Los Angeles, Ca (FOX 11) - Ten years. It’s all lead up to this, the Infinity War. Last night I was checked out the world premiere of the final film in the first round of Marvel hero tales, “Avengers: Infinity War.” It did not disappoint! But, Thanos’ gauntlet wasn’t the only thing bright and shiny in the theater last night as I was invited to check out Dolby’s theater tech in action. What follows is my spoiler-free review of the movie and some observations of Dolby Vision.
One thing that Marvel has done well for me is deliver the unexpected. To be quite honest, though I’ve long been a comic book fan, I was NOT looking forward to Ant-Man. At all. I didn’t see it opening night. I didn’t see it the first, or second weekend it was out. I did eventually see it and kicked myself for not seeing it sooner. It was an incredibly enjoyable heist movie which just happened to have “superheroes” in it. Then there was Black Panther which surprised me with its gut punch take on the politics of being black, both in Africa and America. So, given all the memes surrounding how silly Thanos looked (hello Bruce Willis), Marvel has done it again and surprised me by creating a villain I actually cared about by the end of the movie. I genuinely cared about Thanos’ motivations and though no one would ever set out to achieve what he wanted, at some points it made you think. In a twisted Darwinian kind of way, of course. I say I was surprised because other than Erik Killmonger, and Marvel’s Netflix villains, creating compelling "bad guys" has been a place where some of the films have fallen a bit short for me.
The other element of Avengers: Infinity War which I appreciated was how Joe and Anthony Russo were able to weave all the storylines and plot points together so smoothly. One string of events segued into the next so seamlessly that it was never jarring to skip from one location to the next. The film had a huge goal, tracking a dozen heroes going from earth to space, to various planets in the universe, back to earth – all over earth, it was all over the place in a literal sense. But to my delight the film wasn’t “all over the place” in the figurative sense.
The only downside to the film, from my first viewing, was that I missed quite a few lines due to audience laughter. Some would say that’s a good problem to have. As you’ve probably come to expect from the MCU, there were quite a few barbs launched by Tony Stark, and when he met Dr. Strange, the verbal tet-a-tet was often met with thunderous laughs by the audience. And, let’s not forget Star Lord, Drax, Rocket, and Groot! Their antics are frequently good for audience laughs as well, which between this group made for quite a few moments where you missed some dialogue because the sound of audience laughter drowned it out. I’ll definitely need to see the film again after some of the hullabaloo has died down a bit. And though there were quite a few laughs, they didn’t diminish the more somber moments of the film. The play, the “balance” between the light-hearted and the more serious moments was also handled very well and one of the reasons I actually came to care about Thanos as a character, and the main antagonist in the film.
Rounding out my experience at the world premiere last night was seeing the movie at the Dolby Theater which utilizes the Dolby Cinema experience that is Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. One technology for picture, and one for sound. Watching the movie, I couldn’t help but notice how bright the film was and how beautiful the images and coloring were. Maybe it's all the years of video editing, but I've noticed that I’m fairly sensitive to brightness as my eyes age. Darker screens and images require more work from my eyes because when there's less light, it seems like my eyes work harder to focus on images. I’ve demo’d Dolby Vision in-home, watching another Marvel property, Daredevil season 2 on Netflix and the difference in picture quality over standard 4K TV was pretty stark. Even more than higher resolution imaging, HDR or High Dynamic Range technology which increases the range of colors and depth of blacks (as well as contrast) is a giant step forward in technology. In other words, as I’ve said before, I think the addition of HDR to a TV set is a bigger deal than upgrading from HD to 4K. It’s tough to speak more on the Atmos side of the equation as audition is a harder thing to judge in a theater. Going to high end theaters it may be harder to judge the qualitative differences between their sound technologies, but if you sat down at various theaters with various projection technologies, you’d be able to more easily see the differences in brightness, and ultimately image quality and clarity. On those points, the visual experience was definitely a winner.
So, would I recommend that anyone see Avengers: Infinity War? Absolutely, without a question, yes. I’ve been asked by multiple co-workers if it is appropriate for children and I would say yes, depending on age. You know your children better than I do. There are intense moments of action and there are scenes depicting death. There are a few minor expletives as well. Maybe 3, if memory serves. If your children saw Black Panther, or Age of Ultron, they’ll be fine. If superhero movies aren’t your jam, this movie is full of them. Be ye warned.