Saturday, May 5, 2012
Marvel's "The Avengers" is Marvelous
The Avengers (2012)
Running time: 142 minutes (2 hours, 22 minutes)
MPAA – PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference
DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon
WRITERS: Joss Whedon; from a story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon (based upon the comic book created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby)
PRODUCER: Kevin Feige
CINEMATOGRAPHER: Seamus McGarvey
EDITORS: Jeffrey Ford and Lisa Lassek
COMPOSER: Alan Silvestri
Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany (voice), Alexis Denisof, Powers Boothe, Jenny Agutter, Harry Dean Stanton, and Stan Lee
The Avengers is a 2012 superhero movie from Marvel Studios. The film, which is based upon the comic book created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, stars Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, and Thor, all of whom have been featured in their own films. Other characters appearing include Nick Fury (who has appeared in several Marvel Studios films), Black Widow (appeared in Iron Man 2), and Hawkeye (who made a cameo appearance in Thor).
These superheroes come together to battle Loki (the villain in Thor) and his alien army that are bent on conquering Earth. The result is The Avengers, one of the best movies of the year, thus far, and a marvelous superhero spectacular that rivals the best action movies in recent memory. The Avengers more than lives up to the pre-release hype.
Exiled Norse god, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), attacks a remote research facility in order to steal the Tesseract, an energy source of unknown potential. In response, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), the director of the espionage agency, S.H.I.E.L.D., reactivates the Avengers Initiative, a program that will bring together individuals with extraordinary powers. There is Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor the Norse God of Thunder (Chris Hemsworth), Agent Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).
There are problems and complications, however, the biggest being that these people don’t get along. Meanwhile, Loki has made a deal with the Other (Alexis Denisof), an alien conqueror that wants the Tesseract. In exchange, the Other gives Loki an alien army, the Chitauri, to help him conquer Earth. Can the heroes become the Avengers in time to save the world?
There is no point in waiting, so I’ll just come out an admit it. I loved this movie. I loved how the CGI Hulk has more personality in The Avengers than the character had in the two Hulk movies. I loved how when S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier (a flying aircraft carrier) emerges from the sea, I felt overwhelmed and frightened, because it is such an enormous edifice and that moment in the movie is so gigantic. I love how truly frightening and menacing the Chitauri are.
The Avengers’ visual effects extravaganza and wall-to-wall action remind me of the second and third entries in the recent Transformers film franchise (Revenge of the Fallen and Dark of the Moon), but The Avengers’ mass of sound and CGI is more purposeful towards the story than what went on in the Transformers. Still, as is the case with the Transformers movies, The Avengers’ visuals can be overwhelming.
Of the five films produced by Marvel Studios, beginning with Iron Man back in 2008, The Avengers’ is most like the two Iron Man films directed by John Favreau (who is credited as an executive producer on The Avengers). That means high production values, quality storytelling, good villains, and excellent performances all around.
There are a lot of people that I can praise for making The Avengers a movie I want to experience through repeated viewings, but I will focus on writer/director Joss Whedon. Although he has been a screenwriter and script doctor for over two decades, Whedon’s best known work has been in television, most notably the long-running TV series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer. This movie could have been too big for him, but his enormous and fertile imagination crated a movie that is actually too big for a normal-sized movie screen.
Whedon, however, emphasizes the heroes’ humanity, and how the best of them can overcome individual pettiness, as must be the case with a true superhero. Whedon manages this behemoth because he is the one who built it, keeping the weight of the film buoyant through sparkling wit and humor. But Whedon never forgets the power, the spectacle, and the all-things-awesome that make superheroes marvelous entertainment. It is not perfect; for one thing, it is a little too long, but I give Whedon credit for making The Avengers such a smash-up sensation.
8 of 10
Saturday, May 05, 2012