Friday, May 4, 2012

There was an idea to bring together a group of remarkable people, so that when we needed them, they could fight the battles that we never could.

Hello I am the movie encyclopedia and if no one else will see it, I will. 

After 12 hours of film building up the hype to a fever pitch, after countless years of development and writing, after all the marketing tie-ins that you could possibly throw into a product, it's finally here: The Avengers. Earth's Mightiest Heroes gathered into one movie to fight alongside (and sometimes against) one another in order to save everyone from certain destruction. Captain America (Chris Evans), the first Avenger and former poster child for the United States Army. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the demigod who fought his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and saved Asgard. Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr) aka Iron Man, the egotistical billionaire genius with a suit that makes him as powerful as any other hero. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) aka Hulk, a scientist fighting against a monster raging inside him. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) aka Hawkeye, the archer with a knack for never missing. Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) aka Black Widow, the super spy who fills out a catsuit better than most could dream. And of course Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), the man behind it all who brings these people together. After all that has happened, does the film live up to the hype? Depends on which hype you're looking at.

You see there are two hype trains rolling down  the tracks right now. One is the hype that Marvel, Disney and the past six (yes I count the terrible 2003 Ang Lee Hulk film) films have established and the other is the hype that fans and critics have built after seeing the movie. These people are saying that The Avengers is the greatest comic book film ever and will vehemently bash anybody who even breathes in the wrong direction when it comes to this film. I only agree with one of these hype trains. Marvel has done a fantastic job building these worlds and establishing these characters and Joss Whedon and everyone involved does a brilliant job crafting an amazing film. But I hesitate to throw "best" at the movie only because while it's certainly the funniest, biggest and most action action packed comic book film I've seen, its only lacking area is in any true depth or sense of danger. Unless you've seen the previous films you might be a little lost on who most of these people are. The film does a good job re-establishing and reminding you of who most of these people are but most of the character development is saved for the heroes own film. In terms of danger, you never really feel like these people are going to fail, you know they will win at the end of the day. With some other films (cough Dark Knight cough) you aren't as sure and it takes some of the wind out of the film. 
 Nick Fury and SHIELD are in the possession of an unlimited power source known as the Tesseract. One day the Tesseract starts to act up and out pops Loki, who steals the Tesseract, enslaves Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig (from Thor), and levels the SHIELD base. Loki plans on unleashing an army and enslaving the human race because freedom, at least in his mind, is overrated. Fury decides that to restart the Avengers Initiative and gathers Iron Man, Black Widow, Hulk and Cap to go find and capture Loki. Along the way Thor joins them (although not without some initial disagreement) with the idea that he wants to take the Tesseract and hold his brother accountable for his crimes in Asgard. That's really all I can say without spoiling the rest of the film but needless to say a lot of things blow up, get shot and are destroyed. The action is intense, always a joy to watch and I found myself bouncing up and down with excitement on many occasion.

The story isn't anything we haven't seen before but Joss Whedon's lightning fast wit and impeccable pacing makes it all seem new again, or at least appear to. The film is split into two halves, the first half bringing everyone together and establishing the characters motives and major conflicts with the second half being an all out brawl in the middle of New York. It seems simple when you write it out but everything builds up well and by the time it does reach New York you are already as pumped as you'll ever be. Like I mentioned before there IS a lack of danger or any real threat since you know these guys will win in the end, but it's a well written film and unless you really think about it, you'll enjoy every minute of this film. Even the post credits scenes. Yes, there are two, so make sure you stay for both of them.
 The acting in the film is actually improved from the heroes previous films. Evans and Hemsworth both feel more comfortable with their roles and have grasped some more of the nuances of their character. Cap is still a straight arrow trying to adjust to living in the future, but despite his old ways he knows how to lead and you really feel for his character. Thor struggles with protecting Earth (and the woman he loves) from afar while also dealing with his brother who, despite being evil, is still his brother in the end. Stark is as snarky and egotistical as before but you can see that there is still a man underneath it all, especially now more than ever. Downey owns his role and if anybody stole the show, you can easily make the argument that it is him. Johansson's Black Widow and Jackson's Fury are also both improved with the real surprise being Johansson. Usually I don't care for her all that much but she does great with a more fleshed out Natasha and proves to be more than just eye candy in a catsuit. Jackson is Jackson...take it or leave it.

The two new additions, Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and Renner as Hawkeye, do well but Ruffalo is certainly the better of the two. He captures the hectic and almost neurotic nature of Banner better than Edward Norton and Eric Bana ever could and he has a heart and humor to him that makes him a joy to watch. He plays off everybody extremely well and his Hulked out self looks amazing. Third time is the charm I guess. Renner does well with Hawkeye but his role isn't really big enough to say much more. He's good, he does justice to the character but that's about it.
 Overall The Avengers is a wonderful, action packed blockbuster with brilliant writing, intense action, great acting, big laughs and is a joy for everyone whether you read comics or not. I hesitate to throw around the term best when it comes to this movie but you get what you paid for and more and you shouldn't leave the theater disappointed.

MY VERDICT: TOP FILM (5 out of 5)

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