The Avengers (2012) Review
In a year with a new Batman movie, a (maybe) prequel to the Aliens series, a reboot of Spider Man, a new Men in Black, a new Bond and a new Tarantino flick, the release of The Avengers stood above the rest due to the enormous hype and build up it received.
Whatever expectations you may have, however hyped you may be, your expectations will be met -- if not entirely exceeded -- by The Avengers. It’s a movie that works on so many levels, it's staggering. It’s a cast that works so well together, you forget you're watching big-name actors. It has a rapid fire pace constantly on the rise, leaving the viewer hanging on for dear life as each set piece tries to outdo itself. Just when you think it can’t possibly get any more intense, just when you think “they would never do that,” the movie raises the stakes and laughs manically as the viewers are whisked from one amazing scene to another.
The Avengers begins where the previous Marvel Studios movies left off. The cosmic cube is now in the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D., the organization led by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). Things quickly go bad when Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the villain from Thor, shows up and announces his intention to take over Earth with a massive army. Outnumbered and outgunned, Fury turns to the Avenger’s Initiative and calls forth earth’s mightiest superheroes in a last-ditch attempt to defend the world.
The story is easy to follow: bad guys threaten Earth, heroes team up, heroes fight bad guys. Where the movie shines is in its character interactions and the sheer spectacle of seeing each of the heroes from past Marvel movies team up. Each actor brings his or her character to life with his or her own unique characteristics and traits and does a great job interacting. Iron Man (played by Robert Downey Jr.) is the cocky billionaire playboy in an iron suit. Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is an arrogant god who looks down on the other Avengers. Captain America (Chris Evans) is a do-gooder determined to finish the mission and come to grips with his presence in a new and strange world. Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo/Lou Ferrigno) is a ticking time bomb struggling to keep his rage under control while making up for past sins. Loki comes across as an appropriately menacing villain whose exile has left him angry and slightly crazed as he plots to decimate Earth and enslave those who stand in his way.
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Along with the heroes, we also have the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to round out the cast including Agent Colson (Clark Gregg), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). While these characters get slightly less screen time, they are still unique with their own abilities and skill sets who make a strong presence and stand out alongside Earth’s mightiest heroes.
Thanks to the sharp writing and directing of Zac Penn and Joss Whedon, each of the characters is mighty, larger than life, utterly sharp tongued and witty as they trade barbs and razor sharp dialog. This is not a dark and brooding superhero flick. Colors and characters leap off the screen, and everything in the world from the S.H.I.E.L.D. tech to the costumes feels like it was taken straight from a comic book. Whedon, with his experience directing cult classics (Buffy: The Vampire Slayer, Firefly) and his take on the X-Men comics, was the perfect fit for this movie. Some of Marvel’s most beloved characters fighting as a team, arguing over petty differences, and doing their thing to save the world are fully realized and brought to life. This feels like a complete comic book universe, more so than any movie like it to date. Everything is genuine from the character banter to the surprisingly funny and well-timed jokes.
The direction is equally stellar. This movie is filled with excellent action sequences, each one bigger than the last. There's no need here to resort to fast cuts of shaky cam that have plagued action cinema in recent years. While the past few Marvel movies may have been a little lacking in standout action scenes, this movie gives you one strong sequence of superhero-on-supervillian violence and doesn’t stop until the movie is finished.
The Avengers is everything I ever dreamed about when I picture my perfect super hero movie. Every character is memorable, every battle is epic, every joke is funny, and every villain is menacing. This is the most fun I have had at the movies all year, and judging by the massive bar set by this movie, it may very well remain that way. The road to The Avengers has been well worth it; super heroes movies have once again hit a peak and raised the standard on what a superhero movie should be. Even if you have a passing interest in comics, this movie is a total blast. It’s superhero celluloid at its finest.
*This film was viewed in 2-D on a standard-size screen with digital projection and Dolby 7.1 surround sound.