Reviewed by Ian Forbes, Sobering Conclusion
Reviewing a film like The Avengers is sort of like letting surfers know that the ocean can be fun. There are legions of fanboys foaming at the mouth to see what director/co-writer Joss Whedon has done with the culmination of four origin stories for the characters. There are even bigger legions of movie audiences who enjoy summer blockbusters, only need a modicum of story to go along with heaps of action/explosions/super powers, and are obviously not picky (see the box office take on X-Men Origins: Wolverine).
All of the early buzz and studio-allowed reviews (from outlets almost guaranteed to like this movie) has been stellar. Seriously, at this point you’re either completely out of the demographic and couldn’t care less, are planning to see it opening weekend, or are planning to see it opening weekend and possibly a few more times after that.
Well, while I’m sure you can find a metric ton of glowing reviews, I can pretty much sum up my take on things with: ‘Yeah, it’s really good. Probably the best of the Marvel movies to date. When does Looper come out?’. And before anyone looks through their closet to find the costume Wolverine claws or Hulk hands they wore a few Halloweens ago, allow me to explain.
In an age of origin stories to allow audiences who didn’t read the comic books to understand the characters, we’re finally being given a movie where it should just be plug and play … and it is for the most part. However, replacing the need to fill up the first 75% of the story with back story is an overall plot that is merely an origin tale for how all of these A-list actors/chosen heroes formed a super group named The Avengers.
There are some gaping plot holes (the sudden ability for the Hulk to do more than smash objects with the targeting selection of a T-Rex being one of the biggest) but Whedon is quite familiar with the Marvel universe (he’s written comics, including a stint on Astonishing X-Men) and he has done the very best of any director in staying true to these characters. I’d love, love, LOVE to see him at the reins of a rebooted X-Men franchise (those movies hurt my comic-geek soul more than any other). So for anyone worried he might switch things up drastically, you can relax.
That doesn’t mean Whedon managed to avoid a few scenes which severely slow down the film’s momentum. It’s fine to slow down from a breakneck speed occasionally but some of the actors are less engaging than others and watching them work so consciously to seem “real” was like a bright red stop sign.
There’s also a problem in being forced to release this in 3D. While it’s okay for the most part, there are a couple of scenes that take place in very low light which are not adjusted for the extra dimming brought on by tinted 3D glasses. Also, during the final fight scenes, the numerous fast moving objects and actions were reminiscent of Clash of the Titans. Save those extra bucks and buy yourself some candy or use it as a down payment on your repeat visit to this opening salvo to blockbuster season.
Other than that, the film was quite enjoyable. Robert Downey Jr.’s comedic timing helped keep things light, Johansson may be the least believable of the bunch when it comes to embodying a former Russian spy but she looks great in those skintight outfits, and even Mark Ruffalo came off okay as the latest actor to step into the role of Dr. Bruce Banner (Lou Ferrigno lends his talents as the voice of the Hulk though, which is a fantastic decision). The rest of the gang all do their bit ably, Natalie Portman’s character is hilariously written out (it wasn’t funny “ha ha” but funny “that’s the easiest way to do it”), and anyone familiar with Whedon’s modus operandi as it comes to every character living to see the end credits is intact.
If you’ve happily watched all the movies leading up to this, seeing The Avengers is a no-brainer. I’m not sure how anyone would be on the fence, making your ability to read all of this review much appreciated. Really, all one needs to know is to go to the bathroom right before it starts (this clocks in at almost 2 ½ hours) and stay in your seat for an extra scene midway through the credits which hints at who’ll be causing trouble in the sequel. Other than that, enjoy assembling in theaters worldwide. We’re all about to see just how much money a superhero film can make … and whether Batman can reclaim box office supremacy once this summer is said and done. Hopefully it’ll be a decent fight no matter how you look at it.
The Avengers hits theaters on May 4, 2012 and is rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference