Film Review: The Avengers
It’s Comic Book Movie Month on Filmophilia. April sees us highlighting comic book movie-related material. This is one of those posts.
Simply put, what you are seeing on-screen in The Avengers just hasn’t been done before. It is the accumulation of five different films, featuring vastly different protagonists, brought together as a team and it just works. It works so well. It is more than the sum of its parts, taking all the best bits of each individual film, trimming the fat and amplifying them. If you had any doubts that Joss Whedon could handle the cast or a project of this size, consider them squashed.
In fact in hindsight Whedon is the perfect man for the job, writing and directing-wise. He handles the ensemble with a daft touch and ease befitting of any veteran director with much more experience.
Basically, what you’re seeing here are what could be described as the same fantastic performances from the prior films, only better. Gushing over how great Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans are would simply be like shouting rosy complements into a vacuum. Everyone gets ample time, a beefy but brisk 142 minutes, to shine, both in an action capacity as well as a comedic and emotional one. Scarlett Johansson has infinitely more to do than in Iron Man 2 and she handles it deftly, Mark Ruffalo makes you forget than anyone else ever played Bruce Banner. He’s spot-on neurotic/insecure, contrasting the pure rage of the Hulk quite poetically. They even find a rather clever way to give Hawkeye, the ever great Jeremy Renner, more screen-time without being “just another hero”. He’s also a total bad-ass.
Ultimately though, there tends to be one stand out and in this case it’s the film’s villain, Tom Hiddleston‘s Loki. To put it into perspective he might not match Heath Ledger‘s Joker, but dammit if he isn’t right up there. He nails the gleeful malevolence of the Nordic jokester, hellbent on ruling the feeble humans, a consolation for losing his (in his twisted opinion) rightful throne in Asgard, one of the several elements he carries over from Thor. Hiddleston is brilliant in the role, a scene where he threatens Black Widow is absolutely spine-chilling. He also plays very well with the other characters, getting a stand-off moment with every single one of them, all of which are memorable in their own special ways. Keep in mind though that a standout here means he’s a tenth of an inch above the rest. They’re just that good.
Surprisingly, or perhaps not seeing how this is Whedon were talking about here, the film is rapturously funny. We’re talking funnier than most, if not all, comedies released in, at least, the last decade. Almost every single scene features something funny and often times those things are laugh out loud funny. It’s just as fun to watch our heroes talk as it is to see them smack down in the film’s several action scenes.
And the action. Oh, the action. There are scenes of such immense scale and magnificence in the third act, clearly someone took a certain open letter to heart, that words simply cannot describe. The stakes are grand and the intensity is at fever pitch. And yet it manages to also connect on a human, or demigod, level. Characters share intimate moments where their armor is truly down and it’s really their personal stakes that make the climax so rewarding. Still, seeing these people, fight side-by-side on its own is astounding, and doubly so with the execution here. The humor also bleeds into the action, thankfully, as it gives you a reprieve from being locked in your seat, sweating bullets.
If there are any criticisms to make the 3D is completely useless, used neither to bump things out nor to give the picture more depth and Thor kind of shows up out of nowhere with a critical bit of information to further the plot. Likewise absolute newcomers might be a bit lost at sea with all the characters and plot points, but c’mon, is it really meant for those people? Alas, there’s enough here for them to enjoy themselves plenty, they’ll just miss out on all the payoffs, connections, emotional resonance and a moment that brings a tear to the eyes of the hardest fans. Remember, the world needs heroes.
Final Verdict: These are the new mythic tales, the new Shakespearean tragedies. Entertainment in its purest form, with plenty of weight to it. The new high-watermark for superhero films. Your move, Nolan.
Remember to click all those lovely social buttons below, to share with your friends.