I’m not a comic book geek and I really don’t know anything about the Avengers beyond what’s been brought to the big screen so far. With that in mind, know that I am absolutely in love with ‘The Avengers’. It’s not perfect, but it’s a perfect summer blockbuster, one that raises the bar so high that I really only see one other movie matching or surpassing it by fall. Based on the reaction by the geek audience I watched the movie with, I assume that (geek or not) everyone will love this movie.
Very little has been revealed about the plot, so I’ll follow the studio’s lead and give you just enough to get excited. With the exception of Hulk, each Avenger who has already had a movie or two devoted to his character brings something to the story. Since Loki is the main villain, of course, there are more tie-ins with ‘Thor‘ than any other Marvel movie. Being the mischievous butt-hurt baddie that he is, Loki tries to bring some friends to Earth to wreak intergalactic havoc. Also in play are Tony Stark’s genius invention, the arc reactor, and the infinite possibilities of the “cosmic cube” (aka, The Tesaract) from ‘Captain America‘.
The movie starts off with a very loud bang that immediately hurls us into the story. Loki makes an immediate appearance and shows exactly what he’s capable of. After grand-scale mayhem, the big four – Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor – are slowly brought in. By the time the last one enters, you’ll be screaming, “Assemble the Avengers already!” in heightened anticipation.
The way that the story itself unfolds is very similar to ‘Transformers 3‘. Sorry to bring up that old source of contention again, but it’s worth noting. The first hour and a half of ‘The Avengers’ is set-up for a (nearly) hour-long city-under-siege battle sequence not unlike ‘Transformers’ – except that co-writer and director Joss Whedon keeps you on the edge of your seat, constantly entertained, enthralled and excited. The climax of ‘Transformers 3’ left me a spectator, passively watching the action. But the active nature of ‘The Avengers’ really got my blood flowing – especially an extremely fun single-take that sweeps across the entire city to see what each of our six Avengers is up to.
I feel that I must address the 3D aspect. I don’t really care for 3D, but unlike any 3D movie I’ve seen until now, ‘The Avengers’ never once distracted me. I may be crucified by James Cameron fanatics for saying this, but even ‘Avatar‘ took some adjusting and getting used to. With ‘The Avengers’, that never happened.
I can’t think of another summer that has started off with such a strong crowd pleaser. It’s such a great movie that it has taken away the luster that some of the other upcoming blockbusters once held. No joke, ‘Prometheus’ and ‘The Dark Knight Rises’ are the only two summer flicks that I look forward to now. Until then, I guess I’ll have to make frequent return visits for ‘The Avengers’.
So, why four-and-a-half stars and not five? Since we already know the characters, a good chunk of the middle section of the movie is devoted to establishing their relationships. For me, this section drags on a little too long. Out of the entire 142-minute runtime, this is the only part that feels long. It slows down the overall pace of the film, but that’s my only complaint.
I enjoyed ‘The Avengers’ so much that I could easily pump out a 2,000-word review about how great it is, but doing so would spoil a lot of the fun. So, I’ll close with this: I was worried that ‘The Avengers’ would feature four major characters cock-blocking one another for screen time. I feared that the movie would house too much of too many good things to be good itself. Those fears were fortunately never realized. Iron Man/Stark, Cap/Rogers and Thor all feature about the same amount of screen time. Being a less popular member of the team, Hulk is given the least – but what he does throughout the movie is so unforgettably awesome that I’m certain Marvel will give him yet another movie of his own. Whedon and company have done a fantastic job balancing the scales. The story is great and the script is fantastic, conjuring a lot more laughs than expected. If you like even one of the Marvel movies that has led up to this giant, don’t put off seeing ‘The Avengers’. It’s completely entertaining and 100% satisfying.