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The Avengers

Posted by Luke Brown On April - 26 - 2012

Since the release of 2008′s Iron Man, fans have been eagerly anticipating the release of Marvel’s The Avengers. With subsequent releases The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, Marvel slowly laid the foundation for the ultimate team-up movie. There was a chance The Avengers could have been a crowded, jumbled mess. Fortunately, under the deft hand of Joss Whedon, and with the impeccable skills of the cast, the film doesn’t come anywhere close to collapsing under the weight of lofty expectations. The Avengers is the film fans have been waiting for, and even better, it’s probably the best comic book superhero movie ever made.

Read on for our completely 100% spoiler-free review.

The Avengers
Directed by Joss Whedon
Written by Joss Whedon, Zak Penn

For four years, Marvel has been building to this moment. The biggest characters (not under the control of another studio) teamed for one gigantic all-star extravaganza. Little nods and hints and post-credit sequences tied the universe together, but no amount of teasing could have saved The Avengers if the movie proved too big for its own britches. Comic book films with large casts haven’t had great critical success in the past (to be fair, the Schumaker Batman films and Fox’s Fantastic Four flicks did make loads of money), and even with fan-favorite writer/director Joss Whedon at the helm, there was a cloud of doubt surrounding The Avengers. Would every character get enough screen time? Was Loki a strong enough villain? Would other cast members be able to hold their own against Robert Downey, Jr? Would “normal” heroes like Hawkeye and Black Widow work in a world with a Hulk? The Avengers answers all criticisms, and does so resoundingly. Mere minutes into the film, any preconceived notions you had will be washed away with a sense of awe.

To any comic book reader, The Avengers‘ plot will seem fairly paint-by-numbers. The individual heroes will meet, fight, discover they share a common goal, and become buddies just in time to take down the big bad they’ve been after all along. The movie doesn’t deviate from the typical team-up formula, but that’s not a bad thing. There are a lot of people out there who haven’t seen this cliche brought to life ad nauseum over the years on the printed page. What’s more, Joss Whedon and Zak Penn bring enough nuance to the story that even though you might know all the beats, you’ll still be thrilled to see them fall into place. The insane amount of action is complimented perfectly by smaller character moments, and Whedon and Penn show a lot of skill in balancing all the various elements at play at any given moment.

It should come as no surprise to longtime fans of Joss Whedon that he’s more than capable of juggling a large cast of varied characters. That skill set is on display throughout The Avengers, as not only does every character get his or her due, but the characters are also arguably more fleshed out here than they have been in their own individual movies. In having to create a film that both ties the past half-decade of blockbusters together, while also making the movie completely accessible to people who’ve yet to see a single Marvel adaptation, Whedon is able to cut right to the essence of the characters. The dynamic between Tony Stark and Steve Rogers is brought to life brilliantly, and it’s refreshing to see Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow treated as more than window dressing.

A superhero movie wouldn’t be much good without an appropriately menacing villain, and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki (who stole all thunder from Hemsworth in Thor) is outstanding in his role here. Sure he’s got an army on his side to help fight the physical battle, but Loki’s strength lies in his cunning and ability to instill doubt, panic, and fear in our unnerved protagonists. Hiddleston has really stepped into the shoes of the iconic Asgardian, and brings him to life in such a way that you really do hate Loki, but you also kind of like him. There’s a reason why Downey and Hiddleston share so much screen time, and that’s because these two are acting on a completely different level than anyone else in the movie. That’s not to diminish the efforts of actors like Mark Ruffalo (who plays Bruce Banner just as good if not better than the revered Ed Norton) or Chris Hemsworth (whose Thor actually has some depth this time around), but nothing comes close to the give and take chemistry Stark and Loki share on screen.

Of course, it wouldn’t be a comic book movie without loads and loads of action, and The Avengers is filled to the brim with white-knuckle sequences. Once the movie reaches its climax, there’s no taking the foot off the throttle. Whedon crafts the big moments with ever-increasing intensity, and once the big battle starts, it’s tough to remember to breathe. The scale and scope is so massive it can be tough to keep up with everything that’s happening on screen at once. Several times throughout the film, Whedon makes use of faked long-takes, which even with computer-aided assistance make for some really remarkable sequences. Of course, it wouldn’t be a Whedon script without some bouts of humor sprinkled in, and the auteur’s trademark sensibilities break up the action very nicely.

There’s almost nothing The Avengers does wrong. It’s a truly wonderful action movie with great characters, imposing villains, and a strong script. No comic movie released to date is as complete a package as The Avengers. This is a film that will have you laughing, clapping, smiling, and on the edge of your seat for the entire duration. The wait has been worth it, and the work of Marvel’s film production studios to build to such a tremendous crescendo has paid off in spades. The only disappointing aspect is that we’ll now have to wait another four or five years for the next adventure.

One final note, we saw the film in 3D. Despite the conversion happening in post-production, The Avengers actually has some really great 3D. The sense of depth is the best we’ve seen in a post-converted film so far; however, some of the action is a little too fast-paced for the 3D at times.

100/100 – Amazing.

The Avengers is rated PG-13, and arrives in US theaters Friday, May 4 in regular, 3D and IMAX 3D screenings.

1 Response so far
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    Posted on April 28th, 2012 at 5:31 PM

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