[The Social Opportunist] Movie Review – The Avengers (2012)

Written by Phil May 09, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

I finally found some time to go see the much-anticipated blockbuster superhero movie The Avengers this Tuesday (cheap day no less!). After hearing person after person, critic after critic talk about the movie and how fantastic they thought it was, I couldn’t stand not being in the loop any longer! If you’ve read my reviews of Thor (review) and Captain America: The First Avenger (review), you know that I wasn’t overly impressed with either of them, especially their far-too-obvious allusions to The Avengers. However, this attitude meant that I was able to expect the worst but be prepared for the absolute best! There was no way I could ignore the stellar reviews that people were giving this movie and the slew of records it was already breaking made it a force to be reckoned with. Without giving anything away, I think I’m going to have trouble cutting this review down to just the highlights, because there is so much to talk about with this epic superhero collaboration.

Check out the trailer below before reading the review, just to give yourself a little context (or if you’ve already seen it, a little reminder).

***WARNING: The following review may contain spoilers.***

With characters whose story lines had already been broadly flushed out in the semi-prequels, The Avengers plot line was thickly developed, intricately connected and somewhat difficult to explain. But I’m going to try! The movie begins as S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) addresses some suspicious activity occurring around a mysterious and powerful object known as the Tesseract, upon which S.H.I.E.L.D. has been experimenting. The Tesseract opens a portal that allows the Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to materialize on Earth, after which he steals the cube and threatens to use it in bringing an army to take over the planet. Fury uses this opportunity to restart the “Avengers Initiative,” which calls for a team of extraordinary individuals to be assembled in order to protect the Earth. Following some globetrotting and a little bit of forceful convincing, Fury enlists the help of superheros Natasha Romanov/Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). The movie culminates in a epic battle for New York City (and ultimately the world) between the Avengers, who must drop their differences and cooperate once-and-for-all, and Loki’s Chitauri army. I don’t want to say much more as this is a movie that can’t be described in adequate detail and I definitely won’t be doing it justice.

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans) fight to save the world against an alien army on the streets of New York City.

The Avengers was, in a word, epic. There is really no other way to describe it! Everything from the story to the characters to the action to the hilarious one-liners was well thought out and perfectly executed. For a two-and-a-half hour movie (a long sit in just about anyone’s books), I was never bored or wondering when things would start to get exciting. I actually refused to get out of my seat, even to go to the bathroom! I feel like The Avengers did what the last few Transformers movies couldn’t. Despite a huge battle in the streets of a major American city, it never felt like the reckless and nonsensical CGI carnage that went down between the Autobots and Decepticons in Transformers: Dark of the Moon. The film was able to retain its story, and its heart, throughout the entire fight while showcasing realistic alien enemies and non-stop action. There was a perfect balance between emotion, action and comedy that made it an appealing journey for just about everyone sitting in the audience. Several scenes actually made the entire theatre burst into fits of laughter and rounds of applause. I don’t know many other movies that even come close to evoking that kind of response.

I feel like the most successful aspect of this movie was the cast. It isn’t often that each and every actor adds something unique and significant to a movie, but The Avengers was definitely an exception. There really wasn’t a dud in the entire bunch, and that’s saying something for an ensemble movie where there is plenty of opportunity to get it wrong. Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man was as witty, charismatic and complex as ever. In fact, he plays the part of a billionaire, superhero playboy so well that I can hardly separate this role from his real-life persona. Chris Evans effectively recreated the ever-tormented Captain America, now adjusting to life in the modern age while retaining every nuance of a prolific super solider. Chris Hemsworth is both inspiring and hilarious as the hammer-weilding god of  thunder while Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner, as Black Widow and Hawkeye, convince us that these novel portrayals are worthy additions to our already familiar Avengers. Supplement this strong leading cast with impressive supporting performances from Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Cobie Smulders (Maria Hill) and Clark Gregg (the ever amazing Phil Coulson), and you have yourself an exciting and ever-interesting adventure.

Tom Hiddleston as the mischievous Asgardian villain Loki.

Despite all the powerful acting that I allude to above, my favourite characters (and probably the reason why I liked this movie so much) were the villain Loki, as portrayed by Tom Hiddleston, and the Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo. Hiddleston enters the realm of iconic movie villains with this portrayal, which was very impressive and far more powerful than his previous role in Thor. He accurately represents the character’s mischievous and sometimes maniacal personality to a point were I’m almost rooting for him to succeed. Loki was a villain that you love to hate (i.e. when he “faces off” against the Hulk) and who keeps you locked to the screen with a crazy yet sometimes laugh-inducing persona. Hiddleston gives a portrayal that somewhat reminds me of Heath Ledger’s in The Dark Knight, and we all know what that means. As for Ruffalo, there really hasn’t been a better portrayal of Bruce Banner as what he is supposed to be; a timid yet conflicted super geek. It’s a believable performance that, when balanced between his human and his Hulk characters, is the pinnacle of entertainment.

I was surprised at the level of emotion throughout The Avengers. It was something that you never really expect in a superhero movie, and especially one of this magnitude with so many primary characters. There a few specific instances that come to mind. As Tony Stark prepares to make the ultimate sacrifice, his last attempt to contact girlfriend Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) goes unanswered, leaving the audience reeling and a few people in tears. Black Widow’s mysterious yet clearly dramatic and sinister past is evident in every glance he gives, which surprised us all given her reputation as a femme fatale. And the storyline of Agent Coulson is probably one of the most dramatic and emotional parts of this entire film. His persistent efforts to have his vintage Captain America trading cards signed by Steve Rogers remind us all how big of a fanboy each and every one of us still is, regardless of where we go in life. When Nick Fury tosses those cards onto the table, covered in blood, I nearly died. This emotion was an aspect of The Avengers that perfectly balanced both the action and comedy it provided.

Alright, I’m completely raving about this movie, but it absolutely deserves it. I am so rarely entertained for such a significant period of time for so many reasons that there really is nothing but praise I can give to this movie. While individually, the semi-prequels to The Avengers were inconsistent and relied too heavily on the cheese, it’s great to know that these characters can be brought together to make something special. Hopefully the next round of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk movies (and even the follow-ups to Black Widow and Hawkeye, which I’m sure are coming soon as well) will have learned from the success of The Avengers. But hey, even if they’re not, at least I know that Avengers 2 will be following closely behind.

OVERALL RATING: 10/10

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And finally, I just couldn’t resist…

 


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