“The Avengers is the first movie in a very long time that as soon as it ended, I wanted to immediately watch it again!”
Superhero, Science Fiction, Fantasy and Action
Staring - Robert Downey Jr./Tony Stark & Iron Man, Chris Evans/Steve Rogers & Captain America, Mark Ruffalo/Bruce Banner & The Hulk, Chris Hemsworth/Thor, Scarlett Johansson/Natasha Romanoff & Black Widow, Jeremy Renner/Clint Barton & Hawkeye, Tom Hiddleston/Loki, Clark Gregg/Agent Phil Coulson, Cobie Smulders/Agent Maria Hill, Stellan Skarsgård/Professor Erik Selvig and Samuel L. Jackson/Nick Fury
Director/Writer – Joss Whedon
Rated PG-13 - intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action and a mild drug reference.
2 hr., 21 min.
The Avengers is the culmination of four years of Marvel superhero movies! Iron Man arrived in May of 2008 and was immediately followed by The Incredible Hulk in June of 2008. Iron Man 2 soloed in May of 2010. Thor was released in May of 2011 as part of a Marvel double-header with Captain America: The First Avenger following in July of 2011. Each one of these films was tied into the Avengers movie with a very clever linking thread: a post-credits scene. Iron Man had Nick Fury attempting to recruit Tony Stark for the "Avenger Initiative.” The Incredible Hulk’s final scene shows Tony Stark walking into a bar to ask General Ross “What if I told you we’re putting a team together?” Iron Man 2’s post-credits scene shows S.H.I.E.L.D. Agent Coulson observing an impact crater in the New Mexico desert, with Thor’s hammer lying in the crater. Thor’s post-credit’s scene shows Nick Fury talking to Professor Erik Selvig and showing him the Tesseract cube and saying it is, “Unlimited power, Doctor. If we can figure out how to tap it, maybe unlimited power.” Finally, in the Captain America post-credit scene, we see Nick Fury telling Steve Rodgers after he asks if he’s trying to get him back in the world, Fury says, “We’re trying to save it.” This four year cross-film pollination has built up unprecedented anticipation for The Avengers movie and thankfully the film lives up to that extraordinary expectation!
The Avengers opens in a S.H.I.E.L.D. underground base, where they have hidden the Tesseract device to experiment on. The devise activates and Loki steps though a gate created by it and he immediately takes mental control of several agents, including Clint ‘Hawkeye” Barton and Professor Erik Selvig, who aid him in escaping the facility with the Tesseract device.
Nick Fury contacts Agent Natasha “Black Widow” Romanoff and asks her to recruit Dr. Bruce Banner to help find the stolen Tesseract device. Meanwhile Agent Phil Coulson asks Tony Stark to review Selvig's research and to also help retrieve the device. Fury himself works with Steve “Captain America” Rodgers to help coordinate an attack on Loki once he is located. Unbeknownst to anyone, Loki has made a deal with an alien known only as the Other, to recruit an alien race called the Chitauri to help him subjugate Earth.
Banner traces the Tesseract device to Stuttgart, Germany, where Loki battles with Captain America and Iron Man and surrenders to S.H.I.E.L.D. Thor intercepts the plane transporting Loki and takes him away in an attempt to make his brother see reason. Iron Man and Thor fight over Loki, but Captain America intercedes and they agree to imprison Loki in S.H.I.E.L.D.'s flying aircraft carrier, the Helicarrier.
The Helicarrier is attacked by Loki’s possessed agents and they eventually free him after a tremendous battle that results in Banner transforming into the Hulk. Eventually, Thor, the Hulk, Captain America, the Black Widow and Hawkeye, fight Loki and his alien army in a tremendous battle in New York City, where Loki uses the Tesseract device to open a portal that unleashes the full might of the Chitauri military!
The Avengers is the first movie in a very long time that as soon as it ended, I wanted to immediately watch it again! Even films that I’ve truly loved in recent years haven’t motivated me with more than a knowledge that I would be buying it on blu-ray to watch it again. The pure adrenalin thrill that The Avengers produces is rare in films today; especially for someone like me who is old enough to have seen Star Wars in theaters in 1977 when it was the first and only Star Wars film.
What really makes The Avengers such an exhilarating and entertaining cinematic experience is the perfectly executed dynamics between all the characters; particularly the most powerful characters Thor, Iron Man and The Hulk. At a point in the film, each one of these characters has a physical confrontation with each other, that helps to establish not only a mutual respect for each other’s powers, but their powerful personalities as well. An example of this cagey dynamic is demonstrated in the fight between the Hulk and Thor. It is not fully resolved on a physical level, but later in the film when the two of them are standing side by side after having mutually defeated a common foe, the Hulk casually punches Thor in the arm which sends Thor flying off in the air several hundred feet!
I’ll admit up front that I am a Whedonite! I’ve followed Joss Whedon’s creations all the way from Buffy the Vampire Slayer, to Angel, to Firefly, to Dollhouse, to Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog and liked or loved them all. His first feature film, 2005’s Serenity, which was based on his sci-fi western TV series Firefly, really demonstrated Joss ability to tell a complex story with multiple characters in a two-hour film format, so I was confident that he would also write a similarly intricate and vivid story for The Avengers as well. Joss Whedon’s fingerprints are all over this film, but they particularly stand out in the dialogue between the characters. When Thor and Black Widow are discussing how to punish Loki Thor explains his reluctance with, “He's my brother.” To which Natasha responds, “He’s killed eighty people in two days!” Thor sheepishly replies, “He’s adopted.” One of the better physical gags is between Loki and the Hulk fighting and an astonished Loki shouts, “I am a God! I am not going to be bullied by a...” and before he can finish the Hulk grabs him by the legs and throws him around like a doll, then simply utters, “Puny God!” These are the types of small breaks in the action that really make The Avengers unique and a very Joss Whedonesque film.
The magnificent battle at the finally of the film in New York City is not only filled with the expected extravagant special effects, but there are quite a few good emotional payoffs as well. My favorite moment - this isn’t a spoiler, because they show it the trailer – is when Tony Stark is falling from the sky to his certain doom, it is the Hulk who catches him and slows his fall. This is significant because throughout the film, Tony Stark is the one person who believes that Bruce Banner will be able to assert his personality after he transforms into the Hulk and this scene is the exclamation point that proves him right. In a way, this scene also demonstrates the essence of The Avengers, which to me is about the sacrifice of self to the mutual benefit of the assembled whole. That is indeed what the saying “Avengers Assemble” is all about!
TECHNICAL: Acting – 10 Directing – 10 Cinematography – 10 Script – 10 Special Effects – 10
VISCERAL: Visual – 10 Auditory – 9 Intellectual – 9 Emotional – 10 Involvement – 10
TOTAL RATING – 98