The Avengers Directed by: Joss Whedon Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evans Running Time: 2 hrs 22 min Rating: PG-13 Release Date: May 4, 2012
PLOT: Loki (Hiddleston) is back with an alien force and a plan to take over as dictator of all of humanity. When he steals an extremely powerful artifact, Nick Fury (Jackson) assembles a dream team of superheroes to help save the world.
WHO'S IT FOR? Everyone. Not enjoying this movie is like hating strawberries: it's just impossible with something so delicious.
EXPECTATIONS: I expected it to be outstanding, because I have very high hopes for everything Joss Whedon does. In fact, I informed Jeff Bayer that I thought Whedon should be in full charge of all blockbusters henceforth.
ACTORS: Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man: Tony Stark is one of the more interesting superheros, because he's physically vulnerable and narcissistic as hell. He LOVES being Iron Man and he LOVES being Tony Stark, and that makes him more relatable than the superheroes that copiously whine about not being like everyone else. And Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect Stark, so much so that it seems plausible that Robert Downey Jr. actually is Tony Stark ... there's some sort of surreal blur between the man and the character and it's fantastic. Score: 10
Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury: Jackson always plays the same character. Luckily, A.) we all love that character and, B) that character is so identical to Nick Fury, that casting Jackson seems like the most obvious choice. Jackson has an air of fearlessness about him that verges on suicidal: he's willing to go down with the ship if it means taking a few baddies down with him, and he's not hiding it from anyone. There is a perilous edge under all that civility and that's why we love ya, Sammy! Score: 10
Scarlett Johansson as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow: Scarlett Johansson is beautiful and talented and a great pleasure to watch. Give her a character like Natasha and she just takes right off. The Black Widow is unusual in that she uses her femininity to get what she wants, but not the sexy, flirty way: in the vulnerable, oh-poor-little-ol'-me way. She plays up being pretty and weak and helpless, when she's actually quite dangerous, and Johansson pulls it off with aplomb. Score: 10
Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/the Hulk: Here's hoping Ruffalo sticks, because he's a great Bruce Banner. He does shy, soft-spoken, and tortured by inner demons really well, and he's a terrific presence. Obviously, once he loses his temper, CGI takes over -- and he doesn't get as much screen time as the Hulk -- but all that repressed rage, smoldering intelligence stuff, Ruffalo has that down pat. Score: 10
Chris Hemsworth as Thor: Thor is a bit more noble than he was in his own movie, but he's still arrogant enough to lock horns with Stark. The two of them have a difficult time figuring out who has more swagger, so they settle it with impressive violence. Hemsworth emanates with alpha male-ness and somehow manages to not come off as a ham with a mullet. Score: 10
Chris Evans as Steve Rogers/Captain America: Captain America is the least interesting on his own, but paired up with the rest, he fits right in. Evans easily steps into Rogers' idealism and gives Captain America an old fashioned innocence that balances the others nicely. Score: 9
Tom Hiddleston as Loki: I think Loki is a fantastic bad guy, because he's just crazy -- he's like the evil Mad Hatter. It's that sort of unfathomable crazy that ends up being weirdly charming. Plus, unlike other bad guys who snarl and stomp around, Loki is big on being nutty with a cheerful grin on his face. Hiddleston does empty-eyed, smiling lunacy very well, especially when they've bleached him out and given him long dark hair to offset his pale complexion and light eyes. He is the perfect dark complement to Thor, and it's great fun to watch him wreaking havoc. Score: 10
TALKING: Quick and fun, which is pretty standard for one of Whedon's scripts. Not only that, but you have Robert Downey Jr. sprinkling in his own manic ad-libbing, so it's excellent fun no matter who's in the scene. Score: 10
SIGHTS: Wowza! The stunts, the direction, the editing, the action, the destruction, the super powers ... all phenomenal. And just wait until the aliens bring their monolithic, armored space whales. Score: 10
SOUNDS: The score adds to the crispness of each scene, which means it enhances your enjoyment without butting in and bossing you around. Score: 9
BEST SCENE: There are many, many scenes one could choose, but I have to go with the confrontation between Loki and the Hulk. That scene is a definite candidate for top ten funniest scenes of all time.
ENDING: Very cool, very tough, and we're sure to get sequels galore! I'm the first to roll my eyes at Hollywood, but as far as this franchise is concerned, I'm ready to hand over my money right now.
QUESTIONS: I'm drawing a blank. I'm sure there's all sorts of nitpicky things I could say, but honestly, the only question I have at this moment is "How long until the next one?"
REWATCHABILITY: Absolutely. I'm seeing it again when it officially opens at IMAX.
How many times have you and your friends sat around and discussed what elements you'd put into a movie to make it the coolest movie you've ever seen? After that, you'd lovingly cast it, hire your dream director, and then bemoan the fact that it's all just make believe when it's such a GOOD idea. But even if you could somehow get this movie made, nine times out of ten, Hollywood would suck every last drop of creativity or cleverness out of the concept and serve up disappointing drek.
The Avengers is that semi-mythological tenth ... the exception to the rule. When I was younger, it baffled me how the film industry could ruin so many cool concepts; now I'm stunned when the film industry doesn't ruin it. This movie stunned me and cheered me and made me endlessly happy. It sounded like the greatest idea and it was executed with just as much pizazz.
I never thought I'd find myself wide-eyed and grinning while watching aliens ravage New York, but it's such a freakin' blast. Its biggest flaw is that it isn't longer, because we want to spend more time with this groovy collection of fictional characters. I find myself rather annoyed that the sequel isn't being filmed this instant; don't they understand how addictive a well-done blockbuster is? I gotta have my fix, man!
If you don't like superhero movies -- and let me just say, I can't comprehend you -- you won't have fun. It also means your inner child kicked the bucket, or you're just generally dour. Be that as it may, the rest of us have ourselves a wonderful, fantastic, thrilling blockbuster to sink our teeth into and to tide us over for months and months.
FINAL SCORE: 10/10