I am more giddy than my giddy aunt. I saw the midnight showing of the AVENGERS last night and, at the end, my face hurt and warped from grinning so big. I am so wired I can't form a coherent thought. Here's a salvo of stream-of-consciousness impressions, in whatever order.
Mark Ruffalo is simply terrific as the Hulk's alter (and calmer) ego. I actually prefer his interpretation of Dr. Banner over Bana's and Norton's. Ruffalo steers away from the deadening angst that made me fidget in earlier Hulk pictures. He finds a balance. This Banner exhibits a dry sense of humor but exudes this quirky, low simmer edginess. And I love Ruffalo's interactions with Downey, Jr., two swaggerful eggheads matching their test tubes against each other and applying big, sciency words. I like that there's respect between their two characters. There's an intriguing twist involving Banner's relationship with the Hulk, of which I won't say more. The Hulk - and this seems to be a unanimous impression - hijacks the movie.
Comic book geeks like me have recently been dogging Marvel's latest company crossover event, AVENGERS VS. X-MEN. And, yet, this film demonstrates that, sometimes, there's nothing more exhilarating than eyeballing an epic hero vs. hero scrap. Mjolnir, meet the Hulk's face. And have you ever wondered what happens should Thor's enchanted hammer go up against Captain America's indestructible shield?
The plot revolves around the far-ranging machinations of Loki, Asgardian god of mischief. Those who've read the Avengers' comic book origin should note a smidgen of familiarity, but only a smidgen. The Tesseract - someone mistakenly thought "Tesseract" sounds cooler than "cosmic cube" - plays a part. The bad guys whom Loki recruits as an invasion force aren't Skrulls. Not exactly. But they do pose an extinction level threat, alarming enough that some assembly becomes required.
Captain America is well utilized here, although I'm hating his awkward modern-day costume. I vastly prefered his more practical WWII outfit. But maybe I just like pouches.
Joss Whedon, Joss Whedon. His storytelling has big scope; it has grandeur. Whedon orchestrates a sprawling, high-profiled cast and just about gets away with not slighting anyone. He does rely some on your familiarity with the character development sunk into the prior films. He manages to tie in various plot threads from previous Marvel pictures. Although Stark, Cap, and Banner get the lion's share of the spotlight, Whedon devotes time and space to side characters like the slinky but lethal spy, the Black Widow, and the likable, unobstrusive Agent Coulson. If you assume the Black Widow's defining action moment surfaces in that early interrogation scene, you'd be all kinds of not right. Scarlett Johansson ticks off Whedon's Buffy box, not only in things asskickery but also in terms of strong character beats (the Widow's dialogue with Loki happens to be an acting showcase). She's so much more here than when she was featured in IRON MAN 2. But if I were to pick out two people who may have been underused, they'd have to be Maria Hill and Hawkeye. I do feel that Cobie Smulders was wasted.
I love that, like in the comics, Thor never gives up on his half-brother.
The first half hour is essentially a slow burn set-up that may or may not keep you engaged. And at times Whedon does sacrifice narrative for those wild action sequences, and that's okay, because Whedon treats us to a series of marvelous cape-on-cape violence. In true Marvel fashion, these heroes harbor instant grudges against each other. But all those violent "misunderstandings" merely whet your appetite. Joss unleashes the white knuckle action in the third act. The extended climactic combat sequence - as the Avengers hold the line against a horde of grotesque Not Skrulls - is off the charts and so damn gratifying. There's this now famous tracking shot in which I'm reminded of the 1990s X-Men cartoon in which the camera would often track the X-Men in frenzied action, as they hurtle in and out of the picture, occasionally mingling with each other only to break off again into individual skirmishes. I was mesmerized by Whedon's sweeping, organic approach to the battle scenes.
No surprise, there are heaps of whip-smart one-liners, plenty of them generated by a smirky Robert Downey, Jr. - and yet even Hemsworth's regal thunder god elicits chuckles. No contest, though, the brutalizing Hulk - who, by the way, is rendered to savage life in impeccable CG - captures two of the film's biggest laughs.
For pure escapism and sheer fanfare and fan service beyond expectation, THE AVENGERS is the best superhero movie I have ever seen. I have to see it again. But you, you make sure to stick around for the embedded scene during the post-credits and then for the post-credit scene. You may wet your pants. Or you may, afterwards, go "What the flippin' flip was that?"
Hours and hours later, I'm still big grinning. Joss Whedon actually pulled it off.
What I have is the Blu-Ray 2-disc edition. I must say I'm digging the crystal clear, hi-res video quality of the blu-ray disc. We've probably all gotten spoiled by the extras on the Lord of the Rings packages, so the following bonus stuff probably won't overwhelm anyone:
- Audio Commentary by director Joss Whedon
- "Marvel One-Shot: Item 47" - A short film in which we learn what happens to the one piece of alien tech not collected by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the aftermath of the New York battle (00:11:20 minutes)
- "The Avengers Initiative: A Marvel Second Screen Experience" - use your iPad, iPhone or laptop to access the S.H.I.E.L.D. data base to immerse yourself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, dive into the Avengers Comic Book History, and much more
- Gag Reel, which is hilarious (00:04:04 minutes)
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (totaling 00:14:58 minutes):
* Alternate Opening - Maria Hill being interrogated by the World Security Council (you could see why Whedon scrapped this)
* Extended Scene - "Loki & Barton Strategize"
* "Steve Rogers - Man Out of Time" - This is the best deleted scene of the lot as it explores Steve Rogers' ties to his past in clearer detail; it also features another cameo by Stan Lee and that waitress
* "Nick Fury & World Security Council"
* "Extended Viaduct Fight" - Raw footage of Black Widow and Hawkeye battling Chitauri aliens
* "Fury & Hill Discuss the World Security Council"
* Extended Scene - "Banner and Security Guard" - Banner gets a pep talk and a motorcycle
* Alternate Ending - Maria Hill still being interrogated by the World Security Council
- 2 Featurettes:
* "A Visual Journey" (00:06:26 minutes)
* "Assembling the Ultimate Team" - Whedon and cast members talk up each other (00:08:06 minutes)
- Soundgarden Music Video - "Live to Rise"
- There's also a code provided which when entered on AvengersAssembleOffer.com allows access to a Free Digital Comic Book Offer and a Free Marvel Poster Offer
And if you intend to pick up the basic Avengers DVD, you'll be treated to only these following Special Features:
- Audio Commentary by Joss Whedon
- "Assembling the Ultimate Team" featurette
Some info on what's included in the Phase One: Avengers Assembled 10-disc, 6-film super-set (which may or may not come in an officially issued S.H.I.E.L.D. briefcase):
* Marvel's The Avengers (Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray)
* Captain America: The First Avenger (Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray)
* Thor (Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray)
* Iron Man 2 (Blu-ray)
* The Incredible Hulk (Blu-ray)
* Iron Man (Blu-ray)
* Bonus Disc - "The Phase One Archives" (Blu-ray)
* Collectible packaging with exclusive memorabilia from the Marvel Cinematic Universe
on September 26, 2012
Don't get me wrong, it's one of my favorite movies and I highly recommend it as a Blu-ray purchase for any action and/or hero fan. The problem is that this 4 disc set is nothing but a sham, and on multiple levels:
First, the only supported tablet is the Ipad, so for all of us Android tablet users, don't dream about taking the movie with you on the go through legitimate means.
In fact, even if you choose the WMP version which can only be seen on your computer, you might face difficulties. My Laptop apparently needed a security update (which I couldn't get no matter how much I tried), in spite of the fact that it's running on the latest version.
Digital Music Download:
Why not simply include the music within the set in MP3 files? Here's why. Although you've already paid a higher price for a set that should provide the soundtrack, they feel that you still haven't actually paid enough. After giving my authentication code online, I was asked for personal contact info. WTH!?!? I have enough spam mail as it is! I decided to give it a shot and give my email address, at risk of getting flooded by unwanted ads.
What message did I get upon punching in my zip code? "Not available in some regions". Never mind that I purchased it at a local retail store.
This set (I assume) should only be sought out by those who actually have a full 3d home theater set. Even then, I fell as though everything listed after DVD in features is false advertising.
I bought the set yesterday, and today I'm going back to my local retail store to get my money back and get the simple, Blu-ray set.
Retailer won't accept opened movie.
Someone commented that I shouldn't whine over a product that costs $19.99 or technology that doesn't work.
It wasn't $19.99, it was $29.99. And it works just fine if you torrent a ripped file.
I'll whine as much as I want over a product whose label reads "watch anywhere, anytime", with pictures of phones and tablets, and doesn't deliver. If I'd known the truth of what was inside, I would have saved 10 dollars by buying the simple set, a lot of time trying to get something to work when it doesn't, and the stress of going back to the store (in vain). I posted this for the benefit of those who might want what I wanted out of the product.
There's a second reason why this whole situation is upsetting to me:
The industry is trying to fight piracy, which I understand and respect. If they would make it easier for people like me to get what we want (instead of difficult or even impossible through legitimate means), I would gladly pay full price for a movie if I can use it for my personal enjoyment in technology that is by no means new. Another user who got to use it on his laptop said that he still needs to use the DVD to authenticate his ownership every time he wants to watch the digital file on his computer, so in essence it's just like popping in the DVD.
This is the 3rd consecutive movie that I buy (and love) with a "digital copy" that is inaccessible.
I don't care if it's $2.00 or $200, don't sell me something that doesn't do what you say it does.
on May 30, 2012
....And what fun it is.
Marvel's "The Avengers" is an expertly-crafted movie that makes 2 1/2 hours fly by like....well....I don't really know...SOMETHING FAST. My thoughts on seeing this movie--the first time (yes, you WILL go to see this more than once)--were: "This was just as good as 'The Dark Knight'....how is THAT even possible?" Well...consider first that Marvel has always had the best storylines, and the know-how to mix all of their characters' comic books together into one, all-encompassing storyline. Then, consider they decided to apply said formula to their movies. Third, they went out and expertly casted the parts.
How could this NOT be good?
Who else but Robert Downey, Jr could be a multi-billionaire, techno-wizard, armor-wearing snark-artist? Acts like he doesn't care, but is willing to sacrifice his life to save New York.
Chris Evans is Captain America. A 1940s guy living in the present day....brings "a little old-fashioned" to the role and shows old-fashionedness isn't cheesy, it just depends on how it is presented. It is presented very well, with Evans being the heart and soul (not to mention team leader) of The Avengers--by the way: love the shot, at the movie's end, of him on his motorcycle riding off into the sunset.
Mark Ruffalo, (great casting here; now I feel the Hulk movie franchise finally has hope) channels Bill Bixby in his performance (good idea!) but adds a "Hulk-sized" portion of world-weariness to his character...his over-the-shoulder "I'm always angry" is one of my favorite moments in an entire movie of favorite moments. And....The Hulk gets two more "Hulk-sized" moments that totally bring the house down.
Oh, nice touch having Lou Ferrigno voice the Hulk.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor is the only character in the movie whom I feel was under-utilized. No fault of the actor's; he does a great job with what he is given....and DOES have his moments ("He's adopted")....I just felt they didn't give him as much as they did the other three leads.
Rounding out The Avengers are Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner as the assassin/couple: Black Widow (Natasha Romanoff) and Hawkeye. Ms. Johansson is a master interrogator (albeit by making use of quite unorthodox means). Hawkeye is the steely-cool expert marksman--I had my doubts as to how an archer could work in such a high-energy movie. It works.
The Avengers are put together by SHIELD: Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury (need I say more?); Clark Gregg (Agent Phil Coulson, and very funny in the role); Colbie Smulders (Agent Maria Hill--doesn't get nearly enough screen time) and Stellan Starsgard.
Loki is portrayed by Tom Hiddleston; whom, for a character thinking of himself as a god, brings some amusing vunerability to the character: His embarrassment at being unable to kill/brainwash Tony Stark: "This usually works."; or, "If it's all the same to you, I'll have that drink now."
I was initially skeptical about this movie. I didn't think Loki was the best choice for a screen villain. Er, was I wrong....this tale of an immortal/meglomaniac/demigod/god-wannabe who enlists an alien race to help him conquer Earth (Question: if Loki *really* was a god, why would he need alien help?) made for some great popcorn, big-tent, summer viewing.
....My other initial fear was that this wasn't going to be "The Avengers" as much as it would be "Iron Man and Friends".
Thankfully, I was wrong again.
To sum up: The Avengers is cinematic excellence. Many have complained about it being too long--and, the first 20 minutes or so setting up the story *do* take a moment....but once "Marvel's The Avengers" splashes across the screen: The movie takes off and never looks back. It is packed with great moments and memorable lines/one-liners. The action sequences are the best I've ever seen and it all looks real. Seems I read somewhere online the battle in New York would have done (in reality) 39 billion dollars' worth of damage. You WILL believe it.
Oh, one last thing: sit through ALL of the credits.
Thank you, Joss Whedon and co.
Please go all-out on the blu-ray release. Please.
Natasha: "I'd sit this one out, Cap."
Captain America: "I don't see how I can."
Natasha: "These guys (Thor and Loki) come from legend. They're basically gods."
Cap: "There's only one God, ma'am. And I'm pretty sure he isn't dressed like that."
Cap: "Dr. Banner, now might be a good time for you to get angry."
Dr. Banner: "That's my secret, Captain." (looks back over his shoulder at Cap) "I'm always angry."
Loki: (embarrassed) "This usually works."
Tony Stark: "Well, you know, performance issues..."
PG-13 for language (non-harsh) and violence; no gore or sex to be found, parents.
Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures
Directed by Joss Whedon
**********UPDATE: Oct. 2, 2012**********
Ok, the Blu-Ray/DVD has finally arrived, here is what you get:
*Blu-Ray Feature Film in 3D (3D viewing requires Blu-Ray 3D player, 3D capable display and 3D glasses
*Blu-Ray Feature Film
*An original SHORT: "Item 47". I won't give the story away, but it could have been called, "Fun at the gas pump".
*FEATURETTE: "A Visual Journey". Documentary about the film's look, ranging from the set-building and visual effects all the way through to the film's cinematography, too.
*Marvel's First Ever Gag Reel: The outtakes are presented are entertaining enough, but the whole featurette is barely five minutes long. I wish it were a half-hour in length--at the least.
*Deleted Scenes: and, a LOT of them. One very interesting one concerning a present-day Captain America *and* his love interest from "Captain America-The First Avenger". I had heard a rumor these deleted scenes WOULD BE INSERTED SEAMLESSLY into the original movie, giving us a new, special edition version....said rumor was wrong.
*Soundgarden Music Video: :Live To Rise".
*The Avengers Initiative: A Marvel Second Screen Experience. This works on your iphone, ipad or laptop. Once enabled, it "breaks you into" S.H.I.E.L.D.'s data base and allows you to explore:
1) Marvel's cinematic history
2) The comic book history of The Avengers
3) Avenger personnel files and origins
*DVD Feature Film
*Audio Commentary (full-length) with director Joss Whedon. I've listened to it--very well done.
*Featurette--Assembling The Ultimate Team: the movie casting process, what the actor's bring to their roles, character interactions, etc, etc.
*Digital Copy (for Mac and PC)
1) Soundgarden-Live To Rise
2) Shinedown-I'm Alive
3) Rise Against-Dirt And Roses
4) Papa Roach-Even If I Could
5) Black Veil Brides-Unbroken
6) Scott Weiland-Breathe
7) Redlight King-Comeback
8) Bush-Into The Blue
9) Evanescence-A New Way To Bleed (Photek Remix)
10) Pusher Jones-Count Me Out
11) Buckcherry-Wherever I Go
12) Five Finger Death Punch-From Out Of Nowhere
13) Cherri Bomb-Shake The Ground
Blu-Ray: 1080p High Definition Widescreen (1.78:1) * Audio: English 7.1 DTS-HD MA, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital, 7.1 DTS-HDHR French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital Language Tracks * Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish
DVD: Widescreen (1.78:1) Aspect Ratio * Audio: English, French, Spanish 5.1 Dolby Digital, English DVS 2.0 Dolby Digital Language Tracks * Subtitles: English SDH, French and Spanish (Applies To Film Content Only)
Film's RUN TIME is 143 Minutes (Approx.)
****ALL SPECS AND RELATED INFO ARE TAKEN FROM THE BLU-RAY/DVD PACKAGING--WHICH FEATURES A NICE (DARE I SAY, "COLLECTIBLE?") HOLOGRAM OF ONE OF THE MOVIE'S (FULL TEAM ASSEMBLED) POSTERS ON THE FRONT.
Thank you again for reading.
on September 23, 2012
This has to be one of the greatest films I have ever seen. After having the pleasure of seeing this movie eight times in theaters, I'm literally counting down the hours until I can snag this DVD!
Having seen all of the previous films leading up to this one, I can say my expectations wer extremely high. Now all I can say is that I wish I could go back and see it for the first time all over again. This film sprung me into a new world of comic books and all that Marvel has to offer, and I love it.
But more about the actual movie: Joss Whedon's direction was magnificent in every way. He really captured that Marvel film quality that all the previous movies had with that enticing combination of witty one-liners and bold action that you just won't see anywhere else. All of the characters really meshed together in a funny, shaky start that lead up to a fantastic blend of amazing heroes in the end. All of the actors did a phenomenal job in grasping their characters and taking them deeper than just what you saw. And might I say, Mark Ruffalo did a great job as Bruce Banner. He played the part of the closed off and awkward scientist well.
If you didn't see this in theaters, you missed out. Not only was the film amazing on the big screen, but the audience full of die-hards made it a real experience. I'd recommend this movie to anyone looking for a laugh, action, and and just plain fun. There also wasn't much language, which I thought was great for the younger audiences who will undoubtedly see this game changer if they haven't already.
on September 26, 2012
I saw this movie back in May when it first came out in theaters in 2D. I received the 3D blu ray combo yesterday and watch it during the evening. I own about 25ish 3D movies right now and I think this one is probably the best film in 3D so far. There are so many things that pop out of the screen that you feel like you are battling again Loki too! And the scenes that do not have pop-outs look simply beautiful with nearly no ghosting. I am very sensitive to ghosting and I can notice it right away on a movie if it is present. The Avengers, however, do not fall under the category of such movies. I own Avatar in 3D as well and I still think The Avengers has a better 3D experience (I know, shocking). I hope this helps you when making your 3D blu ray movie purchases!
on September 1, 2012
I've been reading some comments complaining about how this isn't "the promised director's cut" and how they think it's unfair to release this now and then that cut later.
Joss Whedon, the director, has stated time and time again that the version released to theatres IS the director's cut, so there will not be a longer version of this film coming out in the future. If that would hold you back, don't be afraid, the chance of that happening is just about zero.
As for all the trolls stating that this film is overrated to then proceed to disect its flaws: it's a film that has 4 films leading into it, has 6 superheroes, a superpowered villain, aliens and Samuel L. Jackson. Even without reading a description or review of this film, you should know it's not going to have a traditional goal of storytelling (in the sense of getting to know a character, throwing some romance their way and then making them fight the bad guy). No, the goal of this film is to entertain as much as possible and that's exactly what it does. The characters ARE fleshed out as much as they can be over the course of 2 hours and 20 minutes of film in the hands of a very capable writer and director. The film is hilarious (as can be testified to by anyone who has seen it. I have never heard an audience in a theatre roar as much as they did during this film, and it's not even a comedy), it's fun, the action sequences are engaging and superbly filmed. It's a highly enjoyable climax to what the Marvel Cinematic Universe has spent the last decade building up. And that is why this film is --at the time I'm writing this review-- the number 3 best-selling film of all time.
In conclusion, this edition is definitely worth your money if you liked the film or if you want to see a fun, superpoweredly entertaining film. Your abs will be tired from the laughter-induced work out, but ultimately greatful.
on June 20, 2012
Hollywood did an amazing job with this movie! Even those who aren't into Marvel and superheroes will enjoy it. They took time to develop the characters (in case you hadn't seen the earlier solo movies.) My only complaint is that they didn't have Hawkeye included as much as I would have liked. :-/ But other than that, they had great visuals, so awesome action scenes, and lots of humor (can you say "Tony Stark"?) :-D It was surprisingly clean...I was very impressed. Out of all the Marvel movies, this is the best! Now I just hope they come out with a solo movie for Hawkeye and Black Widow. I'll be looking forward to seeing Captain America 2, Thor 2, Iron Man 3, and Avengers 2. (ALL of which they ARE coming out with, if you didn't already know that!!)
Here's some statistics: (from [...]) They made $200.3 million in JUST THREE days to become the biggest opening weekend of all time. Before it had been in theaters even a week, globally it had produced over $700 million!
Here are the dates for the future Marvel movies!! =) Can't wait!
Captain America 2: April 4, 2014!
Thor 2: November 15, 2013
Iron Man 3: May 3, 2013
Avengers 2: Already in development. Expect to see in a theater near you sometime in the no-so-far-off future!
Black Widow and Hawkeye solo movies also EXPECTED to come soon! :-)
BE SURE TO WATCH IT ALL THE WAY THROUGH THE CREDITS!!! Very important! (Unfortunately, I did not. YouTube saved me.)
To sum: There is some brief mild language. Violent content. Action-packed. Very exciting. Impossible to feel sleepy or bored when watching the Avengers. A must-see! :-) So what are you waiting for? It's definitely the best movie of the year so far, IMO.
But of course they haven't come out with The Hobbit yet. :)
on July 9, 2013
The set comes with:
The Illuminated box (wich you may have to change the batteries for). A 7" by 9" poster. A $30 gift card for SIdeshow Collectables who only sells things more expensive then $30. A 200 page Marvel character guide that is very awesome and interesting. And the 4 disc movie itself that comes with a holographic slipcover. Great product.
on July 1, 2012
When I was a kid, I had a small collection of comic books that was predominantly Captain America issues. I began collecting comics when I was 5, and sort of fell out of it when I was around ten or eleven. My parents quit buying them, and, to be honest, the comic book medium has never engaged me as much as it has some of my friends. I do enjoy a graphic novel now and again, but in general, I don't go out of my way to read or read about them. But the movies? Oh, I go to the movies. I don't think I've missed a single Marvel Studios movie yet at the big screen, and generally, I haven't been disappointed.
So I've been around to see Marvel Studios President Kevin Fiege and his companions weave the Avengers together with subtle references and post-credits teasers. It's been a long time coming, The Avengers, and it's a wonder that it ever happened at all. Considering that the last superhero movie I can think of that had more than one superhero and one super villain in it was X-Men 3: Rise of the Backlog References, I didn't expect it to ever happen again. But here we are, with Joss Whedon at the helm, Fiege as a producer, and an all-star cast including Robert Downey Jr, Samuel MF Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Johnny Storm, Chris Hemsworth, and Scarlett Johansson. And despite having that much talent on screen, it almost always feels natural and indeed almost logical that these beautiful people would come together to kick the ass of some to-be-disclosed villain(s).
Actually, that last bit of snarky was serious--the Avengers, Tony Stark tells his partner Pepper Pots in the first act of the movie, was an initiative of talented individuals put together by Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D. to protect the earth against super-powered threats. But it's dead. When the movie begins, the Avengers Initiative has been shut down by government leaders as a waste of time and a misguided program. Instead, S.H.I.E.L.D. has focused its efforts on the development of Hydra-based weapons ala the Captain America movie. But they've kept tabs on the Avengers themselves, so when Loki shows up after the Cosmic Cube stargates him out onto a dais, Fury can quickly assemble the team.
The nature of Loki's plan is never very clearly developed--he will lead an alien army to Earth and let them run rampant, and then somehow become king of the Earth. This deal is shown in some shady scenes with "the Other," who looks like something that stop-motion crawled out of a Guillermo Del Toro movie. They're interesting scenes, but astronomically don't make any sense, which bothered me. But that's OK. I don't think Loki really knew what was going on, either, and so when Thor pile-drives him into the ground and criticizes his lack of foresight, it makes total sense. Loki is the demented, anxious, and ambitious little brother/frost-giant adoptee of the God of Thunder. When would he have time to plan?
In any case, while Loki traipses the world with the Cube and a mysterious scepter that allows him to project illusions, cast lighting, and brain-wash people, the Avengers assemble and chase him in an absolutely breathtaking rendition of the Helicarrier. While it's in the air, the Avengers are cooped up together, which makes for some great dialogue (and arguments), as well as a long lead-up to Ruffalo losing it and hulking out.
I didn't think it would be true, but it turns out that Ruffalo might be the best hulk I've ever seen. Where Bana was a bit cross-eyed and pensive and Norton was too... Norton*, Ruffalo makes for an excellent banner with a handsome-but-real look, awkward, nerdy smiles and jokes that feel authentic, and a bit of a recovering-alcoholic air about him that totally begs to be messed with. This, of course, happens, by none other than Tony Stark. Throughout the first act, Stark shocks, pokes, prods, mocks, and teases Banner (to Captain America's ire) in an attempt to get him to "let the big guy out." In fact, one of the movie's best lines comes out of this banter, when Stark says, "Bruce, you've been tip-toeing around all these years. I think it's time to strut," which evokes some sultry and strange images of an eight foot green behemoth walking like Scarlett Johansson...
... who does an incredible job as the Black Widow. Whedon opted to not play up her attributes, and let her act rather than show off. She does a great job as a believably dangerous, but still very human woman who is terrified of the hulk, but in control of most every other situation. The hulk/widow dynamic is perhaps my favorite scene in the film, and needs to be experienced on the big screen. It's incredible. And after that, there is a palpable change in the Widow's character, for the good, and I wonder how many other actresses could have pulled it off without relying on their butts or bodies to sell the performance.
That's true of the majority of the movie, too. Even though the characters are all wearing their iconic outfits (minor variations may apply), it isn't the bodies that sell any of their performances--it's the way they're played. Even though it's full of eye candy, awesome props, and a damn solid story, The Avengers works because the people on screen are clearly loving every moment of what they're doing, and putting their all into the performances, be it the sarcastic joy Downey imbues Stark, or the confused dissociation that Evans plays the Captain with, and especially the self-doubting caution that Ruffalo breathes into Banner. It needs to be seen--and if you haven't already, go today. You'll leave with a head full of some of the best one-liners in recent memory.
Whedon has taken something that I admit believing was impossible, and turning it into one of the greatest (if not the greatest) superhero movie ever made, and his cast makes it look so easy that after this, any super movie that stumbles is going to look like the work of a total fool. After all, Whedon culminated five other movies into a cresting, climaxing sixth, with a massive cast and huge stakes, and pulled it off with flare. There's no excuse anymore.
And no excuse not to see this movie. DO IT!
on April 28, 2012
This is the film we knew was coming before they even started to make it. The frequent cameo appearances by Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) in all the films hinted at the coming of this film. They goofed, and didn't introduce Fury in the first Iron Man (unless you watched post credits) and forced us to sit through a cliche filled second one so they could fit in Jackson and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson).
Loki, with "ancient knowledge and a new purpose" has returned ("the door opens from both sides") and absconds with the Tesseract, a device of unlimited power. Loki is bent upon world destruction/domination. Nick Fury and the Black Widow travel the world to assemble a crack team of superheroes to save the planet. It is during this time we get a brief re-introduction of the characters: The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner introduced in "Thor") and Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Thor comes in later. He sees the Loki issue as a family problem and doesn't want the Avengers butting in. This creates a brief three sided fight.
The film also boasts some good dialouge and many decent one liners especially for those who relish a good chiamus:
Captain America: "Wait. We have to plan our attack."
Iron Man: "I have a plan. Attack."
The production recreates the quirky characterizations. Iron Man is an egomaniac. Hulk is the reluctant hero. Black Widow is ever confident. Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is sexy and intelligent. Captain America is the naive patriot. Lou Ferrigno (who else could it be?) is the voice of a larger Hulk than in the past. As expected, having a villain with the strength of the gods is not enough. There has to be some minor infighting due to personality differences.
The film includes a good blend of action, comedy, great special effects, and has a fairly decent plot at that. It does help to have seen the other films, especially "Thor", but it is not a requirement if you have some inkling of the superheroes mentioned.
Parental Guide: No f-bombs, sex, or nudity. Minor profanity (SOB).