September 29, 2012
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'Avengers' set to clean up on DVD
By BRUCE KIRKLAND, QMI Agency


Marvel's wildly entertaining comic book movie, The Avengers, has carved out its own treasure-laden niche in Hollywood history.

With $1.5 billion in worldwide boxoffice, The Avengers trails only James Cameron's dynamic duo, Avatar and Titanic, in all-time grosses. Both of them swaggered past the $2 billion mark, according to Box Office Mojo. As for The Avengers, director Joss Whedon's $220 million production costs are now an acceptable investment for a live action thriller with heavy digital effects. An equally expensive sequel is already underway for 2015.

Expect the next one to be even more intensely personal, now that all the key characters are established, both in their own Marvel movies and as part of The Avengers. Marvel's uber-producer and president, Kevin Feige, says that Whedon has plans to toughen it up and make the sequel darker and even more character-driven than his first instalment in the franchise.

"The most appealing thing about the Marvel characters are their personalities, are their struggles and what they have to deal with, as opposed to just their epic battles," Feige explains in an exclusive interview that was set up to mark the debut of The Avengers in the home entertainment market this week.

The 2012 movie has a lot going for it besides boxoffice. With a 92% "fresh" rating on the Rotten Tomatoes site, The Avengers also is a critic's darling. James Cameron has rarely earned that kind of respect and certainly not for Avatar and Titanic.

So, with both mainstream audience appreciation and the critical kudos, The Avengers is now poised to clean up, both as a rental and as a purchase. The movie is available for rental or purchase on DVD, Blu-ray and digital download. I have the two-disc combo pack for review, with the DVD and Blu-ray packaged together.


Both have decent extras, including Whedon's commentary and a love-in featurette with Whedon enthusing about his all-star cast: "They're all these extraordinary actors splaying all these extraordinary characters!" As usual, the Blu-ray has more bonus materials than the DVD, in this case adding a giggly gag reel (with a playful poke at Smokey and the Bandit), deleted scenes, a Soundgarden music video and more extensive featurettes from behind-the-scenes on set.

Another Blu-ray exclusive is the new 11-minute Marvel One-Shot short film, Item 47. It is director (and Marvel's co-president) Louis D'Esposito's tight, bright and funny drama that plays on a Bonnie & Clyde theme. A young couple grabs one of the aliens' high-tech blaster guns and goes on a bank robbery rampage as they are tracked by U.S. secret agents.

Feige is convinced that The Avengers is one of those rare titles that audiences will want to own on disc and not just rent or download. "Well, I think there is," Feige says when I ask if the disc format in DVD and Blu-ray still has appeal. "All the number-crunchers tell me there is." At the peak of the popularity of discs, there was "the impulse buying on a Tuesday when all the new DVDs come out," Feige says, "and that time is past."

But fans of particular movies still want to own their favourites and still want valued-added material, Feige says, "which is why you have all those special features, which is why you have audio commentary by Joss Whedon, which is why you have deleted scenes that didn't make the final cut of the movie, and why you have -- most uniquely -- the Marvel One-Shot, Item 47. I go out and buy discs like that. Really, the only ones I buy are, a) for a movie I love and, b) has all kinds of cool stuff I can't see somewhere else."




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