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Ambitious Avengers Soars Above Expectations

 

Elisabetta Villa, Getty Images Entertainment

Let’s face it; The Avengers was an endeavor so ambitious and so large, that had the end result been of mediocre quality, one could have paid the picture respect.  Yet lo and behold The Avengers, a culmination of four other big budget Marvel Comic adaptations, is a film so stunningly entertaining in every aspect, it almost leaves one thinking this to be a fluke of Hulk like proportions.

How could a film made up of legendary characters, some of whom could barely carry the weight of their own films (i.e Captain America, The Hulk) nail it oh so properly?  Not to mention, how do these cats share the spotlight with the revelation that is Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man?  You put the material in the hands of a respected super geek who knows how to carry that weight; Mr. Joss Whedon.  And boy, he can carry that weight.

Coming together under one silver roof are the Marvel heroes Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, The Hulk,  Black Widow, and Hawkeye, in a crossover the likes of which the world hasn’t experienced since The Jetsons met The Flintstones.  Not the same thing?  Ok, moving on.  Fictionally bringing this team together is the cycloptic bad ass, Nick Fury, portrayed (finally in bulk) by Samuel L. Jackson, who despite being a sexagenarian, commands the screen and throws down with the baddies as proficiently and athletically as any other.

Helming the team in reality is Joss Whedon, who deftly peppers the film with cartoonish awe inspiring action sequences, heart and humor in a way that makes you wonder why this man hasn’t more than two films under his directorial belt.  Whedon’s love, and more importantly his respect, for science fiction and the fantastic, shows in every line delivered, and every punch thrown.  He balances the characters conflicts, inside and out, managing to give every lovely super being just enough time for you to give a damn about them before blowing your mind with their abilities against the Villainous Loki and his alien army.
And Loki, played with sinister and sympathetic charm by Tom Hiddelston, is a villain worth loving.

One could say that despite Marvels efforts and success with its heroes, a good memorable villain has yet to be produced, save for this young upstart from the Thor film.  He has reason for his psychosis and a fear behind those evil eyes that will never keep you from thinking about him as Thor’s tormented brother.

Every hero is portrayed wonderfully by their alter egos.  Without the need of mentioning, Robert Downey Jr. stammers wittily through his naturalistic dialogue, and charms as the billionaire Tony Stark.  Chris Evans gives a respectful and at times satirical approach as the all-American super soldier, Captain America.  Chris Hemsworth, too, brings Thor to life with humor and charm.

It is the Marvels newcomer, Mark Ruffalo,  that really breathes some much needed new life into the incarnation of The Hulk, whose rocky start, and rough reboot begged the question if the character was even capable of cinematic life.  Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is always at odds with his anger, and holds himself delicately and quietly among his colleagues, unlike them, not wanting to display his super abilities.  Ruffalo has an intelligence about him befitting Banner, a simultaneously geeky and handsome persona.  And when The Hulk finally reveals himself (with Ruffalo actually continuing his performance through motion tracking ala Avatar) he owns the screen the way he should have two films ago.

The Avengers is an endeavor realized to its absolute fullest extent.  That they’ve made a film of this caliber is a testament to Joss Whedon and the potential of summer blockbusters.  The bar for summer flicks has officially been raised, as well as the bar for Marvel’s future films.  Good luck.

 

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