Friday, December 21, 2012

Review: Marvel's The Avengers

When you have a job, and see so many movies throughout the year, it is hard to get many reviews actually put on paper. Well, since I happen to have a bit of a break, and have recently re-watched Joss Whedon's The Avengers, I think it is time for me to actually put my thoughts on the page, especially as my 3rd Annual Awards Psychic Awards are just around the corner, and The Avengers is in play for at least a few nominations.

Since 2008, Marvel has slowly built up its characters and its storylines through Iron Man and Iron Man 2, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, and Captain America, all leading to the summit. That great height is Joss Whedon's comic-book-fanatic-wet-dream epic, The Avengers. The teseract, which holds universal energy and power is being utilized and sought after by Loki, the adopted brother of Thor, whose previous power grab has left him outlawed and hungry for power. His goal is to enslave the humans of Earth, and become even more powerful. As the chaos ensues, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), together with Agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson), all members of S.H.I.E.L.D, the peacekeeping agency that protects Earth, began to reboot the dead Avengers initiative, which brings together some of the greatest and most powerful minds to help save the Earth. Tony Stark's Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Bruce Banner's The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain Steve Rogers aka Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor, who eventually comes to Earth using his father's magic to stop his brother and his Chitauri army, and Agent Clint Barton aka Hawkeye who overcomes Loki's spell to join the group, all join together to stop the forces that threaten Earth's survival. After an unfortunate and sad incident (I won't ruin it for the four people left on Earth who haven't seen the film), the Avengers, effectively angered and motivated to destroy Loki descend upon New York City to stop Loki.

Joss Whedon's accomplishment is a true feat. To be able to effectively blend all of these varying and difficult storylines into one film is not an easy feat. While the previous directors of the individual films did their part, it was still on his shoulders, as well as his screenwriters, to make it all work. That is not to say that The Avengers is a perfect film. Some of the humor feels forced (unless it comes from Robert Downey Jr.), and there were some long moments in the beginning that could have used a little bit of editing, considering how much screentime has been spent on these characters over the last four years. But these flaws are minor, and in no way diminish the obvious detail, effort, and master filmmaking prowless that is prevalent throughout the film. What I appreciate most about the film is that it never strays away from its entertainment value. Throughout, The Avengers is a high-flying, fast-paced, top-notch action thriller that is always dazzling for the eyes and the ears, and keeps you glued to the screen.

It is my opinion (and many others' as well) that The Avengers will go down as one of the greatest comic book movies of all time, and a true feat for the genre. That being said, there seemed to me to be something missing. I know that films, particularly ones that are only connected by the same genre heading, but I cannot help it. The comic book movie genre is an exclusive club, and comparisons are bound to happen. Particularly when another recent comic book series has ruined you. What Christopher Nolan did with The Dark Knight Trilogy is nothing short of amazing. He effortlessly blended the comic book origins of the Batman legend, with a dizzying crime thriller that would make Francis Ford Coppola and Michael Mann proud. He created not just great comic book movies, but great movies in general, movies that will stand the test of time as some of the best period, not just the best of a particular genre. So yes, The Avengers is a great film, despite some flaws. But the depth and emotion of Nolan's work is missing here, and the absence is glaring.

Grade: B+

Oscar Potential: Sound Editing, Sound Mixing, Visual Effects

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