[rating=4]Starring: Samuel L. Jackson, Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston
Director(s): Joss Whedon
Writer(s): Joss Whedon and Zak Penn
Tell Samuel L. Jackson to take his finger off of the Twitter trigger. I come to praise The Avengers, not to bury them.
As “Nick Fury,” a Colonel who is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., he’s the guy who is in charge when this group of extraordinary individuals are brought together by dire necessity. It’s been a long wait for this film and we saw sequences in both Iron Man and Iron Man 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain American: The First Avenger that let us know this film was coming.
Now it is here and it was well worth the wait.
We’ll assume you already know, or can look up for yourself why Tony Stark/Iron Man (Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Evans), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Ruffalo), Thor (Hemsworth), Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Johansson) and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Renner) are the ’super’ folks they are. When The Avengers opens, there’s trouble afoot, as Loki, who Thor fought and defeated in his titular epic, is intent on stealing the Tesseract, a cube that is a source of incredible energy that was first introduced in the Captain America film. It’s being used to try to generate energy from outer space, and not only does Loki get away with it, he also entrances Hawkeye and the key scientist involved in developing the Tesseract as an endless supply of energy (Stellen Skaarsgard, reprising his Thor role) and carries them away with him.
Director Fury can’t stop the theft, but he responds as quickly as he can, by gathering his forces. Black Widow is on board right away and they manage to talk Dr. Bruce Banner into joining them to use his fantastic knowledge of gamma radiation in an attempt to track down the missing cube. Tony Stark is invited to join in as Iron Man, and Steve Rogers is suiting up with stars, stripes and shield. Captain America and Iron Man even manage to capture Loki until Thor shows up to deal with his half-brother on his own. But the trio work out a truce and soon they and their prison are aboard S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Helicarrier, an airborne flying aircraft carrier.
They’ve got him right where he wants to be.
It turns out that Loki is way ahead of S.H.I.E.L.D. and his plans include using the Tesseract to open a portal to outer space, to facilitate an invasion by a group of aliens known as the Chitauri. Eventually, the portal is opened, the Chitauri begin their invasion in New York City, and it is up to the Avengers to stop the invaders.
This is your basic popcorn-chewing, shoot-em-up, action-fest, with great special effects, a lot of action sequences, some very funny laughs in just the right places, and in just the proper porportions. Director Whedon manages to spin out his tale without spending a lot of time developing the characters, or the backstory.
The actors handle their action sequences with aplomb and the way they interact and end up working together as a team is interesting. Each character is a “super” being, but they’re willing to work with one another to achieve a common goal.
The Avengers is not a perfect film, or an enduring epic that will be spoken of in the same breath with classics, but it is a strong effort and sets the bar high for this summer’s action block-busters to hurdle. It is about as close to perfect as a superhero movie can be.
It’s fun, runs at a frenetic pace, and makes the most of everyone in it. Whedon’s dialogue is superb and snappy as per usual and Downey in particular makes the most of every line he gets.
BTW, stick around when the film ends. After the credits start, there’s a brief appearance of yet another Marvel Comics villain, indicative that we will be seeing him in an upcoming movie. There’s also a little nugget of a treat waiting if you manage to watch the entire credits reel. Oh, and another piece of trivia is that the voice of the Hulk in “The Avengers” is partially from Lou Ferrigno’s voice, which fits since he played the Hulk when there was a live-action television program starring the character.
For those fascinated by minutiae and trivia, the comic book “The Avengers” actually featured a much different line-up when it first came out. Iron Man, Thor and the Incredible Hulk were there, joined by Ant-Man and the Wasp. Captain America came along a few issues later.
Run Time: 2 hrs., 22 mins.