Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Review of The Avengers

“The Avengers” (or to be more exact “Marvel's The Avengers”) is a superhero movie that features a team-up of Iron Man, Black Widow, Captain America, the Hulk, Thor and newcomer Hawkeye in one big, gigantic package. Produced by Marvel Studios and directed by Joss Whedon, it features an all-star ensemble cast that has everyone from Robert Downey, Jr. (Iron Man), to Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), to Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury).

The story starts with the Asgardian god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) coming to Earth via the Tesseract, an energy source of unknown potential in the possession of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D. Loki takes the Tesseract and uses his scepter to enslave Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) as well as physicist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård).

Faced with the might of a god, director of S.H.I.E.L.D. Nick Fury decided to go with the "Avengers Initiative", a program to bring together super-powered beings of Earth. S.H.I.E.L.D.

I will admit I was initially skeptical about this movie. I was thinking that some of these characters have their own movie franchises already, so a movie showing all of them was kind of unnecessary. Worse, if the movie bomb, it will hurt the movie franchises of the characters.

Luckily for us, my fears were unfounded. “The Avengers” is a movie that will satisfy both fans of the comics and movie-goers who never pick up a comic in their lives. With a script by Whedon and Zak Penn, the one-liners come thick and fast and you could see how much fun the actors have with the script. It is (surprisingly) a genuinely funny movie and I can understand why some people even called the movie an action-comedy.

As you can probably guess, the main meat of “The Avengers” is one thing; action, action and more action! There are 3 big set piece battle scenes in the movie and director Joss Whedon delivered on all 3 of them. Even by today’s standard, the movie has some larger-than-life moments (and special effects) that make you go “Wow”.

Also helping is the direction of Joss Whedon. Director Joss Whedon is a well-known geek and he packed the movie with references on the mythology of the characters but he also let the actors go on with their stuff. Robert Downey Jr continues to own the character of Tony Stark, playing the character with an effortless coolness. Mark Ruffalo stamped his own mark on Bruce Banner, playing the character with a measure of zen calmness. However the best work for me was done by Tom Hiddleston. His Loki has a sense of menace to him but at the same time he wasn’t over the top. He also managed to give Loki a mischievous sneer which works perfectly for the God of Mischief.

Of course not everything worked. The movie’s big cast was always going to be difficult to juggle. Whedon had a good go at it but without question some characters had more focus than other. Thor only showed up in the latter half of the movie and Captain America was almost a non-entity till the final fight in the movie.

Also the movie tend to assume movie-goers knows the characters. It wasn’t a problem for me but if it was your first time seeing a Marvel movie, I can’t help but think you will be wondering about Captain America’s flashback; why Thor was looking longingly at a picture of Jane Foster; why Pepper Potts was so friendly with Agent Coulson etc. The movie assumed that people seeing the movie knows some of the background of the characters.

However I was happy with the movie on the whole. I was surprised by how genuinely funny the movie was and with good action sequences thrown in, “The Avengers” is a good example of how fun superhero movie could be. It’s not a classic like “The Dark Knight” but watch the movie for a good fun ride.

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