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The Avengers

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The Avengers

I have to say, I’m amazed that I’m not totally sick of superhero movies.  Well, I admit that I groan every time I see a trailer for the newest Spiderman movie.  But that’s sort of an aside.  I was actually genuinely excited to go see The Avengers in theaters.  Yes, this is the third incarnation of the Hulk that I’ve seen in the last decade, but I can get over that.  I still consider Iron Man and Thor to be totally fresh, and I was actually looking to give Captain America a second chance after being thoroughly disappointed with his movie. 

For me, The Avengers totally lived up to the excitement and anticipation.  But not because of Iron Man, Thor, Cappy, Hulk, or any of the actual Avengers.  It was the villain Loki that enchanted me.  Does that make me a bad person?  Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is so sinister, arrogant, merciless, and power-hungry that he commands a presence in the film.  You grow to love disliking him, and you’ll revel when he gets his comeuppance. 

The Avengers

Here are your basics:  Mankind is in grave danger when Loki storms the human world and steals the Tesseract.  In case you don’t recall, the Tesseract is this super powerful glowing square that does marvelous things like produce energy and enable inter-stellar travel.  So anyway, Loki steals it because he wants to bring his gross alien army to Earth and take over.  He’s mad that he’ll never be king of Asgard, and this is his distant second place.  Nick Fury recognizes the threat, and begins to assemble the Avengers.  They are Ironman (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).  Hawkeye gets abducted, but the Avengers are lucky enough to pick up Thor (Chris Hemsworth) as well.  He just happens to storm the planet searching for Loki.  The group team up to stop Loki and save the planet.  Of course, with so much power and competing personalities, there’s lots of squabbling, and thus fighting and hilarity ensues.

In creating The Avengers, Joss Whedon worked hard to capture the essence of the highly successful Iron Man franchise and Thor, and then he jacked all that up on steroids.  The Tony Stark quips and attitude is in this film in all its glory.  And yet some of the hokey comedy of Thor is also in The Avengers as well.  It’s quite a blend.  Then Whedon fold in lots and lots of action—fight upon fight upon fight.  And yet it doesn’t feel overdone, circa Transformers 2.

The Avengers

I have to admit, things seem to start out a little slow.  There’s a good amount of backstory in the first 45 minutes of the movie, maybe a little too much.  It’s not drudgingly slow, but compared to the final two thirds of the film, it’s a little meandering.  I followed the plot pretty well, but I sense that some others may struggle a little bit with this.  But seriously, who cares, the movie totally stood up as a great action flick. 

Beyond the actual movie, other highlights from my trip to the theater were the trailers for The Expendables 2, Prometheus, and Brave.  It’s going to be a good, good summer.  Mark my words.  And The Avengers is just the second worthy entry into the summer movie madness.

Thumbs up.

 

 

What he said:

He

Rumors for The Avengers movie started back as 2005, but that seemed like nothing more than a fantasy concocted by a bunch of us …err um I mean those nerdy types, while discussing such topics over a round of their favorite roleplaying game. Supposedly they got real serious about it after the success of Iron Man (review here) in 2008. The Incredible Hulk also came out in 2008. Both movies had little scenes that pointed to everything eventually coming together in The Avengers. This made it official. The Avengers – the first major crossover superhero movie – was actually going to happen. It wasn’t just bunch of wishful thinking anymore. Then last summer both Captain America (review here) and Thor (review here) got their own movies. Oh yeah and Iron Man got a sequel (review here) in 2010 as well. The groundwork was set, all of the backstories were told, and now it was time for the Avengers to assemble!  

The Avengers

The idea for the team was created by Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson). He is the leader of a government organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D. The organization is a branch of the military that deals specifically with superhuman threats. So over the years as these random heroes begin popping up all over the world, Fury and his team begin contacting them (seen in the other movies leading up to this). He attempts to recruit them for his new group he’s been calling the Avengers. The only problem is that the idea never really got off the ground. With little support from his superiors and difficulty gathering all these super people, Fury was forced to shelve his plans.

Everything changes though when Loki – the Norse God of Mischief and Magic – appears at a S.H.I.E.L.D. base and steals an ancient artifact of great power. Loki successfully steals the Tesseract and also manages to enslave/possess a few of the good guys along the way; one of which is future Avengers member Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Hawkeye is a master assassin, so naturally this puts Fury on the defensive. Not only did he lose this powerful object, he lost one of his best men. He is forced to once again to try and resurrect the Avengers initiative.

He sends out the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to attempt to recruit Dr. Bruce Banner (AKA the Hulk). Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is hesitant because he’s been on the run from the military ever since he’s turned into the Hulk. He has not “had an incident” in quite some time and fears that being recruited into a group like this would cause him to transform into the monster known as the Hulk once again. Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) attempts to once again recruit Tony “Iron Man” Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.). Stark is an egomaniac – but a funny one – and still isn’t very interested. But when the threat is this big, can he still turn his back on Fury?  Captain America (Chris Evans) is already a member of the military, but he’s kind of just sitting around up until this point. He’s still reeling from being frozen in cryogenic state for 70 years. He’s something of a lost soul. They don’t have to find Thor (the Norse God of Lightning), he finds them. Loki is his adopted brother and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is there to capture him and bring him back to their world of Asgard. Asgard is ashamed and embarrassed by Loki’s actions, however they still believe he is their problem. This causes something of an issue when S.H.I.E.L.D. captures Loki with the intention of holding him prisoner for his crimes, when Thor literally walks in and takes his brother with him. The three of them eventually agree to sit down and hug it out.

While being held captive Loki is interrogated by the Black Widow. She wants to know his endgame as well as get Hawkeye back. Being the only two “normal” people on the team, Hawkeye and the Black Widow are pretty tight. She really wants him returned to the team safely. However, problems arise when Loki unleashes his plan on them.  

The rest of the movie is spent dealing with the team’s trust issues and the attack Loki has been planning. Can the Avengers sort out their problems for the sake of mankind? Or will Loki conquer and rule humanity as he thinks he is entitled to do? You’ll just have to watch to find out because I don’t want to spoil anything for you.

The Avengers

The Avengers was a blast. A complete and total blast. This movie is the definition of fun. The reason the movie works so well is because it knows exactly what it is. It is a comic book movie and that means it should do two things: kick ass and make you laugh. It succeeds on both levels and very much so. You’ve got super powered people duking it out with other super powered people and cracking one-liners along the way. It’s just some good old-fashioned fun (with a really big budget and special effects). Director Joss Wheedon did a fantastic job. He crafted a true live-action version of a comic book. There are several good comic book movies out there, but this (along with Thor and Iron Man) is one of the more fun ones.
He couldn’t have done it without everyone buying into it and I have to say there were times I was not sure if it would work. There are a lot of big names in this movie and that alone doesn’t equal success. You need the actors to believe in what they are doing, even if what they are doing is just a popcorn flick. Granted it’s a really big one, but that’s what it is when you get right down do it and I’m perfectly ok with that. I’d rather watch good fluff than an epic drama that isn’t engaging.

Robert Downey Jr. does it again. If you have ever read an Iron Man comic, you know he’s pretty much nailed Tony Stark’s personality. And if you haven’t, you will know exactly who and what Tony Stark is after seeing this or any other movie in which he plays Iron Man. Stark is a cocky – if not arrogant – tech genius who started out as a weapons manufacturer, but after an accident decided his talents would better be used in investing in renewable energy sources. He’s full of himself, but not a bad guy. He does care about others, you just have to rein him in sometimes.

Captain America is the world’s first superhero. Created during World War II as a way to rally the Allied Forces against Hitler, he’s been struggling to acclimate to modern society. I did not care for the Captain America movie and that was very disappointing. I really enjoy the character. Captain America is the reason I started reading comic books again several years back, so I was upset I didn’t enjoy the movie. That being said, I never hated Chris Evan’s performance of Cap; it’s just that the movie was kind of boring. Well I’m glad Evans was in this because he did the character justice.
For those of you unfamiliar with the mythology, Thor is basically the Norse version of Hercules. He is the son of Odin (their version of Zeus) and pretty much the Asgardian’s top ass-kicker. He is a good guy, but sometimes a little brash and out of touch with reality. Hemsworth is fantastic in this role and I also highly recommend Thor if you haven’t seen it. It’s a hilarious and entertaining adventure.  

Mark Ruffalo plays the Hulk. The Hulk is kind of like Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde. He’s a brilliant mind whose alter ego is a monster. Literally. He is also the third actor to play the role in the last 10 years, but you’d never know it by his performance. He brings the angry, yet reluctant, aspects of Banner’s personality out quite well. Plus it really helps that they just let the Hulk loose in this movie. I mean they really had fun with this character. He just lays waste to everything in his path; even his team members.

The Avengers

In a movie with a lot of super powered people, you’d think the normal folk would be pretty boring, but all of that considered Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, and Clark Gregg (this guy is really funny btw) do just fine with what they were given. They aren’t as big or powerful as the other characters, but they never feel like they are wasted or tacked on just for the sake of it.

The real gem of the movie though is Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki. I enjoyed him immensely in Thor. He was absolutely wonderful as the younger, less popular brother, who felt overshadowed by his big bro. Well they took all of that and amped it up a notch. Loki has always been petty and childish, but he’s a full blown sociopath in this one. He’s not only hurt, he’s angry now and he wants everybody to pay for it. Hiddleston portrays this with such an entertaining quality that while I can’t say I’m rooting for the bad guy, he keeps me on the edge of my seat. He’s a man-child with the power of an immortal being. He is extremely dangerous and not only knows it, but he likes it. His evil grins are so good I can’t help and smile every time he does it.

If you are looking for a good time at your local theater, check it out. A word of warning though, you really should see Iron Man and Thor before seeing this. You don’t have to see all of the lead up movies in order to see The Avengers, but those two give most of the backstory (and watch the scenes after the credits too).

Diagnosis: Thumbs up.

This movie review was written for your reading pleasure on May 7, 2012. It was updated for your continued viewing pleasure on October 8, 2012.

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