Sunday, May 6, 2012

THE AVENGERS - 2012 - ASSEMBLE ASTONISHING AMAZEMENT!



“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

10 comments:

  1. You're right Fritz. It's the "perfectly executed dynamics between all the characters" that makes the film work. As a comics fan I was geeked to see Thor vs. Captain America, Thor vs. Hulk. Black Widow vs. Hawkeye. It's all there! Great blog you have, so you got a new follower!
    - Maurice Mitchell
    The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
    @thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

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  2. Thanks for the encouraging words, Maurice!

    The Avengers had so many elements that I geeked out to that I had a difficult time summing them up in my review. I didn’t mention the fight between Black Widow and Hawkeye (who was still under Loki’s influence at the time) in my review; but it too was a physical confrontation that had emotional resonance as well. It is clear at the end of their fight, that they have a history together and that their relationship was… complicated.

    I too am a comics fan. However, I stopped reading Marvel or DC superhero comics years ago, because I got tired of the EVENT storylines every year that attempted to get you (the comics reader) to buy a bunch of titles that you wouldn’t normally read, just to follow the EVENT. I did, however, read many of the major Marvel titles for most of the 70’s and 80’s, so I’m pretty well versed in their characters and as a result I can appreciate the current run of Marvel movies more than a more casual non-comics fan.

    Glad to have a prodigious blogger such as yourself at GotG, Maurice! I truly appreciate comments, as it helps me to better understand if I’ve properly conveyed my thoughts on the subjects I’ve reviewed. Plus, I have a wicked good time exchanging opinions with people who love the same things I do.

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  3. With over billions and billions of comic book fans and Marvel practically breathing down his neck, Joss Whedon was given one job and one job only and that was to not screw this up. Thankfully, he doesn't even come close to screwing it up and makes this one of the funnest superhero movies in recent time. Nice write-up Fritz.

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  4. Doc,

    Actually, I think you articulated your thoughts MARVELously.

    In fact, I thought it was a well-written review with a really interesting angle from some of the other excellent reviews out there that I've read. Yours ranks right up there.

    I thought your perspective as a comic book aficionado truly shined through the piece. You have a voracious appetite for the souce material and a strong handle on it.

    There were some great observations too. I look forward to seeing it.
    Excellent work. sff

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  5. Dan O,

    I’m not sure about the “billions of billions” of comic book fans – millions maybe; and only about 100,000 regular comics readers if current sales figures are any indication - but I assume you speak metaphorically as to the amount of pressure on Joss Whedon to create an entertaining, accessible and fiscally-successful Avengers movie. I agree, as you can tell by my super-positive review, that not only did Joss not screw it up, but that he set the bar for all superhero movies to come!

    Yes, the humor of The Avengers kept the film from ever being too bogged down in its own self-importance and also made it just plain fun!

    Thanks for the major props, Dan O!

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  6. Sci-Fi Fanatic,

    How dare you PUNish me with your kindness, sir!

    I worked hard on trying to break down what it was that made The Avengers so much better for me than any superhero film to date, so I’m thankful that you found my point-of-view on The Avengers helpful.

    As far as superheroes are concerned, my knowledge of the them is far from contemporary (see my comments to Maurice above), but I was a Marvel superhero fan long enough to appreciate just how well Joss translated the characters from the comics to film. I have to admit that the recent span of Marvel films has sparked my interest in Marvel and even DC superheroes, so I wouldn’t completely rule out the possibility of my reading superhero comics again sometime in the future.

    I know you were a Marvel maniac at one time too, Sci-Fi Fanatic, so I expect that you’ll love The Avengers too! I’m looking forward to reading your review on Musings of a Sci-Fi Fanatic!

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  7. Agree, the film makes you want to instantly see it again, I know I already have! Upon a second viewing I caught some interesting thematic elements I missed the first time around, I mean, within it's superhero comic book aura, this film deals with deep issues. Politics, governing over the masses, thinking you are superior to those you lead...humility and power, I mean this movie goes all over the place.

    Same as John Carter, the film also plays with ideas about clean energy and the need to have it in our world. And the idea that maybe the powers that be already have this clean energy but simply refuse to unleash it upon the world, because their precious oil is what makes the world go round.

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  8. While I'm looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises more than any other film this year, The Avengers was a complete blast. They combined elements from the different Marvel movies and made a complete story out of it. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and the Hulk all get their moments to shine. You get your Iron Man vs. Thor and Hulk vs. Thor fights. That's just a taste of what is to come during the last thirty minutes of pure destruction. The CGI is top of the line and the action scenes are really great, but the movie never forgets that a good story and solid laughs are just as important as all the pretty explosions. The cast led by Robert Downey Jr. (full of snappy dialogue) is as good as it gets. The Hulk is finally done right. Not too big and just the right amount of scary. Funny that he gets the two biggest laughs in the movie. I even thought that the character Loki was a much better and more menacing villain here than in Thor. It's not perfect, but I think it is the best Marvel film to date.

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  9. Francisco!

    I admire your enthusiasm and I only whish I had the time and financial ability to see THe Avengers a second time at the theater. I'll just have to wait until I buy it on blu-ray for my re-watch of The Avengers.

    I credit Joss Whedon for writing a script that not only is filled with exciting action and fascinating characterization, but sneaks in socio and political comments as well. Even the positive reviewers of this film - which were the vast majority - dismissed The Avengers as a near "popcorn" movie and overlooked some of the deeper philosophical issues that it dealt with.

    I do find it interesting that Tony Stark is the character in the film that is the one exposing "liberal" viewpoints like clean energy, etc. That not something usually associated with billionaires.

    Thanks for the additional insights into The Avengers, Francisco!

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  10. Portugal,

    I’m not a fan of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. I find them too dark and disturbing and as you can probably tell by my enthusiastic review of The Avengers, I prefer my superhero films to be more optimistic and inspiring. So, like Batman Begins and The Dark Knight, I’ll be waiting for the video disc release to watch The Dark Knight Rises.

    Considering that four different directors made the five films leading up to The Avengers, the continuity between them and The Avengers is extremely tight. Joss not only took the characters from those films and made them work together in one film, but he actually built on those characters in The Avengers. I think the reason that The Hulk’s two humorous scenes are the funniest, is because they are the least expected from his character. I hope the trend to humanize The Hulk in this film will continue in any further Hulk solo films in the future.

    I did find some minor quibbles with The Avengers and admit that it was far from a perfect movie. I, like a lot of Marvel comic book readers, would have preferred a classic Marvel space villain (like the Skrull – which apparently were not legally available to Marvel films for The Avengers), but the promise of Thanos appearing in The Avengers 2 helps to make up for that.

    Thanks for the comments, Portugal!

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