The Avengers (2012)
I was never a huge fan of The Avengers comic books, I must admit. I’m a Spider-Man guy, through and through. Iron Man was pretty cool. Wasn’t crazy about Captain America; thought he was okay. The Hulk was kinda boring to me. And Hawkeye was, well, a dude with a bow and arrow.
The Avengers is the best comic-book movie I’ve ever seen.
Most people know the plot, but for those who don’t, I’ll sum it up quickly: Thor’s brother Loki descends upon earth with an alien army in tow determined to make us feeble earthlings his slaves.
If you’ve been watching the recent Marvel movies, you’ve already met the Avengers. Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, and Thor all starred in their own vehicles. Hawkeye appeared in Thor and Black Widow appeared in the underwhelming Iron Man 2. Director Joss Whedon has assembled (pun intended) them all for this amazing thrill ride.
What makes a great comic book movie? Humanity. Superman II has it. The Nolan Batman films have it. Spider-Man 2 has an abundance of it. And The Avengers, well, has it and then some. These superheroes are all real people with real problems. Many of them can barely reconcile with their own issues let alone deal with the issues of new teammates. And all that dysfunction and in-fighting makes for some pretty interesting scenes, as well as genuine satisfaction when the team begins to really gel.
I often feel differently about a film a week or so (sometimes more) after I’ve seen it, which is why if I had to make my living reviewing movies, I’d be in trouble. I’m not sure if I’ll still think it’s the best comic-book movie to date this time next week, but I can with confidence say that The Avengers has it all. I feel like nowadays movies are considered much cooler if they’re “dark.” The Dark Knight is a perfect example. Ledger’s performance was nothing short of brilliant, and there were some terrific moments. But overall I actually felt that Batman Begins was a more enjoyable film. “I loved RANDOM MOVIE, it was so dark.” The Avengers is not dark. It has a few dark moments, however I maintain that one of the factors that keeps it from being considered dark is also one of its greatest assets: spectacle. This is by definition “a popcorn movie,” yet it is devoid of any real flaws. Great writing, directing, acting, costumes, effects, a coherent story, deep characters, and a surprising amount of humor all mix together wonderfully to produce a superbly-paced, immensely enjoyable 142-minute ride.
What I noticed was after seeing this film, my friends and I all mentioned how each character was terrific in their own way. They all had adequate screen time; they all had their personal stories acknowledged. They each had demons and they all fought for different reasons. There was even a touching side to Agent Coulson, which I enjoyed since I felt he was kind of a jerk in Iron Man 2. Speaking of Iron Man, if anyone at all would ever say that this film featured one hero more than the rest, the argument could be made for him. It’s true that a very important plot device does revolve around Tony Stark’s enormous monument to both clean energy and himself, Stark Tower. And if one had to count up the minutes each character got onscreen (which I’m sure at least one nerd is working on right this second), Iron Man very well may come out on top. But not by much. And maybe we just notice him more because not only is Iron man considered the “coolest” hero of the group, but Robert Downey Jr. is arguably one of the most charismatic actors in the business. I have to say casting him as Tony Stark may be one of the all-time casting decisions.
The excellent casting and brisk pace of this film leads up to what all superhero movies must have: a final battle. And it was during said final battle that I remember thinking to myself these specific words: “This is incredible.” It’s hard to think of a better one, which means I may have just given The Avengers another accolade: best final battle ever. All of the heroes do exactly what makes sense for their characters. And Captain America shines in crunch time, to the point that each Avenger follows his instructions without the slightest hesitation.
The Avengers does have an advantage over almost any other superhero film these days (except for the X-Men franchise) because it has a multitude of heroes with a multitude of abilities and personas. But that shouldn’t be held against it. X-Men 3 proved that just because you have a plethora of superheroes, that doesn’t guarantee a good film. Simply put, Whedon knocked it out of the park. He even managed to give depth to the Hulk character, so much so that the studio folks at Marvel are now considering what they had given up on long ago: another stand-alone film for the big green guy.
In Summary: Clearly I’m not a seasoned film reviewer, so I decided to just give my random thoughts as opposed to using as many fancy words as possible while recounting various scenes. But I’ll say it again, this film was flat-out awesome. I saw the 3D version and it blended in perfectly. When it doesn’t feel like 3D, that’s good 3D. If you plan on seeing The Avengers, see it in the theaters. I know films come out on DVD so fast these days, so you have to decide when you want to pay 1/2 to 2/3 of the DVD’s price and skip the 3-month wait. This is one of those films. I promise.
|5 out of 5 Sorcerer hats!|