Thursday, May 3, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

Title: The Avengers (2012)

Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Gwyneth Paltrow, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth


The Avengers is visual crack, seriously, your eyes will become instantly addicted to the silver screen. This movies so good, you wont want to blink! It’s been a while since I’ve been honestly and wholeheartedly floored by a film, so kudos to Joss Whedon for making a film that reminds me why I love going to the movies. I want to be blown away, I want to be wowed, I want to laugh. And I got all these things with The Avengers; a gigantic, bombastic, non stop thrill ride of a movie!  A love letter to super hero comics! It’s been a while since I heard gasps in the movie theater, but it happened last night. People where gasping whenever any super hero would show up on screen. People were clapping after action sequences, they even clapped when the Marvel logo went up on screen…it was an event.

Sure other films based on comic books have been made; and a lot of them have been quite good. For example, so far I rank Sam Raimi’s Spider Man 2 (2004) as one of those films that really captured what super hero comic books are all about, and I hold that film in high regard, but The Avengers blew it away. The Avengers is officially my #1 super hero film of all time. Watching this film, I felt like I was in geek heaven, there’s this thrill you get when you see all of these super heroes together up on the screen!

The story for The Avengers is fairly simple. Loki, the demigod from Asgard wants revenge. If you remember correctly, in THOR (2011), Loki wanted to be king of Asgard, but Thor stopped him before he could achieve his goals, so now Loki wants not only revenge, he also wants to rule over earth. He wants humans kneeling at his feet! In order to do so he enlists the help of an alien race called ‘The Chitauri’. SHIELD is an organization in charge of national security, so seeing as how this is a potentially earth threatening situation, they decide that the best way to confront this is to organize a group of the most powerful super heroes on the planet. And so The Avengers are born. Will they be enough to go up against Loki and his alien army? 

A lot of what makes this film work so well is the fact that Joss Whedon directed it. Here’s a man who is king of the geeks. He understands very well the pleasures of reading a good super hero comic book. He knows what super hero fans want to see in an Avengers film, because he is one of them. He knows what fan boys consider cool, and he gives it to them. How perfect is Whedon for directing this film? Well, apart from his vast television experience (he created Buffy and Angel) and having directed the incredibly underrated sci-fi/western Serenity (2005), he's also written quite a few Marvel comics himself, including his popular Astonishing X-Men run. Many directors have tried to capture this magic of reading comic books, of seeing powerful beings kicking the hell out of each other, but only some achieve it well. For example, Sam Raimi and his first two Spider Man movies, Bryan Synger and his X-Men films, Chris Nolan with this Batman franchise…and now Joss Whedon can be added to the ranks, and dare I say it he is the one who has made, what I’m sure will be considered by many as one of the best superhero movies ever made. In my opinion, this Avengers film eclipses all other Marvel movies, you kind of feel like they are less somehow after watching The Avengers, which is simply put loaded with non stop coolness from opening to closing credits.

The success of this film show us one thing: a movie will work better with the appropriate director at the helm, get a guy who knows what his talking about, a guy who knows a thing or two about the characters and their backgrounds, about special effects, about getting an audience hooked. I’m sure all those years in television production taught Whedon all about what needs to be done to keep the audience happy, to get them hooked. This is a director whose been given a lot of money to bring this film to life (reportedly 220 million) so basically, Whedon, King of Geeks was given the keys to heaven. Marvel Disney did well in trusting this guy with The Avengers, no one else could have gotten this film this right.

Whedon directs! 

So what’s so good about this film? Well, let’s see, it brings SHIELD to life is what it does. For years, as a comic book fan, I’d been reading stories involving SHIELD and now finally I get to see it come to life; and in such a spectacular manner. I mean, SHIELD’S flying fortress, wow, what a sight! Which reminds me, the visual effects on this film are top notch, cutting edge, state of the line. They’ve done a fantastic job of bringing these gods to life. The action sequences where fantastic! What I really loved about them is that the action sequences are extended. Once they start, they don’t seem to stop! The levels of destruction on this one are gargantuan! Battle sequences go on and on, and on, showcasing one awesome moment after the next. It’s an onslaught to the senses, which is why you’ll probably want to see it again. After all, this is a Marvel comics film we’re talking about, and Marvel Comics have always been king of the cliffhangers! Most of their comic books end with a caption that reads: “come back next week for the thrilling conclusion” or a “to be continued”. This was a very successful technique, I know it kept me buying comics for years! They’ve just applied this age old formula to films. This one also has an ending that will make you want to come back for that sequel, so after the credits, wait a couple of minutes, comic book fans will salivate at what they see, I know I was left thinking of the possibilities for the inevitable sequel.

Captain America comes full circle with this film by becoming the leader of The Avengers

The heroes are the star of the show and they all get their moment to shine. I loved how Whedon wrote this film because none of the heroes feel left out. They are all equally important in the story, they are all useful, they all got a purpose. And this film really connects with all the others that came before it, which I thought was awesome. Characters reference events that happened in their own respective films, which is why I personally recommend seeing all the other ones that came before it before you see this one. But honestly, I don’t think you’ll get lost if you haven’t, the films story is a simple alien invasion flick. But speaking about the heroes, I believe this is the best depiction of these guys on any movie so far. Hulk really smashes! Captain American leads! Iron Man is a genius, an asshole and a hero all rolled up into one! Thor is truly the God of Thunder controlling lighting bolts through his hammer. By the way, has anyone noticed how many Oscar  nominees are on this film? 

The embodiment of hotness, Scarlett Johansson

On the negative side of things I will say that the whole alien invasion story line in which Loki opens dimensional portals in order to bring an army of alien beings to assist him in his conquering of the earth sounded and at times looked extremely similar to Michael Bay’s Transformers: Dark of the Moon (2011). But don’t you worry about that because The Avengers is infinitely better than anything Bay has directed. Also, I wish Nick Fury had done a bit more in the film, it would have been cool to see Jackson kicking ass in some form or another in his own spectacular action sequence, but then again, he's not really a 'super' hero in the true sense of the word. Hey, at least he can shoot a bazooka! Okay, so my last words on The Avengers? It’s definitely worth the price of admission, so if I was you, I’d buy that ticket and take this ride! This is officially the first blockbuster of the summer! And it’s a good one, so what are you waiting for?  

Rating: 5 out of 5  


jimmie t. murakami said...

Francisco, i agree totally with everything you said except i thought "Transformers: Dark of the Moon" was a superb film as well and easily the equal of "The Avengers".

Franco Macabro said...

I enjoyed Transformers: Dark of the Moon, the effects work and action where astounding, but The Avengers blew me away a whole lot more, it just came off as more exciting to me.

Thanks for commenting!

Bob Ignizio said...

I loved it, too, though perhaps not quite as unconditionally. Still, any complaints seem like petty whining when a movie is this much fun.

I do think Fury got a couple of butt kicking moments firing a bazooka and whatnot. The fact that Whedon handled so many big stars/major characters as well as he did is amazing, though.

Franco Macabro said...

True Bob, this was fun fun times. I need to see it again cause I had so much fun with it.

I recommend checking it out in 3-D, the film might have been converted in post, but damn it, the film was that much more enjoyable in 3-D.

True about Fury getting his chance to shoot a bazooka, but it pales in comparison to what all the other heroes where up to.

Agree about Whedon doing a good job in handling so many characters, this could have ended up being a cluster fuck of a movie, a la Batman and Robin...but thankfuly Whedon handled things perfectly.

All super hero movies will have to look up to this one, it's going to be a hard one to top! I noticed how you mentioned Superman II in your review, totally agree with that comparison. Avengers brought that same feeling of seeing these gods battling for the fate of mankind.

Also, loved seeing Captain American taking the reigns of the group! And Mark Ruffalo played a great Bruce Banner, I think he is THE perfect guy for it. Equal times intense, and equal times genius.

Angel said...

I haven't seen any of the other movies but this one does sound exciting! Thanks for the review.

Franco Macabro said...

Your welcome, hope you enjoy the movie!

Unknown said...

You said:

"a gigantic, bombastic, non stop thrill ride of a movie! A love letter to super hero comics! "

So true! Excelsior! This really feels like a film made by a comic book geek for comic book geeks. Just so much fun and finally a decent depiction of the Hulk, both as Banner which I felt Ruffalo nailed and in terms of CGI - he looked good and kicked ass in a big, big way, esp. that funny bit where he wiped the floor with Loki... literally!

I'm also coming at this film from the angle of being a big Whedon fan and I felt that he really made this film his own while also tying up all the tangents created in the other Marvel films and keeping it tonally consistent which must've been a challenge! And yet, all the things that Whedon does in his shows/films - the disparate group of people that band together to stop an evil threat, the witty banter, the ass-kicking female protagonist, the eloquent bad guy, etc. was all there. Hopefully, he will entrusted with other big films like this and he will be willing to keep doing them. I know he likes smaller scale things but this film showed he can handle a massive project like this.

As a comic book fan I also loved the baddie they introduced in the credits. Makes me hope that they do a sequel.

The only quibble I had about the aliens is that, again as a comic book fan, that they made them the Skrulls instead of this odd alien race I didn't really know. Utilizing the Skrulls would've been another nice nod to the comic but oh well. It hardly detracted from the awesomeness of this film.

Franco Macabro said...

Glad you liked it J.D., the film has this effect on who ever watches it, you just come out so freaking ecstatic and pumped!

Agree, the film is very much a Whedon film, especially when it comes to the banter, that scene where everyone is commenting and saying some funny comment, literally every character has something funny to say, I loved that scene...I hope he keeps on making more of these. That credit ending, I was like what??? I've always been a fan of that storyline (you know which one I'm talking about) so if they ever make that story happen on, it should be an experience. Also, it should mean we are going to be seeing more Marvel superheroes as well! Here's hoping!

OH who am I kidding of course they are going to do a sequel, this movie will probably make so many millions it wont even be funny. I got a feeling that the new BAtman movie is going to have to be something truly freaking mindblowing to make as much money as The Avengers will; but that's just me and I could be horribly wrong. I cant underestimate the power of Batman.

The alien race that appears in the film are supposed to be the Skrull, it's just that the skrulls have different names and one of them is the Chitauri, this is explained by a Skrull in The Ultimates story arc.

Glad you loved the film J.D.!

Usman Ashraf said...

Good write-up. It was definitely a great movie!

Franco Macabro said...

Thanks Usman!

SFF said...

Wasn't John Carter suppose to be the first blockbuster of the summer? Oops. I guess it didn't quite happen. How soon we forget? All kidding aside, how does John Carter [and I'm probably comparing an apple to an orange] stack up?

Anyway, Franco, loved your review and your geek enthusiasm my friend. It was refreshing to see someone excited about a summer film like this. I think I'm going to take my son tomorrow.

I still need to see the third Transformers. I was soooo turned off by the second film. Would I enjoy the third film if I found the second film bloated and loud to the point of annoying?

Anyway, I loved that you enjoyed the film so much and Spider Man 2 definitely captured that summer event feel and I enjoyed that one immensely. So if this is that good I should be in for a treat.

I agree with J.D. and you. I would have liked a different villain for The Avengers. The Skrulls with the green faces would have been freakin' fantastic! Oh well, can't have it all and I do think Whedon really delivered a fan boy's dream come true so I'm not knocking him in the least.

Whedon is indeed the right guy as you said. I adore him. He gets comics and you gotta love him for it. Great review... so much to enjoy here. Off to read J.D.'s take on it. Cheers Franco!

Franco Macabro said...

Dont know if John Carter would have been better off if they had released it in the summer, I guess this summer is pretty congested as far as Summer movies go. I mean we still got MIB III, Spider Man, and The Dark Knight Rises to go through...maybe Disney was afraid of getting lost in the shuffle with their expensive film, so they released it in March, a less congested month. It still didnt make as much as they expected, but maybe had they released it in the summer, it would have made a lot less.

Glad you enjoyed the review man. Transformers Dark of the Moon is superior than the second film, which like you I personally hated to death. This third one has a couple of annoying things going for it, like for example, way too many comedy relief characters, you kind of get the feeling that everyones trying to be a comedian on this one. But the invasion story and the effects are astonishing, as is the action. I say you give it a shot man, it's easily the best of the first three Transformers movies.

Thanks for commenting SFF!

Fritz "Doc" Freakenstein said...

It sounds like you saw The Avengers with a perfect audience, Francisco! I saw the film on a Saturday afternoon and even though there were lots of children and teens in the audience, they were fairly quiet. It didn’t keep me from having a blast though!

I would already say that The Avengers is my favorite super hero film as well. However, I didn’t much like any of Raimi’s Spiderman films, but if I had to pick my favorite of these it would have been the first film. My #1 super hero film prior to Iron Man (2008) was Superman (1978), but they are now #s 2 and 3. Yes, Nolan’s Batman films wouldn’t even crack my top five, but that has to do more with my taste in films in general, than the quality of Nolan’s Batman films themselves. I like positive, good vs. evil films and The Avengers has that in spades!

I too give Joss Whedon most of the credit for the success of The Avengers! I think his love of these characters and the super hero genre in general shines through in this movie. The ease with which the characters speak to one another is Whedon’s strength as a writer and it is amazing how quickly these hugely egotistical characters assimilate with one another, without it feeling forced. Joss’s sense of humor comes through in many large and small ways in The Avengers. One of my favorite small jokes was when we see the control room of the S.H.I.E.L.D hellicarrier and Nick Fury is talking to Cap and Tony. In the background is a techie at a monitor and as soon as Fury leaves the control room that monitor changes to a game of what looks like Galaxian.

I too loved the S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff! As someone that loved Steranko’s late-1960’s run on S.H.I.E.L.D. in Strange Tales, I was blown away by the hellicarrier in this film! I also loved the way the villains exploited the fan rotors and how Iron Man was the one to repair the damage. This sequence is almost as dynamic as the final scene in New York.

I agree that because Transformers: DotM was the ultimate robot-alien invasion city destruction movie and that the aliens and their tech in The Avengers looks a little too similar, but because of the power of Thor, Iron Man and The Hulk, these are the only types of enemies that the super-troika could destroy and keep a PG-13 rating. I also would have liked to see Nick Fury get his hands dirty with some cool S.H.I.E.L.D. gadgets, but his role was as an organizer and a motivator for The Avengers, so once our heroes are in action, he naturally falls into the background of the story.

The Avengers has set the bar very high for 2012’s summer blockbuster movies, but I try not to compare films and just enjoy each one on their own merits. MIB III and Prometheus will no doubt keep me going blockbuster-wise for the next month at least.

Franco Macabro said...

@Fritz: Yeah, I saw the film on opening night with the geek squad in full on geekazoid mode. When they gasped and clapped at the Marvel logo on screen it felt the same as when the new Star Wars films premiered and the LucasFilm logo would go on screen. I guess Marvel equals quality for people and they know they are going to get something special.

Spider Man 2 is one of the good best ones for me, I also love the first Superman, it still holds magic to it, my favorite scene on that one is when Louis Lane is hanging from the helicopter, that's still a very exciting scene. Other favorites are the first two Batman's the ones directed by Tim Burton, so stylish and gothic. Gotta love em! I'm with you on the Batman films, they are not as fun as other comic book movies, all that seriousness kind of sucks the life out of the whole comic book fun thing. But they aint bad movies.

Ha, yeah, that was a cool joke! I liked the one in the end, with Iron Man hearing Hulk's scream, that really got a big laugh. That sense of humor kept things so much more entertaining.

The scene in the Helicarrier was amazing! Loved to see the whole thing transform from a boat to a flying fortress, that scene was so cool. Plus the attack on the Helicarrier was astonishing, can't wait to see it again.

Yeah, this summers apparently filled with non stop awesomeness! I'm looking forward to Dark Shadows and Lockout this coming weekend, they both look like fun movies too. But wow, now that I've seen The Avengers, Prometheus is by far my most anticipated film of the summer, it looks perfectly awesome, like it's gonna blow my mind, but then again, I wouldnt expect less from the great Ridley Scott, truly a master filmmaker. It's so cool to see him still making amazing movies! He hasnt lost his touch!

BokGwai said...

Hey! Great review! I really enjoyed this movie too. More importantly, I agree with your critique of the alien invasion sequence. I thought that was rather on the weak side and was disappointed by 1) how much it resembled the Transformers invasion and 2) how underpowered the whole invasion seemed. I didn't get the sense that the Avengers were even needed to defeat such a small invasion force! They could have just called in the Air Force to take care of that rabble.

Anyways, I wrote up an article about this and some other things I felt could have been better about this movie. You can check it out here:

I would love to hear your thoughts on this. Keep up the good work!

Franco Macabro said...

@BokGwai: Upon a second viewing, I noticed this as well, the invasion was kind of small scale, but those giant flying monsters kind of more than made up for it I guess, those where pretty big creatures with enormous destructive capabilities. But I get your point, it's kind of small scale when we think "The Earth Mightiest Heroes" , but hey, this was just their first adventure. I'm sure something even more gargantuan can be brought on for a sequel.

The last few frames of this film, the extra ending I mean, hints at a much bigger film if we remember what happens in the famous Infinity Gauntlet storyline from Marvel Comics. There's an epic story for you! If you have no idea what I'm talking about, search out the Infinity Gauntlet graphic novel, it's one of Marvel Comics best stories ever, highly recommend it.

Thanks for commenting!

BokGwai said...

Hi! Thanks for your response. I have always heard of the Infinity Gauntlet, but I have never read it. I will definitely check it out now per your recommendation. I'm not really sure what to expect in the sequel - the kicker at the end seems to indicate that something bigger is coming down the pipe, but I also read an interview with Joss Whedon who said that he didn't want his sequel to be bigger than the first and be caught in this cycle of trying to outdo himself. If I remember correctly, I think he said he actually wanted to make the sequel smaller and more intimate. Of course, that could mean any number of things.

Thanks again for your response. Looking forward to reading more of your stuff.

Franco Macabro said...

There are a couple of hints in those last few seconds of The Avengers about what the sequel might be about.


If you remember correctly, the leader of the Chitauri tells Thanos that dealing with humans is like "courting death", this is exactly what happens in The Infinity Gauntlet, Thanos actually falls in love with death and so to please her he uses The Infinity Gauntlet -a gauntlet that grants its wearer Infinit powers- to eradicate half of humanity.

Enter all those super heroes that didnt dissapear, to fight against Thanos. Its epic! I think you'll love it. It was drawn by the great George Perez, a comic book artists known for packing his pages with hundreds of characters at a time.

Hope you like the graphic novel! And thanks for reading, hope you enjoy the blog.


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