Sunday, May 6, 2012

Theater Review: The Avengers

Not only was I able to get out and see a brand, spanking new movie, but I was able to see it on opening weekend. And, I am actually going to post something on it the very same day I watched it.

I know, alert the newspapers.

Now, this is one of the films this summer that everyone and their brother is going to see. So I will not bore you with a running plot, and I really hate doing that for new movies anyway.

The Avengers has been a film that has been in the eyes of the movie studios since they even thought up Iron Man a few years back. This is where they wanted to end up, and thanks to the films leading up to it (the Iron Man series, Thor and Captain America) and their success, it has gained a huge following.

People were going to come out and see it. That was pretty much a given, and judging by the near record breaking numbers at the time of this post, the people did come out. But, would the film itself actually pan out?

The issues that have plagued many comic book film adaptations in the past is that once they get rolling, they feel they can do no wrong - so they introduce more and more characters, in most of these films those characters are usually the villains. The original Spiderman trilogy (and maybe to a lesser extent the first Batman) slammed us with far too many villains in one film - and it suffered because of it.

So, with all of these heroes coming together for one gigantic film, would it work? Or, would there just be too much going on that the story suffered?

In this instance, and I know that due to its success (and hell even the film itself) that there will be at least a sequel and possibly more, but for this film it worked tremendously.

Captain America: When we last left Steve Rogers (Chris Evens) at the conclusion of Captain America he had just fond out that he had been woken up from a freeze and it was no longer World War II. Since then it sounds as if he has not really adjusted to the new world he is forced to live in, is not sleeping and is spending most of his time in the gym. Rogers is the military man of the group, and does most everything by the book. So his pairing in this group is difficult at first, but when given the opportunity to lead his instincts take over and the rest of the group falls in line.

Iron Man: At the conclusion of Iron Man 2, Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.) has been reestablished as the CEO of Stark Industries after Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) relinquished it back to him. Since then it appears that Stark and Potts have continued their romantic interlude, and Stark is surprised when Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) pops up to bring him back into the Avenger Initiative, since Stark was thought to be too narcissistic to be able to join. Of course, Stark believes he is the leader of the group and clashes with most of his fellow members, especially Rogers. But, when the time comes for battle Stark may just prove that he can put other people before himself.

Thor: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is still struggling with the fact that his brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is attacking the world that he loves and protects in Earth. It appears that Loki is not just looking for a kingdom to rule, but revenge on his brother for growing up in his shadow and taking over Asgard, even though he thought it rightfully belonged to him. Thor struggles with the fact that he is part of a group that may eventually kill his brother, even though he believes it should be him to take him back to Asgard.

Hulk: Not really sure which Hulk this one comes from, but I am guessing it was Edward Norton's version. Here, Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) has 'quarantined' himself off in Cambodia. He is tracked down to help with the initiative, and to find a way to locate the Tesseract, which Loki has stolen. Banner is a genius, but we all know that behind him The Hulk is always lurking to come out. So, the others must be careful not to get a reaction out of him and accidentally unleash the beast.

S.H.I.E.L.D.: We have slowly been introduced to a number of the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents throughout the other films. Agent Coulson, for one, has been in most of the films leading up to this one. He has even sort of become a friend to some of the heroes, especially Stark and Potts. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is the head of the program and despite the Avengers Initiative being terminated, brings it back when Loki lands on Earth. Agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson), aka Black Widow, was introduced in Iron Man 2 so we get a bit of what she is capable of. Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), aka Hawkeye, has a tiny role in Thor but he was a bit of a mystery and quite possibly the person we knew the least about. Finally, Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) is introduced in this film and appears to be third in control behind Fury and Coulson.

That is a lot of characters, and thankfully they were weaved together expertly. Each one was able to have his own moments in the film, but no one character truly overshadowed the other. One would think that with the success of Iron Man and the clout of Downey, Jr. that this could have become another Iron Man film, but that didn't happen which is why it worked so well.

It also looked amazing. Plus, we all expect the great action scenes and there were a ton of great ones. The film was not lacking in action. But, what was unexpected was the amount of comedy that was sprinkled throughout the movie. There were many times in my theater where people were literally laughing out loud.

I have to say, I have loved Iron Man, Captain America and Thor, and I still do. But, I really enjoyed Hawkeye in this film - and I FINALLY loved The Hulk.

In the previous installments, The Hulk was just way too large, in my opinion. Here, we understand that he is big, strong and mean, but he was only a few feet taller than the other characters, which was perfect. In the others, he was about the size of a house. Far too big. And, in this film, he was given some great things to do - which gives me hope that with the proper person The Hulk may just have a good solo movie in him. One can only hope.

Finally, being able to bring the amount of characters from different movies that were written and directed by different people and have it all come together like this was just masterfully crafted. Each character has so much behind them and each film has so much going on in it, and all of that is on full display here. It was just a great meshing, which honestly really surprised me.

It was all I could hope and more. I was already looking forward to seeing it again when I walked out. And for that to happen means it was an outstanding film. Do yourself a favor and go check it out. But, who am I kidding? I am sure you already have.


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