Durf Reviews: The Avengers
I complete my "better late than never" reviews with The Avengers. Does it live up to the hype?
Well this is it. The big one that started off the summer season. The 3rd highest grossing movie of all-time worldwide. It was the one movie that all the fans were really looking forward to and is the culmination of Marvel’s “Phase 1” movies. It’s what they have been building up to since before “Iron Man” came out. This is “The Avengers.” So, does it deliver on an epic scale, or does it fail on an epic scale? Let’s find out…
(WARNING: THERE WILL BE SPOILERS!)
Well, as is the common theme with comic book movies this summer, the cast is fantastic. And it’s very large. Although not as cold and mean as she is in the comics, Cobie Smulders does a good job as Maria Hill. Samuel L. Jackson is good as Nick Fury, which he should be since this version of Fury is based off of him. Agent Coulson is of course played brilliantly by Clark Gregg and this is probably the best the character has been in any of the Marvel movies. He will be missed. Despite being overshadowed by his Avengers’ teammates, Jeremy Renner does great as Clint Barton/Hawkeye. The performance is great, but he is honestly a little overshadowed by his fellow Avengers partially due to him being under Loki’s control most of the movie. Scarlett Johansson does a great job as Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and even adds a little bit of depth to the character not seen in her previous appearance. She fills Joss Whedon’s strong female character quota very well. Stellan Skarsgard is good as Eric Selvig. Gwyneth Paltrow is very good as Pepper Potts in her limited screen time and Paul Bettany’s Jarvis is great as always.
However, the “real” stars of this film are Loki and the “Big 4” heroes. Tom Hiddleston gives another great performance as Loki and adds even more depth to the character this time. He has progressed to being truly evil, but you still see the good in him simmering underneath at times. It still seems like he is still truly trying to get Odin’s attention and prove that he is better than Thor, but also he does seem to truly want to be a king and rule over the humans. Loki is also very menacing at times, such as when he tears a guy’s eye out and smiles while doing it, and during his incarceration on the Helicarrier (most specifically his conversation with the Black Widow). Overall, it is a great performance. Thor is played brilliantly once again by Chris Hemsworth. The arc that Thor went through in his own movie is not wasted and you really see the growth and progress he made there in this movie. He is much more humble and kind than he was in the beginning of “Thor”, and is much more willing to work with others and even takes orders from Captain America during the final battle. His trademark arrogance and hotheadedness are still there as well, which is most evident in the forest fight between him and Iron Man. Chris Evans nails his performance as Steve Rogers/Captain America. Even though they don’t focus on it much during the movie, he does a good job portraying the “man out of time” aspect to Rogers’ character. He is also very convincing as the moral compass of the group and as a leader. You actually believe that the other Avengers would/should listen to him and that he knows what he is doing. Captain America is given the proper treatment that he deserves in this film. Tony Stark/Iron Man is of course played magnificently by Robert Downey Jr. He is just as cocky and brash as always, but we also see the development he got in his first 2 movies present here. You can really tell that he has evolved into someone who does care about others now instead of just himself. Coulson’s death, much like it does the other Avengers, really hits him and breaks him down. And even though he doesn’t trust SHIELD, he is willing to jump in and help save the world, and even potentially sacrificing himself. Mark Ruffalo steals the show as Bruce Banner/Hulk. Finally we see The Hulk just being The Hulk and being a force of raw power. However, Banner is where Ruffalo really shines. He is believable as the genius scientist, as well as the man who is on the run and constantly hounded. His distrust of government and authority is done very well and is very justified. Everything about Ruffalo’s performance is fantastic and really makes you invested in the character. This is finally the perfect casting choice for Banner and it rounds out an overall great cast.
There are many great things about this movie besides just the cast. The action from the first action scene in the beginning, to the forest fight, the Helicarrier sequence, and the final fight is fantastic. This movie is absolutely hilarious (intentionally) and the humor doesn’t distract from the rest of the movie. The dialogue is very good and at times really witty. It probably has the best visual effects that I have ever seen and should win an Oscar in that category. Every character has their own moment(s) to shine and the Avengers all get a chance to really show off their powers/abilities. All of the Avengers’ powers and power levels match up to what they should be and really complement each other. Each character is unbelievably accurate to the source material in not only power, but character traits and look. The movie is unabashedly a comic book movie and flaunts it. There are plenty of nods to the source material and it is very colorful and bright. It really looks like a comic book come to life on the big screen. Although not unique or special, the cinematography is very good. Alan Silvestri’s main theme is fantastic and provides the sense of epicness that you should get from an Avengers movie. We get a hilarious after credits scene and a mid-credits scene that teases us and makes us pumped for the next wave of Marvel movies. Stan Lee makes a pretty good cameo. From the fights in Germany and the forest, to the Thor vs Hulk fight, the entire Helicarrier sequence, the Hulk’s entrance to the final fight, the assembling circle shot, the long shot of all the Avengers fighting, and the final sequence in general, the movie is chock full of “F*ck Yeah!” moments.
There isn’t a lot about this movie that I don’t like or think doesn’t make sense. Most of these things qualify more as nitpicks or minor gripes that don’t really bug me or detract from the movie, but there are some. I really would like to have seen Loki use more magic, since he is a master of magic. Black Widow did look a little silly in the final fight with just pistols. She should have a least grabbed an assault rifle and/or used her Widow’s Stings more (they really only show her use them as tasers). There were actually a couple more things I would have liked to see from the Hulk. Since Banner was more in control I would have liked to see the Hulk have more lines and show some more intelligence. Also I would have really liked to see the Hulk take on Iron Man in his Hulkbuster armor, but I understand that there just wasn’t enough time for that. Another thing that was probably a casualty of not having enough time was the lack of a funeral for Coulson, which is something that I would have liked to see. The main theme of the movie is great, but the rest of the score isn’t particularly memorable. There were some things that weren’t explained much that could have used some more explaining. How Loki met Thanos and what the true plans of Thanos were, Thor’s knowledge of the Chitauri and Thanos (?), and the sudden shutting down of all the Chitauri on Earth were things that were unexplained and probably should have been. These aren’t things that I hated, but feel need further discussion and explanation.
We all know that Loki fell into some sort of wormhole or something at the end of “Thor”, but have no idea where he ended up. In the Avengers it’s shown that Loki met The Other and Thanos somewhere and they gave him his scepter and an army of Chitauri in exchange for the Cosmic Cube. This does bring up some questions. How did Loki meet Thanos and The Other? Did he end up where they were, or did he seek them out? Also, where were they stationed at? It isn’t explained, but my guess would be that Loki ended up wherever Thanos and The Other were at after falling through the wormhole, and my guess would be that it’s some other dimension or something along those lines. My guess on the scepter would be that it probably contains the Mind Gem and that is why it can control people. Also, why does Thanos want the Cosmic Cube so much? Does he want to use it to invade other places with the Chitauri, or is there some other power he wishes to harness? Or does he want to use it to get in somewhere to acquire something, like say the Infinity Gauntlet? This one is really a mystery, but my guess (hope) is that he wanted to use it to break into Odin’s treasure room and steal the Infinity Gauntlet. I guess we will just have to wait and see, as Thanos will probably have a large part in “Phase 2” and this will all be explained.
When he confronts Loki in the forest, Thor asks Loki who showed him the power that he is talking about. The way he asks seems to imply that he may know who could teach Loki this. He also reveals to the other Avengers on the Helicarrier that he has knowledge of the Chitauri. This also prompts some questions. Does Thor have knowledge of Thanos as well, or does he just want to know who showed Loki the new power that he was given? How does Thor know of the Chitauri? On Thanos I have no idea, but my guess is that maybe Thor and the other Asgardians have had dealings with him or at least knowledge of him. With the Chitauri it’s pretty evident that Thor has prior knowledge, but I would have liked some sort of explanation of how.
However, the one big question that everybody has is “Why did the Chitauri suddenly collapse when the ‘Mothership’ blew up?” There are several possible explanations for why this happened. One is, and this is a popular opinion, that it was just a way to wrap up the battle without extending the movie any farther. Another idea is that the Chitauri are a hive mind and that maybe the “queen” was on the ship that was blown up. My personal opinion is that the Chitauri were “jacked in” to the “Mothership” through some sort of control device they are wearing and when the ship blew up a failsafe kicked in and the Chitauri collapsed. There is some evidence to this theory in the beginning of the movie when the Chitauri are first shown. They are shown putting on faceplates and you see some sort of connection happen. Also, all the Chitauri and the Leviathans have some sort of energy running through their armor during battle. This theory seems to make the most sense to me. One question I do have is “Is this the whole Chitauri race, or just one army of them?” My guess is that it’s not the whole race, but maybe it will be explained later.
There really are not enough words to describe how much I love this movie. It isn’t perfect, but its flaws are so minor to me and don’t affect my enjoyment of this movie at all. The movie is a perfect culmination of Marvel’s “Phase 1” movies and is epic in every since of the word. In my opinion, it is the greatest comic book movie of all-time (so far). It’s also now one of my personal favorite movies.
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