12 hours 32 minutes.
That is approximately how much of my life I recently devoted to watching Stan Lee and his heroic creations this past May 5th – which I so eloquently dubbed – ‘Cinco de Marvel’.
The M3 (Marvel Movie Marathon) event was suggested by my personal NBFF – and Thor fanatic – Hot Nerd Girl.
Technically though, credit must be given to the AMC movie theater chain which created the promotion as a lead-in for the release of the new Avengers movie.
For the low low price of $40, AMC assembled The Incredible Hulk (Norton style), Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America and a midnight release showing of some sort of new superhero movie called The Avengers by some guy named Joss Whedon. (I hope I didn’t lay that sarcasm on TOO thick.)
HNG and I agreed an event like this could have the potential to measure at a magnitude of incredible geeky proportions. Unfortunately, being that it took place on a Thursday, we decided to do the ‘in-home’ version at HNG’s secret lair on a Saturday in order to allow other friends to partake in the grandiose of it all.
As per Murphy’s Law, absolutely no one else showed up to her abode either, so it just ended up being HNG and myself. Nonetheless, I had zero complaints as it allowed me to stretch out on her extremely comfortable furniture and drain my bladder at a moment’s notice (in her bathroom of course).
Since most of you have undoubtedly seen all of the above mentioned Marvel movies, I’m going to skip right to the meat and sweet potatoes – they are healthier than regular potatoes and I like them better – and get to The Avengers.
In all honesty, I could really write the review with just one word:
Honestly, I’m pretty sure that’s not even a word, but I had to come up with something creative to express just how much fun this movie is.
Mind you, this is coming from a geek that has a limited knowledge-base on The Avengers from a comic-book standpoint. I was an avid Spider-Man and Daredevil comic reader growing up, so I’m not going to pretend to try and compare the accuracies between this and the comic story lines.
That doesn’t mean I’m lazy and can’t use Google to do a little research on the matter though. As a purely informative statement, it is said Whedon cut and paste components from the main Marvel multiverse (aka Earth 616), the Ultimate S.H.I.E.L.D. comics where The Avengers were originally formed – all while keeping the continuity from the singular films that led up to the events of this film.
WARNING PSA: (Potential Spoiler Alert) – I try not to reveal too much, but there are some juicy nuggets for those that wish to stay completely surprised.
[NOTE: Bonus geek points if you can catch how many times I use the word assemble in some form or fashion during this review.]
So even though it meant sitting on my lazy behind for an entire astrological planetary alignment, I was happy to have been able to watch all of the individual movies immediately beforehand. It proved to be a much needed refresher for a guy that tends to forget what he ate for breakfast that same morning.
As associated with the prior films, the plot itself is more of a continuation from the Thor film, which is then mixed in with a dash of Captain America’s energy sub-plot, which is then mixed together with some lore from the comics. Thor’s exiled – and adopted – brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston), whom fell from Asgard last we left him, has literally fallen into dealings with the ‘Other’ (not to be confused with the ‘others’ whom made problems for the survivors on LOST.)
Being the unhinged brother that he is, Loki strikes a deal to provide the Other (Alexis Denisof) with the ultimate alternative energy resource called the Tesseract (Cosmic Cube to others), in exchange for the use of the Other’s alien army (aka Chitauri – also aka Skrulls) in order to conquer earth. I hope you are taking notes as there is a test at the end.
Alas, this is where The Avengers come in. Brought together by Nick Fury (played by Samuel L Jackson with a welcome Pulp-Fiction edginess), they are a mix-mash group of super humans, each with their own powers, personality quirks and complete set of heavy duty emotional baggage.
Predictably, the members of the team fight each other verbally and physically through most of the middle part of the film before realizing they will need to assemble as a team in order to prevent some very bad stuff from going down.
There is so much to talk about with this movie, finding a starting point isn’t easy. However, at its heart, The Avengers is about its team, so let’s just dive into that shall we? I may get some flak on this, but I felt that each character (with the possible exception of Stark – since he was already Mr. Personality) is much more likeable and charismatic in this team effort, than they were in their individual movies.
Now before you tie me to the stake, hear me out. The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America were all very solid and entertaining movies on their own; however, I felt those three characters worked much better in the group dynamic – with Stark – which has been created for them in The Avengers Marvel Movie-verse. It was genuinely intriguing seeing all of these flawed and super-human personalities playing off of each other in the most humorous of ways.
Surprisingly, The Avengers contained much more humor than I was expecting. As could be anticipated, Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) throws his witty zingers around almost every time his presence graces a scene.
Believe it or not though, one of the funniest lines of the entire film is delivered by Thor (Chris Hemsworth) while tying to defend his brother to the group. Not only is he immortal, but he has beach blond Fabio-like locks, a sculpted physique AND he can deliver a punch line with perfect timing… talk about a quadruple-threat kinda god!
Good ol’ Cap provides some humor too which is very much expected from his built-in ‘fish-out-of-water’ premise of a man whom has been frozen in time for several decades.
Another character that I also found more entertaining than usual this go around was the Hulk. Under the admission of full disclosure, I’ve never truly been a super-fan of the green guy, but it’s not to say I dislike the big lug. It’s nothing personal; he’s just never been my cup of green-tea.
However, his treatment of Loki as a rag doll was an absolute crack-up and akin to a dog destroying a new toy with its mouth. His claim of “Puny god” after the attack was simply hilarious.
You will also notice that Bruce Banner has transformed yet again – this time into Mark Ruffalo, whom does a more than adequate job of taking the reins from Mr. Norton. Don’t quit your day job though Mark, as the Hulk hasn’t proved consistent work for past leads… yet.
You’ll notice even the effects for Hulk were upgraded as well, making him seem more lifelike and less cartoon-y. Apparently they modeled the Hulk’s physical characteristics after Ruffalo himself (ala tech from Avatar). It’s hands down the best incarnation of Mr. Anger Management yet.
Speaking of special effects, The Avengers as a whole doesn’t disappoint. Everything looked nothing short of amazing… which is the way every big budget Hollywood blockbuster should be. There were many awe-inspiring shots during the final battle when New York is getting its proverbial ass handed to it on an alien platter. (Ever notice that poor little city takes quite a beating?) With the exception of a few necessary lulls to catch your breath, the movie’s pacing is fast as its pretty much one action sequence to the next.
One of my favorite elements of the movie was one that didn’t even need any CGI… that of course being the Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson). Apparently the producers received and read my formal written requests (and letters to Penthouse’s fantasy forums) to show more of the widow in tight black ensembles.
I distinctly remember a scene – minus the dialogue – where the audience is provided a rear view shot of Black Widows more notable ‘assets’ for what seemed like an eternity. Thank you Mr. Whedon.
Since I’m on the subject of hot women in tight black outfits, I would be doing my male readership a disservice by not mentioning the inclusion of S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Maria Hill (played by Cobie Smulders of How I Met Your Mother fame). You quickly learn her last name is coincidentally appropriate.
From the very moment she made her appearance on camera during the first few minutes, I was rooting for her not to die, thus allowing me more time to stalk her on screen.
Luckily, she effectively manages to kick enemy hind-quarters for the entire length of the flick, all while wearing skin-tight spandex S.H.I.E.L.D. regalia. Thank you Mr. Whedon… again.
Yes ladies, your eye-candy is also there in full force. The overly perfect sculptured physiques of Thor and Captain America are prominently show-cased as well. Variety wise, it all works out well, too, since you females have your choice of the clean cut-all American boy mold of Captain America versus the ruggedly handsome Harley riding surfer bad-boy type in, Thor.
Women everywhere will be also be happy to know Thor uses his hammer (Mjolnir) every chance he gets. Pffft, get your mind out of the gutter please… that’s OUR job!
In light of my glowing review so far, I do want to try to be unbiased in that The Avengers isn’t all incredible special effects, hilarious one-liners, awesome action scenes, smoking hot-women and insanely sculpted men in tights.
There were a couple of small things that I felt could have been done better… in my eyes anyway. For starters, I felt the villains didn’t come across villainy enough.
Yes, I realize that Loki was played to a comic ‘T’ as the emotionally scarred god whom just wanted people to like him, but ended up being a pawn to a master alien race in the process.
That’s fine and all, but it just felt like the producers were told to make the film watchable for six-year olds, too, as Loki just didn’t come across very menacing, intimidating – or dare I say – as evil as felt he could have.
Was it just me – don’t answer that – or did the Other not translate into a convincingly diabolical baddy either? (Which I chalk up more to lack of screen time than anything else). Maybe the hint of Marvel super bad-boy Thanos during the end credits will prove a much more eeeeevil threat in the future?
Indeed, the alien army and their flying worm like ships were a sight to behold, the cause of a major repair bill for the city, and provided an enemy to fight that overwhelmed in quantity. Nonetheless, they also didn’t strike me as much of a formidable opponent to the ‘A’ roster.
I felt like the most sinister bad guys in the film were that of the secret UN world council that decided the best course of action was to launch a nuke at New York to wipe the slate clean. War-mongering aliens or not, why decimate a place that gives us some of the best thin-crust pizza this nation has!? It just didn’t add up.
My only other quasi-complaint with the movie was the absence of any real emotional connection to the characters… at least for myself. Yeah, I understand that all of the prior solo films were responsible for introducing the heroes and providing their back stories. Yeah, I also realize this is meant to be a full-throttle high octane action-ride.
As an added note, with the exception of some slight sexual tension between the Hawkeye / Black Widow tandem and another scene with Tony Stark kissing Pepper Pots; romance is essentially non-existent. However, I’m perfectly ok with that too.
I guess I was just hoping to feel a slightly deeper connection to at least one of the team members. As mentioned above, I mainly found myself rooting for the hot heroines not to suffer any major fatalities (but a little clothing loss would have been fine). I guess that makes me a hopeless com-antic.
Indeed there is one attempt at a sorrowful event when a likeable S.H.I.E.L.D agent finds himself on the wrong end of Loki’s death staff. While ultimately sad, it just didn’t seem to have quite the impact I would have hoped since events were moving along so quickly at that point. A tear-jerker it was not.
Now fellow outlaws, before you assemble together to brand me a grade ‘A’ sissy, I’m not complaining about my inability to shed eye lubricant during a Marvel superhero movie featuring a boat load of legendary superheroes beating the crap out of everything (including each other) for 140 minutes.
I’m merely suggesting that having a tad more of an emotional element along with the action and humor would have made it more of a complete experience. Obviously, this is more of a subjective observation, but it’s my review and I’ll cry… err, complain if I want to.
Lastly, let it be known that I’m a huge fan of movie musical scores, as they can have a great effect truly making a movie experience truly unforgettable and engaging (John Williams being my favorite). Unfortunately, The Avengers score itself didn’t seem particularly special or remember-able. Although, there was so much going on during most of the movie, I’m willing to give it the benefit of the doubt until my second viewing.
All that being said, I can honestly say those truly are only minor quibbles and in no way do they ruin the fun factor or ‘epicness’ of the movie itself.
In assembling a $200 million-plus box-office – record smashing – opening weekend gross, two things are now guaranteed: there will be more Avengers movies AND you can bet all 632 movies studios just knocked on DC Comics front door. I’m sure a little something called ‘Justice League’ is being cast as I post this.
Thus the $200 million dollar question: Is The Avengers my favorite comic-book super-hero movie of all-time? Not quite, but it surprised me in such a positive way – so much so in fact, that I can definitely say it easily cracked into my personal top 3… and THAT is something to ‘assemble’ over.