Wednesday, August 15, 2018

Avengers: Infinity War 4K Ultra HD Review

Reviewed by Sean Ferguson
In Avengers: Infinity War, members from every MCU franchise must sacrifice like never before in an attempt to defeat the powerful Thanos before his blitz of devastation and ruin puts an end to the universe. The film stars Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Hulk, Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America, Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, Don Cheadle as Colonel James Rhodes/War Machine, Benedict Cumberbatch as Doctor Strange, Tom Holland as Peter Parker/Spider-Man, Chadwick Boseman as T’Challa/Black Panther, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Tom Hiddleston as Loki, Paul Bettany as Vision, Elizabeth Olsen as Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch, Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson/Falcon, Sebastian Stan as Bucky Barnes/Winter Soldier, Idris Elba as Heimdall, Danai Gurira as Okoye, Peter Dinklage as Eitri, Benedict Wong as Wong, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Dave Bautista as Drax, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, with Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, with Benicio Del Toro as The Collector, with Josh Brolin as Thanos, and Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Star-Lord.
Film (5 out of 5 stars)
With eighteen films preceding it, Avengers: Infinity War definitely represents the culmination of a decade of universe building. From the very first Iron Man movie with Robert Downey Jr.'s iconic performance, all the way through the groundbreaking Black Panther, with everything in between, Marvel has been building up to this moment for years and they actually pull it off brilliantly with this movie. By this point, these are characters that we love and root for and who we've seen beat incredible odds against a wide variety of villains. Until now. The hidden threat of Thanos (Josh Brolin) has been shown to us here and there in the movie leading up to this, but he is here front and center along with his army and his trusted Black Order lieutenants (however in this movie they call themselves the Children of Thanos).   

Having decided to take matters into his own hands, Thanos is now personally collecting the all powerful Infinity Stones from every place they were hidden. He's also taken the Power Stone from Xandar (which probably means that half of Xandar is now dead), and the movie begins with Thanos looking for the Space Stone from the Asgardian ship with Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and the Hulk with the last of the refugees from Asgard who lost their world during the last movie. It's during this scene that we learn how powerful Thanos already is and Heimdall (Idris Elba) barely has enough time to send Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) to Earth to warn everyone that Thanos is coming.  

That call to arms finally brings all of our heroes together for the first time. Doctor Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch), Tony Stark/Iron Man, Spider-man (Tom Holland), and Wong (Benedict Wong) are the first to face some of the Children of Thanos, while across the world, The Scarlet Witch (Elisabeth Olsen), Vision (Paul Bettany), and Captain America (Chris Evans) face others. In space, Thor finally meets the Guardians of the Galaxy and learns that others are trying to stop Thanos too. Thor, Rocket (Bradley Cooper), and Groot (Vin Diesel) go on a mission to Nidavellir, where Thor hopes the dwarf Eitri (Peter Dinklage) will make him a new weapon to replace Mjolnir. The rest of the Guardians decide to return to Knowhere to stop Thanos from taking the Reality Stone from the hnads of the Collector (Benecio Del Toro). 

With each stone he gathers, Thanos grows stronger and stronger and it's inevitable that he will finally face the Avengers and their allies personally. That conflict first on Thanos' destroyed homeworld of Titan and then the final battle takes place in Wakanda. Thanos' goal is the extermination of half of the universe's population which he believes will solve overcrowding, hunger, and will bring a lasting peace. Thanos doesn't even care who lives or dies, whether they are good or evil, rich or poor, as long as half of them die. With the stakes higher than they've ever been, and against an unstoppable foe that is more than a match against all of them, the protectors of Earth have never faced odds like this before.   

If none of this makes any sense to you, then you probably haven't seen the previous films. But at this point, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is part of the culture and you shouldn't expect for this film to get you caught up if you're behind, a fact that I was very happy to see. I don't need to see a recap as this is already a long movie even if it doesn't feel like it. By skipping all of that, the movie dives right in, picking up where Thor: Ragnarok left off. Other people including my mother complained that the film was too dark, which again I liked. A threat like Thanos doesn't just go away without some kind of repercussion. I'm sure a lot of people said the same thing about The Empire Strikes Back, where the heroes are beaten just about every way possible by the Empire, but it's now considered to be the best film in the whole series (and my personal favorite as well). 

I don't want to spoil anything in the movie as there's a lot of surprises, but I will say that every actor brings their "A" game to this movie and seeing them mix together brought me a lot of happiness. it happens all of the time in the comic books, but putting this many starts into one gigantic movie seemed impossible, but Kevin Feige and Marvel have done it and that ambition deserves to be praised. They didn't rush into it like DC and Warner Bros. did with Justice League. Instead they built their universe film by film and then launched into the shared universe of The Avengers. That gave the cast time to fully explore and inhabit their characters, and time for the audience to love and care about them. I can't say enough good things about the cast or the direction from the amazing Russo brothers, but I can say that I can't wait to see how it all ends when the next film comes out. 
Video (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
In this 4K UHD set, both of the discs look fantastic. The Blu-ray is good enough to be reference quality, but the UHD disc looks even better. The colors are brighter, there's a lot more detail, and the black levels are much more dark and balanced. There is also an increase in texture detail with the 4K version which really adds a lot. If you can watch both, then it's easy to recommend the 4K version. 
Audio (4 out of 5 stars)
While the Blu-ray's DTS-HD Master Audio 7.1 mix sounds amazing, it much like the video quality, can't compare with the UHD's Dolby Atmos presentation. The sound effects whiz around the room with accuracy and the music sounds great. The only real issue I had with it is the uneven balance between the dialogue and the rest of the audio presentation. In some scenes the dialogue was so low I had to turn up the volume only to get blasted once the action began. Overall, this is still an excellent audio mix, but I do wish it had been balanced better. 
Extras (4 out of 5 stars)
While I enjoyed all of the extras included, I thought a movie this big would offer a lot more extras than this. All of them are in HD and they are included along with the 4K digital copy of the movie. A Director's Roundtable extra is also a digital exclusive. 
  • Intro - Directors Joe and Anthony Russo introduce the movie. 
  • Strange Alchemy - Share the thrill of characters from across the MCU meeting for the first time--and discover why some were teamed up together.
  • The Mad Titan - Explore the MCU's biggest, baddest villain, his trail of influence through the stories, and the existential threat he represents.
  • Beyond the Battle: Titan - Dive into the climactic struggle on Thanos' ruined world, including the epic stunts and VFX, to uncover the source of its power.
  • Beyond the Battle: Wakanda - Go behind the scenes to find out how the filmmakers pulled off the most massive and challenging battle Marvel had ever attempted.
  • Deleted and Extended Scenes
    • Happy Knows Best - Tony and Pepper spar over the details of their upcoming wedding--until a hassled Happy Hogan pulls up with an urgent request.
    • Hunt for the Mind Stone - On a darkened street, Wanda Maximoff and the wounded Vision attempt to hide from Thanos’ brutal allies.
    • The Guardians Get Their Groove Back - As Peter Quill and Drax quarrel over their failed mission to Knowhere, Mantis interrupts with news.
    • A Father’s Choice - Thanos confronts Gamora with a vision from her past—and with lying to him about the Soul Stone.
  • Gag Reel -Watch your favorite superheroes make super gaffes in this lighthearted collection of on-set antics.
  • Audio Commentary - Commentary by Anthony and Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely
  • Digital Exclusive - A Directors’ Roundtable - Eight amazing directors reflect on how their movies contribute to the Marvel Cinematic Universe’s larger storytelling adventure.
Summary (4 1/2 out of 5 stars)
Avengers: Infinity War is a fantastic movie filled with great performances and it really lives up to the hype and pays off a decade of movies. It's great to see all of these characters finally meet and interact and I can't wait to see what happens in the next movie. This UHD set offers excellent video and audio quality although the extras while good, should have been more extensive. I highly recommend this UHD set!

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