Sunday, May 13, 2012

Movie Review - The Avengers

  The Avengers is the latest Marvel Super Hero movie and mixes the wildly popular Iron Man character with heroes from the less than stellar box office movies Thor, The Hulk and Captain America. The heroes are brought together along with SHIELD agents Black Widow and Hawkeye by Nick Fury, Agent of SHIELD to fight the threat of the Thor’s evil half-brother Loki who has stolen the all-powerful Cosmic Cube (called the Tesseract in the movie) and is planning to give it to the alien Chitauri race in return for their help in conquering the Earth for Loki to rule.

  I went to see the movie last Friday night with Ben and the show we went to was in 3-D. I’ve never seen a 3-D movie before. I liked the way everything stood out and the uncomfortableness of the glasses faded away after a short time, but I didn’t consider it a must have experience worth the extra $4 dollars. The theatre was about half full, which I found surprising given the box-office numbers the film has racked up.

  Since all the super-heroes except Hawkeye had been in other Marvel movies before, the obligatory origin story was dispensed with and the movie starts with a grand display of the scientific capabilities of SHIELD, Loki activating the Cosmic Cube to teleport himself from Asgard to Earth, controlling the minds of Hawkeye and Thor scientist Erik Selvig, and the movie is off to the races.

  All the main characters from the other movies were available except Edward Norton, who was an excellent Bruce Banner in the last Hulk movie. Banner was portrayed in this movie by Mark Ruffalo, who played Banner in an edgy, cynical, almost psychotic vein who almost welcomes becoming the Hulk and wreaking the havoc and mayhem that only the Hulk can. Thor and Captain America are the same emotionless stiffs they were in last year’s movies, leaving Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow to carry most of the dialog.

  The star of the move is Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. In the comic’s Loki’s nickname is ‘The Deceiver’ and Hiddleston plays the deceitful Loki to the hilt. Loki is always smiling, even when he is captured by Iron Man and Captain America and deposited in a Hulk-proofed cage aboard the incredible SHEILD heli-carrier. Of course, Loki has planned it out in advance to use his asgardian scepter to signal his minions to the location of the invisible and untraceable helicarrier and get the superheroes arguing amongst themselves. His minions sabotage the heli-carrier and cause it to plummet to the earth, which causes Banner to change to the Hulk and further damage the heli-carrier while Loki tricks Thor to changing places with him in the Hulk-proof cage and ejects the hulk-proof cage and Thor to the earth.

  The superheroes joke with each other, fight with each other, and ultimately come to respect each other as they battle among themselves and the incredible New York invasion of the Chitauri. The special effects and action scenes in the Avengers are several cuts above all the other Marvel movies. The dozens of flying space ‘sea creatures’ flying into, though, and around New York City while hundreds of Chitauri warriors on their sky cycles sailing through the Cosmic Cube powered inter-dimensional portal was a great half hour of non-stop action.

  The Avengers movie was a lot like the comic book. Since almost all of the heroes have their own comic books (and movies), there can’t be a lot of character development except for the minor characters like the Black Widow and Hawkeye and Nick Fury that frankly not enough people care that much about anyway or else they would have their own movies or comics. This leaves the main characters to either fight among each other or make cute wisecracks. The audience at the movie loved the super hero jokes, but I found them kind of stupid. I enjoyed watching Thor and Iron Man and the Hulk fighting each other and the scene at the end where the Hulk gives Loki a beatdown was very cool. The Hulk seemed miscast fighting for a superhero team. Since he is such a mindless brute how does he really know who the bad guys are? There was one gratuitous scene where the Hulk and Thor are teaming up to fight a mob of Chitauri warriors, but then after their foes are vanquished, the Hulk smacks Thor into next week and I’m not sure why he wouldn’t be doing that during the battle.

  Like most of the comic book super hero movies, the Avengers is great to see if you like the comic books and if you don’t it’s a great action and science fiction film that can be rented in a couple of months. Judging from the end of the movie, the Avengers sequel will feature Thanos the Destroyer, one of the all-time great marvel villains. I’m hoping that Thanos’s appearance will mean the debut on the big screen of his long time nemesis and one of my favorite Marvel characters, Adam Warlock.

  In addition to the movie, I got to see previes for the summers other 2 big comic book movies, 'The Amazing Spider Man' and 'The Dark Knight Rises' featuring Batman. I couldn’t tell from the Batman preview what exactly is going on except for bridges and football fields collapsing. I’m sure the Catwoman will be as iconic as always and Bane is a welcome choice for the villain instead of oddities like the Penguin and the Riddler. This is the last of the ‘Dark Knight’ trilogy by Christopher Nolan and he did a great job of capturing the dark side of Gotham City and the Batman. It looks like the new SpiderMan is going to retell the origin in a new way, focusing in Peter Parker’s parents as scientists (or spies). The Lizard looks fantastic and I like the idea of bringing in Gwen Stacy and her police captain father into the mix as Parkers girlfriend. The relationship between Peter Parker, Spiderman, Capt. Stacy, and Gwen Stacy was the focal point of the late 60’s/early 70’s Spiderman comics and was left out of the Toby Maguire Spiderman movies to focus on Mary Jane Watson. I hope there isn’t too much time spent on the origin, but the darker Spiderman along with the very dark Dark Knight Batman looks to make for a great movie summer.