18 04 2012

Perfectly Assembled: A spoiler-free review of The Avengers (2012)

Standing in a line of over 200 people at 7 am in San Diego, California during a very cold and windy morning; I thought back to when I first saw the, now famous, post-credit Iron Man scene where Sam Jackson playing Nick Fury uttered the word “Avengers.” Who knew that one word would lead to this, in my opinion, the greatest comic book film I’ve yet to see. Allow me to explain.

For those who don’t know, The Avengers is a film that has been years in the making. All of Marvel Studios films following Iron Man have been leading to this story: A tale featuring Earth’s mightiest heroes together at last. In the process of creating a movie with such ambition, many people began to wonder if this could ever work. Fans all over the world were both excited and terrified when the news first came out that this film would happen, but a lot of their concerns were put at ease when they announced the film’s writer/director: Joss Whedon.

Joss Whedon is most famous for his television work, (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly) but he is also well known for his witty writing, slick visuals, compelling action and his love for comics. If anyone was ever suited to bring this massive dream project to life, it was Whedon. But the success of this film would also rely heavily on the talent attached. When it was officially announced that Whedon was directing, Robert Downey, Jr.’s portrayl of Iron Man was the only Avenger that had made an impression on audiences. During Comic Con 2010, (which myself and fellow Fourth Wall member Art were in attendance) the world got a look at the group together for the first time and a little glimpse of what Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor would offer. But even with the stage being set and everything falling in to place, many still wondered… “Is this really going to work?”

After leaving the advanced fan screening of The Avengers, I realized that not only did it work; it was damn near perfect.

The story for The Avengers is very simple, and in some other cases this could be a bad thing, but here it works to the film’s strengths. The focus is on why these amazing people are brought together and how they react. It’s not Iron Man 2.5 or a prelude to a Captain America sequel, it’s all about the mission and the team. This gave Whedon time to give each character something to do so the audience can feel the importance of them being there. No one feels out of place or forced in, and we even get some insight into aspects we didn’t know about these characters before.

The build to the film’s climax is beautifully done, with a non-stop momentum of action and character moments that move the film along in such a way that you don’t even notice that 2 hours have passed when it’s over. The storytelling is top notch and it’s Whedon’s writing that really brings it all together. The dialog is sharp and fits every character, an impressive feat since each role is so different. The film is filled with great moments from beginning to end. Ranging from funny to awe-inspiring to tragic, it moves through these moments so well and keeps you invested in the story the entire time. By the end, your throat and hands will be sore from cheering and clapping. I guarantee it.

The acting here is superb. All the returning cast shine and the newcomers add a new flavor in the mix. The most noticeable addition is Mark Ruffalo as Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk. I will admit, I was one of those people that, at first, hated the idea of Banner not being played by Edward Norton, who played the character so well in The Incredible Hulk. But as time went on and after seeing Ruffalo turn in some incredible performances in other films, I became confident he could pull it off. Luckily, I was right. His version of Banner is one not yet seen in the movies. It’s more connected with the Bill Bixby version of the character but mixed in with a nervous edge and Ruffalo’s charm.

The entire cast really plays well off each other, and it’s fun to see them go back and forth with Whedon’s sharp dialogue. Robert Downey, Jr. gets the best lines and turns in a scene stealing performance once again. The big three (Captain America, Thor, and Iron Man) interact marvelously. Scarlett Johansson gets much more time to shine as Black Widow than she did in Iron Man 2. Here she is cunning, strong, and mysterious. She is given a backstory that is pure bad ass. Seeing Black Widow in a solo adventure now sounds like an exciting possibility. The same can be said for Cobie Smulders as Maria Hill. This easily could have been a forgettable character, but Smulders turns in a memorable performance as Fury’s right hand and takes to the action well. Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury is cool as hell and holds the glue for the narrative, and once again Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson is great and truly the heart of the film. The only actor who kind of gets shortchanged is Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. He doesn’t get much time during the film to breathe like the other cast members, but he makes up for it with some exciting action during the finale.

The design and visuals of the film are very sharp and impressive. The S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier is a masterpiece of design and makes a great backdrop for much of the action. The look of war-torn New York City though is the main backdrop, and the designs here are amazing. The look and feel of the final scene is truly immersive. It feels like you’re in the middle of a massive battle. Although, the best visual design in the film goes to The Hulk, hands down. The Big Green has never looked so good and his scenes easily steal the show. The only visual snafu is the design of the alien invaders, the Chitauri. While they don’t look terrible, they don’t look as great as some of the other visuals on display and it stands out a bit in the finale.

The action in the film is top notch and exhilarating. Every character gets a moment of exciting action that will get your adrenaline pumping. Joss Whedon’s eye for these scenes really gives the film a perfect momentum that all leads to the final battle in Manhattan. Without saying too much, the last act of this film is nerd nirvana. You’ll want to watch it over and over again.

The Avengers is the best comic book film I have yet to see. Now, let me clarify. In my opinion, The Dark Knight is not a comic book film. It’s a film based on a comic character but is more of a crime drama than anything else. When it comes to taking the page and literally bringing it to life in front of your eyes? The Avengers has no equal.

Though you don’t have to see the other Marvel films to enjoy The Avengers, it does help. But don’t be afraid to dive right in even if you haven’t. The filmmakers do a very good job establishing the world and characters at the start. Needless to say, after watching The Avengers, comic book fans will be over the moon. Speaking as one, I never thought I would see this movie and now that I have I can’t wait to see it again and again and again.

Avengers Assemble? You’re damn right.

written by Jesse



3 responses

19 04 2012
Taylor Hamilton

Thrilled to hear this review; I absolutely can’t wait to see this film. We’ve all waited for a long time, and I think it will be worth the wait. Thanks for the writeup, now excuse me while I go wipe the drool from my face…. :)

19 04 2012

Best review I have read yet, thanks for sharing! One quick question, does the film explain why if Loki can control the minds of others, why he doesn’t just control everyone’s mind?

19 04 2012

@stpetesflicks I don’t remember exactly, but I think they mention it.

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