Friday, May 4, 2012

Review: The Avengers

The first question that people must ask about the culmination of a 4 year project to bring together 4 separate superheroes, from essentially 4 different genres into one movie is: Was it worth it? Yes, it was. The second we must ask is: Is it good. Yes, it is. Is it the best superhero movie ever? Naw. Is it the deepest or most meaningful? Not even slightly. But what it is, is approximately 10 different kinds of fun.

The plot is concerned with Thor's brother Loki stealing a magic cube that does whatever the writers say it does. Loki wants to use it to summon a race of alien monsters so Nick Fury summons a buncha superheroes to kick their asses... No really, that's it. Seriously, there's some character beats, and a subplot about mind control, but the story is really that straightforward.

That's not a complaint by the by. A lot of good movies are extremely straightforward, especially action movies. And The Avengers is most definitely action focused. Indeed, it seems one of the main advantages to having it's characters set up beforehand is to allow the movie to cut straight to the action. And what great action it is, taking full advantage of it's varied characters abilities and superheroes abilities to absorb insane levels of damage and just ignore it. A personal favorite early fight scene involves Thor and Iron Man throwing each other around like a pair of super sayians. All of this action is fantastically well directed, with great editing and camera work. Joss Whedon (who is having a GREAT year) has never directed anything this action heavy before, but he shows a natural talent that many action directors can only dream of (coughJJAbrahmscough).

The screenplay is about the best you could hope for a movie this action oriented, showcasing Joss' signature ability to balance large casts without it feeling forced. One of my favorite things about the big final fight scene is that everyone is given something to do, without any of it feeling forced. Those of you worried that this would be 'Tony Stark: Guest Starring the Avengers' can rest easy. Okay yeah, he gets a lot of the dialogue (and most of the funny lines) but overall, it's a team effort.

All of the actors are turning in great work (especially Robert Downey Jr. who remains an inspired choice for his role) but the real surprising turn is Chris Evans as Cap. I found him to be an incredibly flat and one dimensional character in his movie, but it seems his casting was based more on his ability to play modern day Cap, as his performance and character is much more interesting and nuanced. The other big one is Jeremy Renner in a surprisingly good performance as Hawkeye.

There are some minor nitpicks I could make. I preferred Edward Norton's Bruce Banner to Mark Ruffalo's (nothing against Mark, I just think Edward did a better job). On the subject, I think I liked that movie's design on the Hulk (IE, that he was an exaggerated version of the actor playing Banner) a little better. I suppose Nick Fury and Maria Hill weren't given much to do and the first act seemed to zip by kinda quickly.

But then, nitpicking is unhelpful. This isn't the most complicated or deep movie I've seen lately, but it doesn't need to be. It accomplishes everything it sets out to do and I'm more than inclined to recommend it just based on the sheer amount of fun I had watching it. I was engaged, I was excited, I laughed, I cheered, what more do you want from an action/superhero movie? If you're in the market for a good time at the movies, definitely give this one a look, it's likely to be the best pure action movie of the year.

Elessar is a 22 year old Alaskan born cinephile and he spent much of the movie wondering where War Machine was.

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