Critical Mass by Dom Davis: Avengers Review
After nearly five years of cinematic allusions and set ups, the Avengers have finally assembled together on the big screen. It is with cautious fanboy optimism that most of the AC extended family, including myself, embarked on an outing to the midnight show. Last summer’s Marvel movie entries were definitely a mixed bag to say the least. Both Thor and Captain America, while acceptable for the most part, definitely missed the boat in terms of exceeding my expectations. With that in mind I was definitely on my guard, however my concern was all for naught. If you have already seen the film I am not going to tell you anything you do not already know. The Avengers was absolutely fantastic and without a doubt Marvel’s crowning cinematic achievement to date.
With so much hype surrounding this film I felt that I could only be delivered disappointment.
Admittedly, the failures of some of these comic-to-film adaptations fill me with some kind of perverse joy. Tearing them apart makes me feel alive. After all, it is the least I could do to repay them for raping the shit out of my eyes, ears and soul. Let me be clear by saying that The Avengers is not a perfect film, but what it gets right dramatically overshadows the areas in which it lacks, so it is as close to perfect as you can get.
Few men have established the kind of geek cred director Joss Whedon has. His projects are beloved and continue to amass quite the cult following. With that in mind it is difficult to fathom just how hard his journey has been in finally bringing a comic to film. Attached to helm films featuring such DC stars as Batman and his doomed Wonder Woman, it was good to see him finally get the shot, and with “earth’s mightiest heroes” no less. Whedon thrives with character interaction and his mastery with ensemble casts could not be any more evident than with this film. The Avengers have a lot of egos and in the same breath Whedon had a lot of stars in his toy-chest. It would be very easy for this to become another Iron Man or Captain America movie. To my surprise it did not, and balance was found among what I perceived would be total chaos. Sure, Downey’s Stark chews his share of scenery but that is why we love him. The dialogue and interactions between characters works extremely well; and that in and of itself is not only the heart of the film, but the most difficult element to get correct.
The entire principle cast was on it’s A game. The tension between Stark and Rogers was palpable, and the relationship between “brothers” Thor and Loki continued to become more complex. However the greatest standout for me was Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and…”the other guy”. Ruffalo played Banner as man with such “walking on eggshells” sense of cautiousness, and while looking into his eyes you could see both his sorrow and inner rage. This coupled with his unique sense of gallows humor made for one of the more interesting portrayals of the “green goliath” that I have seen. Sorry to say but the weakest link for me is still Sam Jackson as Nick Fury. Sam Jackson has fallen into that age old acting pitfall where no matter what he does he is Sam Jackson. Sure the ultimate universe modeled their Fury after him, but I’m sorry it is not enough. His delivery, his look, his everything just takes me out of the damn movie. For me he is the only cringe worthy element of the film.
We learn of Loki’s whereabouts post worm-hole and learn that he has entered into an alliance with an alien horde. Loki’s nefarious plot “to take over the world” is nothing revolutionary of course, but in this film, it works in a way it might not in others. His scheme to obtain the Tesseract and subjugate all mankind to his whims (gasp!), like I said, is simple, but it proves effective in bringing all of our heroes together in an unobtrusive way. Yes, it is true that Loki’s army serves little purpose to the story line other than creating an invasion threat, but for fucks sake- Hulk has gotta smash something right!? (In a related note as far as Loki’s army goes, stay for the credits)
This particular film thrives on the action and adventure. Several large, violent sequences really steal the show much to the audience’s delight and at last we get the climatic final battle we deserve to see from a Marvel film (unlike in movies such as Green Lantern, for instance). Overall, for me, this movie scores a 9.5 out of 10. Like I said before, it is Marvel’s finest effort. Our crowd in the theater gave it a raucous ovation and I was not too proud to do the same. It straight up delivers on all fronts. With Iron Man 3 and Thor and Captain America sequels due in near future, one can only imagine where the marvel film verse is headed next. This film made it possible for me to tread a bit more optimistically wherever we end up; but not too much, I am a self-righteous fanboy after all.
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