The Avengers, a review in way too many wordsÖ
By Chris ďthe VĒ Vuotto
A doctor gave a man six months to live. The man couldn't pay his bill, so he gave him another six months.
A drunk was in front of a judge. The judge say,s "You've been brought here for drinking." The drunk says, "Okay, let's get started."
There was a girl knocking on my hotel room door all night! Finally, I let her out. - Henny Yongman
Why did I start this review out with one liner or three from the late, great, Henny Youngman? Because thatís pretty much the sum total of the script for Marvelís ďthe AvengersĒ. Everyone else is praising Joss Whedon for the script but to me it was one joke after another after another with a little substance sprinkled in here and there to fill in the gaps between said jokes. Now that I have that off my chest, I was going to wait another week or so for the lemmings to get their fill of this movie but the allure was just too great. You see, I am a closet geek, and on most days I can keep this in check. However, with all of my friends basically giving me the details on the after credits scene featuring my all time favorite Marvel super villain I had no choice. But enough about that nonsense, weíre here to review the latest offering from Marvel and by golly thatís what weíre gonna do! (And yes, the movie has been out a week now so youíre damn right Iím going to put in the spoilerÖ)
First off if you have not seen any of the other movies leading up to this, Iron Man 1 or2, The Hulk (either iteration, and this film introduces a thirdÖugh), Thor, or Captain America donít fret. This movie gives the viewer enough of a back story on each character so even the most ungeekiest among us, like my girlfriend for example, can jump right into the Marvel Universe and not feel the slightest bit lost. Those of us who have seen every one of the movies, multiple times, will feel right at home and can also explain some of the gaps to our non-comic loving friends. And you will probably have to explain the addition of Hawkeye and Black Widow to the team since they both had very small roles in the other films as well as not being among the more recognizable members of the team. Letís face it, only fanboys really know who those two are anyway. Us real geeks will also point out that the original Avengers featured Wasp and Ant-man. But again, Iíd rather see Scarlett Johannson in skin tight black leather than dressed up as a bumblebee.
Speaking of the cast, this was one area that I feel they absolutely got things right. Everyone in this film knew their role and did a phenomenal job in bringing the characters to life. Yes, some of that can absolutely be attributed to the script by Joss Whedon. However letís face facts, a script is only words on a page. It is up to the actors reading and interpreting the script to really give depth to the characters they are being paid to portray. Truthfully, Iím still getting used to Sam Jackson as Nick Fury. Not that he does a bad job mind you. He just seems to be dialing things in by scowling a lot and talking in monotone. Unfortunately, Jacksonís Fury along with Jeremy Rennersí Hawkeye are the two heroes that I would say were ho-hum in the flick. I like Jeremy Renner a lot. Heís a hard working Hollywood lifer who is finally getting his due. But Hawkeye is kind of just there in this flick until the end. And by then I didnít care what he was doing or shooting at. Yeah, he has a quiver of arrows that rivals the gadgets in Batmanís utility belt and thatís about it. The other characters are pretty much as they were in the other movies. Robert Downeyís Iron Man is self absorbed and snarky, Chris Evanís Captain America is a selfless leader, Chris Helmsworthís Thor still sounds campy to me (but finally we see what that flipping hammer can really do) and Scarlett Johannsonís Black Widow just looks hot. Itís hard to concentrate on what sheís saying when dressed like that. Sorry, Iím a guy and thatís how our minds work.
Two characters that DO deserve to be expanded on a bit more are The Hulk played by Mark Ruffalo and Tom HIddleston who plays the films major antagonist, Loki. Look, I grew up with the Lou Ferrigno Hulk, lamented at the Eric Bana Hulk, and adored the Ed Norton Hulk. But Ruffalo took our boy to a whole new level. I canít put into words to truly describe how great a job he did but you will come out agreeing that this iteration of the Hulk is by far and far the best. And Hiddleston as Loki is about as perfect a casting job as you can get. From his look, to mannerisms, to the way he speaks everything he does completely embodied what we want in Thorís adopted brother and the God of Mischief. His scene and dialog with Black Widow aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D ship was, besides the final battle scene, my favorite moment of the movie. They really, really, hit the nail squarely on the head when they cast him in for the part. Bravo sir, bravo.
Now that I have gotten casting out of my system why donít we move onto the actual plot of the movie? Sounds like a plan, so here we go. Seems like our man Loki just wasnít happy with the way life was going so he pulls out the old ďI want to rule the world, I just need an armyĒ bit from the super villain handbook. In this case he makes a deal with ďthe OtherĒ to exchange the Tesseract, a cube of pure energy from and unknown part of the universe, for an army comprised of the Chitauri who are essentially alien warmongers for whom we puny humans are no match for. Cut to our man Nick Fury who is at a S.H.I.E.L.D bunker currently in midst of an evacuation. Seems they (S.H.I.E.L.D) have the Tesseract and all of a sudden it started to act up in a bad way. Next thing you know a portal is opened and Loki appears. Immediately he starts trouble by taking out a few guards and enslaving Physicist Dr Erik Selvig (from Thor if you saw that) along with Hawkeye and a few S.H.I.E.L.D agents to aid in his getaway from the now crumbling facility.
This leads Fury to reactivate the ďAvengers InitiativeĒ which is designed to bring together people of extraordinary abilities (i.e. super heroes) in an effort to stave off, well, the enslavement and possible annihilation by Loki. As you might expect, the heroes eventually are all aboard, but not without some reluctance and a smattering of cynicism. The latter is realized when the Avengers figure out that our boys from S.H.I.E.L.D were also trying to develop weapons based of the power contained within the Tesseract. That, however, is just a minor plot point. As expected, when our heroes first meet, they arenít all on the same page. Bruce Banner is convinced to join the team by the Black Widow but not without hinting at the monster he has contained within. Captain America and Iron Man are a case study in two completely opposing personality traits (selflessness vs. selfishness), Thor and Iron Man have a rumble in the woods broken up by the good Captain, and eventually they all get aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D HeliCarrier (yeah, a flying aircraft carrier, immediately making me think of the Yamato I from Star Blazers sans the Wave Motion gun) and get to the task at hand, capturing Loki and reclaiming the Tesseract.
They have little problem with the first part of that mission, Loki is captured pretty soundly after raising a ruckus at a charity event, but the other task at hand seems a bit harder to achieve. See Loki isnít being very forthcoming about anything so they have to find out where he hid the Tesseract. Turns out, the cube was hidden in an obvious location (wink, Stark Tower) and doesnít it make for a better movie when you have to work for things? Adding to the fun it seems that before capture Loki forced Dr. Selvig construct a machine that would create a portal to another dimension using the power of the Tesseract to bring the Chituari army to Earth. With the help of Hawkeye, also under Lokiís mind control, we find out later the good Dr. succeeds.
Then Hawkeye, still under Lokiís control, sets his sights on the HeliCarrier. An exploding arrow here and there and Loki escapes from his entrapment, attempts to kill Thor, then succeeds in killing an agent of S.H.I.E.L.D (I wonít say who) that serves as the catalyst which brings the Avengers together. Oh, and we get our first glimpse of the Hulk and letís just say heís not a happy camper with the situation. Hawkeye then gets a beat down from Black Widow and who bonks his head and releases his mind from Loki. Cute how easy that was right? After all this fun, Dr. Selvig starts the machine and opens the aforementioned portal unleashing the Chituari on the unsuspecting people of New York. Hereís a tip for my peeps. If you see a huge blue ray of pure energy open up a portal to another dimension donít look up at it. Run. Fast. I mean really, really fast, in the opposite direction. But I digress. Once the portal is open and the Chituari come pouring out we are finally given the payoff.
A fast and frenetic finale that doesnít let up at all until the final act of selflessness from the character that you would least expect it from, if you are a dense pile of dung that didnít see it coming from literally a mile away, is the final glorious payoff of the movie. That last battle is worth the price of admission alone. Then, after all is said and done, the rebuilding starts. Not after a montage of news footage showing the devastation along with the cameo of Stan Lee finally making it to the film. The world is saved, for now, and everyone can go back to their lives. The first credits roll and *spoiler alert* after the first set the movie cuts to deep space and a conversation between the Other and the individual behind all of the chaos in the first place. The Other suggests that trying to take on the human race would be akin to courting death itself (or something along those lines) to which we are treated to the huge purple being that simply smirks at the thought. This being is none other than the mad titan Thanos!!(Who first appeared in Iron Man #55, shameless geek out moment here). Now I realize I have bored you enough with my ramblings at this point, just know that Thanos is no joke and I can only hope that he becomes an antagonist in a future Marvel flick and they do him the justice he deserves. Trust me he is, to quote Sam Jackson, one Bad Mothaf*%ker. There is another sequence after the second set of credits but you can Google that part because itís boring, at least to me.
With a running time of 156 minutes itís slightly longer than this review. Well worth the time and money youíll have to invest to see it. Till next time Ö.
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