Friday, May 4, 2012

The Avengers (2012) - Review

This is how you make a big superhero event movie.  This is the best movie Marvel Studios could hope to make, and given the messiness of the origin films, it's surprising that it came out as well as it did.  This could have so easily been bloated and overdone, but it somehow manages to strike a relative balance and remain entertaining pretty much the whole way through.  Of course, the big shining beacon of light within the mess that is the Marvel universe is none other than Joss Whedon.

Say what you will about Joss Whedon, but he's absolutely brilliant when it comes to characters.  He just understands them and he knows how to play them off of each other in such a way that we really start to care about them all individually as well as a whole.  The main cast all do a fantastic job and the interplay between some of them is immensely entertaining; by far the highlight of the movie.  The banter between RDJ's Tony Stark and Chris Evans's Steve Rogers is particularly charming, as is the character arc for Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner.  The rest of the cast does a good job too, especially Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.

The direction is stellar; Joss implements an abundance of cool shots to add a bit of flare to the talky scenes, though the dialogue itself does a great job of keeping things interesting.  In fact, the biggest flaw in the film comes in the action.  There might be a bit too much of it.  Oh, it's all very well-shot, and there are some truly awesome sequences of carnage and brawling.  The huge action sequence on the ship in the middle of the movie is particularly rousing.  However, the spectacles pale in comparison to the film's more subtle moments.

Anyone can make an action movie.  It's the small character moments, the arguing, the cracking jokes, the overall trademark Joss Whedon snarkiness that really make the film great.  And while I do wish more of that snark had permeated the movie, I do understand the need to appeal to everyone on a more fundamental level, and that Whedon's sarcastic flippant dialogue might not be for everyone.  So, for what it is, The Avengers is a solid movie.  It's about as good as an ultra-high budget blockbuster event can get.

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