I would love to be the next victim of this Black Widow.


Theatrical Release Date: 05/04/2012
Director: Joss Whedon
Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow
Rated: PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference
Runtime: 2 hours, 22 minutes


Trailer:

Nice costume. Hold on, I’ll go get you some candy.

Reviewing a film like “The Avengers” is sort of like letting surfers know that the ocean can be fun. There are legions of fanboys foaming at the mouth to see what director/co-writer Joss Whedon has done with the culmination of four origin stories for the characters. There are even bigger legions of movie audiences who enjoy summer blockbusters, only need a modicum of story to go along with heaps of action/explosions/super powers, and are obviously not picky (see the box office take on “X-Men Origins: Wolverine”).

All of the early buzz and studio-allowed reviews (from outlets almost guaranteed to like this movie) has been stellar. Seriously, at this point you’re either completely out of the demographic and couldn’t care less, are planning to see it opening weekend, or are planning to see it opening weekend and possibly a few more times after that.

Well, while I’m sure you can find a metric ton of glowing reviews, I can pretty much sum up my take on things with: ‘Yeah, it’s really good. Probably the best of the Marvel movies to date. When does “Looper” come out?’. And before anyone looks through their closet to find the costume Wolverine claws or Hulk hands they wore a few Halloweens ago, allow me to explain.

In an age of origin stories to allow audiences who didn’t read the comic books to understand the characters, we’re finally being given a movie where it should just be plug and play … and it is for the most part. However, rather than need to fill up the first 75% of the story with back story, the overall plot is merely an origin tale for how all of these A-list actors/chosen superheroes formed a super group named “The Avengers”.

There are some gaping plot holes (the sudden ability for The Hulk to do more than smash objects with the targeting selection of a T-Rex being one of the biggest) but Whedon is quite familiar with the Marvel universe (he’s written comics including a stint on “Astonishing X-Men”) and he has done the very best of any director in staying true to the characters. I’d love, love, LOVE to see him at the reins of a rebooted X-Men franchise (those movies hurt my former Marvel comic geek soul more than any other). So for anyone worried he might switch things up drastically, you can relax.

That doesn’t mean Whedon managed to avoid a few scenes which severely slow down the film’s momentum. It’s fine to stop moving at breakneck speed but some of the actors are less engaging than others and watching them work so consciously to seem “real” was like a bright red stop sign.

There’s also a problem in being forced to release this in 3D. While it’s okay for the most part, there are a couple of scenes that take place in very low light which are not adjusted for the extra dimming brought on by tinted 3D glasses. Also, during the final fight scenes, the numerous fast moving objects and actions was reminiscent of “Clash of the Titans” terrible stab at the technology. Save those extra bucks and buy yourself some candy or as a down payment on your repeat visit to this opening salvo to summer.

Other than that, the film was quite enjoyable. Robert Downey Jr.’s comedic timing helped keep things light, Johansson may be the least believable of the bunch when it comes to embodying a former Russian spy but she looks great in those skintight outfits, and even Mark Ruffalo came off okay as the latest actors to step into the role of Dr. Bruce Banner (Lou Ferrigno lends his talents as the voice of the Hulk though which is a fantastic decision). The rest of the gang all do their bit ably, Natalie Portman’s character is hilariously written out (it wasn’t funny “ha ha” but funny “that’s the easiest way to do it”), and anyone familiar with Whedon’s motus operandi as it comes to ever character living to see the end credits is intact.

If you’ve happily watched all the movies leading up to this, seeing “The Avengers” is a no-brainer and it gets a 4 out of 5 (taking it’s genre into account). I’m not sure how anyone would be on the fence, making your ability to read all of this review much appreciated. Really, all one needs to know is to go to the bathroom right before it starts (this clocks in at almost 2 ½ hours) and stay in your seat for an extra scene midway through the credits which hints at who’ll be causing trouble in the sequel. Other than that, enjoy assembling in theaters worldwide. We’re all about to see just how much money a superhero film can make … and whether Batman can reclaim box office supremacy once all is said and done. Hopefully it’ll be a decent fight no matter how you look at it.

4 out of 5