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Category:    Home > Reviews > Superhero > Action > Adventure > Drama > Battle > Comedy > Animation > CGI > Toys > Mechanics > TV > Space Opera > Avengers: Infinity War (**Marvel/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Death Of Superman (*/**)/LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Aquaman: Rage Of Atlantis (**/*both Warner Blu-ray w/DVD + Toy Sets)/Rusty R

Avengers: Infinity War (**Marvel/Disney 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray w/Blu-ray)/Death Of Superman (*/**)/LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Aquaman: Rage Of Atlantis (**/*both Warner Blu-ray w/DVD + Toy Sets)/Rusty Rivets (Nickelodeon DVD/**all 2018)/Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Season Four (2017 - 2018/LucasFilm/Disney Blu-ray Set)

4K Ultra HD Picture: A- Picture: B+/B & C+/B & C+/C+/B Sound: B+/B & C+/B & C+/C+/C+ Extras: B/B-/C+/D/C Main Programs: A-/B-/C+/C+/C+

Now for a mix of action, superheroes and family fun, save a few dark moments that might not be child-friendly...

Marvel Studios celebrates its ten year mark with the biggest and most ambitious superhero film to date. Avengers: Infinity War (2018) is the third installment in the Avengers franchise and sees an epic crossover with the Avengers and the Guardians of the Galaxy that fans have been waiting years for. While it could have been a mess (the film's budget was a rumored $400 Million), the film earned critical and fan acclaim and the story ends up balancing its thirty or so odd characters very well and each one gets his or her own moment to shine. There are some shocking moments and great surprises here and an epic cliffhanger that brought some fans to tears.

Watching Infinity War is most effective if you've seen all eighteen of the films that lead up to it, starting with 2008's Iron Man and its two sequels and going through the Thor trilogy, Captain America trilogy, Spiderman: Homecoming, Hulk, Ant Man (though he's not in this one), Dr. Strange, Black Panther, and the Guardians of the Galaxy films. There's a lot of lead up to this film and there are many references to past films that help shape this one. I can see how one would become pretty lost pretty quickly if they weren't familiar with the characters or world.

Directed by the Russo Brothers (who also directed 'mature' comic book film entries Captain America: Winter Soldier and Captain America: Civil War), Infinity War has an unbelievable cast of Hollywood heavyweights and some of the best digital effects in recent memory. This is a must see film for not only comic book fans but genre fans as well. This is all thanks to producer mastermind Kevin Feige who has been the man responsible for this epic cinematic universe from day one with the help of Stan Lee, Jon Faverau, James Gunn, and many others.

Infinity War stars Robert Downey Jr.(Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Chris Evans (Captain America), Chris Pratt (Starlord), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Benedict Cumberbatch (Dr. Strange), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chadwick Boseman (Black Panther), Dave Bautista (Drax), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Vin Diesel (Groot), Bradley Cooper (voice of Rocket Raccoon), Elizabeth Olsen (Scarlett Witch), Tom Hiddleson (Loki), Tom Holland (Spider-man), Sebastian Stan (Bucky Barnes), Anthony Mackie (Falcon), Paul Bettany (Vision), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Don Cheadle (War Machine), Pom Klementieff (Mantis), Danai Gurira (Okoye), Letita Wright (Shuri), Idris Elba (Heimdall), Benicio Del Toro (The Collector), Peter Dinklage (Eltri), Benedict Wong (Wong), William Hurt (Ross), Gwyneth Paltrow (Pepper Potts) and of course Josh Brolin as the villainous Thanos. Heck of a cast indeed.

The Avengers face off against their biggest threat yet - Thanos... who is obtaining ultimate power in the galaxy thanks to six Infinity Stones, all of which are scattered across the galaxy. Whomever wields these stones has the power over time, space, and has the ability to destroy humanity with the snap of a finger. Teaming up with the Guardians of the Galaxy, the Avengers make an effort to stop Thanos before its too late...

A digital copy is also included.

Special Features are a little short this time around and (from the press release) include...

Strange Alchemy (5:08) - 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 (6:34) - Explore the MCU's biggest, baddest villain, his trail of influence through the stories, and the existential threat he represents.

Beyond the Battle: Titan (9:36) - 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 (10:58) - 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 (10:07)

Happy Knows Best (1:23) - 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 (1:24) - On a darkened street, Wanda Maximoff and the wounded Vision attempt to hide from Thanos' brutal allies.

The Guardians Get Their Groove Back (3:20) - As Peter Quill and Drax quarrel over their failed mission to Knowhere, Mantis interrupts with news.

A Father's Choice (4:00) - Thanos confronts Gamora with a vision from her past—and with lying to him about the Soul Stone.

Gag Reel (2:05) - Watch your favorite Super Heroes make super gaffes in this lighthearted collection of on-set antics.

Audio Commentary (approx. 149 min.) by Anthony and Joe Russo, Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely.

While I'm surprised how quickly it came out on home video prior to its theatrical run, it's great to add Infinity War to the collection! Marvel is also releasing the first two Avengers films on the 4K UHD format as well (and we hope to cover on this site soon). This is sure to get a trend going with more titles being released on the new format over time. I, for one, am looking forward to see them all in 2160p as the difference between this and the Blu-ray are plainly noticeable.

I'm sure once the next film is released there will be some super duper edition of this film with more extras, as the supplements seem a little on the light side. For the meantime, this is a fine edition with a great transfer and all around solid 4K UHD presentation that's demo disc worthy.

Of course, the recent live action DC Comics films took on its own recent major event in recent comic book history, Superman dying and coming back, but it was very loosely based on the print version of that event. The new animated Death Of Superman is an outright adaptation that gives us Doomsday out to destroy the Justice League, but especially clashing with the Man From Krypton. At 81 minutes, it can be a bit short, uneven and too comical for its won good, but has some good moments in it and is worth a look. However, the big villain who is oversized, yells and goes 'grrrrr' a lot gets thin no matter the comic company.

The use of color is a plus in this production and it is easily the best-looking of the four animated titles we are now going through. The voice actors (like Jerry O'Connell and Rebecca Romijn) have done a great job of melding into their voice acting and these actors do not get enough credit for making this series of animated-to-home-video movies work, but they should more often. However, the idea is the illusion the characters are alive, which is the point.

Next we have the other DC Comics animated series that goes for more humor and is for a younger audience. LEGO DC Comics Super Heroes Aquaman: Rage Of Atlantis gives us another Justice League tale, a new Green Lantern (Jessica Cruz) and is far more jokey than some of the previous entries, though the self-appreciating jokes (especially on the part of Lantern and Aquaman) I thought were overdone a bit too much. This is the older Aquaman (not the new Jason Momoa model) and he is not always getting the respect he deserves, though I can appreciate a joke when it works.

The result is a mixed entry that has a few good moments, a crisis that is not memorable and the underused Red Tornado. This could have all worked a bit better and I'll add that maybe LEGO and DC have worked their way into a corner that is not helping either franchise. The fun logic of the LEGO world at least has its moments, but they need to start thinking of new approaches or they could have an unnecessary slide back in future entries in the series.

Rusty Rivets (2018) is a new DVD from Nickelodeon that is for the launch of yet another new TV show that has the title character and regular supporting friends fixing all kinds of gadgets and other mechanical devices, some of which also are characters. These eight episodes run a surprising 90ish minutes and have some moments, but again, we have a situation here where the producers are drifting into a formulaic corner and that is stopping the potential for this new show to be a big hit. The 'jump on the bandwagon with friends and have an adventure' bit was not every Nickelodeon show in the network's early days and should not be now, though the parent comp[any is having some issues as of this posting.

I think the show could be a hit of some kind, but its got to find new space and ideas to help it stand out. The plus is that it asks the audience to not be lazy and either build or rebuild something, a message we are not hearing nearly enough anywhere these days.

Finally we have Star Wars Rebels: The Complete Season Four (2017 - 2018) with its ghost Crew trying to take on the Empire in secret on their own mission(s) that can sound too much like parts of the feature films we've seen on the big screen, but at least offers some kind of alternative versus parts of the prequels or new films that may not have quite worked out. This version is not one that stays with me, but it manages to keep a sense of the world of the franchise in tact that may be fading now that Lucas himself is no longer part of any of the productions.

It should be added that I liked the earlier animated series with hand-drawn animation and thought (and still think) this CGI version can come across as a bit crude at times. However, in the logic of its own art and world, it is at least consistent and some of the characters could be breakouts if they were allowed to develop somehow.

The 15 episodes are on two Blu-ray discs and the better definition versus DVD also makes it more watchable, but you need to watch this series from the beginning to get the full impact. I am somewhat impressed the show's storyline is still running as well as it is with the weekly TV grind that befalls all series. Still, this is for the curio and fans for the most part, so only expect so much if you expect otherwise.

Now for playback performance. Avengers is presented in its 2160p HEVC/H.265, HDR (10; Ultra HD Premium)-enhanced Ultra High Definition image on the 4K Blu-ray disc and has a widescreen aspect ratio of 2.39:1 and a Dolby Atmos 11.1 lossless sound mix (and a Dolby TrueHD 7.1 mixdown). The image is incredible here with vibrant colors, details on characters and digital environments. The audio, however, leaves a little to be desired in some instances where it seems like some scenes are a bit louder than others... so you're constantly turning up the volume one minute and then down the next when something epic happens. All in all though, the film looks great here and far better in 4K UHD than in the also included 1080p Blu-ray which has similar video and a DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 7.1 lossless mix as its best soundtrack that had the same sound level issues as the Dolby on the 4K disc.

Besides Dolby Atmos 11.1, Marvel/Disney went all out making the film available theatrically in Auro 11.1, DTS: X 11.1, IMAX 11.1 and Sonix DDP and other mixdown variants, so why the sound is off-kilter here is odd. We'll let you know what we hear next of this situation ASAP.

The rest of the Blu-ray releases are presented in decent 1080p 1.78 X 1 digital High Definition image transfers that all have some demo shots, good consistent color and are fine for the animated releases they are, even if the animation styles vary differently. None can match The Avengers overall even on Blu-ray, but they have their moments. The anamorphically enhanced 1.78 X 1 image on their respective DVDs, along with the Rusty DVD, look as good as they can on the older format. Rusty is a CGI TV show too, if a bit simpler than the rest. However, none of the DVDs have the range of their Blu-ray counterparts where applicable and are harder to watch. Add that Superman has a 4K edition and you can see how the DVDs are a convenience at best matter.

With out the sound imbalance issues of either Avengers disc, Superman and Aquaman have solid, well mixed and recorded DTS-HD MA (Master Audio) 5.1 lossless mixes that may not always be stunning, yet are just fine and consistent for what we get. So it is odd that Star Wars only gets lossy Dolby Digital 5.1 mixes on its episodes (something Rusty gets with less dynamic excitement) and that holds back enjoying the episodes as it continues to frustrate fans. Will Disney change that with a 4K release of the series?

Extras include toy figurines for the Limited Edition Superman (of war torn Superman) and Aquaman (the Jessica Cruz Green Lantern) that are always fun and welcome. That figurine is not available with the 4K Superman edition that we know of. Rusty only has a Paw Patrol episode as its sole bonus, but Superman and Aquaman also add Digital HD Ultraviolet Copy for PC, PC portable and other cyber iTunes capable devices.

Superman (Death Of Superman: The Brawl That Topped Them All) and Star Wars also add Behind The Scenes/Making Of featurettes, with the latter adding Ghosts Of Legend, Force Of Rebellion, Kevin Kiner: The Rebel Symphony and Rebels Recon, plus audio commentaries on six episodes. Superman rounds things up with two Legion Of Super Heroes episodes (a two-parter) and look at the next DC Universe animated feature: Reign Of The Supermen.

- Nicholas Sheffo and James Lockhart (Avengers)



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