What amazes me about the latest epic 'Marvel' Comics movie is how many things go right. With the ensemble of so many superheroes placed on one screen: [Captain America, (Evans); Black Widow, (Johansson); Iron Man, (Downey, Jr.); The Incredible Hulk, (Ruffalo); Thor, (Hemsworth); and The Archer, (Renner)]; the results could have easily been a cluttered mess. Instead, nearly all the necessary elements are properly placed. First of all, the menace of Thor's brother, Loki (Hiddleston), and his army of gothic extraterrestrials provides enough peril to keep all the mighty guardians on the ropes for substantial stretches of the film. The second element is keeping the mood intact. 'The Avengers' gets campy in plenty of places, yet stays serious enough to sustain its suspense. How a movie juggles these two mood swings can easily make or break it. ('Star Wars' is the supreme example of stellar success; while 'Armageddon' remains a prime contender as one of the worst juggling acts.) Between the nimble work of Screenwriter/Director, Joss Whedon, (with screenwriter, Zak Penn) and editors (Ford and Lassek), the film seldom loses a step or its nerve. Added to that Samuel L. Jackson, as helmsman Nick Fury, the story stabilizes and prevents the exposition from becoming cloudy or long-winded.
One of the ingenious elements found in the fray is the chemistry of characters and the interplay of their indomitable egos. Front in center for both the banter and suspense is top ego, 'Iron Man' (Oddly, one of the few icons who relies on human invention rather than on superhuman strength.) played by Downey, who by his talent and the usual snappy script, propels the entertainment to its best heights. However, "The Incredible Hulk" (played by an unusually fragile Ruffalo) goes closest to the precipice of danger, providing an unstable danger to the core team. In an unusual twist, these superheroes are at such odds with each other, the threat of their enemies remains elusive until they can get their act together.
The plot is perhaps the lesser player next to the clashing arcade. Loki who is the incorrigible demi god (and brother Thor's alter ego) has an insatiable desire to subjugate everyone on planet earth. Using the forbidden, frozen substance used in the film 'Thor,' Loki and his henchmen seek to change and control mankind with this power and convert mankind by servile fear.
While 'The Avengers' is nearly pitch perfect entertainment, not all of the conflicts and dialogue succeeds. While I loved and admired all the wonderful, escapist elements the movie offers, it lacked some of the overall quality found in recent 'Marvel' offerings. It doesn't match the perfection of the first 'Iron Man,' the poignancy of 'Thor,' nor the cohesiveness of 'Captain America: The First Avenger'. A comparison with comic book classics such as 'The Dark Knight,' 'Spiderman 2,' or the splendor of the first two 'Superman' movies, and this film surely falls short. (Although I certainly admired how they wove all the recent 'Marvel' movies so seamlessly together--another tell-tale sign that this movie could have easily been a disaster!)
But where `The Avengers' succeeds, it does so in spades. As perfect popcorn entertainment, 'The Avengers' gets it right--good enough to spend your extra dollars for 3D or I-Max, and enough for people with home entertainment centers to be extra grateful during Thanksgiving or another part of the holiday season when this film will undoubtedly come out on DVD.
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John L. Peterson (JPs_Picks_N_Pans)
Dec 5, 2011
Jan 7, 2013 08:56 PM UTC
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The Avengers is the title planned for an American superhero film yet to be produced by Marvel Studios and distributed by Walt Disney Pictures. It was announced in April 2005 and is to be based upon the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. The film is intended to be part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe which crosses over several Marvel superhero films including Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo are under contract to star, with Joss Whedon attached to direct a script written by Zak Penn and himself. The Avengers has an announced release date of May 4, 2012 in 3-D