Whedon crowns 'The Avengers' with epic action
What else can be said about the most hyped movie of mid-2012?
That it’s an extravaganza for the senses is an understatement. The action sequences are pure cinematic dope exceeding the hype that will claim your eyes and come back for the sockets. To say that it’s superbly entertaining is to call a roller coaster ride a good time.
Director Joss Whedon sure reached deep into his bag of tricks from his “Buffy” and “Firefly” days for this one, firing on all cylinders, with blessings from Stan Lee et al. to feel at home in the Marvel playground. All that is par for the course, but Whedon’s genius really becomes apparent when you see how deftly he blends together inter-character tension, overarching plot conflict, a sense of dramatic scale, character histories and motives that interlace into a bigger story tapestry.
The fact that he’s got five superheroes played by A-list actors would have given any director pause, but Whedon masterfully, carefully places all that thespian brawn into the loom and flicked the on switch to see how his exposition could be fueled with the help of ILM’s sheer CGI firepower.
I tell you, this is Whedon’s crowning glory in the house that Marvel built.
We open at a secret facility of the shadowy US organization known as S.H.I.E.L.D., where they’ve been conducting experiments on the Cosmic Cube or The Tesseract, a glowing blue cube that has been, in the words of physicist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard, whom we last saw in “Thor”), “misbehaving.” Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), director of said shadowy order, comes in to see what’s going down and consults agent Clint Barton aka Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) about his opinion.
The Tesseract interrupts them by activating and opening a portal through space. And who steps through? Exiled Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) bearing a magical scepter. As Fury looks on, Loki proceeds to destroy the opposition or convert them to his cause with mind control. With Hawkeye and Dr. Selvig in Loki’s sway, the Tesseract in his hands and no idea what the villain’s up to, Fury reactivates the Avengers Initiative. He approaches Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) and sends Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) to India to convince Dr Bruce Banner, while Agent Philip Coulson talks to Tony Stark at his building.
Soon Loki’s plans are revealed to us; how he encountered and befriended the predatory Chitauri, an alien race whose conquest, hungry nature, and appetite for war have led them to bargain with the exiled god. In return for the Tesseract, the Chitauri will use their military might to subjugate Earth for Loki. Boy do they ever make a good case. When the invasion fleet finally comes, the behemoth transports of the Chitauri are astounding and terrible to behold, proving a match for the heroes and their abilities even as, with their sheer numbers, they try to overwhelm the Avengers. And if you see the movie in 3D, like I did, the destruction wrought over New York and the CGI will look doubly tasty—you can almost feel the air sizzle to a crisp when Thor summons his lightning.
"But we have a Hulk,” goes Tony Stark and The Hulk’s primal strength really is one of the linchpins of the team as a game changer. Mark Ruffalo is a surprisingly good Bruce Banner, and a victory of casting intuition, with the new take on his control over his alter ego as a Zen of anger. “I’m always angry,” he explains to Captain America, about how much of an upper hand he actually has on The Hulk by keeping his rage at a constant simmer.
Despite Dr. Banner’s reassurances it’s hilarious how everyone’s still nervous around him, jumping at his voice when it’s raised above conversational. Only Stark, with his half-joking, half-mocking verbal stabs dares to treat the doctor’s condition as something other than a freak to be steered clear of. In one scene he pokes Banner’s elbow with a soldering iron. Granted, it’s not the proper way to broach such a subject (especially if catastrophic results may occur) but at least he’s talking about the green elephant in the room, unlike any of the other heroes.
Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow and Nick Fury all have their moments in the movie, and there really is something for everyone to dig, no matter who your favorite is, or no matter your level of Marvel geekiness. Let me stop there and let you discover the rest of the surprises for your viewing delight.
The fact that it’s a Walt Disney feature shouldn’t deter adults from checking this one out not only for the superb actions scenes but also to see how a storyteller like Whedon can put his touch on a master class level and blow your mind to smithereens. Bring your kids, bring your wife and siblings, heck, bring your grandparents along and they’ll enjoy “The Avengers” guaranteed. –KG, GMA News
Photos from Walt Disney Studios
Photos from Walt Disney Studios
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