Review - The Avengers
So what do I say about The Avengers that hasn’t already been said?
I guess I could say “It SUCKED!”
...but that would be a lie.
The truth is that Marvel’s The Avengers is quite possibly the perfect superhero film. If you haven’t already rushed out to see this film then you may need to get your head checked. Go. Go now. Don’t even finish reading this review. Just go see it. Then come back and finish reading this. ;-)
Hit the jump for my full review of Marvel’s The Avengers.
I’ve been waiting for this movie for pretty much my whole life. I’ve grown up reading these amazing moments where Superheroes team up and save the world from things that no one hero could stop. It’s been a lifelong dream to see something like this come to life on the big screen.
The story of The Avengers is simple. Take a group of A-type personalities who also just happen to be the smartest, strongest, snarkiest, most “Super” people on Earth and convince them to team up and fight a global alien threat the likes of which the world has never seen.
It sounds simple enough but the truth is far more complicated. Time and time again we’ve seen ensemble films fall apart in the hands of their writers, directors and talent. It’s a stigma that Marvel took very seriously. So they called the best ensemble writer they knew...and they asked him to direct it too.
The Avengers is a testament to Joss Whedon’s capabilities. He’s been on the cusp of global fame for years. Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Angel, Doll House, Dr. Horrible’s Sing Along Blog, and of course Firefly. These are all very well known titles to geeks around the world, but to the average citizen they are names of shows that they’ve possibly heard of but never really checked out.
Marvel was taking a gamble. A big one. They knew that bringing in Joss Whedon to write and direct this mega-super-ensemble film would be risky...but they also knew it was the right thing to do. Basically, at over $207 Million Dollars in the U.S. Box Office on it’s opening weekend, Joss knocked it out of the park. Babe Ruth style.
Each character is richly written and given development in ways that only Joss Whedon does it. Joss is known by his fans to be a writer who doesn’t hold hands. He’s a smart guy who expects his audience to think. His characters often times say more by simply not saying anything. It a quality that I have always loved about his writing and it shines through again in The Avengers. Several characters have moments where you can completely understand what they are going through even if they didn’t spout an entire monologue to get you there.
Of course what good is a brilliantly written script without brilliantly talented actors to read it? The Avengers brings back Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Clark Gregg, and of course the infamous Robert Downey, Jr. All reprising their roles from the previous Marvel films.
In fact, the only two newcomers (in terms of Marvel films) to this film are Cobie Smulders as S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Maria Hill and Mark Ruffalo picking up Edward Norton’s role as Dr. Robert Bruce Banner.
I saved Ruffalo for last because he faced the largest hurdle in this film. The Internet was very vocal about their disdain for Marvel’s choice to axe Edward Norton. The anger wasn’t really about Ruffalo himself...just the loss of Norton who was by and large the best Dr. Banner we’d seen on film up to this point. Again...up to THIS point.
Mark Ruffalo owned Dr. Banner. He took his love of Bixby’s work and Joss’ writing and made a Dr. Banner who is brilliant, likable, yet still very dangerous. Ruffalo is also the first actor to play both Dr. Banner and the Hulk. Donning what he called a “Chinese Checkerboard” to act out all the motion capture for the Green Goliath. The result? An Incredible Hulk. Pun completely intended. The Hulk steals the show. I can’t tell you how many people I know who have always “liked” the Hulk coming out of this “loving” the Hulk. Seriously, He’s that good in this.
Everyone brought their “A” game to this party. Robert Downey, Jr. as usual plays Stark with laser-like precision. Nailing every scene he is in. Tony Stark shows a great deal of growth in this film and it is thanks in no small part to Downey, Jr.’s performance.
Hemsworth, Evans, Jackson, heck, the whole lot of them deserve serious kudos for pulling off what I’m calling the Greatest Superhero Movie to date.
Tom Hiddleston reprises his role as Loki. The Asgardian God of mischief who has found himself striking a deal with an inter dimensional alien race known as the Chitauri to dominate the Planet Earth and deliver the cosmic cube known as the Tesseract to their ruler. Loki is insane. He’s gone full tilt. No longer is he the wounded almost sympathetic villain that we saw in Thor. Loki is cunning and powerful and not to be underestimated. Hiddleston brings the “Mean” in this one. Top notch work.
Did I mention that there was action? Basically every battle you've ever wanted to see from these heroes is played out on the screen. Hulk vs. Thor, Thor vs. Iron Man, Hulk vs. Loki, Black Widow vs. Hawkeye. Etc., Etc. The entire last act is basically one enormous war. It's high impact, fast paced and beyond EPIC!
Joss Whedon’s direction is worth noting as well if only for the fact that even he wasn’t sure that he could do it. The film is beautifully shot. One sequence in particular sent chills up my geeky spine. It’s a long continuous shot that follows each Avenger as they battle the Chitauri. The music, the staging, the whole shot just screamed awesomeness.
Speaking of Music, Let me take a minute to talk about Alan Silvestri’s score. The music in this film serves it’s subject matter very well. The Avengers theme in particular will stick with you. It’s a brass powered piece that screams “Superhero”. However if I have one complaint, it’s the music. It’s not really Alan’s fault. It's a personal thing. I was personally hoping to hear hints of each Avenger’s individual themes peaking through this film’s score. It just didn’t happen. We do hear several cues to Captain America’s music (which is also written by Silvestri) but everyone else’s music gets ignored. Which is really too bad because I would have loved to have heard cues from Craig Armstrong’s Incredible Hulk playing when the titular beast shows up.
Marvel’s The Avengers marks the beginning of a new era in summer blockbusters. Superhero’s have seen a huge surge in popularity over the last few decades. This film is the culmination of their being. The bar has been raised. Joss Whedon and Marvel have achieved the impossible. The Avengers has been made. It has fulfilled my childhood dreams. If you’ve ever loved superheroes, then this is THE movie you’ve been waiting to see.
D.C./Warner Bros...your turn.