Jim Reviews The Avengers

The Avengers

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Is there a reason to review “The Avengers?” Honestly, at this point everyone in the world has seen it. You know that tribe they found last year in the jungles of Peru that has never been contacted by civilization? “The Avengers” is number one there. Granted, it only beat “Dark Shadows” by a hundred dollars, but still!

I was resistant to this movie at first. No, I wasn’t being a contrarian, or trying to look cool. I honestly didn’t think it looked good. The preview looked like every other action movie trailer, Marvel is hit and miss at best, Joss Whedon hasn’t made a lot of movies (even though he is a masterful story teller), it’s an offshoot of a group of movies that are very hit and miss...

Iron Man was great, but Iron Man 2 was awful.

Captain America was decent at times, but as a whole wasn’t very strong.

The Hulk is batting .500, although the most recent was quite good.

Thor sucked. It sucked hard. To be clear, it was awful, unwatchably awful. Were it not for Rifftrax I wouldn’t have seen any of it.

Black Widow was not used well in Iron Man 2.

Hawkeye isn’t the most inspiring of choices.

… and it has a villain from the worst movie of the lot.

So, I took the good with the bad and was about 50/50 on this one.

Then it came out amid an obscene amount of publicity and made all the money in the world.

Most people loved it, some didn’t (but in fairness, the people who don’t like it actually gave me hope that it would be good). But an odd thing happened. People started talking about the money it was making. Suddenly, the talk of money started to eclipse talk of the film itself. That gave me serious pause. If it’s so good, why does it matter how much money it made? People tend to talk about what’s good about a movie, and when that talk becomes about something that isn’t the movie, it makes me doubt the quality.

In “The Avengers,” you have an impossibly over hyped movie that is proving to be universally accepted…

It couldn’t possibly live up.

Then I sat down in the theatre to watch it…and the first scene actually gave me more pause. I thought it was great, but it was familiar. Too familiar. In fact, it was almost identical to a scene in “Angel.” If you’re familiar, remember when Faith broke out of prison? The opening of “The Avengers” is the same scene.

This isn’t a criticism. It’s different enough, and fits the character and the world enough that it didn’t really bother me, but I was worried. I was worried that it was going to be a compilation of Joss’s greatest hits. Some sort of over the top fan fiction comprised of the coolest moments he had done up to that point, only grafted onto the Marvel universe.

But I kept watching. Slowly I found myself forgetting the hype and focusing on the movie itself. By the end I was in. Completely, unequivocally in.

This movie didn’t live up to the hype, it surpassed it. Somehow this movie that had been talked up, praised, and glorified beyond all reasonable bounds had somehow… exceeded it all.

There are two camps of comic book movies. There is the Nolan camp, which is gritty and based in a very real and scary world, and there is the Marvel camp, which is a comic book version of the real world. It’s realistic and fantastic in equal measure.

This movie is the perfect encapsulation of the Marvel side. It is a fantastical reality where all this stuff could happen, but is connected enough to the real world that you can identify with it. It’s a world where you can have demigod and a scientist working side by side and not come off as ridiculous.

Two things surprised me the most…

I didn’t hate Loki as the villain. Quite the contrary. Had “Thor” gone this direction with him, that movie might not have sucked as much. He is dark, obsessed, flawed, and completely committed to his warped world view. You weren’t rooting for him, but you could (if you wanted to) see his point. Most movies forget that part. A good villain is the hero of his own story, and Loki achieved that beautifully.

The Avengers themselves were fantastic.

Iron Man had the best lines and Downey Jr. delivered them perfectly.

Thor was better than he had been in his own movie.

Captain America was beautifully realized, especially when he stepped into his role as leader.

Hawkeye was brilliant. This had always been a problem for me because… well, he’s got good aim. But the way he used his arrows as delivery systems for more powerful weapons was brilliant. And Renner was as awesome as I knew he would be. That guy is certified bad ass.

Black Widow was as good as she could have been. Scarlett is an ok actress, but she’s a bit too one note in most of her roles, but she quite good in this.

But the biggest surprise… The Hulk absolutely stole the show.

I did not see this coming. There has been a lot of talk, too much if you ask me, about Norton not playing Banner. Well, Ruffalo, in my opinion, is the best portrayal so far. He captured the nervous brilliance of the man flawlessly. But beyond that, when he finally Hulks out… he is the best part of every scene he’s in. Also, Whedon found a way to replace “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” as the best Hulk line ever.

Joss Whedon went beyond my expectations as a director. The pacing and camera work is outstanding. You can actually see the action and understand what is happening, it’s not just a jumbled mess of thrown together images. He establishes relationships beautifully, and crafted a story that is as interesting as it is entertaining.

My feelings on this movie almost perfectly mirror what I felt about “The Dark Knight.” I found all the praise and talk of money to be off putting and I saw it almost begrudgingly and ended up loving it beyond all reasonable bounds. That being said, I can’t, and won’t, compare this to the Nolan films because they don’t have anything in common other than being based on comics. They are set in different worlds, have different audiences, and completely different approaches. It is possible to like them both equally.

“The Avengers” is, for lack of a better term, an absolute breath of fresh air in a world where fun movies are often more stupid and insulting than fun. It’s smart, funny, full of incredible action movies, and has enough of an emotional impact for all of the smart, fun action to actually mean something.



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