Saturday, May 5, 2012

Film Review--The Avengers

starring Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stellan Skarsgard, and Lou Ferrigno as The Beav.

The world is in danger.  The Tesseract, an energy source of enormous power, is in the hands of a purely evil being named Loki (Hiddleston).  Nick Fury (Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D., gathers a force of superheroes to fight against the coming global onslaught.  This team consists of Iron Man (Downey), Captain America (Evans), Thor (Hemsworth), Black Widow (Johansson), Hawkeye (Renner), and the Hulk (Ruffalo).  Even with all of Earth's mightiest heroes assembled, will even they be enough to save the day?

After careful contemplation, I realized that the first comic book I ever had was an issue of Avengers.  I was six and my logic was sound.  Avengers simply had more heroes in it.  While Batman and Superman are tied for the number one spot on my list of "Favorite Superheroes/Comic Book Titles,"  the Avengers are not far behind.  Not at all.  Given my deep affinity for this superhero team, I was a bit apprehensive when I heard about plans for a movie.  In truth, an Avengers film is a herculean undertaking.  They are a full team of superheroes.  How exactly does one keep all of the personalities straight and true?  How does one take a continuity-rich property and make it fun for veteran fans and neophytes alike?  How can you give each character enough time onscreen in order to be seen as necessary to the story?  Or will it just devolve into a series of bit appearances while two or three main characters carry the show?  You know, like they did with all of those godawful Star Trek: The Next Generation movies?

Turns out only one person could pull this off: writer and director Joss Whedon.  As a matter of fact, I can't think of any way that his work on this film could have realistically been any better.  The Avengers is a triumph and I am utterly besot with it.  Remember what I said about juggling an entire host of characters?  Whedon employs a shrewd narrative tactic.  Bring one or two characters to the fore and then develop them and allow them shine.  Show the audience exactly what these characters bring to the table and why it is essential for them to be present.  Then, cycle those characters towards the back and bring two more forward.  Do the same.  Then repeat until all of them are together.  The job's not done yet, though.  It is the interplay between the heroes at that point that will be the true test of how well Whedon understands both character and continuity.

And he nailed it.  Utterly nailed it.  In fact, were you to remove all of the action sequences from this film, I would still watch it for the dialogue and the performances of the actors.  Don't get me wrong, the action is hot...especially when the Hulk really cuts loose.

In my humble opinion, this is the greatest film based on comic book material ever made.  I concur that The Dark Knight is the smartest and the most artful.  That latter film does not, however, have the epic superhero scope and sheer fun that The Avengers has to give.  That and Scarlett Johansson is so...freakin'  Ahem.  Sorry.

I myself plan to return to this move for a second viewing.

Or three.

Or 20.

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  1. I was surprised at how well Avengers tuned into that real comic book feel .. this one may be worth watching in more than once!

  2. Jason, I couldn't agree more. This is the first time in years that I walked out of a movie saying, "I can't wait for the DVD!"

  3. On Facebook, Dr. Rich said: "This is now in my top 10 list of favorite movies. All genres, top 10."


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