There was anticipation, expectation, waiting, attention, hope and excitement. Four years, five movies, seven stars and a $220 million budget. Unfortunately, Marvel’s “The Avengers” is not as good of a film as you think it is.
Under Joss Whedon’s more than capable direction, “The Avengers” finishes what “Iron Man” started in 2008 with the greatest of flourishes. Its central plot pits the titular heroes (Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye, for the uninitiated) against the vengeful Norse god with tyrannical aspirations for Earth, Norse god Loki.
Perhaps Whedon’s greatest triumph is that “The Avengers” never loses its sense of immersion amid the many intersecting story lines and monolithic set pieces. Every character is treated with respect and near-equal importance, aided by a script that emphasizes his or her depth, wit and humanity instead of portraying the heroes and villains as super-powered aliens (which, incidentally, a few of them are).
Nearly every role is played to perfection. Robert Downey Jr. is at his wisecracking best as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth paints a cocky-but-lovable Thor, and Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner/Hulk is a nuanced standout that elevates the entire film with its “ticking time bomb” element of tension. Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson are all in fine form as well.
The action is kept together by tight cinematography that keeps things cohesive, ensuring that the audience is always aware of what is happening to whom no matter how dense the throngs or explosions may become—no small feat for a film that features so many main characters.
Editing in “The Avengers” is also exceptional. Silky smooth transitions and progressions that approach Coen Brothers’ levels of finesse do wonders for the film’s pacing. I expect at least an Oscar nod for this achievement, especially in a film in as massive a scale as this.
“The Avengers” is a paradigm of movie entertainment for any season. Every aspect of its execution—from its hilarity-laden dialogue to its expertly choreographed action—has been tailored to please the senses just as much as the mind of its audience. You can keep your brain on for this one, folks.
Good thing too. It’s an experience you won’t soon forget.