Directed by: Joss Whedon
Starring: Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Downey Jr., Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Stellan Skarsgård, Tom Hiddleston
MPAA Rating: PG-13
The Avengers is the culmination of a multiple film and year build up by Marvel and Universal. When earth is threatened by Loki, various heroes must unite to fight to save it and put their individual problems aside to work together. It’s both written and directed by Joss Whedon with an all-star cast.
I’m a huge Joss Whedon fan, but I still was sorta worried about The Avengers. I mean how much would the studio really hand over such a huge project? Would any director or writer really have any control over such a big project, especially with all the big personalities in the cast? I also worried that from a personal stand point I wouldn’t enjoy it. I’ve seen all the movies that led to this one and was never a huge fan. Sure a couple were decent, but in general it just wasn’t my thing. I’m not a huge superhero geek, nor a big action movie person.
But it seems that for once the studios made a good decision and really handed this behemoth over to Whedon, who has not only the chops, but the cred to do it justice. And he really knocked it out of the park. I mean it’s still a huge action summer blockbuster, but it’s done properly in a way that I was totally engrossed. I will quickly say that if you’re a fan of the super sharp wit of Whedon, that doesn’t show so much here. This script is sort of what you’d expect from this type of movie with a few funny one-liners interspersed throughout, but what he did bring to it was sheer talent.
The very first thing that you’ll notice is that each and every character maintains their identity extremely well. Motives and voice are unique to each character and it really feels like they took these characters from their individual “headlining” movies and stuck them in here. A lot of the credit for this is in the writing but there’s also credit to be given to performance. With such a giant cast of big stars this had to have been a nightmare, but everyone pulls their weight and puts in stellar performances. I was most impressed with Johansson, who’s Black Widow basically did nothing in Iron Man 2. Her character is vital here and she gets a lot of screen time and steals almost every scene she’s in. The other big highlight for me was Mark Ruffalo who is stepping into the Hulk/Bruce Banner role for the first time for The Avengers. His performance is really great and the chemistry between him and Downey Jr. is magical.
I often complain that action movies such as this will lose my attention. Just things blowing up and big set pieces don’t interest me. I’m an adult. But this is where you really feel that Whedon difference. He’s done plenty of action before as both writer and director and all of his action has been interesting. Here he does the simple most basic rule of action sequences: make sure they have some human stakes behind them. These huge sequences are infused with humanity and emotion and thus become truly interesting.
I also have to say that I loved the effects in this movie. Obviously it would have been impossible to do a lot of this stuff practically, so it’s mostly CGI, but it’s not trying to hide it behind lens flares or shaky cameras. Everything is right out in the bright open sunlight. And it looks great. The action is easy to follow, even through scenes where it would be easy for a lesser movie to become hard to follow. You always know where you are and exactly is going on. This is also because of some wonderful camera and editing work.
Also if you haven’t seen all the individual movies leading up to this, all the pertinent information is recapped for you, so you won’t find yourself lost.
Overall this is a huge undertaking that essentially Marvel & Universal bet the bank on and I’m pretty sure it’s going to pay off big time. Is it a fairly typical big summer blockbuster? Yes, But that doesn’t preclude it from also being good and a lot of fun. It might not be high art, but it’s a great watch that is sure to please and show the studios that handing over the reigns to geniuses like Whedon is a good decision. Go see it.
The Avengers opens in the US on May 4th.