#1  
Old 05-03-2012, 05:36 PM
Joss Whedon's The Avengers

Here's the link to the published version of my review in my column at The Richmond Examiner:

http://www.examiner.com/article/movi...w-the-avengers



http://www.examiner.com/article/movi...w-the-avengers

The Avengers (2012)

“The Avengers” has been a long time coming. Marvel has slowly been building its way towards it by releasing individual films about some of the superheroes such as “Iron Man,” “Thor,” and “Captain America,” but now they have finally assembled them as a group to fight off those that would threaten Earth in an action-packed adventure that is likely to please fans and non-fans of the comic books alike.

The film starts off with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., checking on Dr. Selvig’s (Stellan Skarsgard) progress with the Tesseract, a cube containing unlimited energy that they are trying to harness. However, the cube also acts as a gateway, through which Loki (Tom Hiddleston) unexpectedly arrives. Loki escapes with the cube with the intention of using it to bring forth an army to conquer the Earth, which he would then rule over.

In order to recover the Tesseract, Fury enlists the help of Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson), a special agent, to help him assemble “The Avengers,” a group of people who have special skills and powers. This includes Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Dr. Bruce Banner, aka The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Together, they must use their skills to find the cube and stop Loki before he is able to carry out his plan.

If you’ve never read up on these Marvel characters or didn’t see any of the previous films, then the synopsis here might seem rather strange. Most of these characters are well-known, but even the studio realized that there would be a portion of people who didn’t know much about them, which was one of the reasons for the previous individual films. However, that being said, knowing their backstories is not really a prerequisite to being able to enjoy the film.

As mentioned earlier, this is an action-packed film, but unlike most similar films nowadays, this one actually has an interesting story and developed characters to go along with it. Therefore, when there’s a lot of action occurring on screen, you actually care about what’s going on instead of just rolling your eyes or looking at your watch. As you could probably guess, it all eventually comes down to a major battle to decide who is to be victorious and they’ve really spared no expense in making this an epic-sized battle for Earth.

Then again, if you’ve seen the other films, you’ll already expect that anyway. These films have been good overall and rather entertaining. I wouldn’t go so far as to call them great, but I have enjoyed watching them. “The Avengers” continues this trend of being enjoyable to watch, and certainly recommendable, but not really lifting these superheroes up into the realm of greatness.

The only real problems with the film are in its pacing. The middle of the film lagged a bit, particularly in the section where you’re still waiting for The Avengers to finish assembling. The other pacing problem comes in that final battle where it felt like it just went on a little too long while our heroes smash and destroy countless generic robot/alien invaders. Luckily this doesn’t put too much of a damper on the excitement that the film is able to generate.

As far as the filmmakers are concerned, the studio couldn’t have made a better choice than to put Joss Whedon behind the camera. Whedon is, of course, the creator of several popular television shows like “Firefly” and “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” and just recently helped give us the great film “The Cabin in the Woods.” His keen eye for action and story help make this a much more enjoyable film than it otherwise might have been.

On top of all that, Whedon also wrote the screenplay. It really is quite something that he was able to take so many characters and put them into a movie where nobody gets left behind. With almost everyone’s backstory being told already, he didn’t need to spend much time telling us where anybody came from, allowing for more time to deal with the present crisis. Even so, the film runs for well over two hours, with an extra scene setting up the next film of course, and even though it could have stood to lose a few minutes in a couple spots, there’s little to complain about otherwise. The inevitable sequel will be most welcome. 3/4 stars.
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  #2  
Old 05-04-2012, 11:39 AM
If The Avengers is any indication of how this summer movie season will be, then movie fans will be in a treat like no other. After a few years of establishing the origin and mythos of their beloved superheroes, Marvel Studios have finally unleashed the quintessential film that brings all of them together. What comes together is a film that is so tightly woven in spectacle, wonderful character interaction/dialogue, and direction by beloved director Joss Whedon that it is almost unbelievable how you’re seeing all the Marvel superheroes come together on the big screen, and for it to be so damn good.

Most of the credit could be to Whedon himself, who has been known for some great character writing behind his shows like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. For The Avengers, it’s like he’s in his own playground, and he’s knows where the rules begin and end on how to bring these characters in a cohesive fashion. The film is truly remarkable on how the minor and major characters in this film get their own time to shine in what feels like a brisk 142 minutes. Whether it’s Captain America, Thor, or even Hawkeye, fans of their favorite superheroes will certainly be cheering and smiling at what transpires each hero’s given scene.

If there could be some trepidation for newcomers of this film, there could be the argument that you would have to seen all the previous films in order to get a handle of what is going on in The Avengers, and that’s a perfectly viable argument. But, these films have been out for quite some time, and the majority of the movie going public who are seeing these films already know what they are in for. Still, as such, this film will most likely garner enjoyment out of the newcomer regardless, mostly in how engaging, hilarious, and action packed the movie truly is.

That’s the thing with most summer movie blockbusters, in that the humor and action beats sometimes try way too hard that it simply becomes boring and uninteresting. Not for The Avengers, as Whedon is making a mission to make sure that the viewer is engaged by offering varied action set pieces, as well as some great back-and-forth banter between the superheroes. The film is pure, unadulterated, engagement for the audience, and it’s beautiful. Sure, a wee complaint could be that it gets a slight stagnant by the final act, but it’s so minor that the positives truly outweigh the negative.

As for the cast in this flick, what more could be said? All the actors are great, bringing their charisma and presence to each role, accompanied by some truly enjoyable dialogue bits. On their own individual journeys, they are good, but it’s when they all come together that the film becomes something truly special. Robert Downey Jr. can pretty much play Tony Stark/Iron Man in his sleep at this point. The man just knows how to bring a wave of personality to the character, whether through his sarcastic or determined demeanor. Chris Evans continues to shine as Captain America, bringing the “good old boy” American hero persona that many fans of the character know and all.

Chris Hemsworth seems to be more of background player as Thor this time around, but he still brings the sheer intensity and anger of the character on screen, and steals a good amount of scenes he’s in as well. But, if there’s a background character that steals the stage right from under our noses, it’s Mark Ruffalo as his portrayal as Bruce Banner/The Hulk. The previous actors who seem to take on the role of this character have been on two of the different side of the spectrums. Eric Bana’s portrayal of Bruce was just trying to hard to make an impression, while Edward Norton’s Bruce doesn’t really make an impression at all, as it simply Norton playing Norton playing Bruce Banner. It’s Ruffalo who gets the in between of what makes the character work, playing a wounded, but a still immensely likable Bruce. You feel that he’s trying hard not to let the monster out, and Whedon plays that card spectacularly throughout the film, culminating to Hulk scenes that pretty much are the high point of the film.

As for the rest of the supporting cast, they all do an admirable job as well. Samuel Jackson brings his typical swagger and “Samuel L. Jacksoness” (I made that up) to Nick Fury. Scarlett Johansson has some solid moments as the Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner is fine as the archer assassin Hawkeye. The real star of the supporting show is certainly Tom Hiddleston as the villain Loki. This actor just seems to being having a gleeful time playing the bad guy, and it shows on screen. He had that sympathetic, yet pathetic turn in the Thor film, but he’s all out stupendously evil in this Marvel outing. He’s the villain that viewers will love to hate, with the older crowd enjoying evilness and the younger crowd wishing that one of the superheroes would just take him down.

That’s the final thing that I want to mention in this review, which is how this film will simply be a pleasure for all audiences. The older crowd will certainly eat this up in their palm of their hand, but for the younger crowd, this will be like a four-course meal. Looking back on my screening, I was thinking to myself on how much my two nephews would be all in their glory from watching this type of film. I know they love The Hulk character, and watching his scenes in the film made me wonder if my nephews’ consciousness would just implode by the sheer amazement that those scenes bring to the table.

That’s what The Avengers brings to this summer blockbuster table, a film that comes together in spectacular fashion that it’s truly remarkable on how it all came to be. It’s amazing that not just four years ago, the movie going public was introduced to what Marvel Studios would be teasing the world in the coming years, resulting in this sheer gem that children and adults have received. An astounding opening act for what is sure to be a glorious summer movie season.

Please sir, I’d like some more!

9/10
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  #3  
Old 05-06-2012, 07:16 AM
Growing up, I wasn’t a big fan of Whedon’s Angel, Buffy, or Firefly and I certainly wasn’t the biggest fan of Serenity. So my review could be taken as slightly biased. The Avengers is a fun roller coaster that takes its viewers on an electrifying ride based on what happens when you put four superheroes and two assassins in a room together. However, the results, well it’s a slightly above average structured piece that relies heavily on its over-the-top action sets and three main faces (Downey Jr., Evans, and Ruffalo) to sell the entire show.

It starts out like most superhero movies these days. The villain was to rule the world, but first, he must stir a little trouble and upset the masses. Loki returns after disappearing into a wormhole at the end of Thor. Unfortunately, the character doesn’t seem to have grown much and actually appears to be more comedic this time around, which makes him appear less of a threat. Following its comic book counterpart, The Avengers uses Loki as a masterful manipulator who is aware of his cunningness and uses it to his advantage in an attempt to rip the team apart. Does it work? Well, this wouldn’t be a Marvel movie if it did.

Fortunately, the movie makes up for its non-intimidating villain by allowing the clash of the egos seem organic (this is where the three faces come in). Iron Man is clearly the poster boy here, whether people choose to believe that or not is up to them. But Downey shines more than he did in his Iron Man predecessors. Captain America was also a very nice addition because he still appears to be an old soul in a new world, lost and alone. Finally, you have the Hulk. This time he’s played by Mark Ruffalo, the best of the three actors that have played the green man over the last decade. The Hulk is a true threat and kicks some serious ass, something that was merely alluded to at the end of The Incredible Hulk. There’s also another character that I felt was nicely done and that’s Black Widow. Her cunningness and sexiness is all present and she never seems to break under pressure because of all the craziness that’s happening around her. Her inclusion in Iron Man 2 always felt forced, but here, she truly shines.

Now, the team isn’t as great as one would have hoped. Thor’s return seems random and his explanation of how he returned is briefly teased by his brother which seems to bare no real weight and actually seems half-assed. Another issue is Hawkeye. 85% of the movie he’s a bad guy which isn’t an issue in theory, but in the grand final he seems out of place when he’s surrounded by these other figures who we’ve followed from beginning to end. Finally, the alien army itself seems unoriginal and, like Loki, don’t seem intimidating and actually fell like a threat that could have been easily dealt with by Hulk or Thor alone.

Overall, The Avengers was an experiment that was a great success financially and critically. Marvel is now entering what many are calling “Phase II” with Iron Man 3, Thor 2, and Captain America 2 coming out over the next two years and the inevitable The Avengers 2 resembling in 2015. I must say, I’m looking forward to The Avengers 2 more than I did its predecessor because an actual threat is approaching and if they stay true to the character, then I fear the universe is in grave danger.

7.5/10
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  #4  
Old 05-07-2012, 02:02 AM
Quite simply, Avengers is an epic cinematic experience that more than lives up to the hype. The makers of this film certainly understand spectacle but they also get the intricacies and depth these type of characters can provide.

Marvel certainly delivered on their years of promises. Right from the close of Iron Man they were setting up this film and boy, did they manage to deliver! They deliver a movie the likes of which we've never seen before and as good of a film that's ever been made in its genre. The Avengers offers a little bit of everything and does it with intelligence, style and integrity.

There's a reason this grand of a movie has never been attempted before now. How do you fully flesh out, care about and establish this vast group and still deliver a fun, crisp and coherent story? It's extremely difficult to navigate that edge-of-your-seat excitement while at the same time caring about each one of the characters and their struggles. One of the most impressive aspects of The Avengers is that they managed to get each hero their time in the spotlight and their own character arc. Every single main lead steps up and is treated with remarkable intelligence and given room to shine. This extremely talented cast fits each character perfectly, both large and even the smaller roles.

I loved that the stakes in this film are ridiculously high and the threat so impressive that there really is a need for these diverse characters to come together. That could have been a stumbling block in terms of story but it's treated just right. It's also a great idea that they chose to introduce all the characters to the audience as if you've never seen them before. Sure, the other films set up and give depth to each character but even if you missed their solo films, you'll still know and care about them in this movie.

The story itself is told in a masterful and crisp manner. The dialogue is witty and the humor works its way seamlessly in to the natural order of the story but what else would you expect from Joss Whedon? The man has EARNED his master status with this jewel in his creative crown. The film is smart as anyone that knows Whedon would expect but it remembers to be fun. That’s not to say there aren’t dark elements because the gravity of what’s presented is immense and the interaction between the characters is actually complex. That’s why some are calling it a masterpiece. Comic book style slugfests are certainly part of the fun but are inserted as a vehicle for the story and not just to see CGI things explode. Things aren't blown up just for the sake of seeing them go boom. How can a movie like this pull that off? What makes a movie about a super soldier from World War Two, a futurist playboy in armor and a god of thunder really work are their relationship to one another and the incredibly good writing on display. Like Thor and the Iron Man films, it manages to ground high fantasy in to the realm of the believable.

Honestly, this is movie making of the most entertaining order and it easily deserves all the praise it has generated from both fans and critics alike. What’s also great is that the possibilities are endless from this point forward. Avengers teams of a different make-up are possible and the sequels that follow will no doubt be cool but they have a LOT to live up to now. This film really is that good.


10/10
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  #5  
Old 10-07-2012, 11:01 AM
Meh. Avengers was for the little kids. I guess they enjoy the Cartoon, but I'm an adult and I need real characters and drama and thought provoking story. The Avengers certainly doesn't compare to a masterpiece of cinema like The Dark Knight Rises.


5/10 (and that's being nice)
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  #6  
Old 10-07-2012, 11:37 AM
I always thought NOTHING could beat the awesome action film series that was the Transformers franchise. But I was wrong. The Avengers became better.

10/10
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  #7  
Old 10-07-2012, 02:40 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Bird View Post
I always thought NOTHING could beat the awesome action film series that was the Transformers franchise. But I was wrong. The Avengers became better.

10/10
Wow, Big - we're seeing an all new side of you.

Who knew?
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  #8  
Old 10-07-2012, 02:48 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glinda View Post
Wow, Big - we're seeing an all new side of you.

Who knew?
Yeah. I HAVE seen films like this. I'm allowed to see them only if I'm back before dark.
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  #9  
Old 10-07-2012, 02:55 PM
Big man on the town these days, and still home for bedtime at 8:00! Hopefully you sit at the back of the theater - gotta feel for the poor schmoe stuck in a seat behind you. Handsome though you are, they don't call you "Big" for nothin.'
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  #10  
Old 10-07-2012, 03:12 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by Glinda View Post
Big man on the town these days, and still home for bedtime at 8:00! Hopefully you sit at the back of the theater - gotta feel for the poor schmoe stuck in a seat behind you. Handsome though you are, they don't call you "Big" for nothin.'
Yeah. That is a problem. I can understand.
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  #11  
Old 10-20-2012, 04:21 AM
Yeah Avengers is really a most awaited movie for me. I can give five out of five.
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  #12  
Old 10-20-2012, 07:57 PM
Quote:
Originally Posted by X-Frog View Post
Meh. Avengers was for the little kids. I guess they enjoy the Cartoon, but I'm an adult and I need real characters and drama and thought provoking story. The Avengers certainly doesn't compare to a masterpiece of cinema like The Dark Knight Rises.


5/10 (and that's being nice)
I pretty much agree. I understand that "It was supposed to be fun," but having fun is usually spontaneous and unexpected, which was sort of the opposite of how I felt watching this. I enjoyed it at first, and would give it a 7/10, but the more I digested it the less nutrition that it really had. I don't know if I'd call this film cinematic junk food, but if I would there are better treats to choose from! It's alright, but nothing special.
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