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Overall Rating
4.3

Awesome60.61%
Worth A Look: 24.24%
Just Average: 4.55%
Pretty Crappy: 6.06%
Sucks: 4.55%

4 reviews, 42 user ratings


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Marvel's The Avengers
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by Brett Gallman

"Make Mine Whedon"
5 stars

“True believer” is the term coined to describe rabid Marvel Comics fans, and the refrain for the past four years has been “have faith, true believers.” During that time, Marvel Studios delivered a series of films--only two of which (“Iron Man” and “Captain America” ) were truly great--that doubled as down payments towards “The Avengers.” Now that the payoff is here, I can say “take heart, true believers,” as Joss Whedon has delivered a film that’s worth the wait--and then some.

That Whedon has accomplished this perhaps isn’t all that surprising--I’m not sure there was ever a better candidate for “The Avengers” given his background; however, the ease with which Whdeon pulls it off is almost miraculous. Even with a somewhat wobbly start (the opening scene feels like we've wandered into an epilogue for "Thor"), at nearly two and a half hours, “The Avengers” feels elegantly sleek, yet epic, and easily resists the bloated mess you might expect when you stuff in nearly a dozen characters and give each of them their due.

And that’s the not-so-big secret to “The Avengers”: Whedon’s commitment to his characters and a willingness to go beyond the base appeal of seeing them all share the screen. When you get right down to it, there’s not a whole lot going on in the film: Loki (Tom Hiddleston), still reeling from his defeat at the hands of his brother, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), seeks to strike a bargain with the Chitauri, an alien race with a huge army. They want the Cosmic Cube (here known as the Tessaract), he wants their army in order to rule the earth, so the Avengers assemble to stop the threat.

From that point, there are maybe three big set pieces--a lot of the film is actually hemmed up on a S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarrier, where all of the involved parties try to figure out just what Loki is up to--and there are times when “The Avengers” feels like the biggest little comic book movie yet. You never quite notice it because Whedon has crafted a film that pops, and it’s a joy to witness even the smallest of moments, such as the first meeting between certain heroes, and I love the piecemeal fashion with which Whedon stitches this together.

You expect a “getting the band together” sort of montage in a movie like this, and “The Avengers” follows suit with a well-sequenced front-end that allows us to catch up with everyone. Almost immediately, you can see how the previous films have paid off--regardless of their quality, it’s difficult to argue that their respective films didn’t absolutely nail down Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and even Nick Fury as characters through ace casting; as such, the familiarity and looseness here is a boon that allows Whedon to be a master showman and build up to the big guns. In the meantime, he works to polish those who still need a little work like Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, who was little more than a sexy accessory for Tony Stark in “Iron Man 2”; Whedon does more with her in two or three scenes here than Jon Favreau did in the entirety of that film by giving her some real pathos and motivation.

The other triumph here is The Hulk, a character that finally gets pinned down after a couple of missteps over the past decade. Mark Ruffalo steps into the role with a finely calibrated pitch that’s mellow but playful--gone are the overly dour Eric Bana and the criminally muted Edward Norton. This is a Banner that’s comfortable in his own skin--as long as it’s his skin and not “the other guy’s” green, hulking musculature. Though the imminent threat of turning into a raging, psychotic beast looms over him, Ruffalo’s Banner never broods on this; instead of being so high-strung and uptight that the slightest pin up his ass might cause him to hulk out, he hangs loose and stays charming and hangs in the background, diligently working while the more gregarious personalities take center stage.

You can practically feel a red carpet being unfurled for Robert Downey’s Tony Stark to not only take that center stage, but dominate it, and letting him do so would have been one of the many false steps that Whedon could have easily taken. When there’s a good chunk dedicated to his introduction in this film, you even begin to wonder if he didn’t give in to the appeal of making this “Iron Man 3,” but Downey brings life to a film that should lumber as it assembles its pieces together. He’s not the only one because this is a film that sings in the way most Joss Whedon films sing, and, if you bless him with a stable of well-sketched characters essayed by talented actors, the result is likely to be delightful.

Once he’s assembled his pieces, “The Avengers” really soars; as cool as it is to simply see Tony Stark and Bruce Banner discuss geeky shit like gamma radiation, the film’s smallness creeps away from being unexpectedly quaint to being slightly worrisome--until Cap swoops in for a showdown with Loki and this thing starts to really sizzle. Before you know it, Iron Man’s roaring in to the strains of “Shoot to Thrill” and Thor’s jetting down from Asgard to wreak divine justice on his brother; suddenly, “The Avengers” is bustling to the thwack and thwomp of our heroes pounding each other, and it’s on. It was at this point--when Whdeon had somehow wedged the Shakespearian dramatics of “Thor” into the unfailing bounciness of “Iron Man” and “Captain America”--that I knew “The Avengers” was likely to work.

Not only does it work--it downright hurls forward in spirited fashion, completely unashamed to be a big, old-fashioned comic book movie in every sense of the word. There’s a moment in the film when Captain America is assured that the world might need something a little old-fashioned, and he might as well be talking about “The Avengers” itself. Whether it’s been Donner or Raimi, the best comic book directors have captured that essential lightness, and Whedon joins their ranks. This is not to say that “The Avengers” isn’t without heft or gravitas because there’s plenty of that to go around, and Whedon does a very Joss Whedon thing by finding heart in the most unexpected of places, like Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson or Nick Fury’s unwavering faith in these heroes. I love that the film doesn’t bog itself down with its more somber beats--it largely leaves Steve Rogers’s adjustment to the modern world on the wayside to hopefully be explored in his own sequel; likewise, even when the good guys are scrapping with each other, it’s done with an awesome spryness.

If “The Avengers” were a comic book, it wouldn’t be full of splash pages, but rather small panels full of witty quips and barbs, with everyone getting a few of their own to let them shine. Evans’s Steve Rogers is still earnest and “aw shucks,” completely deflated of any ego, while Hemsworth’s Thor continues to be an exceedingly likeable gentle giant whose burliness is often betrayed by his gentle warmth. The super heroes are super, and I’ll concede that their Chitauri foes are a little vanilla, but they have a terrific mouthpiece in Hiddleston’s Loki. Still every bit as petulant and with a tragic waft of having fallen from grace, Loki maintains his humanity from “Thor,” only he’s shaken off the indignities he met there, so he saunters around wearing horns and brandishing a scepter like an even more theatrical version of Terence Stamp’s Zod.

Of course, the big splash pages do come in the form of the incredible siege of New York, climactic set piece that’s fantastically conceived not so much due to the sheer size or scope since we’ve seen huge alien invasions done up like this before. Instead, Whedon’s ability to weave in so many jaw-dropping moments with grace and fluidity that’s astounding. His film is at its biggest and most comic-bookish here: Hawkeye (who actually spends much of the film under Loki’s control) cockily blasts Chitauri warriors from the sky, Cap barks orders and teams up with Black Widow, Iron Man swooshes through the NYC skyline, Thor spits lightning everywhere, and Hulk smashes…well, everything. If nothing else, “The Avengers” may prove that Marvel should green light Joss Whedeon’s “Hulk” tomorrow because he finally taps into the awesome spectacle of watching the giant rip shit up in heroic fashion. Like the rest of the film, this climactic sequence is remarkably streamlined and smartly cut to avoid fatigue and exhaustion.

Fifteen years ago, I would never have believed “The Avengers” to be possible; it wasn’t that long ago that most comic book movies were confined to the rumors section of Wizard Magazine. Those that actually did make it into development were jokes or worse. “The Avengers” is no joke--it’s certainly witty and raucous and rousing--but it’s done with a level of respect that distills Marvel’s best qualities--its optimism and sense of wonder--and projects them into 140 minutes of pure celluloid spectacle. With enough thematic heft in tow, “The Avengers” intertwines popcorn thrills into a story that reminds us that we’re at our best when we work together; heroism isn’t about being swaggering loudness--it’s about performing your expected duty with dignity and grace, a notion that’s become lost lately.

You might say that Whedon practically stepped up to the plate with the bases already loaded thanks to the efforts of previous films, and I wouldn’t argue that point. But it was still up to him to pick his spots and swing for the fences--he did just that, and the result is the best Marvel Studios film to date. Time will determine where it stands among the all-time greats in this genre, but, taken as a purely satisfying, fun ride, “The Avengers” has few peers. By the end, it feels like a validation not only for Whedon, but for a genre that's come so far that a mid-credits reveal here embraces its nerdiness and weirdness to a level heretofore unseen, as Whedon lobs a cosmic softball right back to the fanboys that indicates we haven't really seen anything yet.

I would consider myself a recovering comic book junkie, and the best films of the past decade have been akin to huffing for a fix; “The Avengers” is no different--in fact, it tempts me to plunge headlong back into the addiction because it reminds me of why I loved comics in the first place.

link directly to this review at http://www.hollywoodbitchslap.com/review.php?movie=20594&reviewer=429
originally posted: 05/04/12 23:59:08
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/29/16 morris campbell over stuffed but entertaining & exciting 4 stars
5/11/15 Christian Paulson Winner winner, shawarma dinner! 5 stars
3/10/15 Nik Does anyone remember what those aliens were called? 2 stars
10/01/14 Horror Lover 4.5 stars One of the best comic book and popcorn movies in a long time. 5 stars
9/02/14 Jeff Corny and stupid "fun" 1 stars
7/30/14 turner Whedon is overrated. Terrible TV Director 1 stars
9/18/13 Ionicera standard superhero movie, slightly overrated 3 stars
4/08/13 dr.lao One of the few things in this world that actually lives up to the hype! 5 stars
3/06/13 Kurt It's loud 3 stars
1/31/13 Charles Tatum Often corny, but big and entertaining. 4 stars
12/05/12 Jason Smart, funny, entertaining, and powerfully acted, this movie was a captivating success. 5 stars
12/01/12 Aaron More holes in plot than swiss cheese, even for SH movie 2 stars
9/22/12 D This movie is completely forgettable escapism. 2 stars
9/18/12 Gabrielle Barnard This movie has uncommonly witty dialogue. Everyone in the theater was laughing aloud. 5 stars
9/07/12 Jes Mediocre kids film, good for adults who are at the level of 5 year olds though 2 stars
8/04/12 Billy why superheroes? 1 stars
7/20/12 Sean Harrison The best superhero movie since the Dark Knight. 5 stars
7/01/12 Orlando An fantastic film, The Avengers is the best comic book film i have seen 5 stars
6/19/12 Jordan Kentris Such an amazing mix of talent. This movie was captivating, entertaining and totally rocked! 5 stars
5/27/12 Mattomic Loved it. Fantastic job. Finally, the Hulk done right! 5 stars
5/16/12 Geraldine The perfect summer blockbuster. Exciting and funny with a lot of heart. 5 stars
5/15/12 puddleduck The most fun to hit the screen since Raiders Of The Lost Ark 5 stars
5/15/12 Kimberly Brown The Avengers was amazing, Whedon did a dope job! 5 stars
5/14/12 Marty Big undertaking but fun action w cool heroes all together. not deep tho, just fun. 4 stars
5/10/12 Travis BEST.....MOVIE.....EVER! 5 stars
5/10/12 davofern Absolutely sensational ! 5 stars
5/09/12 Phillip D See it! 5 stars
5/09/12 damalc new favorite superhero movie 5 stars
5/08/12 Jimmy Web Very Cool 5 stars
5/07/12 KingNeutron So many explosions, I thought Michael Bay directed it! +1 :) 5 stars
5/07/12 Toni Peluso Awesome. The dialog made the movie! 5 stars
5/06/12 The Big D Thor's the best character; he saves it from corny jokes, cheesy banter, and overdone SPFX. 3 stars
5/06/12 Koitus Very well done. A notch below "The Dark Knight," though. 5 stars
5/06/12 Adam Myles Can't wait to see this movie! 5 stars
5/06/12 Nate Stalker The perfect mixture of action, humor and interaction, topped off with outstanding CGI. 5 stars
5/06/12 Dan Not typical a friend of pop culture/mass media stuff, but this was just awesome. Good CGI. 5 stars
5/05/12 GLC Excellently done. Great characterizations and interplay. 5 stars
5/05/12 ACTION MOVIE FAN EXCITING MARVEL SUPER HEROS MOVIE WATCH WHAT AHPPENS TO LOKI WHEN HE INSULTS THE HULK 5 stars
5/05/12 /// one of the best superhero films ever, even better than x-men 5 stars
5/04/12 mr.mike It was good. I did not do handsprings upon leaving the theatre. 4 stars
5/04/12 Darkstar Best comic movie so far. Liked it better than The Dark Knight. 5 stars
5/03/12 PAUL SHORTT STYLISH, INTELLIGENT, ENTERTAINING SHOWCASE FOR THE MARVEL CHARACTERS 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
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USA
  04-May-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Sep-2012

UK
  N/A

Australia
  04-May-2012
  DVD: 25-Sep-2012




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