Friday, May 4, 2012
It had been building since 2008 when a brief post credit sequence at the end of "Iron Man" planted the seeds for a full blown cinematic superhero extravaganza like none before that now, four years later, has finally come to fruition. "The Avengers" marks the first time Marvel characters, some (Iron Man) already carrying their own lucrative franchises, are featured together on screen taking on a common enemy that too powerful for any one of them to defeat on their own. So, the pivotal question, is The Avengers actually a good, worthwile film or just two and a half hours of loud dumb fun (e.g. transformers) that provides the quintisential of summer escapism fix (IN 3D!) while lining the pockets of Marvel studios execs eager to cash in on their biggest money making properties.
After attending a midnight showing of The Avengers. In glorious 2D showing I might add, I can say that the first film featuring "The Earth's Mightiest Heroes" definately lives up to all it's hype and then some. From the grandest set pieces to the most minute of details one can instantly tell that a lot of love care, and above all, effort was put into this movie by a studio whose intimate understanding of its characters and earnest desire to convey the ideals and values they represent really seems to take precedence over treating its characters as souless moneymaking tools which, in my opinion, is the problem with 20th Century Fox and its current mishandling of the X-Men franchise but that is the topic of another rant.
The movie is basically a thrill ride, and as with every ride, there are a few lulls and quiet moments here and there, though before you know it your senses are immersed in a another barrage of mind blowing action that, more than any other film I dare say, really feels like a comic book come to life. Seeing Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, and the monstrous Hulk himself on screen fighting side by side was a truly amazing and awesome thing to behold and I am not even a big fan of those characters!
Most all of the main cast are back and slip effortlessly into their respective roles. Robert Downey Jr. once again oozes his trademark charm and charisma as Tony Stark, the world's foremost superhero celebrity. Chris Evans returns as Steve Rodgers, a war hero displaced in time now given a second chance to wield the shield as the star spangled hero Captain America in the modern world. Chris Hemsworth is back as Thor, the hammer wielding god of thunder with a personal stake in the trouble that has befallen earth. Replacing Ed Norton is Mark Ruffalow as Bruce Banner, a brilliant scientist who, when pushed to his limits, transforms into a rampaging beheamoth known as The Hulk. I was a little dissapointed when I learned that the part was being re-cast but now having seen the movie I think that Ruffalow gave a good performance as Banner and I really liked his deliberatly deadpan delivery along with the slightly unhinged quality he brought to the role. If I had to give an award for best performance in the movie though I would probably give it to Chris Hiddleson who reprised his role from last summer's "Thor" as the Loki. Much more of a true villain than the last time we saw him onscreen, Loki's actions even more aggresively reflect his overwhealming psycholical need to compensate for the shameful circumstances surrounding his origins and the feeling of inferiority he feels towards his stepbrother Thor. I loved how Thor never gave up hope that Loki would see the error of his ways and come around to the good side even after all he suffered at his brothers hands. And the way that Loki would tease possible redemption only to do a total about face and trounce his prey like a jackal that smells blood is a true credit to the actor in successfully portraying such a wonderfully despicable villain.
Unlike the hilarious post credit sequence, in which the completely exhausted group of heroes partake in a much needed fast food indulgance after their epic, world saving endeavors, I had a big smile on my face when I walked out of The Avengers. It truly epitomizes the term "summer blockbuster" and I hope its success gaurantees the long term health of a studio that is truly passionate about making good superhero movies.