Movie Reviews

‘The Avengers’: Earth’s mightiest movie

By Zaki JufriMovies - 25 April 2012 11:54 AM | Updated 2:04 PM

‘The Avengers’: Earth’s mightiest movie

"Watch out evil-doers, The Avengers are here."

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Rating: 5 stars out of 5

Never mind the fact that this reviewer is a comic book geek and that this review is typed on a ‘The Avengers’ card gaming mat turned mouse pad.

Before you go say that this review is biased, you can hit up this link and see for yourself.

To say that this summer’s blockbuster, ‘The Avengers’ is just good is a misnomer. It is Earth’s mightiest movie – just like its heroes are Earth’s mightiest.

Four years in the making – if you only count the recent Marvel superheroes standalone movies – ‘The Avengers’ is the movie that every comic book geek worth his replica Captain America shield has been waiting, with Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, replacing Edward Norton), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye and Black Widow (Jeremy Renner and Scarlett Johansson) coming together for a massive showdown.

Iron Man and Cap discussing the finer points of super-heroics.

Beyond the ensemble cast, the biggest hype thus far will be resident comic geek Joss Whedon at the helm. And what ‘The Avengers’ prove is that it takes a real comic book fan to do justice to the big screen. 

Known for creating cult TV shows (‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’), films (‘The Cabin in the Woods’) and comic books (‘Fray’) that share the same qualities: witty dialogue, relatable characters and fantasy/sci-fi mythology; namely the cult ‘Buffy The Vampire Slayer’, which mixed fantasy and teenage drama to produce both emotional connections to characters and a complex, absorbing mythology.

What Whedon manages to do well – and only on his second full feature outing – is strike a balance narrative for those with no knowledge of the complex Marvel-verse, and also for comic book fans skilfully juggling the different personalities on screen, while toggling between drama, wit and action.

Also on inSing: Who’s who guide to The Avengers

All villains need a cool hat and Loki's certainly set the bar.

The movie kicks off with the nefarious Asgadian demigod Loki (Tom Hiddleston) invading S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, as a precursor to an all-out invasion of Earth. He steals the Tesseract, a ‘cosmic cube’ with otherworldly powers from S.H.I.E.L.D’s hands. This compels Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to form the kind of group Whedon shines at portraying: a dysfunctional group of contrasting characters.

Whedon crafts each hero a compelling story arc within the movie but doesn’t bog us down with the specifics from their previous endeavours.

The script penned by Whedon and Zak Penn (‘The Incredible Hulk’, ‘X2’) also brings out the human side to the superpowered heroes. You feel compelled to root for them despite the clashing egos and inane bickering, which Whedon uses as plot tools to deliver on the comedic and the explosive action elements expected.

“We’re not a team,” says a Ruffalo aka Dr. Bruce Banner aka Hulk. “We’re a timebomb.”

And boy did they deliver, with a spectacular action sequences throughout culminating in an alien invaders-versus-superheroes smash ‘em, bash ‘em action set piece.

Performance wise, the ‘man of the match’ trophy will have to be given to Robert Downey Jr.  who seems to have the best lines as the wise-cracking billionaire playboy Tony Stark, whose jokes are mostly directed at Chris Hemworth’s Thor (Spoiler alert: the one about ‘Shakespeare in the park’ is HILARIOUS).

Chris Evans reprises his role as the leader and moral compass of the group while Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is classic Joss Whedon: the seemingly innocuous girl in peril, but knows how to kicks ass.

"Kids, the summer of 2012 will be remembered as the time your aunt Robin decided to join The Avengers."

Samuel L. Jackson gets more time in the sun this time than just show up uninvited at the end of a film, and even Clark Gregg’s sardonic Agent Coulson receives a key role. Cobie Smulders (of ‘How I Met Your Mother’ fame) is serviceable as Agent Maria Hill, but her character feels a little unnecessary.

Possibly the best portrayal of Dr. Bruce Banner, newcomer Mark Ruffalo, injects dry wit to the troubled scientist which carries well through to his green counterpart (voiced by Lou Ferrigno; the original Hulk from the 70s).

It would have been cool to have spent a bit more time with the invading alien hordes before they show up on Earth. For example, the suggestion seems to be that there is an even badder bad guy there than Loki. But of course, there are sequels to flesh that twist out.

Thor and Cap can't believe their movie's box office takings went up the roof.

Fans will scream and cheer at the end credits for one of Marvel’s films signature ‘Easter eggs’ which hints at ‘The Avengers’ expected sequel (or what producer Kevin Feige referred to as ‘the saga’); and the little hints peppered throughout which gives clues to what you can expect from each character’s standalone sequels.

With two more comic book movies coming out over the summer, ‘The Avengers’ certainly set the bar very high for the rest.

The Avengers’ is rollicking good ride right from the get-go and for those of you who’s been ‘directing’ their very own Avengers movie with their itsy-bitsy action figures all these years, this movie is such a pure and unadulterated comic-book movie that it will bring you to tears.

‘The Avengers’ opens in theatres 1 May, 2012.

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