Friday, May 4, 2012

"The Avengers" Blows All Expectations Away

The Avengers
Directed by Joss Whedon
Written by Joss Whedon
Produced by Kevin Feige
Distribution: Walt Disney Pictures
Studio: Marvel Studios

Ah yes, The Avengers. This is the moment we've all been waiting for. Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Hawkeye and Black Widow teaming up to take on the ultimate threat to the world! Does it live up to hype? It does, and passes it. Now before I start off the review, I will briefly say this: My comic book knowledge is rather rusty. I got into these comic book films because of Iron Man and The Dark Knight, and when Iron Man 2 came out, I found out that these two films, The Incredible Hulk and two more films were all leading up to this. So I sought out a Blu-ray of The Incredible Hulk and watched it, and I enjoyed it very much. By that time, I was already geared up for Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger, and I liked them both. I own all five. I just wanted to get that out of the way before the review.

The Avengers pits the six-piece team against Loki, Thor's adopted brother. Of course, if you haven't seen Thor, don't worry. This film functions as a stand-alone film and gives you the gist of what happened in the five films. Loki has the Tesseract, a powerful cube (also the focus of Captain America) which allows him to open a portal to bring a race of extraterrestrials called the Chitauri to Earth. Loki wants to rule Earth as a king, believing it will achieve peace. Loki was a convincing villain in Thor, here, he's a huge threat. Aside from the development on Loki, the other characters are developed throughout. While the film functions as a two-hour finale to the five films, it also devotes most of its first and second acts to telling us more about these characters.

Director Joss Whedon works wonders with the story, and the screenplay mixes character development, wit and flat-out fun. In short, it aims to be a well-made action film and that it is. I was very happy to see everyone get enough screen time, as I was a bit worried that this would be "Iron Man and the Avengers". Thankfully, it wasn't. The actors do an excellent job. Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner has more personality than Edward Norton's, though he still did a decent job. Robert Downey, Jr? Great as usual, same with Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth. Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye? Great. Scarlett Johansson surprisingly delivered a good performance as Black Widow, since I felt that she didn't give it her all in Iron Man 2, but that film had a messy script so she wasn't working off a great script in the first place. Tom Hiddleston brings out the true menace in Loki in this film, trumping his already great performance in Thor.

The action? Well, with a story that hooks you and characters that you want to root for, the action is fantastic. While some might feel that the action scenes are like other summer blockbusters, well let me tell you, they are ten times more fun. Whedon carefully weaves wit and humor that works into the screenplay, even in moments where you think it wouldn't work. Not only does the story, the action and the acting work... The humor works. The humor makes the film. The audience laughed throughout the entire film and applauded on several moments during the climax. They even applauded on scenes early on in the film. You know a film gets it right when you get that kind of reaction.

The Avengers is pretty much the perfect "entertaining" film. Unlike several blockbusters, the film is engaging. With all of these characters on the screen, you want to see more and more as the plot unfolds. Nothing is ever cheesy or poorly acted, what happens is exciting. Under someone else, this could've been a complete bust. Whedon was the perfect choice for this film. With his direction and writing, seeing these heroes together is a real treat, especially during the film's chaotic climax. Most blockbusters don't achieve this, instead they are just disjointed strings of action and boring dialogue-driven scenes. Blockbusters like Transformers or the upcoming Battleship just make you feel like being with a bunch of executives that are saying: "Yeah throw in some explosions. Yeah, audiences love that. That's all we need." Not this film.

A lot of effort was put into this. Yes, it's inevitably going to be a big money-maker, but Whedon wanted it to be an entertaining "event". Not just a money-maker that comes and goes. He was obviously aiming higher, while also having a lot of fun with the project. It isn't an overtly serious film, but it knows that. It's not trying to be an earth-shattering, mind-altering experience. It aims to be the quintessential "fun at the movies" film, and judging by how the audience reacted when I saw, it succeeds greatly. Unfortunately, with all the mindless blockbusters out there, some may perceive this as another mindless film. I wouldn't call it mindless, because the story and wit are there. Big action and fun doesn't necessarily equal "mindless". Other blockbusters are another story, since they don't have an ounce of the good writing and humor that this film has.

If there were any flaws, I guess there were a few things lacking. I appreciate the attempts to keep Pepper Potts in the story, but there could've been a little bit more of her. Also, with its running time and how much is crammed into it, there are a few things that need a little work. A little more explanation of how Thor got back to Earth would've been nice as well, but the filmmakers had to keep the pace going. The film has to combine six heroes with their backstories while also giving moviegoers a reason why the Earth needs them. For the most part, it does it rather well.

What else is there to say? The Avengers had a lot on its shoulders before hitting the big screen. It had a lot to live up to. Guess what? It lives up to the hype. Even if comic books aren't your cup of tea, this is a pulse-pounding, well-written action film that you don't want to miss.

A-. With its intriguing story, great character development, acting and everything else, The Avengers is pure fun at the cinemas that has substance. Don't miss out on it.

Trailer Recap

When I saw this earlier tonight with my stepfather and his father, a 2D showing at 7:30 PM had sold out, so we had to settle for the 8:00 3D screening. (The 3D was actually ok, which is surprising for a post-conversion 3D film) We got a great batch of trailers, and our audience really enjoyed the film.

Battleship - Did they really need to show this trailer? The film opens in two weeks, not two months. We could've gotten something like The Expendables 2 or G.I. Joe: Retaliation instead. Next! - Opens May 18th

End of Watch - Wasn't too interested in this one. Looks like a decent shoot-em-up. I could be wrong though. It just didn't catch my attention. Apparently it's a drama about two cops. - Opens September 28th

The Dark Knight Rises - What else can I say. I am stoked for this film, and this third trailer is well made. It's an unusually quiet trailer for a comic book film, but hey, it works! More Bane, more Catwoman, and the trailer shows how much of a threat Bane is. After seeing The Avengers, I ask one question: Can you equal that? Or top it? Maybe, I mean it's Christopher Nolan after all. - Opens July 20th

Frankenweenie - The same trailer we've had for two months. Looks great. - Opens October 5th

Brave - Now that's more like it! Finally, I got to see this wonderful trailer in theaters. What can I say? It looks brilliant, and this trailer got some laughs during the part where King Fergus impersonates Merida. The second half of the trailer is what really makes it shine. - Opens June 22nd

Prometheus - I haven't been following this one, but I must say, it does look good. It's a very tense trailer, that's for sure. - Opens June 8th

The Amazing Spider-Man - While this trailer was significantly better than the last one, I'm still not too sure about this film. I will still check it out, because I enjoyed all three films in Sam Raimi's trilogy (yes, even Spider-Man 3, dang it!) and some of the trailer is good. - Opens July 3rd

And so that's it... Next up? I'm thinking Dark Shadows, but boy do I want to see this film again! Maybe next time, I'll see it in IMAX 3D.

1 comment:

  1. 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.