Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Review: The Avengers (2012)

And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes found themselves united against a common threat!

I’m writing this intro from the past (Last week) before I’ve actually seen The Avengers. The review after the jump is slightly more recent. Anyway I’ve talked a lot about this movie and Marvel Studio's quest for 100 million bags of gold coins bringing their characters to life in a single cinematic universe and I assume you’re as sick of me saying basically the same things over and over again as I am. Here’s the basic stuff you need to know if you’ve been living under a rock:

As teased in the post credits stinger of the first Iron Man movie in 2008 Marvel has been building towards an Avengers film for four long years. Since then there have been several films all in the same continuity: The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger. Cameos from the various characters, Easter Eggs and littered throughout and plenty of post-credit teasers; all of it in order to set the tone and create the world for this film. And practically every damn person from those film are reprising their roles…except Edward Norton because, you know, screw that guy I guess. Joss Whedon of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, Dollhouse and writer of the greatest superhero comic ever (Astonishing X-Men #1-24) is both writing and directing it and if there’s one guy in Hollywood I give a lot of leeway with its him. It’s a terrible idea to get one’s hopes up in a movie like this but with the pedigree involved it’s damn hard not to.

Full review after the jump.

Agent Coulson: The Real Star of the Marvel Movie Franchise
And now we’re in the present and I’ve actually seen the movie.

The Tesseract, an alien artifact previous utilized by the Red Skull and Hydra during World War II and now in the hands of S.H.I.E.L.D., has suddenly activated. Director Nick Fury comes in to investigate but soon after Loki, having survived his defeat in Asgard a year ago, suddenly materializes and steals the cube along with several brainwashed S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel. Seeing no other options Fury decides it’s finally time to activate the Avengers Initiative.

As the kick-off to the Summer Movie Season Avengers is a 100% success as a fun action film. In fact it’s kind of the perfect summer action film: it’s filled with great action, it’s not overly complex or pretentious, it’s funny, and it’s not a completely stupid pile of drivel. This film has Joss Whedon’s finger prints all over it as it a great blend of action scenes and cleaver humor. This is an extremely quotable film and it’s likely you’ll be spending the next few days reciting lines with your friends. Of all of Marvel Studio’s films this flick easily has the best dialogue, by far and wide. It also looks great as the CG is mostly pretty well integrated with the real stuff in the film. It’s not exactly realistically looking but it may be the best example of such a feat in the whole genre.

Looks like someone's in for an old fashioned beat down
The biggest worry was whether or not an ensemble like this would end up being a clusterf**k but thankfully most of the main characters get plenty of time to develop their characters and even the one who didn’t, Hawkeye, still had more than enough time to showcase his awesomeness. Again, you gotta give credit to Whedon who basically made his name by writing TV shows with large, superhero team-like casts. If you recall my major complaint with all four of the main X-Men movies, even the latest one, was a lack of focus on any character whose name wasn’t Wolverine. Avengers is the opposite as every member of the team gets a chance to shine. Hell even a few of the supporting cast get their moments.

Speaking of characters Chris Evans, Robert Downey, Jr. and Chris Hemsworth all managed to completely nail their respective characters yet again. Captain America, Iron Man and Thor all feel just like they did in their solo films. In fact I’d say Tony Stark works significantly better here than in Iron Man 2 where he was kind of a jackass. Being able to play off some of the other characters does a lot to recapture the charm from his first movie. Tom Hiddleston returns as Loki and he’s pretty much just as good here as he was in Thor last year. And, as I predicted, the character has indeed taken a darker turn since his last appearance, more mirroring the comic, and is more of an evil character here and enjoys the killing and general subjugation of others. So I better not hear any more people bitching about how different he is from the source material. All of the rest of the cast is great in their roles, even the newer characters like Black Widow, who is greatly expanded upon from her first appearance in Iron Man 2. Mark Ruffalo is the big question mark here since he’s Edward Norton’s replacement as Bruce Banner since Norton was really awesome in The Incredible Hulk. While Ruffalo plays the character much differently, to the point that I’m not certain it’s the same character, he’s pretty much just as good. In fact I have to agree with all the people who say he kind of steals the show here. He has a certain charm to him and gets a heck of a lot of good lines. For the first time in a while there’s talk about a new Hulk movie based on the Ruffalo’s performance. Maybe I’ll finally get a film version of The Leader after all.

Of course if a third Hulk film also fails we should probably just give up
And most importantly it’s an extremely well written script, at least for this kind of movie. This is pretty much the Shakespeare of action films.

On the down side this film is very much a sequel to the other Marvel Studio films. There’s certain things that aren’t thoroughly explained because the film assumes you saw all the previous Marvel movies. Like for example, it’s probably pretty confusing who or what Loki is without having seen Thor. The sad fact is the only way to get the full enjoyment of this flick you’d need to see the previous movies.

There’s also a few plot holes scattered throughout the movie, or if not plot holes then just something’s that need more explanation. For example, how the shit did Thor get to Earth? His movie ended on a bittersweet note where the God of Thunder was trapped in Asgard by the destruction of the Bifröst Bridge, the film ended with Jane Foster tirelessly working on a way to bring him back. But here he just shows up and Loki gives a throwaway line about Odin using  “dark magic” to send him there. Or why the hell was the Avenger Initiative scrapped? The last we heard of the program it was up and running (Tony Stark even trying to recruit Thunderbolt Ross in Incredible Hulk, apparently) but in this movie it’s said that the project was shut down but it’s never said why. Also the nature of Bruce Banner’s relationship and ability to control the Hulk isn’t really explained and I was pretty confused how the rampaging monster form his solo film was able to work with the Avengers at all. There are some other scenes but I don’t want to spoil the ending. Basically these are issues that probably just could have used a scene to better explain things. It probably wouldn’t have been too difficult to have a shot of Thor finding his way to Earth. Now according to Whedon the original cut of the movie was closer to three hours and he had to cut some stuff so it’s actually very probable that some of these questions would have been answered in the first version. So the real problem is likely that two and half hours just isn’t enough time to fully flesh out the whole plot. And that’s one of the most ridiculous things I’ve ever written on this blog.

After coming out of the theater I honestly wasn’t sure how I felt about this movie, but having analyzed it with a bit more of a critical eye I think that all the things that bugged me here weren’t enough to hinder an otherwise extremely fun film. Snappy and witty dialogue, great action and fight scenes, well-acted characters and a well written script; this film is more or less everything we could have possibly wished for an Avenger movie. At best I suppose we may have been hoping it just wasn’t terrible but it’s in fact a great movie.  It's even better than X-Men: First Class, and that realization is what helped me figure out what score to give it.  If you haven’t seen The Avengers yet I strongly urge you give it a chance, but if you haven’t watched the previous Marvel films you may want to make a trip to the video store before going to the theater. And if you are new to the world of comic books and you still really like the film and its characters for the love of God pick up a copy of the original source material (but not “Civil War”). 

When the god next to you looks worried you know you're f**ked
I give The Avengers 5 out of 5 Adorable Pandas


-Well acted and interesting characters 

-A very witty and well written

-CGI looks pretty good 

-Great action sequences 


-There are a few plot holes around 

-Not very friendly to people who haven’t watched the other Marvel Studio films 

On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand!

1 comment:

  1. Nice review Beta. 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!


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