Smell of Popcorn

film reviews & musings by Max Lalanne

Six reasons why you need to drop everything and go watch The Avengers now

Posted by Max Lalanne on May 4, 2012

Hulk smash! The Avengers was finally released in American theaters everywhere today, and I caught an afternoon screening. My verdict? I was totally blown away, because this superhero blockbuster is just awesome. Five stars out of five, the whole shebang. But in case, for some reason, you haven’t seen it yet or don’t plan to, here are six detailed reasons – with no spoilers – why you should drop everything and go watch The Avengers like right now. Some basic knowledge of the plot preferred, because I’m too shellshocked by geeky happiness right now to explain it to you.

And I do apologize for cutting off Hulk’s head in the above photo. Sorry, big guy.

~ The fact that the story keeps going in a forward-moving momentum.

One of my big worries coming into The Avengers was that with so many unique characters and so many possibilities sprouting from everywhere for them to explore, the story would just be, well, a reunion of a bunch of “freaks” running off and doing undoubtedly interesting things wherever and whenever they want – who just happen to come together and save the world at the end. Not happening in this well-paced, well-constructed movie that allows time enough to develop certain story points and then moves forward without stalling and revolving in the same place for no reason except that it’s easier. All the way to the end, there wasn’t a place where The Avengers lagged behind in storytelling movement and you felt like someone just told the actors, “I’m sure your characters have a lot of hilarious stuff to disagree about – let’s hear some of that for a couple more minutes, huh? Action!”, or added another unnecessary action scene in there.

~ A bunch of witty banter, sly humor, and outright hilarious jokes.

Well, obviously, a film like The Avengers cannot not have funny moments, when you put Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark in a room along with a haughty Norse god – their first encounter prompts Iron Man to sprout off some faux-Shakespeare attitude to Thor, who obviously doesn’t take it well – and a righteous super-soldier (Chris Evan’s Captain America, Steve Rogers) who still reserves the proud ideals that he had while fighting Hitler in the 1940s. Used to fighting alongside a high-and-mighty billionnaire playboy, Cappy is not and that translates to some enjoyably laugh-inducing friction. But what I was seriously suprised to see was how sophisticatedly funny Mark Ruffalo was as modest and quiet scientist Bruce Banner, and also how, well, unsophisticatedly funny he was while rampaging across Manhattan as a big, green, and angry monster. Everyone in the theater burst out laughing in one dumb scene involving Hulk and Loki in the climatic battle scene near the end. I’m still giggling to myself writing this.

~ The fact that the main cast give completely brilliant performances.

Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, and, yes, Scarlett Johannson all give out top-notch performances that normally superhero movies – unless you’re watching a Christopher Nolan film, that’s an exception – don’t usually get. In the case of (the really good) Evans, and Hemsworth and Hiddleston, who already starred in their own films – last year’s superhero flicks Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor – they honestly acted better in The Avengers, as part of an ensemble that allowed them to play off others instead of carrying the whole film alone. Johannson was terrific, Renner gave out the best he could with his somewhat limited character, Ruffalo was a revelation, Hiddleston was sharp and sleek, and Downey Jr. like always inhabited his role as Tony Stark brilliantly. Samuel L. Jackson played Nick Fury…like he normally plays Nick Fury.

~ A smartly conceived script that is excellently conveyed onto the big screen.

Let’s all give it up to Mr. Joss Whedon, who previously sent geeks all a tizzy with shows like Buffy and even Firefly, not to mention his most recent film, this year’s indie The Cabin in the Woods. Because he truly engineered a miracle with The Avengers, one of the kind never seen before in its staggering awesomeness. He managed to gather and combine all these previous Marvel movies and their original comic book elements and wrote a seriously smart script. Oh yeah, and he also managed to direct, too, what could potentially have become a sloppy mess into a tight, fantastic mega-blockbuster of the kind never seen before. For such an amazing film that The Avengers is, it’s crazy to think that one man – just one! – wrote and directed it. Hats off.

~ Lots of badass action sequences that will leave you in awe.

Obviously, satisfyingly epic and loud action sequences full of senseless explosions, preferably in a metropolitan setting with plenty of pitiable civilians screaming and running for their lives, is a must-have in a superhero film of this sort. And boy, does The Avengers live up to all the expected New York buildings crashing down. But while the final, about half-hour long climatic battle sequence in Manhattan – near the newly-built Stark Tower, I can reveal to you – is awesome and everything, I was glad to see that there was one as exciting and action-packed revolving around the S.H.I.E.L.D helicarrier, a massive half-helicopter-half-aircraft-carrier that was very realistically rendered, props to the visual effects team.

~ The fact that every superhero has some time to shine.

As you can expect, Tony Stark/Iron Man steals some of the spotlight, due to Downey Jr.’s infectious charisma and the fact that, well, Iron Man has a reactor-powered armored suit that allows him to fly and therefore do a lot of the things the other Avengers members can’t do. But the filmmakers carefully made it so that in The Avengers, it’s truly about the Avengers and not Iron Man 2 1/2: Tony’s Adventures or something. I was especially glad that the wonderfully cute and most relatable, among all these dysfunctional freaks, Chris Evans got as much screentime as he did, and Hemsworth had plenty of melodramatic exhanges with Hiddleston, which is always fun when Shakespeare-worthy “My brother! Oh, my brother!” dialogue gets spoken by costumed superheroes.

Now go watch it. And feel free to add your own thoughts below!


 

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