Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review - The Avengers

The Marvel epic known as The Avengers was this year's mother of all "sequels."  It follows not one, but four different stories: Iron Man (1&2), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.  Nick Fury brings them all together to fight Loki, most awesome villainous brother of Thor.  Add in the Black Widow and Hawkeye, and you have a full ensemble of superheroes.

Expect the jam-packed action, explosions, and comic book violence.  Expect the snappy one-liners and epic battles.  You'll get to see Captain America throw his mighty shield.  The Incredible Hulk turns green and smashes.  Thor swings his hammer and brings down lightning.  Iron Man flies around in his suit and struts his ego.  Hawkeye will hit anything and everything with his arrows.  And Black Widow fights everyone with her legs.

With so many characters, it becomes a big challenge to develop each person sufficiently enough to avoid moving people like pieces in on a board in a dreadful plot.  (Think of your typical Saturday morning "Superfriends" episode.)  But Joss Whedon is the expert on the ensemble cast.  Look at his work with Firefly and Serenity to see how he successfully he can build multiple interesting characters.  In Avengers, he gives just enough from each character so that we know what each one of them wants--and what their weaknesses and strengths are.

Joss also wastes no time bringing people up to speed with annoying flashbacks from other movies.  If you haven't seen the movie Thor, you probably won't recognize Loki in the opening scene.  If you haven't seen any of the four (five including the one sequel) lead-in movies, you probably won't recognize Nick Fury, and will probably wonder where his purple lightsaber is.  But don't worry.  You won't be lost for more than a few minutes.  Once you get your bearings, the rest of the movie is enjoyable.

Well ... except for that one boring part in the middle when they were still gathering the good guys together ... and a scene near the end that at first made my wife and I look at each other and say, "Now that's plain stupid."

Since the 2-D version was hopelessly sold out, we settled for the 3-D version.  The ticket lady felt sorry for us and let us have the student price, which almost paid for the price of the glasses.  There were indeed some cool 3-D effects: in the beginning credits, and in the ending credits.  But nothing spectacular happened in the actual movie.  It wasn't terrible, but a few scenes were a little distracting when the depth didn't seem quite right, or a person moved around another unnaturally.  It's not worth the extra $3.

The movie is surprising kid-friendly, in my opinion.  I did mention the comic book violence worthy of a PG-13 rating.  I only remember one scene with blood, and even there the injury is mostly off-screen.  There is very little cussing; no F-bombs.  There's no sex, though the Hulk may appear partially nude after one of his episodes.  The movie's official rating mentions one drug reference, but I can't remember it.  So, bring the kids if they enjoy this superhero stuff.  Just be prepared to have little Iron Men running around afterward, and you might not want to let them play with anything shaped like a circle for a while.

This is definitely a movie to catch in the theater.  So, go see this movie and have fun.  Stay throughout the entire credits to see not one, but two extra scenes at the end.

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