When Loki (Tom Hiddleston) comes to earth for the tesseract in advance of an alien invasion, it’s up to Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Bruce Banner aka The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), and Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) to team up to stop the threat.
The Avengers is a thrilling, smart, funny action film directed and written by Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity). Tied directly to Iron Man 2, Captain America: The First Avenger, and Thor, The Avengers takes the events of those three films and creates a threat that just one hero can’t handle. When Loki captures the tesseract in the opening scenes and prepares to open a portal to another realm, the heroes have to band together to stop him. Along the way they have to battle not just Loki and the Chitari (the aliens preparing to invade), but their own egos and differences to team up and become Earth’s Mightiest Heroes.
The Avengers is an amazing film. I have to just up and say that right out of the gate. (Gauging by the box office grosses, everyone already seems to know that). Thrilling, spectacular, huge, funny, dramatic, and dire, The Avengers has something for everyone. This is the penultimate Summer Action Film. From the strong performances by the tried and true actors from the other five films leading to this release (minus Ed Norton, replaced by Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner), to the huge action set pieces, Whedon missed very little. He takes what could have been a train wreck in less capable hands, and turns it into a stunning revelation of what action and comic films can be.
One of the most amazing aspects of this film is that Whedon gives every character room to breathe. With the exception of Hawkeye, every hero gets great character moments. No one of them is actually pushed to the side in favor of another. While Hawkeye doesn’t get the big character action scene that the rest do, he is given a nice quiet moment with Black Widow near the final battle, which really fleshes out his character as more of an assassin and separates him from being a spy like Black Widow.
One thing I can’t stress enough is how funny this film is. It is undeniably action oriented film, but there is a levity to the proceedings that keeps the film from being in the category of something like The Dark Knight; Whedon purposefully keeps the film from becoming too dark, while at the same time getting the message across that this could be the end of the world. Thanks to the smart writing, an understanding of every character and their motivations, and the ability to keep the proceedings moving forward, The Avengers never has a down moment; it never falls into the trap of having ‘filler’ just to get the running time up.
I have seen The Avengers twice now. Due to a theater screw up, my first viewing was less than ideal. I won’t go into details, but I did have to contact the theater and complain. After getting the issue resolved I did go see this again. My first viewing was in 2D. My second viewing was in 3D. I would just like to say not to waste your money on the 3D version. This is a post-conversion, which means that the didn’t film it in 3D, but made it 3D after filming was finished. In my experience, the only good 3D films are either CGI or filmed in 3D. Post-conversions don’t seem to work all that well. While the 3D wasn’t horrible, it just felt unnecessary and added nothing to the overall film. It was not immersive as 3D should be.
Overall, The Avengers is one of those films that should be experienced on the big screen. As the first comic film out of the gate in a summer where we have four (Men in Black 3, The Amazing Spiderman, and The Dark Knight Rises), it raises the bar for the others. A spectacle, The Avengers is an amazing film that has something for everyone. The only drawback is that if you haven’t seen Iron Man 2, Thor, or Captain America: The First Avenger you may find yourself a little in the dark on some of the proceedings. I don’t feel that this will detract from the overall enjoyment of the film, it’s just that some things may not make as much sense as if you had seen the other films.
***3/4 out of ****