Thursday, May 17, 2012

The Avengers

Asgardian Loki breaks in to SHIELD headquarters uses the Tesseract, a cube of pure energy that can destroy the world, and plans to conquer the world using it to open a portal to let an alien race called the Chitauri. No one on Earth has the power to fight these extraterrestrials, so Nick Fury in desperation, calls in Bruce Banner (the Hulk), Tony Stark (Ironman), Thor, and Steve Rogers (Captain America) to band together and stop Loki. However, they are a volatile, unruly group that simply don't get along and don't trust SHIELD's motives. Can they put aside their petty differences and distrust of SHIELD long enough to save the world?

I was very excited to see The Avengers because I enjoyed all of the films leading up to it and their characters, but especially because Joss Whedon was directing. I think this is one of the best comic book movies I've ever seen and I believe it is thanks to Whedon. He brought a lot of humor throughout the film, even during the most heartbreaking moments. I don't remember ever laughing so hard in any superhero movie. There were even moments when dialogue was unintelligible because the whole audience was roaring with laughter.

He also fleshed out the minor characters wonderfully. In the previous movies, I couldn't care less about Hawkeye and Black Widow. Hawkeye had a super small part in Thor and did practically nothing. Black Widow in Iron Man 2 was super flat and only really there for eye candy and cool fight scenes. In The Avengers, Hawkeye is instrumental to the story and he updates the bow from a practically obsolete relic (compared to guns and other firearms) to something useful and dangerous. His sense of loyalty and justice really made him a cool character, as well as his relationship with Black Widow. Black Widow is also very important to the plot. She gets to show off how she is actually a good spy by playing the victim and getting those who would think themselves above her to reveal their plans. She is much more than just a pretty face and we get to see how is she is underneath her strong exterior. I liked that these two characters aren't marginalized because they are weaker than the other super heroes. They prove to be important in their own right and are allowed to actually develop as dynamic characters.

One of the things I was afraid of was one superhero or another dominating the movie. This film masterfully balances each hero. Each make mistakes and look silly at one point and they also all have great, shining moments of heroism. They all bring something that the others don't have and make this disparate, hodge podge group into a real team. Captain America is a great tactician who sees each person's strength and how best to utilize that strength on the battlefield. Iron Man thinks outside the box and has incredible intelligence beyond that huge ego of his. Bruce Banner is also extremely smart, but also turns into a huge, strong rage monster when he transforms. Thor is practically immortal with a powerful hammer, the ability to fly, and power over thunder and lightning. These larger than life characters are lot to stuff into one movie, but they end up being a well balanced, powerful team.

The last act of the film is the giant splodey extraterrestrial battle for New York. The comparisons to the Transformers are cringeworthy, but not complete unfounded. There are a few key differences, one being that The Avengers is actually a good, coherent movie that doesn't entirely rely on special effects. Another is that while the Transformers movies have cool shots of buildings exploding and falling down and CGI fight scenes, but the human element is lost. In The Avengers, the people running and screaming from the attack are a focus in the middle of this battle. We even follow a particular waitress as she runs from location to location and is finally saved by Captain America. This makes the audience care about the civilians and actually worry when buildings collapse and debris is falling everywhere.

The Avengers is a spectacular superhero film that takes the characters we know and gives them portrays them in a much deeper way and keeps that human element in a huge, epic fight. I also really liked the banter between the characters, the humor throughout, and especially the deviously manipulative, sinister Loki. I have seen it 3 times so far and wouldn't mind seeing it again. If you want a truly enjoyable film with action, adventure, aliens, and superheroes, The Avengers is definitely for you.

My rating: 10/10 fishmuffins

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