Wednesday, May 9, 2012

The Avengers

Years of smart planning led to a screenshot this awesome!
***1/2 out of ****

You don't need me to tell you that The Avengers is cool. By now everyone should be carrying on endlessly about what an ultimate geek-out experience this flick is. I really can't think of another time in movie history where several characters from different films came together to share the same movie. This is done with ease in the world of comics and television does it occasionally. With movies, it takes a lot of planning. Marvel Studios carefully calculated how they were going to make movies about these individual heroes years ago and still have them all available for this one which is based on the comic book series about them working together as a team. It really paid off.

This movie as a concept was a recipe for disaster. Thank god it was handled by a great cook. The plot is simple: The world is threatened by forces we've never dealt with and a team of Earth's mightiest heroes must be gathered to fight back. Putting all of these characters together in a way that doesn't feel forced and stupid, is the big challenge. Marvel hired the man for the job. Considering the many creative people in the sci-fi/fantasy entertainment business, it is hard to think of someone better, when it comes to writing and directing a group of characters who are a team. Joss Whedon knows how to do it very well in this movie because he allows each Avenger to stand strong as an individual while dealing with others in a character dynamic that feels like a family. 

He also gets away with having a final act that strongly resembles one from a movie last year. Doing this demonstrates how much more you can enjoy an action scene of the same kind when you actually like the heroes.

Watch Mike and Jay's review. 

This movie, like many other first entries in a new series, knows that the characters are the first priority. The overall threat gets the short end of the stick. Usually there isn't enough time for complex antagonists when you have to spend a good amount of time getting the heroes ready. This is a movie where I never got bored with exposition. Every scene that could be as simple as Tony Stark and Bruce Banner sharing a lab together was fun and entertaining.

I must also point out that after two tries in the world of cinema, we are finally given a version of The Hulk that totally works. Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner is better for being more subtle and the computer animation of him when he 'Hulks out' is easily the most alive version I've seen.

Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark is fun with the wisecracks -as always. Chris Evans continues to pull of the idealistic Steve Rogers, who is frustrated while trying to catch up to the modern world so that he can feel in place to be the 'Captain' again. Chris Hemsworth's Thor is Thor. Scarlett Johansson's Natasha Romanoff and Jeremy Renner's Clint Barton both had small roles in previous Marvel films and are given more time and expanded as characters. Finally Samuel L. Jackson's Nick Fury finally gets a full movie but only seems to have the purpose of being the Avengers' manager. Maybe he'll have a really deep character moment in a future Marvel movie.

If I were to nitpick on any aspect of this movie, it would be the score by Alan Silvestri -which is very good ...and achieves the right tone.... but... I have such wishful thinking that I'm going to hear a movie theme again that enchants me as much as Silvestri's work used to. This is a good score but it's no Back to the Future. Just the same as James Horner can't top his Rocketeer theme or John Williams doesn't deliver the same thrills as his old music for Star Wars/Indy/Superman/E.T. (and that list goes on) or how Michael Kamen, Basil Poledouris, and Jerry Goldsmith are all dead. The only composers who fill their shoes for bringing back that classic adventure feeling to the big screen these days are scarce. Michael Giacchino, Dario Marionelli, and James Newton Howard are some of the only names that come to my mind when it comes to who can get this right. The reason why I can carry on about a score that was decent but should have been great, is because I remember a time when dumb movies got incredibly emotional scores. Now here is a movie that is so well-thought-out and deserves that extra dose of manipulation but the time for that talent is expiring through old age and young composers taking interest in a different kind of music. -'Nuff Said -on that subject.

ANYWAY, the spectacle is that perfect balance of crowd-pleasing and wit that Joss Whedon is getting to be more and more famous for. It is everything the folks at Marvel and their fans could have wished for. It's Two-and-a-half-hours and not a minute feels wasted. And the very end of the credits has maybe the best P.S. I've ever seen.

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