Monday, May 7, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers (2012)




Finally…the Avengers Assemble on the Big Screen!

Summary:
"And there came a day, a day unlike any other, when Earth's mightiest heroes and heroines found themselves united against a common threat. On that day, the Avengers were born—to fight the foes no single super hero could withstand! Through the years, their roster has prospered, changing many times, but their glory has never been denied! Heed the call, then—for now, the Avengers Assemble!”

The Avengers movie is the latest installment in the Marvel line.  In this film, Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye unite under the banner of SHIELD to fight a threat like no other.  Someone (you find out at the first post credit scene) has found Loki and has sent him to Earth to wreak havoc and gain vengeance against Thor (remember, Loki fell from the shattered Bifrost at the end of Thor).  Loki comes and steals the Tesseract as well as a few other familiar faces from the Project: Pegasus (nice nod to Marvel history there) facility.  Fury brings together his response team, led by Cap.  And, the adventure ensues, as Loki and his army face the fledgling Avengers, who have to overcome their own distrust as well as their enemy.  Along the way, precious blood is spilled as a character is killed and gives the Avengers purpose to their name, having truly fulfilled the mission to bring these heroes together…..

The Good:
This movie is by far, along with Captain America, the best in the series.  The film is faithful to the comic book in that Loki is the force that brings the Avengers together, albeit with a different bent than the classic 60s book.  Loki is portrayed as someone who has gone off the deep end, no more the slightly sympathetic stepchild who is a badboy, but instead, a force of evil and deception.  The story is fast paced, and we see quite a few nods to Avengers comic history throughout the film.  We get to see Nick Fury as he is, the ultimate manipulator and chess player, as the truth is as much a tool as his pistol in his mission to keep the world secure.   

Robert Downey, Jr., being the best actor, has all of the best lines, especially the deadpan comedic lines.  This is where Downey soars, both here as well as in the Iron Man films, waxing humorous even in the midst of destruction.  Chris Evans is phenomenal as Captain America, showing both the soldier as well as the patriot in the character.  While he is a soldier, he is also a leader who thinks outside the box.  He has some great lines about gods and costumes, along with helping bring Thor and Iron Man together.  Hemsworth brings his accent and muscles back as Thor, who is now much more humble and less war hungry, though you do see his battle lust in spades.  Renner is good as Hawkeye, though I would have liked to see a costume closer to the classic Hawkeye.  Mark Ruffalo, the newcomer to the series, was a fantastic surprise as Bruce Banner/the Hulk.  His portrayal was reminiscent of Bill Bixby.  He has the same vulnerability as well as the sad acceptance that he has a monster inside him that Bixby brought to the TV series.  I hope they can keep him.  Scarlett Johanssen was delicious eye candy as the Black Widow, and had some good scenes.  However, I really would have liked if they would have gotten a Russian to play the character, even back in the Iron Man 2 days.  Clark Gregg continues to steal the show in every scene, fleshing out the mysterious Agent Coulson.  There are some really great scenes between him and Captain America, as well as with Loki.  The casting was phenomenal and I hope this group is more cohesive and less confrontational than the original Spiderman cast, who were highly demanding and caused that franchise to undergo a reboot set to hit theaters later this year.  The camaraderie between the cast looked genuine so I have high hopes. 

The OK:
Sam Jackson is serviceable as Nick Fury, but really….doesn’t he basically play the same character in every movie he is in?  The preproduction negotiations about how he held things up also soured me on him.  Scarlett Johanssen really needed a better accent.  It went in and out and disappeared like Kevin Costner’s in Robin Hood Prince of Thieves.  However, she did a decent job of representing the character and her conflict between her past and her present.  Renner did a good job as Hawkeye, but we still don’t know a bunch about him.  His quiet confidence and tactical demeanor tell me this is definitely an early Hawkeye, not the wisecracker of the comics.  Agent Maria Hill was kind of a letdown.  I thought she didn’t like superheroes.  Where is the suspicion, the distrust on her part?  Most of the time the only person she is distrusting is Fury.  That needed some work.  The obligatory Stan Lee cameo was ok, but just ok.

Bottom Line:
Getting back to the good stuff, it was so much like a classic, pre-Quesada, heydey Marvel Comic.  You had the high action, the conflict between good guys as well as the villain, as well as quite a bit of humor and wink and nod moments.  The humor in the midst of battle and seriousness are the icing on the cake of this film.  Whedon and Penn are to be commended for making a film that strikes the perfect balance of bringing the comic to the screen while modernizing and tinkering enough to make it unique.  Not since the first Nolan Batman has a film so faithfully and artistically rendered a serious attempt at bringing the fantastic world of comics to life.  This film is a must see for Comic fans, sci fi fans, as well as just plain movie fans.  Jack Kirby and Joe Simon and the other folks who helped create and mold these characters would be proud.  This is in the top three of best comic book movies of all time. 

Please, Avengers, Keep on Assembling! 

Go Assemble and see this movie! 

I’ve seen it twice since the May 4th midnight premiere and I intend to see it some more! 

Helpful Hint Alert: 
Make sure to stay for the TWO ending scenes during and after the credits!


Director/Writers:  Joss Whedon (screenplay), Zak Penn (story) both get A+

Robert Downey Jr.  ... Tony Stark / Iron Man  A+
Chris Evans  ... Steve Rogers / Captain America  A+
Mark Ruffalo  ... Bruce Banner / The Hulk   A, great first appearance
Chris Hemsworth  ... Thor    A
Scarlett Johansson  ... Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow  B-
Jeremy Renner  ... Clint Barton / Hawkeye  A-
Tom Hiddleston  ... Loki   A
Clark Gregg  ... Agent Phil Coulson    A+
Cobie Smulders  ... Agent Maria Hill  B-
Stellan Skarsgård  ... Professor Erik Selvig    B
Samuel L. Jackson  ... Nick Fury  B
Gwyneth Paltrow  ... Pepper Potts   B+


New Hope Patriot Missile Rating:


  5 out of 5 Shields
 
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