Avengers picks up where Thor left off. Or maybe also where Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk might have left off but I wouldn’t know because I haven’t watched any of them. Loki comes back to earth to steal the Tesseract, which kind of looks like the Energon cubes from Transformers and recruits Barton and Selvig (from Thor) into his team. With the help of The Black Widow and Coulson, Nick Fury, who heads SHIELD, assembles the team of superheroes, which includes Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America. The team is later joined by Thor. For some reason, Loki wants to destroy earth. Why? That wasn’t brought out so clearly in the movie. He is presented as a Hitler-like character who craves power and destruction. During a face-off in Germany, Loki is arrested and taken back to the air/sea-borne SHIELD ship.
A scene where the Avengers try to figure out Loki’s mission and how to deal with him is one of the best ones. The dialogue is choppy and brings out the Avengers’ insecurities and possible cracks in their assemblage. I have a few problems, though. Other than it not being so clear why Loki looks to destroy earth, there’s a scene where Captain America breaks into a locked room to investigate something after an argument with the rest of the Avengers. I don’t understand how no alarm went off. If it was important enough to make sure the room was locked, then it is important enough to know when someone goes in. Also, Loki’s power is hypnotizing people and manipulating them. It wasn’t clear how the spell was broken. It all seemed pretty convenient for the film when it happened.
Most of the issues come down to the storyline, which I believe was written by Zak Penn. The dialogue is obviously Whedon’s, if you’re familiar with his work. Fast, sarcastic, witty but more realistic than, say, Aaron Sorkin’s. One thing that came out right was how the characters fit in their roles. I’m always impressed when through the length of a film, you don’t recall any other films the actors have done before. In this respect, I was mostly impressed by Chris Evans. I don’t think it can be helped that RDJ is the same person in all his films. And I’m starting to think Samuel L. Jackson writes all his lines for films he appears in. Always cheesy, but somehow, it works.
This is the last movie you expect to see good performances but Mark Ruffalo is brilliant as the Hulk. You never really think about someone having to play a character whose most valuable asset is actually a negative and he has to keep it bottled in. He plays really nice for someone whose “power” is instigated by rage and has to subdue it. I also like how his whole condition was treated. It might have won them the war, but no one really wants him to turn into the monster.
No character elicits such goodwill from the audience as much as Hulk did. Every scene with him was just short of drew applause and had an uppity feel to it, which is weird considering there is no method to his madness. He’s not graceful, cool or calculated. He just smashes. And you have to give it up to Ruffalo doing this despite the drama surrounding the character. The Hulk has been played by three different actors in as many films. His character is more open to criticism because the last actor (Edward Norton) in the role was actually pretty good and fans wanted him back. Unlike the other actors, Ruffalo does actually play the Hulk in his “possessed” state. The other ones were CGI but this time, it’s motion capture. So, expect for the voice when he’s the monster, it’s all him. And you can actually see that in Hulk’s face, he still does look like Ruffalo.
A lot has been said about the climax. I was afraid I was too amped up for it and it might fail to live up to my expectations. But the last third of the movie really is that good. There’s a very cliché scene where the group assembles to face the Chitauri under Loki’s command. The camera circles the team in aforementioned cliché way. Somehow, it comes off as powerful. It makes you super-excited for whatever’s to come.
There’s a scene that I don’t know if it’s meant to pay homage or mock The Dark Knight Rises. It’s involves Iron Man, his mask and kind of looks like the TDKR poster that drew speculation about the Batman’s fate. Another scene involving Barton is similar to an action sequence on MI:4’s opening scene. The actor involved is actually also on MI:4. This third act solidifies Hulk’s awesomeness and completes a pretty decent character arc for Iron Man. It humanizes him despite his douchbaggery. The thing they did with Stark tower at the end was a nice touch.
The film has good supporting characters like Maria Hill, Fury’s sidekick played by Colbie Smulders and Clark Gregg’s Phil Coulson, which looks like a role that was written for John Turturro. The end sequence which is a vox pops of the events was also a really cool. The best bits cancel out and more than makes up for the iffy bits. The film is a popcorn flick but Joss Whedon balanced the action well with the characters’ humanization and moral issues.
The film is post-conversion 3-D and IMAX but it was done so well. The depth thing I keep saying you never see in 3-D films is actually seen here. Except for the screaming from the guys sitting next to me, it was a great experience. The best way to enjoy Avengers is on IMAX.