Best Show You Don't Know About

Best Show You Don't Know About
Leverage

Friday, May 4, 2012

Avengers review

This review will not be 100% spoiler-free, but I will not give any plot points away- minor scenes maybe, but nothing major. This is the film that all of the Transformers films wanted to be. Let me get this out of the way right now. I give this film 4 stars, 5 stars, an A+, a 10, a thumbs up- however you want to rate something, it gets my highest movie grade. The film grade is the same since, even though I do have extremely minor nitpicks, the fact that this film exists and is as good and satisfying as it is, knocks all nitpicks out of the way. It gets a 10 out of 10 on both my film and movie scales. Avengers as a film started in the end credits sequence of Iron man with Samuel L Jackson arriving as Nick Fury and discussing the Avengers Initiative with Tony Stark. It then wound its way through The Incredible Hulk (with Edward Norton), Iron man 2, Thor, and captain America with each one giving glimpses into what was coming. (And by the way, the film of Thor is really the lynchpin for this film. Although the MacGuffin comes from the Captain America film, Thor really is the one film that you need to have seen to follow the plot.) The film starts with a bang as the villain comes to get the MacGuffin so that he can takeover the world and become King (really, is there any other real plot point in these films other than world domination?) After that, it takes a short while as we get the team together and bring each one in. I was slightly disappointed that Natalie Portman did not have a cameo to help bring back Thor, but we know she will be back in Thor 2. The main characters being brought together in this film are Iron man, Thor, Captain America, Hulk, Black Widow, and Hawkeye with Nick Fury, Pepper Potts, and Agent Coulson all back and providing support. As each of the characters is brought in, a scuffle, war of words, or full on fight is launched to see who will be king of the mountain. After 45 minutes or so of this, the middle act comes together with the villain navigating the various weaknesses of certain characters to get what he wants. Then, for the last 40 minutes, we are treated to a destruction of New York like we have never seen. The characters do all “Assemble” and fight different battles to work together to defeat the villain. That’s all of the plot you’re getting from me. However, this is not necessarily about plot. It is about the writing, direction, acting, and, most importantly, the action. Joss Whedon (creator of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Dr. Horrible, Firefly/Serenity, Dollhouse, Cabin in the Woods, and, yes, co-writer of the first Toy Story, and has also written comic arcs for XMen and the Avengers)) wrote and directed the Avengers. Being a fan, he has created the ultimate film that a fan would want to see. Who would win in a fight between Iron Man, Thor, and Captain America? The answer is here. In delivering that film, his trademark dialogue is also on display. It is a pleasure to hear Whedon dialogue from Robert Downey, Jr. There are many comedic moments, both small and large, which comes both from quips and from character interactions. For those who are fans of his work, you will know that he is the master of timing whether on his character beats or humor or plot points. The one thing that Whedon has never really had is a budget. The first season of Buffy is almost undecipherably murky in spots. Even with the big budget of the Serenity film, it didn’t really hint at Whedon’s ability to work with a $200 million budget. Some directors can handle it (James Cameron), others, after coming from low budget films which were great, cannot (Michael Bay, Peter Jackson, and Joel Schumacher being among the worst). Whedon is now one of the few who can handle the big budget. It is all on the screen. Whether it is the circling shot of all of the Avengers together as they get ready for the onslaught of evil, or the massive destruction caused to SHIELD’s headquarters or New York, it feels like a big budget film where not a penny was wasted. The acting is all top notch. Robert Downey Jr has perfected Stark’s heart inside of all of the smarm, Chris Evans is great as the man out of his own time, Chris Hemsworth continues to show the wounding of the brother who is at odds with his sibling, Mark Ruffalo is fabulous as the 3rd Bruce Banner in 3 films as he shows the heart behind the monster, and, along with Scarlet Johannson showing that she can act and kick butt along with the big boys, Jeremy renner as Hawkeye who is battling against his compatriots for a good portion of the film shows the emotional battle as he comes to terms with his past deeds, Samuel L Jackson as the leader who has to believe in his team, Clark Gregg as Agent (Phil) Coulson who has a fanboy moment of his own and is also able to handle himself in tough situations, and Cobie Smulder as Fury’s assistant all have their moments to kick butt, shine, and move to the background, and move forward again with their doubt or weakness and overcoming of it. The ensemble works magic as they battle, trust, and work together to become a team. And become a team they do! The film’s raison d’etre is an action film and it does not disappoint! It starts with a battle, has several minor battles throughout, another major battle to tear the heroes apart, and the final 40 minute climactic battle in New York. They are never so overly edited that you lose sight of which character is where and doing what, as is common in most action films today. The geography of the characters in the battles can be very important and it is never lost. Even though there is never really any doubt as to which side will win, I was still tense and found myself going along with the roller coaster ride that ‘The Avengers’ provides. My wife told me about an hour in that her mouth ached from grinning so much and, when the credits started, she immediately turned and asked me when we could see it again. Based on the reaction of the Midnight crowd, I know that we were not alone. THIS is the way a $200 million blockbuster should be made! Film rating- 10 Movie rating- 10