Directed by: Joss Whedon
Written by: Joss Whedon, Zak Penn
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr.; Chris Evans; Mark Ruffalo; Chris Hemsworth; Scarlett Johansson; Jeremy Renner; Tom Hiddleston; Samuel L. Jackson
Genres: Action, Adventure, Sci-Fi
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Our Megareview will comprise of reviews from all of the TMB staff. You can skip to the review from your favorite writer or enjoy all that we have to offer and read the whole thing. Welcome to the Mega Review for ‘The Avengers’:
Synopsis: In The Avengers, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to form a team that must stop Thor’s brother Loki from enslaving the human race.
My Initial reaction was “I really enjoyed the Avengers”. A LOT. It’s not to say that the movie was perfect by any means. In fact I was a little disappointed with the writing and story introduction at the beginning of the film. The introduction at the beginning of the film isn’t all that good and doesn’t help introduce those who haven’t seen all of the previous shared Marvel Universe efforts but the film tries its best to push passed that and anchor your interest in the spectacle of seeing all the characters together. The movie essentially picks up where last years Marvel films ‘Thor’ and ‘Captain America’ left off with the cosmic cube. It’s rushed, a little forced, and in some ways irresponsible. It’s hard to completely fault the writing because, in all honesty, it’s probably pretty hard to tell all these guys’ story outside of a montage. It just seemed forced and that word kept popping into my head throughout the beginning of the film.
Once the movie progressed beyond the opening it started to gain momentum and its at this time you welcome the idea of enjoying the film for what it is. This isn’t a ‘Lord of the Rings’ of ‘The Dark Knight’ type of movie that develops and grounds itself in its own realm of reality. The environment isn’t a character in this movie but rather a skewed version of our world in which these fantastic things just happen to happen. It’s an action film based on comic characters. It’s pure fiction, pure eye candy, pure action and that’s where it tries to excel and be the best. The best eye candy, the best entertainment, the best of the Marvel movies and it accomplishes this on a lot of ways. Some ways it doesn’t meet the lofty expectations that the Avengers set based on the fact that it doesn’t introduce the reality in which these characters live.
If you haven’t seen the previous Marvel films, (Iron Man; The Incredible Hulk; Iron Man 2; Thor; Captain America: The First Avenger), then you’ll find yourself scratching your head with regard to the excitement of others who have seen those movies. As a standalone film this movie fails in that aspect. It does. As a companion or extension of the MArvel movie universe it works on a lot of levels. It picks up the characters and maintains the character personalities that were introduced in those stand alone flms and it works great. Seeing them interact with each other and not sacrificing anything learned or developed in the individual movies is a huge accomplishment and is one of the most enjoyable things about the movie. It gives them a playfield, they do their thing, and you remember them individually.
One thing that was really important and cool was that Loki and his army developed into a threat that individually none of them would be able to overcome. As a team and a force giving a collaborative effort was a necessity rather than just something to feed the audiences. Seeing the individual parts is where the rest of the enjoyment is found. Everyone filling a role and playing their position and with playing their position them growing in their personalities to fit that position was key and seeing them as a whole being what makes them special. Iron Man is the tool, Thor and Hulk are weapons, Captain America is a leader and seeing him take charge and shout orders to everyone as he assumes the role is exhilerating. Nobody appointed him but he just stepped up and took charge and everyone fell in line from Hulks, to Spies, to Gods and the movie exhuberated cooperation and thats what made The Avengers work. They needed each other.
It’s hard to ignore the performance of Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner. The reason being is that he’s like the only Avenger actor in the film who hasn’t appeared in a previous Marvel film. I won’t compare actors who have played Dr. Banner to Ruffalo. Ruffalo was a convincing and entertaining Dr. Banner. He really adopted the character as his own and delivered us a look at the character that we haven’t seen in previous films but can really enjoy. He was witty, charming, and portrayed a troubled scientist in ways that I didn’t know he had in him and was a great casting for the film. He delivered a sense of humor with a lack of angst that we’ve seen from the Hulk in previous Marvel films and they alter his character slightly but appropriately to better fit in this constructed Marvel film universe.
Chris Evans may have given one of the most under-appreciated performances in the film. His portrayal of Steve Rogers is something I’d been looking forward to since the announcement of the Avengers. I specifically refer to his performance as the one of ‘Steve Rogers’ rather than Captain America because he has the ability to really humanize his performance. This is a simple man displaced in time put in the impossible situation of organizing and inspiring those around him to work together. Captain America is the nucleus of the Avengers and an important aspect for the film to work relies heavily on Evans’ “Steve Rogers”.
Robert Downey Jr. IS Tony Stark. I don’t even think he even creates a character he’s just himself and he picks up where he left off when we last saw him in Iron Man 2. The Stark snark is in full effect and he is what we’d expect from him based on his previous performances. Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johannsen round off the Avengers ensemble and while they aren’t super powered they are tenacious and just as valuable as the other members on the team. I was a little disappointed with Jeremy Renner’s performance as I felt he really didn’t adapt a character for Hawkeye or reflect the characteristics of the hero expected by comic fans. Johanssen actually eclipsed him with her performance as the sultry Black Widow and showcased a super spy that had layers. She’s not a soldier but rather a spy in a war so her skill set is anchored in information extraction and she showcases some delightfully entertaining ways to exercise those skills. Lastly Sam Jackson as Nick Fury… I don’t want to say I wanted ‘more’ from him but I was underwhelmed. In fact Clark Gregg eclipsed him as the badass of S.H.I.E.L.D. in this film. Agent Coulson becomes a hero in this movie and you learn why Gregg was given his own character poster before the credits roll.
As a pure comic book movie its great. Its geek tastic. As a movie compared to films outside the comic book genre is where the weaknesses shine the most. I liked the movie but I expected to like it MORE. It’s great and opens the door for a lot of new potential directions for the Marvel film universe. At 2+hrs the film never even seems ‘long’ and has great pacing. There’s no singular focus on just 1 character and the movie progresses in both interesting and entertaining directions that don’t seem ‘forced’ or dragged out in the slightest after the opening of the film.
I give the Avengers an 8 out of 10