Tuesday, May 22, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers (2012)
Rated PG-13
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Running time: 143 Minutes
In theaters
#34 on IMDB Top 250

Quick summary (from IMDB): Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.

It took me nearly three full weeks to finally find the time to get to a theater and watch The Avengers. In that time, it’s grossed almost $1 Billion over its reported $220 Million budget, was critically acclaimed and had everyone talking about it. I was never not going to see the movie, I just wasn’t sure it was going to be in the theater, it’s hard to find a free 3 hours with a two month old baby in the house. And even as well behaved as she’s been, there was no way she was going to sit quietly for the full duration of the movie, so I wasn’t taking her with me. Luckily, the stars aligned, and my wonderful wife allowed me the time to see a movie on my own.

The hype was high enough, that there was a little bit of concern that I would be let down, especially after the five movies that came before, but fortunately, the movie not only lived up to the hype, but far exceeded it. It was everything I hoped it would be. It was funny, fun to watch, and totally awesome.

Hats off to Joss Whedon for being able to put together such an epic movie, and to keep it running smoothly. With so many huge characters and separate subplots, it could have easily been bogged down by all the excess weight, but he kept it going on track, and didn’t let one character dominate the others, even though it would have been easy for this to play more like Iron Man 3, with Tony Stark/Iron Man being the ultimate hero. All of the superheroes were given seemingly equal, and ample screen time, and were allowed to interact and share scenes with each of the other characters. Again, it would have been easy to just paid them all off for most of the movie, only to reunite at the end, but Whedon didn’t do that, he kept switching the pairs and giving us different pairings and situations, which kept the movie from slowing down or becoming stale.

A lot of the work in casting came well before this movie was made, which was a pretty lucky break for Whedon, as he didn’t have to try to find actors for all of these epic characters. There is, in my opinion, no better casting than Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man. Downey Jr. absolutely owns that character, and every scene that he is in. He gets all the funniest lines and is the coolest superhero out of the group, though my Norse heritage has to argue that the coolest is Thor. I want RDJ to play Iron Man forever (and if he keeps getting $50+ Million for every movie, he probably will).

Before Thor and Captain America came out, I had no idea who would play those two well known characters, but now, there isn’t anybody other than Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans as Captain America. And while I liked them both in their own movies, I think they’re better in The Avengers. They don’t have to carry the entire two plus hours on their own, and fir into their roles well.

Hawkeye and Black Widow, the two least known (to me) characters, while not nearly as powerful or cool as the superheroes, are integral members of the team, and are given just as much screen time and importance in the film. Jeremy Renner keeps showing up in action movie franchises, and keeps being pretty awesome, and Scarlett Johansson is growing on me. I used to hate her pretty severely, but she’s not as annoying as she used to be. Whedon again lucked out, as these actors reprised their roles from earlier films.

Mark Ruffalo, as Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk, was the only actor to not have appeared as his character in any of the previous movies. I wasn’t sure what to think of his getting the role, as I’ve only seen him in a few rom-coms, but he did a pretty good job. I’ve not seen any of the previous Hulk movies (Ang Lee’s version starring Eric Bana, the Edward Norton version from a few years ago, or even any of the Lou Ferrigno shows or movies), so I have nothing to really compare it to, but I think Ruffalo fits better than the others. Norton and Bana weren’t nerdy enough to be genius scientist, they’re both too pretty. Ruffalo’s not an ugly man, but he looks like he could be a scientist.

It was nice to finally see Samuel L. Jackson outside of a brief, post-credit cameo. His Nick Fury character was fleshed out, given a bit more of a story and emotions, rather than just a line or two of cryptic dialog. Jackson was, as always, a bad-ass, though he was nearly outdone by Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. I don’t remember Loki being nearly as cool I Thor as he was during the first half The Avengers. Hiddleston went darker and more powerful with Loki, rather than whiny and out for revenge, and it worked.

The Avengers is easily one of my two most anticipated movies of the year, along with The Dark Knight Rises, and it more than lived up to my expectations, and is, easily, the best movie I’ve seen this year. And I sincerely hope they keep making Avengers movies, with the same actors, for as long as humanly possible.

5 out of 5 stars

Streets ahead of Avatar


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