"Yeah, takes us a while to get any traction, I'll give you that one. But let's do a head count here: your brother the demi-god; a super soldier, a living legend who kind of lives up to the legend; a man with breath-taking anger management issues; a couple of master assassins, and YOU, big fella, you've managed to piss off every single one of them."
There's never been a movie that's had more hype than The Avengers. Since the first Iron Man movie, Marvel has been setting up a film adaptation of the popular comic book series, hinting at the audience with several post-credits scenes. There have been several Avengers set-up movies, with The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and a sequel to Iron Man. All of these films were a major success individually, and it was a no-brainer than movie-goers everywhere was excited for The Avengers, particularly fans of the comic books. Directed and written by Joss Whedon, the mastermind behind a list of popular TV shows, The Avengers didn't live up to the hype for me personally, but I can't stress how much fun it is. Whedon himself is a comic book fanboy himself, and he's treated the subject matter with a lot of respect and love. This is an amazingly enjoyable summer blockbuster.
Loki (Tom Hiddelston), the evil brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth), has managed to acquire the Tesseract, the all-powerful energy source that was found at the bottom of the sea in Captain America: The First Avenger. He invades the Headquarters of Shield and manages to turn both Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgaard) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to the dark side. Shield's leader, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), summons together five heroic figures to help save the world: Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans); Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo); and Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.).
At the end of the day, the plot for The Avengers is nothing special. The whole situation is just an excuse for Shield to bring The Avengers together, and I'm fine with that. What Whedon does that sets The Avengers apart from most of the mindless action movies we've seen this year is with his characters - he gives them depth. Although the characters have been established in the set-up movies, Whedon's script actually explains more about them and shows to the audience who these people are. There's also some great development with the character of Black Widow, who we never got see a lot of in Iron Man 2. We are shown the relationship she shares with Hawkeye, which has its ups and downs. While it gives some extra dimension to her character, it reduces Hawkeye to a plot device - I had a problem with him as a character, as he has hardly anything to do until the climax. But still, you get a good sense of heroism from the film, as Whedon takes the time to actually develop a few of The Avengers. The Hulk is finally given a chance to shine here, and Tony Stark finally starts acting like a nice guy (only slightly). With a fan of The Avengers at the helm, the depiction of these heroes is dead on - they are heroes, and you get that terrific vibe throughout the whole film.
There's also great deal of character conflict, which definitely adds a lot of emotional depth to the film. While the middle of the film drags slightly, this is when all the conflict actually starts to emerge, as the heroes begin arguing - they don't get along so well as you'd expect. The main thing, though, that I think fans will take away from this is Whedon's witty dialogue. This is a tremendously funny film. What's great is the film doesn't take itself too seriously. The film's not supposed to be grim like The Dark Knight - it's got a completely different tone, and Whedon works with it. There are laughs scattered throughout the whole film, and each character has their own moment to deliver a hilarious line. The constant references are great, and you can't get enough of Tony Stark's snappy lines. With so many films now failing on the humour department, it's great to see that a big action movie like this can still generate applause from the audience.
The cast is impeccable - there's literally no one who bothered me. Robert Downey Jr. is always reliable to deliver his witty dialogue - his comic timing is superb. Having played the role of Stark in two movies prior to The Avengers, Downey Jr. pretty much knows the character so well that he can't screw up the portrayal of that arrogant and spoiled attitude. Chris Evans brings a noble and likeable presence to his performance of Cap, and Chris Hemsworth still remains just as good as he was in the title role of the orignal Thor. Also kicking a lot of ass - Scarlett Johansson. Words cannot describe how hot she is in this film, and she definitely knows how to portray a badass convincingly. Jeremy Renner, though I wasn't so into his character, still managed to bring an action hero vibe to Hawkeye, and makes me look ever so forward to his upcoming role in The Bourne Legacy. Tom Hiddleston still pulls off the same wicked and mischievous performance he gave in Thor, but I had a huge problem with the character of Loki in this film. He just didn't seem like much of a threat - he spent most of the time getting his ass kicked. That being said, there is a moment between him and The Hulk that will guarantee applause from the audience. Speaking of The Hulk, Mark Ruffalo was excellent, bringing the best performance as Bruce Banner yet seen on film. As Nick Fury, Samuel L. Jackson was confident and in good form, while Clark Gregg stole all his scenes as Agent Coulson - he was simply hilarious. And last but not least - Cobie Smulders! While her character had very little to do, I just couldn't stop staring at her. She was beautiful in the role, exuding confidence and a badass attitude thrown in for good measure. And she dons that black leather suit like a goddamn champ.
As an action movie, The Avengers is top-notch. I remember seeing the trailer in 3D several times, and what shocked me most that it didn't look bad. The 3D was actually amazing in this movie, considering it was converted. There are several moments where it's used to great effect, particularly during the climatic action sequence of the film. The last half hour is awesome. Reminiscent of the destruction of Chicago in Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the climax is set in New York, as swarms of aliens wreak havoc upon the city. It's filled with amazing long takes, heaps of explosions, and top-grade visual effects. The action is edited and shot well - you can always tell what's going on, even with all the destruction happening on-screen. The creation of the aliens and their ships is to be commended, and Whedon was, surprisingly, able to integrate each of the Avengers into the climax. Everyone has their moment to shine in the action - even Black Widow, who doesn't have a great arsenal as opposed to someone like Iron Man. Also pretty spectacular is the production design - the Shield headquarters is amazing to look at. The costumes, particularly those of Black Widow and Maria Hill, are sensational, and Alan Silvestri's score is the very definition of epic, lending weight to that heroic vibe the film pushes for.
I won't lie, I'm not as in love with this movie as most movie-goers are. I was actually expecting a 10/10 movie, but it still didn't end up being a perfect movie for me. The Avengers has been stated as the best Marvel film to date, but I still must disagree. I enjoyed Spiderman 2 and X-Men: First Class slightly more than this, but I'm not saying it's a bad movie. Hell no, this is so much fun. With so many mindless action movies being spit out by Hollywood these days, it's refreshing to see an action film that has heart, humour, and some pretty mind blowing action sequences. The summer movie season has started off with a bang - get to the biggest cinema available in your area, purchase a large popcorn and soda, and enjoy the ride!