Big Bucks Blockbuster
I’m not the biggest superhero fan in the world. Or probably the five millionth biggest. But when the first big actioner of the summer is a gigantic, box office mega-hit about superheroes, what’s a girl to do? It’s clear; she goes to see Robert Downey, Jr. and his merry band of Avengers for herself.
Also clear is that she’s in it for some big screen Robert Downey, Jr. – and that’s part of the genius of The Avengers. The basic plot has Iron Man (Downey), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) joining forces to fight Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in his effort to take over Earth with an army of aliens. They’re joined by Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawk Eye (Jeremy Renner), slightly less super superheroes. Note that cast – it’s chock full of a combination of good actors and great eye candy for female audiences. These filmmakers played their hands perfectly – bring in the guys with the superheroes, bring in the ladies with the cast. Throw in Johansson for the guys who need extra convincing. Bingo! Biggest. Hit. Ever.
Okay, so maybe it isn’t quite that simple. But the casting of The Avengers (and the movies preceding that set up this film) forms the core of what makes it work. You have the rather annoyingly earnest Steve Rogers disapproving of the snarky Tony Stark, who is busy forming a genius bond with Bruce Banner, who is at the same time starting a friendship with Black Widow, who has a history with Hawk Eye and they all have to try and understand the generally genial demi-god that is Thor. The interaction between these characters is crucial for us to buy into the concept of the bunch trying to form a united team. The script serves the dialogue that the enthusiastic cast turns into a very fun comic book romp.
Each actor does a great job of both taking their character seriously and allowing the audience to see that they recognize
the silliness inherent in the entire enterprise. It’s a hard line to walk and Downey, Hemsworth and Ruffalo do so with the most success. Johansson and Renner don’t have as much opportunity with their smaller parts and Evans is the weak link. Clearly he was logical choice, having played Captain America in the prep-movie, but his acting is wooden and he rarely brings any spark to the role. Thankfully for all of us, the rest make up for his lackluster performance.
Also worthy of the billion dollars the movie made in its first two weeks (no lie, that’s what it made) are the visuals. All of the effects are seamless (I saw the movie in 2D) – and
there are a lot of effects. There are explosions and destruction and other worlds and super powers and aliens and a few more explosions and more and more and more. It’s an effects laden spectacle that makes the most of all the technology
that can be bought with a big, giant budget and turns it into a fabulous Hulk transformation and gorgeous other realms. Every fight is lovingly choreographed and executed and frankly, great fun. A good percentage are touched with humor that further solidifies the movie’s wink and nudge attitude and keeps the carnage cartoonish even though the effects are as realistic as can be expected when a man is turning into a giant green monster and destroying a secret flying laboratory.
Overall, director Joss Whedon puts on a fabulous show. The Avengers is a terrific summer popcorn movie, undoubtedly best enjoyed on the big screen. Great performances combine with a smart, clever script and amazing special effects to give us quite the spectacle. I would recommend seeing, at the very least, Thor first – the back story there helps set op the central conflict here. If you’re a newbie to superheroes, catch Iron Man, Iron Man 2 and Captain America: The First Avenger as well – they all have very specific ties to The Avengers. 4 ½ stars and a hearty recommendation for those who enjoy a well executed blockbuster action movie.