Friday, May 04, 2012

THE AVENGERS Starts The Summer Movie Season Off Right

THE AVENGERS (Dir. Joss Whedon, 2012)

After years of baiting fans with cameos, visual nods, and Easter Eggs embedded in their movies, Marvel Studios puts them all together in this masterful smash-up/mash-up assemblage of their major comic book characters, which starts the summer movie season off right.

Joss Whedon's snappy screenplay and energetic direction really delivers the goods, with a cast and special effects crew that never stops trying to entertain, right up to the after-credits bonus material.

For those who haven't been paying attention, we've got returning champ Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), along with Captain America/Steve Rodgers (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth); both fresh from their summer hero hits last year, Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and The Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo; the only actor here who hasn't previously played their character).

Samuel L. Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury, and Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow are also on hand to provide extra fire-power against the film’s villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who was also the antagonist in THOR (maybe my least favorite of the Marvel movies), as he’s Thor’s adoptive brother and rival.

Loki, with the help of something called a Tesseract and an alien army, is trying to take over the world (of course), but those pesky Avengers keep getting in the way.

You know the plot isn’t what folks are coming to see here, but this movie’s not just about breathtaking bombast, furious fight-scenes, and spectacular sequences stuffed with eye-popping CGI – although there’s lots of that.

What elevates it is that the film actually cares about how its characters interact and clash with one another. Evan’s Captain America is rubbed wrong by Downey Jr.’s snarky arrogance (Whedon gives Downey Jr. the sharpest funniest lines, as expected), and everyone is on edge about just what Ruffalo’s Hulk will do when his rage famously takes hold.

Ruffalo’s take on Banner is one of many strong elements on display in “The Avengers.” It’s a more nuanced and edgy performance than what Eric Bana and Ed Norton brought in their respective portrayals. Now I’m looking forward to seeing Ruffalo own his own Hulk movie.

Clark Gregg, as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson, finally gets a more substantial role after his glorified cameos in the previous Marvel movies, and he makes the most of it. A surprising yet fitting addition to the ever expanding universe is Cobie Smulders (Robin on the sitcom How I Met Your Mother) as another Avengers ally, Maria Hill. Smulders gets a considerable amount of screen-time, and like everybody else here, she doesn’t waste it.

The New York City battle finale outdoes the fun destruction of just about every other super hero movie ever (take that Superman, Spiderman, X-Men, etc.!), and it's hilarious to boot.

Whedon does a fantastic job juggling this vast array of characters while arranging mighty action set-pieces (particularly the sequence aboard the ginormous S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier).

So there you have it - the must-see super hero movie event of the summer. That is, until THE DARK KNIGHT RISES comes out.

More later...

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Hey i watched this one this week. I enjoyed it and thought it was well done even better than the x-men movies and i actually like the x-men characters. best action packed super hero movie to date for me.