Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Movie Review: The Avengers (2012)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Humor, characters to a winning film
Cons: Climatic battle could have been a little shorter
The Bottom Line
Everything works well
Mix of character, action
Seasoned with humor

"We Need a Plan of Attack."  "I Have a Plan: Attack."

I've begun to get tired of all the Marvel movies because they were feeling formulaic.  But I have a friend who was so excited for The Avengers he could hardly stand it, and his enthusiasm was contagious, so we wound up seeing the movie together.  I'm glad I let him talk me into it because it was great.

Obviously, they've been building toward this movie for a while now with the other movies they've been releasing.  After all, this movie includes Robert Downey, Jr. and Iron Man/Tony Stark, Chris Evans as Captain America/Steve Rogers, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor.  It assumes you know a little bit about the characters already, so I was glad I had seen them.  This was especially true of Thor because that movie is the most directly involved in what happens here.  You could just jump in here and still enjoy it, but to fully get what happens here, it will have helped to see those previous movies.

S.H.I.E.L.D., an international peace keeping organization, has found a cube of energy and they are trying to figure out how to turn it into a new power source for Earth.  But that's before Loki (Tom Hiddleston) shows up from another dimension and takes it, destroying their research base in the process.

Now they have a crisis on their hands.  While Loki tries to use the cube to create a longer connection to another dimension so he can bring an army to destroy Earth, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., begins to assemble a collection of superheroes to protect Earth.  The team includes CaptainAmerica, Iron Man, Thor, Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo/Computer), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).  Will they be able to defeat Loki?

I think one reason I liked this movie is that in many ways it felt like a sequel instead of a first movie.  That's where those previous individual superhero movies come in - they've set up the majority of these characters already so we already know who they are.  Yes, we need to assemble the team, but that's actually rather short, so then we can start with the actual story.

The story is definitely strong.  The movie is well over two hours long, and I never got restless.  There are several great action scenes that really do show off all the characters to their best.  I did feel the climatic battle was a bit long, but that's my only real complaint.

What really impressed me was how, in the midst of the story and the action, we got character development for all the Avengers as well.  Frankly, I thought we got more character development here than we did in some of the previous individual movies.  Not being a comic book guy, I wasn't familiar with Black Widow and Hawkeye before this film, and I enjoyed those characters that felt I got a bit of a feel for them here.  Honestly, I would love a solo movie with Black Widow; I just loved that character.

Then there's the humor.  This is definitely a Joss Whedon movie.  While I have a major beef in how he ends his TV shows (Buffy, Angel, and Serenity are his three strikes), I love his sense of humor and snappy one liners.  This movie had several lines and scenes that made the full theater I saw this with laugh hysterically.  There are many great lines.  This mix of humor helped make the movie for me.  Honestly, I'll admit that Joss's involvement as writer and director is probably why I loved this movie so much since characters and humor have always been his strengths.

The actors are all great here.  The performances kept me engaged and helped bring those characters to life.

And the movie is filled with special effects.  Personally, I bought what I saw on screen.  That's hardly surprising for a big budget movie in the days of computer graphics.

As with the other recent Marvel movies, it's worth staying through the credits.  There are two scenes to watch.  Many found the second scene to be pretty funny, but I didn't get it.  And the first?  It might be setting up the inevitable sequel.

The Avengers is indeed a summer blockbuster movie, and that's a good thing in my book.  It's fun and entertaining - everything a movie should be.

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