Movie Review – Marvel’s The Avengers
May 4, 2012 2 Comments
The Avengers is the culmination of years of work, numerous movies, lots of merchandise and advertising and ultimately, the collaboration of many actors to put aside their love of screen time to assemble together for a movie that is the grandest summer movie spectacle. I have stated in past posts and review about the Marvel movies that were sacrificed at the altar for the greater good of getting us to The Avengers and it wasn’t wasted. Thor was a weak movie with characterization just being there in order to fill the Thor role. Captain America was a solid movie from the origin aspect to the pathos that makes up the Captain. Iron Man and it’s sequel was the catalyst for The Avengers, laying ground work in the first and then shoehorned all the elements into the second film, weakening it sadly. Then there was The Incredible Hulk, a film that was left unscathed, but still tied in nicely to the idea of The Avengers. So with all these films being used to set us up for largest superhero ensemble film of the summer, does it really come together?
There are two sides to the review coin here, while I admit I am a fanboy, I will look at this from the objective side of reviewing, but to say the least, here is my fanboy review of the film:
OMG! CAPTAIN AMERICA! IRON MAN! HULK! SMASH, BOOM, EXPLOSIONS, ACTION! COMIC BOOKS! ONE OF THE MOST ENTERTAINING SUPERHERO MOVIES IN A LONGTIME! 3D! SCARLETT JOHANSSONS BACKSIDE! ARROWS! HAWKEYE! GIANT MONSTERS! IN-JOKES AND QUIPS AND SMART WRITING! JOSS WHEDON! CAMEOS! MORE ACTION! MORE EVERYTHING!
That is the basis of the fanboy review and what you will see on twitter and other blogs probably. I will admit that I absolutely loved this movie and what it had to offer. I was skeptical about the whole idea of The Avengers, the whole symptom of taking super hero movies and jamming every possible characters, villain, action set pieces, and never really focusing on a core element. I am happy to say that The Avengers manages to have some order to the chaos that is on the screen. I was made a believer that all the ties in, all the work, and collaboration produced the pinnacle of a summer movie. Now remember, I said a summer movie, because the film does have some faults, but it succeeds in being entertaining. Mission Accomplished.
The story of The Avengers revolves around the glowing orb of power called the Tesseract. If you watched all the previous Marvel movies, you will recognize and understand it use from Thor and Captain America movies. So Loki comes back to lead an army to enslave Earth and steal the orb to complete his plan. Then Earth’s mightiest hero’s come together to stop Loki and save Earth. Dry your hands and walk away. A simple enough of story line, but while the drudge of this familiar thematic story line is well, familiar, it’s the acting and ensemble group that pulls us through film with flying colors.
Director Joss Whedon brings his trademark Whedonism to this film. If you aren’t familiar with Whedon and his geek God persona, well you are in for a treat. Smart writing, playing the different characters and their personalities and a knack for interjecting humor when you least expect it, Whedon play to the fan base well, almost bordering though on self-serving. It’s hard to escape that, but I can overlook because the beauty of the film lies in the action and my god, is it glorious.
I will get to the action first, but some points I want to make. So, back story, lots of back story that was unnecessary to a film whose purpose from the start was to convey action and lots of it. I understand that we as an audience want some story to go along with the action. I guess we want to know in some circumstance why the Hulk smashes. It’s fine to give us this information and story, but only when you are going to tell a story. The Avengers is basically a walking hard-on for action, but yet the first 50 minutes of the movie is exposition, with some spectacle fights for dressing. A lot of the back story of certain characters isn’t needed, but done so that the director and writers can feel good about themselves and say, “hey, at least Black Widow has a story that will not be really needed in the film, but chewed up some time on-screen.” I get that there is a need to flesh out the characters more, although it wasn’t needed. The assembling of the group was great, mainly to see the differences between the members, but if you have followed the films that tie into this movie, then you don’t need to know that Captain America is still unsure about the current America or that Tony Stark is still a genius playboy. I can see why the non-super powered members of the group, Hawkeye and Black Widow, are given more back story so that the audience can connect in some way, but the history and information doesn’t really help us out in understanding explosions and violence.
It’s great to see the actors deliver their lines in the manner of how their characters would act in the situation they are in. Thor, Chris Hemsworth, is still the arrogant God of men, but there is a bit of humility and understanding in his words. Hulk, Mark Ruffalo, has the stoic control of his raging persona under wraps and is witty and banters well with others. Captain America, Chris Evans, manages to be the All-American we know and love. He is still rooted in the rah-rah mentality of his former time, still unsure of whom to trust. Then there is Iron Man, Robert Downey Jr., still proving to us as an audience why Tony Stark is the lovable oaf we have come to know. He is smart, snarky and adds the needed comic relief that Whedon uses in his movies. It all comes together nicely and the unity between the members of the group is harmonic. Even the non-superhero characters are fantastic in their respective roles. Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye all gives us humanistic side to the super powered groups. They are the people who are unsure how they fit in the group, but realize the fight for their world is in their hands. The detailed back story of Black Widow’s past doesn’t help her character out or enhance her special ability to look gorgeous while an explosion happens in the background. I can appreciate their characters and their abilities without all the setup. Aside from that, I was pleased to see Black Widow as the trademark Whedon, strong female powerhouse. She is not helpless or overtly sexual, but a powerful character.
Now we get to the point of why The Avengers exist, the fun cinematic adventure you have. The action and pace of the film shifts all over the place and never feels stale. From showdowns between the heroes to the crown jewel of the third act, The Avengers is one of the funnest movies of the summer. It’s the reason why Studio’s hold on to their tent pole blockbusters for the summer. You will go in excited and leave satisfied. From kinetically charged action, to the comedy and cinematic escape we want in a film, The Avengers delivers it to us all in a large dose of explosions in our brain. All these elements mix nicely together to deliver something to us that isn’t stale or acrid.
The action, oh the action, is some of the most satisfying things about The Avengers. While some people will cheer on Thor and Captain America for their acrobatic feats and power, the true wonder of the film comes from the unleashing of Hulk onto the masses. Every time he is on-screen, that bottle of emotions and rage just comes uncorked and satisfies the blood lust for action. He is pure rage and destruction and that is what the movie brings us in the third act. The crowning set piece of the film is the frantic, cluttered and chaotic invasion scene that is vivid and eye-opening. From the waves of gliders, to the giant worm monster, and the street fights that happen on the ground, Whedon…I salute you sir! Phenomenal to watch and the sort of destructive, buffet of carnage that is reserved for Michael Bay movies.
The Avengers is everything you want in a summer blockbuster. I know I left feeling satisfied, even with the story shortcomings and exposition. I can overlook all of that to fully immerse myself in the world of The Avengers because it is easy to get lost in all the glittery explosions and crumbling facades of building that the Hulk deems “in his way”. The action is well paced and punctuated by the Whedonisms that I love to see. You will squeal with joy at the funny moments that the characters have and this is the sort of movie that Whedon was meant to make. It might be pandering at it’s best for Whedon, but the man knows how to make a film come together. The ensemble, the acting, the humor and the action come together and makes up for the sacrifices of the previous Marvel movies that were used to make The Avengers happen.
*images via RottenTomatoes