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The Avengers (2012) movie review

Published on June 2016 | Categories: Types, Reviews, Film | Downloads: 48 | Comments: 0
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The Avengers (2012)
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston

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The Avengers
(2012)
Given all the hype surrounding this film, I had high expectations going into it, Marvel has done a reasonably good job handling its properties in the movies of late (translation: both Thor and Captain America were waaay better than they had any right to be), and reports about the film were almost universally positive (nevermind the fanboy and fangrrl squee over it). Marvel took the same strategy that has worked so well for them in the comics – the cross-over – and applied it to the movies. You’re mixing a lot of elements in here. You have to give nods to the backstories of three franchises (and sort of ignore previous Hulks), as well as include numerous supporting characters like Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Phil the Shield Agent (the wonderful Clark Gregg), and so on. Six heroes, another half-dozen supporting characters – that’s a lot of potential clutter. Fortunately it seems those behind the making of this film were aware of that and took great pains to give every major character (and even the minor ones) their moments, from the cute repartee between Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and Potts to Phil being a big fanboy of Captain America (Chris Evans) to Thor and Iron Man duking it out upon first meeting (in the grand old Marvel tradition of heroes being enemies and then friends). You have a lot of accommodating to do, but the script does so exceedingly well, so that everyone gets their moment in the sun and no one feels neglected. The plot is the age-old standby – villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston) teams up with other shadowy menaces and uses technology to – wait for it – try to conquer the earth. Loki wants revenge (see the Thor movie, which they assume you have), and the bad guys just want the glowing blue magic cube (see the Cap movie, which, again, they assume you have). Since normal forces can’t stop them, Nick Fury (Sam Jackson) cajoles the Avengers together to stand up to Loki and his CGI henchmen. Gathering and convincing the team takes up the first part of the film and is by far the strongest section of the movie; as before, everyone gets his moment, but all the new stuff is really neat too, from the Shield agents and their awesome flying boat (it really is wicked cool) to the way the secrets are slowly revealed as we go. All of the principals are good here, not that they’re challenged all that much in the acting department with all that’s going on. Of particular note to me were Scarlet Johansson, whom I generally don’t care for, but she was simply perfect as the Black Widow (I haven’t seen Iron Man II, which they assume I had), really nailing a character I like a lot in the comics, and Hiddleston; he was good as Loki in Thor, but he’s just brilliant here, a real schemer, vastly intelligent and charming despite being a real jerk. I also liked Mark Ruffalo’s take on the Hulk – he seems the best Banner yet – and by and large was pleased with everyone in the movie. And yet… and yet, the third act is a letdown, mainly because the rest of it is done so well. The middle act’s plot is lifted from The Dark Knight, and the final third of the movie, well, feels like we’ve seen it before. Faceless boring alien goons get

whaled on by all six members of the team in an extended fight sequence, but we get no sense of the flow of the battle, and what’s worse, the pulsing wormhole they fly through to get to earth kept reminding me of the old Masters of the Universe movie, where they did exactly the same damn thing. The fight goes on, and on, and on, and on, but Loki is taken out near the start of it (in the best moment in the film), leaving us to watch the rest of the team fight an increasingly desperate battle until we get the guy to the thing that will stop the evil thing from working. Despite wonderful CGI work (and frankly amazing 3D work in this sequence), the fight feels like filler until they decide to stop and deal with the core issue, the big tunnel letting the boring bad guys through to our planet. If anything, the big fight brings back memories of the finales of all the Transformer films (which certainly couldn’t be intentional), full of sound and fury, signifying nothing. The reason why everyone loves this film – and despite some reservations, I enjoyed it – is because the creative teams behind the Marvel films have gone out of their way to give us characters we like. We like spending time with Cap and Thor and Tony Stark and, yes, even Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), and having them all together is like inviting all your friends who have never met over for a barbecue and finding out they all hit it off. There’s an added level of fun and enjoyment seeing these guys hang out together; Marvel’s strategy of making good films and then doing a cross-over was smart, but it feels even more brilliant because they exceeded where most films of this type fail, in the character moments. That’s what really carries The Avengers, the scenes where the guys are standing around and talking, not the ones where they are fighting cartoon villains – well, that and a healthy sense of humor (there are a number of clever one liners and gags, and none of the pompous selfimportance of Nolan’s Batman films). Is The Avengers great cinema? No. It’s not even as good as the solo Thor and Cap movies that preceded it. But it is good cinema and most importantly fun. I laughed a good deal and enjoyed most of the character stuff. I would have preferred a less derivative third act (and a less stolen second act), and I wish someone could make production designers stop designing boring ass aliens just because you can use CGI; but I wouldn’t trade the character moments here for anything, and that is why Marvel will continue to strike gold at the box office. They’ve unlocked the secret of what makes these films fun, and as long as they stick to it (warning; the Spiderman trailer dripped with the same pompous self-importance of a Nolan Batman film) we should have a nice run in the theaters for quite some time to come. May 5, 2012

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