Movie Review: The Avengers (Big Tim’s Take)
Earth’s Mightiest Heroes for over half a century. Some of the most iconic characters ever created. The Avengers comics have been the favorites of both children and adults for many decades.
To say I’ve been looking forward to the big screen adaption is an understatement.
A close friend was kind enough to hook me up with tickets for a midnight screening of Avengers last week. We got there early, scored the best seats in the house, and were ready for some superhero awesome-sauce. Long story short (one lost packet of chips, three cinema changes, and ending up with more chips than I started with) the screening kicked off at 12:40am.
So what can I say about the film?
I remember when the short list of directors was announced for The Avengers. The debates were long and ongoing, discussing the pros and cons of both Joss Whedon and Louis Leterrier‘s strengths and weaknesses. But boy am I glad they chose Whedon. Don’t get me wrong; I loved The Incredible Hulk. I think it’s the most underrated of the Marvel movies. It’s just that under Leterrier, The Avengers would have been a very different creature.
In Whedon’s skilled hands, we get a masterfully crafted superhero flick, made for superhero fans by a superhero fan. Whedon delivers a tight script (he also wrote the screenplay), full of characterization and action and plenty of yuks right where they need to be. A lot of recent comic book based super hero movies could learn a thing or two about starting with a great script. Without that, you have a flimsy skeleton that can’t support the flesh and muscle you try to add.
Not a problem with The Avengers. With such a tight script and story, the actors, special effects, and directing can’t help but soar.
The Avengers is a damn fine movie.
It’s everything a superhero flick should be. From the opening scene, the pace is non-stop. We’re immediately re-introduced to a few familiar characters: Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). We then meet a new character to the films, Agent Maria Hill, played by Cobie Smulders. (I swear she’s going to blow up after this. Expect to see her in at least six big budget flicks over the next few years.) These characters find themselves in the middle of a crisis and things snowball out of control from there. The Avengers starts with a bang and builds to a break-neck speed doesn’t let up for over two hours.
Another beautiful aspect of The Avengers’ script is that everyone gets their spotlight. I don’t care which Marvel Studios movie you like best, I don’t care which of the iconic characters is your favorite, this movie is made for you. Every character gets their time in the spotlight and no one is dead weight. Every actor is given a chance to show off their craft and every single one is flawless in their delivery. Even the cameo characters from previous films like Scarlett Johansson‘s Natasha Romanoff have their fair share of front-and-center time (which has me excited at the potential of rumoured Black Widow and Hawkeye solo spin-off films).
This is a true ensemble piece. I guess years of writing the likes of Buffy and Firefly have taught Whedon the perfect balance of character and action and humor. Because that’s what you get with The Avengers: a perfect balance.
So let’s discuss the gamma-radiated elephant in the room: Mark Ruffalo as the new Bruce Banner. I could get very used to seeing him in any upcoming Avengers films. He played a very likable Banner and this is the first time I can truly say that I could see the actor in the Hulk (it probably helps that Ruffalo already has that Neanderthal brow and jaw that is so prominent on the Hulk). So yeah, I’m sold on Ruffalo.
As most of you would also know, Gwyneth Paltrow also appears in The Avengers. This brought with it some unsettling feelings for me. No, I actually really like Gwyneth as Pepper Potts. But if you remember my review of Thor when it came out, I was less than impressed with Natalie Portman. So my concern was that if they were bringing back the romantic interests from the previous films, with Jane being such a big romantic plot point for Thor, would we have her less than stellar character and performance thrust upon us again? Well, if you felt the same way I did about her, you’ll be happy to know she has been reduced to a photo and a footnote in The Avengers, so there’s no need to fear.
Moving onto another positive aspect: the villains. Of all the villains introduced in the five Marvel Studios movies so far, I am so glad they chose Loki (Tom Hiddleston). In my eyes, he was the most well-developed, well-rounded, and well-performed villain so far. Despite the fact that he’s the only arch-enemy so far that isn’t human, he’s also the only one that I could find relatable. Hiddleston is an incredible actor and I hope we get more of him in Thor 2 as well as Avengers 2.
So to finish up, when I look at The Avengers (I’ve seen it twice now) I can’t believe that TV studios keep cancelling Whedon’s shows. When you look at what this man can produce when he’s given the opportunity, I expect the TV studios to come crawling back, begging Whedon to start new seasons of Dollhouse.
In my books, The Avengers is what all upcoming superhero, sci-fi and action/adventure flicks will be measured againt. As I said on my Twitter at 3:05am walking out of the cinema:
If you even liked the Marvel movies a tiny bit, if you ever liked superhero comics, of [sic] you ever worn superhero undies, GO SEE AVENGERS!!!
And for the love of thunder god, sit through the credits until you see the bonus clip. If you’re a comic book nerd like me, that small glimpse of what’s to come is worth the price of admission alone.
Oh, but I do have one question: where was War Machine in all this?