Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher (Blu-ray Review)

Black-Widow-And-PunisherJust in time for Captain America: The Winter Soldier, here we have an animated Avengers adventure coming right at our Blu-ray players.  What’s funny is that this is being put out by Sony.  So, while they are targeting this release to closely coincide with The Winter Soldier, you’ll find no trailer or other promotional material for the upcoming Marvel film anywhere on this disc (Captain America doesn’t even show up in this film, but Black Widow and Nick Fury who are also in The Winter Soldier are here).  Staying in tune with all the more adult-aimed Marvel animations that have appeared on networks like the now defunct G4, this is done Anime-style.

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As we open, the Punisher is hunting down an illegal arms dealer named Kane.  Upon breaking up one of Kane’s transfers, he runs into Black Widow.  Apparently Punisher had interfered in an ongoing operation SHIELD was already taking care of.  Punisher refuses to cooperate and is taken into custody by SHIELD.   As it turns out, Kane was a part of a global terrorist organization call Leviathan who has stolen SHIELD technology hoping to sell it off to the most destructive bidder.  Nick Fury then commissions Black Widow and an unwilling Punisher to retrieve the technology before it gets spread and into even more of the wrong hands.

Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher is another in a line of Anime-style Marvel adventures that have been coming out.  I believe there’s an Iron Man and Wolverine series that may or may not still be airing.  These adventures definitely don’t shy from being the style and content of what comes with that animation style.  These are very much “for the older kids and adults” type adventures.  And in a lot of regards moreso than their theatrical counterparts.  This particular one features some intense violence, while not incredibly graphic, there’s just enough of the intention to make it feel that way.

Black Widow is played by Dexter alum Jennifer Carpenter for this feature.  Carpenter is really the only notable cast member here.  She’s no Scarlett Johannson, but she gives a suitable and interesting performance.  In true Anime fashion though, her character is sort of “sexed up” even more than normal.  Her boobs were huge.  There was even a shot looking down on a character that she wasn’t in frame for, but her book sure were.  And I understand that this is what a lot of the fans of these are looking for, and I’ve seen plenty of similar things like this in my day, but I found it slightly distasteful (they do change size even from time to time) and bit distracting.

The story definitely feels in tune with some of the issues with SHIELD that the Avengers movie was aiming at.  Is SHIELD just as dangerous for having the dangerous weaponry and technology and continuing to develop it?  We get this part of the argument told through the point of view of the Punisher.  It’s an interesting dynamic and debate that I would hope a further animated series of this type would continue to explore as well as the live action movies.  And to play both sides, they also question the morals and vigilante justice that the Punisher exerts.

Speaking of the Avengers, no the box isn’t a lie.  The majority of the film follows Punisher and Black Widow.  But, worry not, the other Avengers do show up to give an assist.  You just kinda have to wait on them.  This isn’t a case of putting them on the box and then they don’t show up.  Iron Man, Thor and the like aren’t the focus of this story, it’s mainly Black Widow’s story while trying to introduce The Punisher into the fold of the Avengers.

While only 82 minutes in length, I can’t say I wasn’t entertained, but this one did feel pretty long.  I thought things were getting ready to kick on over to the third act at one point and noticed I still had almost an hour left.  But make no mistake, this thing is action packed, and if you have a surround sound system, be sure to crank this one up as it is quietly lively (I’ll go over that more in the audio specs section below, but just wanted to make it known how awesome it is).  This is really not a “must see”, but its also not a bad way to kill a little bit of time.

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Encoding: MPEG-4 AVC

Resolution: 1080p

Aspect Ratio: 1:78.1

Clarity/Detail:  The image is a bit soft and glossy.  This being anime, its not extremely detailed animation, but I can’t imagine this ever looking any greater than this.

Depth:  This being 2 dimensional animation, there’s not much to go off of.  There’s a few 3 dimensional types of shots and they did solid work, but did not last on the screen long enough to strike a chord.

Black Levels: Being this is about 2 characters all dressed in black, this transfer has a wide array of different shades of black from super dark to lighter grays, there is terrific shading and variety. Minimal crushing was witnessed.

Color Reproduction:  Colors are solid and tame.  Everything is nicely pronounced but not very striking.

Flesh Tones: n/a

Noise/Artifacts: I did not witness any during this review.

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Audio Format(s): English 5.1 DTS-HD MA, Japanese 5.1 DTS-HD MA

Subtitles: English, English SDH, French, Spanish

Dynamics:  This is a pretty incredible track.  It’s loud and all the effects sounds nice clear and very lifelike.  I was pretty blown away by how great this track was.  It is the highlight above all else on this release.

Low Frequency Extension:  Explosions, gunshots and punches all get an added kick from your subwoofer.  It shows a great display of range on this track.

Surround Sound Presentation:  There’s a lot of fun left to right movement, but action sounds like gunshots and background fighting are present in the rear speakers.

Dialogue Reproduction:  Dialogue is loud and the clarity is as if you were wearing a nice pair of headphones.

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Including with this Blu-ray are a DVD copy and a Digital Copy of the film.  It also comes with $10 in movie money toward The Amazing Spider-Man 2.

Conceptual Art Gallery – Over 100 sketches and preproduction artwork

The Vigilante Vs The Spy (HD, 9:11) – Marvel talking heads discuss the history of the lack of Punisher/Black Widow team ups and the desire to pair them up for an adventure.  They go through both of their origins and place in the comic book world.

Espionage And Punishment (HD, 10:16) – The same heads talk about how it is the two characters work together, the story and how the Anime style compliments it.

Previews – Iron Man: Rise Of Technovore, Starship Troopers: Invasion, Pompeii, Amazing Spider-Man 2

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Avengers Confidential: Black Widow & Punisher is a decent little animated adventure that finally sort of gives us Black Widow front and center while reintroducing us to the Punisher.  While short is sorta feels long, but entertaining.  The disc has an otherworldly audio track that really needs to be heard, coupled with an above average video transfer.  Its got some good enough extras that aren’t excessive.  For fans, this definitely is something to pick up, but for the average Joe its probably a solid rental or bargain bin pick-up.



Brandon is the host, producer, writer and editor of The Brandon Peters Show (thebrandonpetersshow.com) on the Creative Zombie Studios Network. At Why So Blu he is a Writer/Reviewer. Brandon is a lifelong obsessive film nerd. As eager to educate in the world of film as I am to learn. An avid lover of horror, schlock and trash. You can also find older essays on his blog Naptown Nerd (naptownnerd.blogspot.com).

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