Heh heh heh. WOW! Whoooooo hooo!!
Summer blockbuster entertainment at its absolute finest. A roller coaster ride of action, comedy and great characters. A total blast.
As I’m sure everyone knows by now, The Avengers is the story of Marvel’s movie superheroes banding together to fight a threat to the planet.
Iron Man, Captain America, the Hulk, and Thor, are all brought together by Nick Fury when the Tesseract (the Cosmic Cube) from “Captain America” is stolen by Loki, who intends to use it to open a portal for an alien invasion. With Black Widow and Hawkeye already members of SHIELD, the parts of The Avengers are all in place… the only problem being that these consummate solo artists aren’t interested in being a part of a team. Between having their own agendas, never having worked with others, not trusting Nick Fury, and having Loki, the God of Mischief around, there are plenty of opportunities for the Avengers to in-fight. Hawkeye is outright turned against the team early on, as he’s put under Loki’s spell. Captain America, Thor and Iron Man all mark their first meeting with a throw down. And of course, having the incredible, irascible Hulk on your team is practically a guarantee that people will get smashed. It’s a comic book fan’s dream to watch these teammates square off against each other on the big screen, and “The Avengers” certainly does not let the opportunity pass.
When they’re not fighting outright, there’s still plenty of bickering amongst the blending. But this is one of the areas where the Avengers truly separates itself from other superhero movies. By having so many characters, each of equal stature, there’s ample opportunities for scenes of import, no matter who you have interacting with each other. Tony Stark forms a bit of a genius admiration society with Bruce Banner, but comes into conflict with the military-minded Steve Rogers. Thor and Loki have operatic worthy conversations about brotherhood and envy. Black Widow and Hawkeye commiserate about being normal people called into a superpowered situation. And a weary, yet determined Nick Fury presides above it all.
Part of the reason that the character interplay works so well is the incredible cast they’ve assembled. Actors and actresses that would otherwise be headlining their own films willingly meld into an ensemble cast where everyone plays a role. There’s no drop-off between star and supporting cast, because there is no star, they’re all the stars. Jeremy Renner is a two-time Oscar nominee and is about to headline his own franchise (The Bourne reboot) in three months… and he’s batting seventh in this lineup! Each member of the cast is excellent in their roles and they all play off of each other so well.
In addition, a huge amount of respect and credit must be paid to Joss Whedon, who cements his place on the Mount Rushmore of geek fandom with this film. The dialogue is crisp and snappy in comedic situations, and epic and full of grandeur at others. Characters seem just as easily equipped to give a sympathetic moment as they are to fire off a witty one liner. Each of them are well written and clearly individuated. They feel like well-rounded people, not simply movie parts. But most of all, and this is a credit to Whedon as director as well, “The Avengers” is brilliantly orchestrated. Plot and characters are given adequate time to develop fully, and then lengthy, extraordinary, epic, exciting action sequences ensue. Liberally mixed in throughout are highly effective comedy beats – outright hysterical, yet perfectly balanced in the mix. They never threaten to turn the movie into a comedy, but they also never let the audience forget that they’re supposed to be having fun while they’re at the movies. Along the way, enough weight is placed on talk of courage, sacrifice, and teamwork that the movie doesn’t feel shallow.
The action sequences are masterpieces of movie making. Powered by the best special effects technology possible, fantastical situations are brought to life before your eyes. The battles are full of different combat styles via each of the characters doing what they do best. Each of the heroes are given ample opportunity to shine. Captain America gives orders, Iron Man provides air support, Thor electrifies enemies, and Hulk smashes. OHH does Hulk Smash. It’s hard to imagine a reasonable fan of any of these characters disapproving of the way they were handled. And Loki is a wonderful enemy, he easily elicits audience animosity. He doesn’t just wish to conquer the world, he wishes to subjugate humanity, and he does it in such a petulant way that it’s nearly impossible not to loathe him.
It’s hard to envision a movie that better exemplifies the term “Summer Blockbuster” than this one. It’s funny and fun, it’s filled with roller coaster ride action sequences and epic battles. It has state of the art, completely believable special effects. It stars an enormous number of colorful characters, each marvelously brought to life by charismatic performers.
Ladies and Gentlemen, your first A++ of the year, let’s hope there’s plenty more.