by their failure and believe that they let the universe down. The ensemble cast handles some of the meatiest dramatic material in this franchise to date, with note-perfect performances across the board selling the heroes' fallibility and vulnerability, which makes the characters feel real, relatable, and lived-in. Endgame even commences with a heartbreaking, chilling opening scene which sets the tone and gives Renner the opportunity to flex his dramatic chops. But despite the story's sobering nature, it's not all doom and gloom, as unforced humour livens the proceedings from time to time, providing levity and humanity. The Russos proficiently navigate the tricky tonal changes, and never let a moment of bad acting slip through the cracks. One of the real acting standouts is Gillan as Nebula, who winds up with a surprisingly significant role in the proceedings, and carries several difficult scenes. Downey also deserves a mention - he is still the star of the show, and this is possibly his best work in the increasingly demanding MCU to date. Indeed, it has been a treat to witness Downey add layer upon layer to Tony with each new movie.
The time-travelling conceit allows Markus and McFeely to fundamentally create a glorified clip show, as the remaining heroes split up to revisit memorable moments from earlier adventures (specifically The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy, and Thor: The Dark World) to gather the Infinity Stones before Thanos. Despite an intimidating three-hour runtime, Endgame does not feel gratuitously stretched out, especially considering the number of bases that the script needed to cover in terms of story threads and character relationships from the previous 21 movies. The Russos permit adequate breathing room for scenes to sink in and reach their full dramatic potential, rather than rushing through each plot point to reach the next action set-piece. As a result, it's not exactly a non-stop, adrenaline-pumping ride, but it is more richly rewarding than the usual MCU extravaganza. The characters are perhaps the biggest draw of this franchise, and it's encouraging to behold a character-focused conclusion to over ten years of storytelling. (One significant scene on Vormir was originally an action sequence, but was reshot to remove the superfluous fireworks and keep the moment focused on the two characters at hand.) It's telling that little moments constitute some of the picture's best scenes, including Scott reuniting with his daughter (Emma Fuhrmann), Tony interacting with his father (John Slattery), Thor running into his mother (Rene Russo), or the tender final scene which reveals the fate of one beloved Avenger. This type of material usually feels perfunctory in action movies, but Endgame is built on a robust dramatic foundation. If anything, I wish the movie was longer.
Thanos' role in Endgame is not necessarily significant, though he unsurprisingly re-emerges as the primary antagonist in this story. A diminished role might seem traitorous after the in-depth character development of Infinity War, but that was essentially his movie, and it completed his character arc. Conversely, Endgame is a story about the Avengers - more specifically, it's about the original founding members of the team, as this is their last ride. Brolin is still superb as the Mad Titan, giving him a sinister edge, and the movie further demonstrates that Thanos is utterly unbeatable in combat. Additionally, the character remains a genuine CGI miracle, as he appears astonishingly tangible and realistic. On that note, Endgame is loaded with digital effects, with virtually every frame receiving some degree of CGI enhancement. For the most part, the visuals are enormously impressive, with remarkable battle sequences that also benefit from the Russos' smart direction. However, some effects-heavy shots are somewhat unconvincing or simply look too digital, and it's a shame that these types of major motion pictures are still produced on tight schedules which do not allow for definitive polishing. (I mean, Endgame's reported budget is a staggering $356 million, making it one of the most expensive movies of all time.)
With Endgame focusing on characters first and foremost, the majority of the action is restricted to the final act, after all the patient build-up. Consequently, while big climaxes usually feel forced by the demands of the blockbuster formula, Endgame's finale emerges organically, with the spectacular mayhem feeling genuinely earned. The result is a Marvel fan's wet dream. It is exhilarating to witness the holy trinity - Iron Man, Captain America and Thor - face off against Thanos in a brutal battle royale, which also delivers some of the most hard-hitting fan service in the MCU's history. Meanwhile, another immaculately assembled climactic sequence involving portals is pure ecstasy, especially with the outstanding accompanying score by veteran composer Alan Silvestri. A titan of the industry, Silvestri is one of Endgame's secret weapons, as his compositions burst with flavour and majesty, ensuring that each scene and moment hits its intended mark. Silvestri's score boosts the movie's emotional heft as well; in particular, one late sequence always leaves this reviewer a blubbering mess.
Avengers: Endgame is a cathartic powerhouse of a motion picture, which ticks all the expected checkboxes: there's pathos, humour, tragedy, emotion, fan service, and spectacle. Despite the impossible pressure and hype, it capably juggles a potentially unwieldy collection of characters while pulling together an intricate yet coherent narrative, and the end result never feels either rushed or bloated. It is not quite perfect, but the minor shortcomings do not significantly harm the movie or diminish the phenomenal, once-in-a-generation experience. Somehow, the Russos manage to give virtually every character in the huge ensemble a moment to shine. Endgame still works as an individual movie, thanks to the careful craftsmanship, but it will, of course, play better for the established fans who will pick up on the Easter Eggs and get the most from the experience. Miraculously surpassing expectations, Avengers: Endgame provides bittersweet closure to the sprawling superhero saga so far, while leaving room for the next major phase of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.
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The highest-grossing film of all time as of early 2020, Avengers: Endgame comes to home video courtesy of Walt Disney Home Entertainment. This is actually the first Avengers movie to not receive a 3D Blu-ray release in Australia, much to the chagrin of myself and other 3D supporters. Disney has been great with their local 3D support, but I suppose it had to end eventually. (For those interested, a 3D Blu-ray can be obtained from the United Kingdom.) Shot digitally on Arri Alexa cameras at resolutions up to 6.5K, Endgame arrives on Blu-ray in a two-disc set, with the three-hour main feature getting an entire disc to itself, though it only results in a merely adequate average video bitrate of 23.35 Mbps. The AVC-encoded, 1080p transfer is framed at the movie's original aspect ratio of 2.39:1, and the presentation falls about in line with expectations given the compression as well as the limitations of 1080p Blu-ray. However, those expecting a knock-out, five-star presentation will come away underwhelmed.
On the whole, Endgame looks fine on Blu-ray without ever standing out as one of the format's better titles. Although there are issues, which I'll discuss in the next paragraph, Disney's encode never gives rise to any unsightly video artefacts - no aliasing, banding, macroblocking, or black crush. Clarity is also fine for the most part, though the transfer begins to struggle when heavy smoke is involved, and contrast is strictly acceptable, resulting in mediocre image depth. Still, the digital effects elements are usually outstanding. Just see the digitally-rendered Smart Hulk, with firm detailing evident on his skin from top to bottom. When he rips off his shirt in New York City, the texturing is highly impressive on Hulk's body, and the stubble is likewise nicely defined. The hair on Rocket, too, is satisfying, and his costuming is astonishingly firm and tangible at times. Just as impressive is Thanos, who remains a miracle of CGI and motion capture. Particularly in close-ups, there's ample fine detail on his skin and armour.
However, the transfer noticeably suffers in wide and long shots. For instance, the establishing shot of Thanos' new home at 16:26 is smeary, with background greenery notably lacking in sharpness and object delineation. Meanwhile, pretty much every establishing shot of Avengers HQ looks soft and inadequately defined, more in line with an online stream than a premium Blu-ray disc. Even in closer shots, though, the transfer struggles to bring out the source's finest details, as it looks a bit too smooth more often than not. This is most noticeable on faces, though Scott's shirt in the diner scene at the 37-minute mark is also smooth as hell, lacking in fine textures and highlights. It also goes without saying, but shadow detail is hit-and-miss, with textures looking even poorer under lower light (see Thor's house at the 50-minute mark), while the limited colour space also results in harsh light sources looking consistently blown out. The portals during the climax, for instance, are blown out to heck, while skies lack firm specular detail. Again, however, this is all due to the inherent limitations of 1080p Blu-ray, and such things are much-improved on the superior 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray. The colour palette is a mixed bag, which again traces back to the format's limitations. The streets of Tokyo look suitably colourful at the 55-minute mark, while the depths of space look vibrant against the Guardians' ship at the beginning, but the transfer struggles with skin tones, which look a bit on the sickly sides. Endgame takes on a smooth and flat digital appearance, but it's still watchable all things considered. It's just that I'll take the superior, tighter 4K Blu-ray any day of the week.
Subtitles are included in English SDH and Greek. Sampling the English track, it's easy to read, and free of issues and errors.
Video Ratings Summary
In keeping with Disney's usual modus operandi, Avengers: Endgame comes to Blu-ray with a lossless DTS-HD MA 7.1 soundtrack (the Atmos track is saved for the 4K Blu-ray). As usual, you'll need to raise the volume a bit higher than usual, but, once you're there, there's little to complain about. In the opening scene, the sound of thunder is deep and rumbling, with noticeable low-frequency effects, while the subsequent use of the song "Dear Mr. Fantasy" by Traffic comes through all available channels to superb effect. Aboard the Guardians' ship, the rumbling of the engine is evident, and again the sound is suitably deep. When Carol Danvers approaches, her movement throughout space exhibits even more LFE, and likewise for when Carol brings the ship down outside Avengers HQ. And for these sequences, there's sublime separation and panning effects. And that's the two most encouraging things to report about this 7.1 track - there's genuine dynamic range, and there's LFE, two things that Disney audio tracks have lacked in the last few years. The only slight downside to the track (aside from the loss of channels, since this isn't an Atmos mix) is the dialogue, which occasionally seems a bit on the low side. Nevertheless, the dialogue is comprehensible at least, even if it should be better prioritised within the soundscape.
The abovementioned qualities continue for the duration of Endgame, as spaceships consistently sound deep and show off superb LFE, while dynamic range never seems lacking. Unsurprisingly, the track roars to life during the big action sequences, with deafening sound effects and terrific use of the surround channels making for an immersive listening experience. Alan Silvestri's superlative original score also comes through with flawless clarity, in addition to delivering some impactful LFE when necessary. But even in smaller scenes, the track never disappoints. The crackling fire in Thanos' home, car engines, the rumbling time travel machine, and even more minor sound effects are sublime, never sounding limp or lacking. This is an excellent track all things considered, and it's an encouraging step forward for the folks at Disney. Hopefully, this is a sign of things to come.
Audio Ratings Summary
|Surround Channel Use|
Despite the production's significance, as well as its financial success, Disney once again cheap out on the extras, even though this is a two-disc set. For those interested, several additional deleted scenes are available to view through Disney+, including the original action-oriented Vormir sequence, the team taking time to strategise during the final battle, and Tony meeting his adult daughter in the "waystation." There is even a directors' commentary on all these scenes. (However, the unfinished Hulk-centred deleted scene that was attached to Endgame's cinema re-release is totally missing in action.) Four other featurettes are also available on Disney+: Casting the MCU (18:31), Steve And Peggy: One Last Dance (5:52), The Road to Avengers: Endgame (12:20), and Tony Stark Tribute (17:22). There's also a really good twenty-minute video about the visual effects via WIRED on YouTube. Considering that Disney already sprung for a second disc, there's no excuse for not including additional extras.
Disc 1: (Feature Film)
Intro by Directors Anthony and Joe Russo (HD; 2:33) In keeping with the usual tradition for Marvel Blu-rays, you can watch Avengers: Endgame with an introduction by the directors. They speak about their experiences on the movie and the scope of the production. It's all intercut with a fair bit of behind-the-scenes footage.
Audio Commentary Just like Avengers: Infinity War's audio commentary, this track features directors Joe and Anthony Russo, who are joined by screenwriters Markus and McFeely. Thankfully, the commentators come in strong from the beginning, initially speaking about the rationale for using the heart-wrenching Hawkeye scene for the opening to set the tone for Endgame (it was originally shot for Infinity War, and included in the original assembly cut). Keeping the discussion largely scene-specific, they also delve into the progression of Tony's character arc, who started as a self-centred playboy in 2008's Iron Man, but here becomes a family man who puts the greater good before his own self-interests. This type of character analysis continues throughout the commentary, touching on motivations and thought processes for specific scenes (as well as the decision to turn Banner into Smart Hulk), which is fascinating to hear. Another topic is the choice of colour palette after the five-year time jump, to underscore the gloominess of a world reeling from The Snap. They're also not shy about admitting that the hero of the franchise is the rat which inadvertently brings back Scott from the quantum realm. The analysis of the narrative - including talking about how they cracked the story - also reflects how much care and attention went into the creation of Endgame, and it shows in the finished film. Another interesting talking point: some expository scenes are proxies for real-life discussions from the writer's room. Many other interesting pieces of trivia are revealed, which are mostly scene-specific, as they go over critical decisions, abandoned ideas, reshoots, experiences on-set, and more. This is a great track, and there isn't much in the way of dead air. Fans with the patience to experience this commentary should really give it a listen.
Disc 2: (Bonus Disc)
Remembering Stan Lee (HD; 7:15) Kicking off the bonus disc is this tribute to the late comic book icon Stan Lee, who has long cameoed in Marvel movies. Fascinating interview snippets with Lee are intercut with behind-the-scenes footage showing the filming of his various cameos in the MCU. This is a wonderful extra which reinforces Lee's warmth, showing that everybody enjoyed interacting with him on-set.
Setting the Tone: Casting Robert Downey Jr. (HD; 5:25) Tony Stark/Iron Man is the founder of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and it catapulted Downey to super-stardom. This extra concentrates on the casting process which led to Downey's casting in Iron Man, and the legacy of the character.
A Man Out of Time: Creating Captain America (HD; 12:18) A Steve Rogers-centric extra, this piece recaps the main events of the Captain America trilogy, and goes over what it took to bring Cap to life on-screen. Numerous interviewees (including Joe Johnston and Joss Whedon) discuss the character, his development over the years, the visual design, and more. The casting of Chris Evans is also touched upon, of course.
Black Widow: Whatever It Takes (HD; 7:25) This behind-the-scenes featurette recaps Black Widow's history over the course of the MCU through film clips, behind-the-scenes footage and cast & crew interviews. Johansson's co-stars also praise the actress.
The Russo Brothers: Journey To Endgame (HD; 5:01) The Avengers: Endgame directors are the subject of this next extra, which traces the contributions of Anthony and Joe Russo from Captain America: The Winter Soldier all the way through to Endgame. Cast and crew have a lot of praise for the directorial duo.
The Women of the MCU (HD; 4:52) A quick, ostensibly obligatory piece focusing on the women in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with special attention paid to the out-of-place moment during the climax in which all the females team up.
Bro Thor (HD; 3:42) This all-too-short featurette looks at Thor's development across the movies, leading to him being depressed and overweight. This also provides a behind-the-scenes look at Hemsworth being turned into Bro Thor. Rather than actually putting on weight, the Australian actor was put in a highly detailed fat suit.
Deleted Scenes (HD; 4:51) A small selection of deleted scenes, which can either be viewed individually, or via a "Play All" function. Most of these are insignificant and short. There's a heap of missing material from here; there are several extra deleted scenes on Disney+.
- Goji Berries (00:37) - Apparently, Tony and Pepper have a pet alpaca that eats goji berries.
- Bombs On Board (00:30)
- Suckiest Army in the Galaxy (00:24) - This is a short, funny moment in which Rocket patronises the Avengers about their battle with the Chitauri in the first Avengers.
- You Used To Frickin' Live Here (1:10)
- Tony and Howard (00:27)
- Avengers Take a Knee (1:41) - Here we have the most significant excision. This is an emotional extension of the major battlefield casualty at the end of the movie. I can understand why it was trimmed, but it's still a great moment. It also shows Gamora (Zoe Saldana) slipping away in the aftermath of the fight, which is a critical shot that should have been left in the final cut.
Gag Reel (HD; 1:58) Another all-too-short but nevertheless amusing collection of stuff-ups, flubs and on-set tomfoolery. It looks like everyone had a great time making Endgame.
R4 vs R1
NOTE: To view
non-R4 releases, your equipment needs to be multi-zone compatible and usually
also NTSC compatible.
Extras are identical on all Blu-ray editions worldwide, though there are single-disc editions without the bonus disc. Buy local.
Avengers: Endgame is a once-in-a-generation event, which is reflected in the amount of box office records it broke with seemingly little effort. Funny, emotional, and thoroughly involving from start to finish, it's a triumphant conclusion to over ten years of storytelling, and it must be seen on the biggest possible screen.
Endgame's 1080p Blu-ray presentation has its shortcomings, but it's still watchable, particularly on smaller screens. The DTS-HD MA 7.1 track, meanwhile, is excellent - one of the best Disney soundtracks in recent memory. Throw in a sufficiently satisfying (but not perfect) selection of special features, and this is a recommended purchase. If you're 4K-compatible, though, the 4K Blu-ray the preferred choice.
© Callum Knox (I studied biology)
Friday, February 07, 2020
|DVD||Sony UBP-X700 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray Player, using HDMI output|
This display device is 16x9 capable. This display device has a maximum native resolution of 2160p.
|Audio Decoder||Built in to amplifier/receiver.
This audio decoder/receiver has not been calibrated.
|Amplification||Samsung Series 7 HT-J7750W|
|Speakers||Samsung Tall Boy speakers, 7.1 set-up|