JOSS DO IT
Review by Paul Preston
“The Avengers” kicks ass.
This movie is the huge, sprawling, massive summer entertainment you want it to be. A funny, action-packed, smart, clever mix that gets everything right. The word “Epic” gets thrown around a little too much today. It’s used to describe parties and tweets, but this movie in the true sense, is epic. There have to be fifty to sixty ICONIC shots in this film.
The lofty idea to pull this off seemed improbable. Back in 2008, you make “Iron Man”, with the promise of movies for Hulk, Thor and Captain America that will lead to The Avengers movie. For Marvel, a brand once on the verge of bankruptcy, to make this happen is an amazing achievement.
Some plot for ya – Thor’s brother Loki, none too happy being tossed in a black hole-y thing at the end of the Movie “Thor”, finds a space portal that brings him to Earth, and he wants to bring an army here so he can rule over us. That’s his thing, as a god, he just wants people to kneel before him. He’s one of the more needy bad guys in a while. But Tom Hiddleston plays him just right. He’s a nice mix of power and sniveling. The only way to fight him is to put together this supergroup of heroes.
All of the characters are interesting. It probably speaks a lot to the fact that they all had their own movies, something those Batman movies of the ‘90s could learn from where they jammed seven or eight characters into one film, but the whole thing seemed bogged down. Here, everyone gets equal time and attention paid. Even Hawkeye and Black Widow, who never had their own movies, are interesting. I kept waiting for the moment where, OK, now we have to deal with this or that character instead of someone I care about. Never happened. You care about them all. They even made The Hulk interesting, and they’ve been trying that for three movies.
It doesn’t hurt that there are good actors all over this film.
Mark Ruffalo is the best yet at playing Bruce Banner. Not lapsing into dullness or overdoing it. The Hulk has a moment towards the end that is a stand up out of your chair applause moment – the last character who I thought would prompt that.
Robert Downey, Jr. stars as Tony Stark, the role of his lifetime. And you can tell he LOVES playing it. That goes a long way.
After watching him play youthful wiseass Johnny Storm, Chris Evans is a really improbable choice to play Captain America, but he nails it. His early work makes him look like the kind of actor that might wanna be jokey and pull focus, but he plays Steve Rogers as straight, square, righteous and order-barking as he needs to be. In fact, it’s HIS movie that I want to go back and see after watching this.
And Thor has some great lines. You think he’s gonna be all pomposity and grandeur, but he’s got charm and wit. Can you tell I liked it?
I never watched Joss Whedon’s TV shows that he’s famous for, so as a Movie Guy, I only know his movie work as the dude who wrote TOY STORY and directed the cult hit SERENITY, I never thought he’d have the chops to hit a home run quite like this. And there’s a special effects team working overtime to deliver every wide-eyed action scene right on target. Knowing what a pop culture geek Whedon is, he has ended up making a movie he himself would see from the front row on opening night, then hit the internet to praise.
The 3D does what 3D does a lot lately. It’s both not annoying and not necessary. They bypass a trap that movies like “Wrath of the Titans” and “Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides” fell in. “The Avengers” is a movie first, theme park ride second, so they don’t SHOOT for 3D, with excessive scenes where the filmmakers spend time reaching out at you or throwing stuff in your lap. It just so happens that there’s a third dimension to this world that’s already very, very cool.
Alan Silvestri provides a quality score, and I actually left the theater humming the theme. When you think about it, outside of Michael Giacchino, there aren’t many composers out there making scores that stick with you. Maybe Hans Zimmer, but the days of John Williams and Danny Elfman crapping out winners you leave the theater whistling routinely aren’t as frequent as they used to be.
“The Avengers” never sets out to grapple the emotional intensity of Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy, but what themes they do cover, they cover well – teamwork (obviously), sacrifice, conflict and loss.
There are a bunch of key moments this movie gets perfect. When it could have delved into melodrama or camp, it never does. To go into further details would provide spoilers, but just know that every moment a lesser film would’ve faltered, this movie gets better.
The summer movies may have peaked early.
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Release Date: May 4, 2012
Run Time: 142 Minutes
Distributor: Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures/The Walt Disney Company