Thursday, May 3, 2012
My review: In a word...wow! Just wow! The Avengers lived up to the hype, and then some. This is a film that has huge set pieces, top-notch visual effects, a middle brimming with tension and great fight scenes between Marvel giants, and a third act that really has to be seen to be believed. Yet, for all of the film's non-stop action, it never loses the the more important aspects: story, engaging characters, and a consistent plot. A moment on the characters: normally, character overflow drags a movie down (see: Spider Man 3, Iron Man 2) but here, the numerous characters works in the film's favor, because writer/director Joss Whedon knows the Marvel universe and what motivates each individual character to do what they do. (I should warn you that if you haven't seen any of the movies in the Marvel Cinematic Universe -- Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger -- you'll be somewhat lost, as Whedon doesn't take time for audiences to play catch-up) After Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is banished from Asgard, he makes an alliance with a militant alien race that sends him to Earth to retrieve the Tessaract, an ancient power source that acts as a portal to deepest reaches of space, and as an unlimited source of energy for the peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D. When Loki captures the device, the world's security is thrown in jepardy as Director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) begins a recruting effort of assembling superheoroes in order to stop Loki's plans from coming to fruition: The banter between Iron Man (the ever-terrific Robert Downey Jr.) and Captain America (Chris Evans, perfect as the leader of this rag tag of "lost creatures" as Loki described them) is pitch perfect, highlighting the polar opposites of their characters: Tony Stark is a narcissistic playboy who's all about style, while Steve Rodgers is a natural leader who isn't searching for attention for his heroics. Thor (Chris Hermsworth) wants to bring his adoptive brother to Asgardian justice, and non-superheroes of the group, Agents Natasha Romanoff (a bad-ass Scarlet Johansson) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner, playing a modern-day Legolas) want to atone for sins committed in a past life. All the actors bring their A-game and not a minute of screen time is wasted, but the star of The Avengers is Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, the scientist who turns into "an enormous, giant green rage monster" in the Hulk. Ruffalo lets us show the menace simmering underneath, as well as his conflict to keep the monster at bay. He was born to play the Hulk, and finally, the visual effects team get look of the unstoppable juggernaut right! The last leg of the film, in which NYC becomes a warzone, is where Whedon unleashes the team, and the action is something to behold. The Avengers, is simply, the most fun you'll have at the movies all year.
***1/2 stars out of ****