Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Avengers

The Avengers - ***

Directed by: Joss Whedon

Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlet Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Stelan Skarsgard, Tom Hiddleston

Review:  By now you will have no doubt heard that Avengers smashed (pun intended) every conceivable opening weekend box office record.  If you haven’t seen it by now you’re probably wondering two things: 1) what’s all the fuss about? 2) Does it live up to the hype?  Luckily for you, I’m here to answer these questions.

It seems every year we get a “new bar set” for comic book movies.  At least, that’s what the industry will say.  First ‘Spider-Man’ was the greatest ever.  Then it was ‘X-Men 2.’  Then it was ‘Spider-Man 2.’ Then ‘Iron Man,’ ‘The Dark Knight,’ and so on.  People will probably try and say that ‘The Avengers’ raises the bar yet again.  While that may be true in terms of opening weekend box office numbers, I don’t believe that to be the case relative to how this movie exists on its merits.

Before we jump to conclusions here, you will be able to tell by my rating that I actually quite enjoyed this film.  Having spent 6 movies (2 ‘Iron Man,’ 2 ‘Hulk,’ 1 ‘Thor,’ 1 ‘Captain America’) building up the hype, ‘The Avengers’ lives up to it in spectacle.  According to Box Office Mojo the budget for ‘The Avengers’ was $220M.  It made that much on overseas alone, but nearly made it all back again with just one weekend in America.

But enough about that, is this movie actually worth the trouble to fight the crowds and go see?  Well in short, yes.  Marvel has really outdone themselves in terms of an event.  The special effects are incredible, the battles are epic, there is trouble at every turn and a hero to battle it around every corner.  Whatever reasons Marvel had for initially making a team-style comic book, they presented it as a seminal event in the world these heroes inhabit.  It remains so as they are a continual force that exists to this day.

The theory goes that there comes a point when the world is in such peril that no solitary hero can overcome.  That day would mean that multiple heroes would have to join forces to squelch this possible scourge on humanity.  Enter: The Avengers.

As a team, they seem like an unlikely group.  Iron Man is a narcissist who can’t possibly work well with others (oh, and he might have a bit of a drinking problem as well).  Thor is a demi-god who has no reason to take orders from or work with people he deems below him, in order to save a world that isn’t even his (even if it is “under his protection”).  Captain America is a man who needs to be in charge and works better in that capacity, is there any way that he gets an entire team to appoint him as the leader?  Throw in the Hulk who is completely unpredictable and you have quite the volatile mix.

Yet, through certain events they decide to put away their differences and band together.  After all, combining a Hulk, with a demi-god, a fearless leader, and a boy genius makes for one formidable team as long as they’re all working together.  Once they realize this, they go after their foe.

As this is a movie based on a comic book and takes place in that world, there is some suspension of disbelief that is necessary in order to fully enjoy the movie.  I am completely able and willing to do this.  However, even taking that into account there are still some questions that arise that never get answered.
Loki hatches his plot to take over Earth.  In the process of figuring out how to beat him we learn of all the different realms and planets that exist everywhere.  Many of them seem to inhabit denizens and creatures much more powerful than those on Earth.  If you were going to take over a planet, why pick Earth?  Seems one stands with the least to gain.  Although, compared to a place like Asgard it might be the easiest to take over.

Bruce Banner (Ruffalo) spends half the movie talking about how he needs to avoid as many stressful situations as possible so he doesn’t turn into the Hulk and lose control.  Shortly thereafter he turns into the Hulk and seemingly has total control.  They hint at how this might be attained with a conversation between he and Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) but something still just doesn’t sit right.  At two hours and 20 minutes in run time you’d think they be able to add a little more expositions to fill these small holes.

Anyway, back to the movie at hand.  While I’m typically not a huge “hero team-up” fan (X-Men notwithstanding), it is interesting to see how these heroes play off of each other.  Once they agree to work together, they actually mesh quite nicely.  The climactic battle scene shows exactly what can happen when different heroes with different abilities work together.

This is probably the most intriguing part of the movie, seeing how their abilities and personalities co-exist.  Once we see this, it becomes quite obvious why they enjoy working in a team so much.  Writer/Director Joss Whedon (who has lots of experience writing comic books) hits the right notes in terms how these heroes interact together.  He infuses everything with just enough humor to keep it lighthearted and comic book-y, but also keeps it real enough that it works as a movie.

This isn’t ‘The Dark Knight’ or even ‘Spider-Man 2’ but it may be more fun that both of them.  What you’re getting here is a very enjoyable, albeit long, fun spectacle event picture.  You’re not going to gain a greater understanding of lifes mysteries, but you will probably enjoy yourself quite a bit and come away thinking you didn’t waste your money.

This movie is worth your time.

1 comment:

  1. Nice review Jeff. I had such a great time with this flick and definitely think it's one of the best superhero flicks since Spider-Man 2. Hopefully, Whedon will return for the sequel and makes it even better than this. Best way to kick off the Summer!