Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Avengers Reviewed

"And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and super celebrities found themselves united against the same giant green screen. On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand…like all those critics who thought a movie with multiple super heroes could never be done well!! Through the years, their roster has prospered, swapping out Bruce Banners once…or twice…but their glory has never been denied! Heed the call, then—for now, the Avengers Assemble! In 3D!"

This really should have been the movie synopsis.

It is an amazing time to be alive. A super rich super scientist has decided to defend us from evils our police forces can not. Our greatest human symbol of freedom has just been found ALIVE and ready to fight for us again! Even more astounding, Norse Gods have walked the Earth and have vowed to protect us in times of great need!! On the flip side, there were those two rampaging monsters that nearly leveled New York City. At least the one in the purple pants seemed to be on our side. Now a great evil is plotting our subjugation. Loki has finally come to Earth and a horde of alien creatures await his command. Our heroes are the only things standing between us and all encompassing destruction.

This is the reality Joss Whedon (and co) had laid out before him and tackled from the only perspective he could; that of a human being. On one side, we have Hawkeye, Black Widow and all of SHIELD whose powers begin and end with the tools at their disposal, their training and their resolve to continue fighting even in the face of insurmountable odds. Through moments spent with both Avengers as well as revealing talks from Nick Fury and the remarkably candid Agent Coulson, we are allowed every angle on any emotion we could possibly muster…from complete fanboy awe to abject, paralyzing terror. From another perspective, we watch events unfold through the eyes of those remarkable heroes, thrust into world quaking circumstances and confronting their own frailty as a result. Actually, for Thor and Bruce Banner, their concern is more for the fragility of the world around them. Both views encapsulate the quintessential element needed to create a hero. It isn’t great powers or technology at the end of the day. It is the willingness to fight for those who can not, even when it seems hopeless. This is the true heart of the Avengers film and without a doubt, where it shines the brightest.

Now that we’ve got the touchy feely items out of the way, let’s talk “bang for your buck”! The film makers manage to spin a tight tale, packing something interesting into every moment without overloading the viewer with too much stimuli all at once…which had to be a challenge with all these heroes in one place at one time and the actors that have made them real. The banter shifts from heroic bravado to punch line with precision timing worthy of a standing ovation. The action itself is jaw dropping and innovative with no extended scenes of battle or chase that seem out of place or just for the purpose of spectacle. Aside from the obvious good versus evil battle, you’ll also see Avenger on Avenger throwdowns beyond your wildest dreams. When not at each other’s throats, these heroes are given ample time to do what they do best, and it is all there on the screen. No “up close and way too personal” camera cut aways to save on CGI cash and ABSOLUTELY no shakey cam to keep the viewer off balance. We see the action from every conceivable angle and in the reflection of every surface the clever director could shoot off of. You will see every smash, shield throw, lightning strike, repulsor blast, trick arrow shot and basic kick to the side of an alien head, and at the end of it all, you’ll be startled you’ve been sitting there for 2 hours and 20 minutes! This is a beautiful movie with excellent design and an artistic eye all at once. That is pretty much a unicorn in the world of action films!

Acting performances are superb for the most part. Tom Hiddleston is finally able to give Loki the evil bent that makes the character undeniably appealing in comics. It seemed the film makers of Thor were trying hard to make Loki a pitiable character who didn’t do any mortal damage amid his back stabbing and conniving. In the Avengers, Loki looks upon us with no shortage of contempt and perhaps a dash of envy. His brother Thor loves these helpless pitiful creatures more than him. He will prove that no matter how hard Thor tries to defend them, these creatures will lay broken at his feet. It is an amazing performance. Downey delivers his Stark banter like a seasoned juggler, throwing quips and slinging sarcasm around any conversation in a way that is always funny and never annoying. More importantly, it is never TOO MUCH! Other characters even get to deliver jokes, whether it be through direct words or sight gags, and their delivery is just as crisp. A Games all around! Jackson as Nick Fury gives us the stern leader prepared to do anything to get the job done, even if it means he must lie to get there. Renner as Hawkeye presents an unrelenting soldier who can be pushed down into hell and return, battered and torn, asking what his next orders are. He offers an amazingly likable alternative to the usual unflinching soldier routine! Ruffalo as Bruce Banner plays the reluctant warrior to a T. He is slightly twitchy, a bit unhinged by what is lurking inside of him and has absolutely no ego in any action or word from his lips. I’m not 100% sold on him in the role, as I was completely in love with Norton in the last Hulk it is going to take another full on Hulkathon to make me love him under the green skin. I’m positive I don’t even have to talk about the Hulk, himself, as reviewers across the globe are doing enough gushing for me. Suffice to say; when Hulk does what he does best, you’ll be bouncing in your seat like a 5 year old. He really does steal the movie!

My only acting complaint lies with Scarlett Johansson who is unbelievable as a Russian Spy and in my opinion, lacks the sex appeal to pull off the Black Widow character. Her monotone delivery just left me flat. Honorable mentions to Evans, Hemsworth and Gregg who play their parts to perfection to the extent that I have nearly nothing to say! It was as if they went right from shooting their own films (with Coulson running through all of them, of course) to jumping head first into the Avengers with a seamless transition, albeit showing that some time has passed. Evans is haunted by a past (and a world) that is long dead. Hemsworth does steely determination and boundless honor like no other. There is no sign of the happy go lucky mug breaker here! Gregg plays Coulson a bit sunnier and way less stone faced. After all, we’ve got Nick Fury for that. This allows him more leeway to brighten up the room and add a little levity to a situation. I love watching this guy work!

I’m in the unique position to speak on both the 2D and 3D versions of the film after nearly back to back viewings. I can now say, unequivocally, that the 3D, while pretty, doesn’t offer any spectacle more awe inspiring than it would be in 2D. This is a glorified view master effect at best. This could have been magnificent, what with all the aliens attacking New York City and The Hulk all but eating them. IMAGINE THAT IN MIND BLOWING 3D!! Surely, a missed opportunity.

To say The Avengers is a Marvel kid’s dream come true is an understatement. One could argue that I’m equally geeky for any comic book super hero smack down, but this is not the case. I know the difference between awesome and shite. The Incredible Hulk? Awesome. Dardevil? Complete and utter drek. Yay Iron Man…blech Spider-Man 3. It is clear Disney has their game face on when they make Marvel Movies and for that, I thank them from the bottom of my incredibly dorky heart. The Avengers had me grinning from ear to ear 80% of the time and laughing to the point I could not stop another 10%. I knew Whedon doing The Avengers was going to be something special. I’m just so damned happy at the end result. See this movie 16 times and assure Disney does things exactly right for the foreseeable future. I’m good for at least 3 more viewings. Do your part!

End Notes:

-I looked very closely and couldn’t find any Easter Eggs in the movie. Sad panda. Let me know if I am wrong!

-There are TWO post credits scenes. One comes up quick and one at the verrrry end. Stay for both!

Click here for images of all the Avengers collectibles you can score today!


  1. With over billions and billions of comic book fans and Marvel practically breathing down his neck, Joss Whedon was given one job and one job only and that was to not screw this up. Thankfully, he doesn't even come close to screwing it up and makes this one of the funnest superhero movies in recent time. Nice write-up Paul.

    1. Thanks! I could see myself watching this one over and over and still laughing at the same stuff. That's the sign of an excellent movie.