Friday, May 4, 2012

The Avengers

Marvel has outdone themselves and set a bar for summer blockbusters that's going to be very hard to reach. Made for fans of summer blockbusters, fun action movies and any of the Marvel Studios movies.

Rated PG-13

for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference.

The Avengers

For some reason, Disney and the makers of The Avengers have kept a lid on the plot thus far. In reality, nothing about the story has been revealed other than the fact that Loki (from Thor) is bringing his mischievousness to Earth. With the story on lock-down, I expected loads of secrets and twists, but there’s really nothing to hide, so I feel it appropriate to tell you about the plot. If you believe that ignorance is bliss and want to know nothing, stop reading now and go see it – as it’s the best movie that Marvel has made yet.

Can you follow The Avengers if you have not seen the movies leading up to it? No. The plot to The Avengers is comprised of key elements from Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, but nothing is taken from The Incredible Hulk except the character (who is not played by a new actor, Mark Ruffalo. As long as you know that Dr. Bruce Banner turns into a mean green smashing machine whenever he gets angry and his heart rate rises, you’re good to go.

The Avengers immediately throws you into the story. It opens with Loki (Tom Hiddleston) making his presence known to S.H.I.E.L.D. and showing them just how powerful he is. When he takes something that could potentially destroy the world, S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) recognizes that the only way to save the world is by initiating the canceled Avengers Initiative, meaning bringing Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the recently thawed Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Norse god of thunder Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Bruce Banner/Hulk together to form a team of superheroes. Each of the characters is individually slow-rolled into the movie, getting you more and more excited for the next to enter. The first third of the movie brings The Avengers together and establishes two other barely-known (on the big screen, at least) team members, Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).

The second third of the movie builds up the team, showing how they all function (or don’t function) together. We are shown how, despite featuring a vast array of skills, they are all about equal on the badass scale. This segment also reveals the previously unseen grandeur of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s capabilities and exactly what Loki is up to. My only complaint with The Avengers is that the final act seems to drag on a little too long.

The final act of the movie is a big one, lasting nearly an hour. While the first two-thirds are chock full of awesome action, the final third is all action. The climax to the movie isn’t all that far off from the last Transformers movie – our heroes must protect Earth from a fleet of baddies. I don’t fear sharing this with you because the trailers mostly feature footage from the city-under-siege scenes, but I won’t reveal who the villains are or what they’re doing. While Transformers 3 made you a passive spectator watching this should-be intense climax unfold, The Avengers actively places you in the action and keeps you on the edge of your seat, basically spitting on Transformers and showing Michael Bay how it’s done.

If you’re like me, one thing that you’re not going to expect from The Avengers is a lot of comedy, but it’s actually hilarious. Combine this with all of the great action sequences and characters that we already love, and we’ve got one spectacular film. Be sure to stick around after the credits for a couple surprises. If you don’t understand one of them, simply ask the person next to you to explain it. The geeks are going to be out in droves this weekend.

The summer bar has been set so unbelievable high that I can only see two other summer movie’s matching The Avengers – (hopefully) Prometheus and The Dark Knight Rises. Since those two don’t open until June and July, respectively, I’ll just keep revisiting The Avengers to bide my time.

Photo credit: Buena Vista

4 1/2 out of 5

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