Review: The Avengers (2012)

1


Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson
Director: Joss Whedon
Country: USA
Genre: Action | Adventure | Sci-Fi
Official Trailer: Here


Others have said it before at this point, but The Avengers is a movie that by all logic should not work at all. A staggeringly ambitious project four years in the making, Marvel Studios’ big superhero team up could have been a disastrous blender of mistakes, and yet, against all odds imaginable, it works beautifully like a well-oiled machine. Briskly paced, superbly acted, and sharply made, it’s a triumph on nearly every level; delivering the payoff we’ve been promised since the post-credits scene of Iron Man way back in 2008.

Briskly paced, superbly acted, and sharply made, it’s a triumph on nearly every level; delivering the payoff we’ve been promised since the post-credits scene of Iron Man way back in 2008.

After a slightly clunky prologue of sorts, the film hits the ground running, reintroducing us to all our heroes, but in the most organic way possible. We know them all well by now, and writer/director Joss Whedon spends no time reminding us of their motivations. It’s a refreshingly smart move, given how it could have been a dull exposition-fest to get anyone who hadn’t seen the previous films caught up. The film just assumes you’re up to date on everything and moves along at a clipped, organic pace. This is where Whedon’s beautiful direction and crisp writing really get a chance to shine. The film balances the razor sharp humor with the dramatic stakes of an action epic perfectly. One minute we’re in awe that we’re actually witnessing physical conflicts between these huge, iconic characters, the next we’re laughing our collective asses off at the dry humor that permeates through the film. Whedon, who came from a career made in television, proves that he has a great cinematic eye throughout. While a number of dialogue scenes aboard the S.H.I.E.L.D. Hellicarrier are blocked and edited much like a great tv show, the film always maintains the visual scope a project this huge should have.

Here we finally have a Bruce Banner who has accepted the fact that he is The Hulk, and focuses instead on helping others, rather than being a solipsistic character like the previous incarnations.

If there’s one thing the Marvel Studios films have nailed completely, it’s casting. Nearly all the previous players have returned, with the exception of Edward Norton, having been replaced by Mark Ruffalo in the role of Bruce Banner aka the Hulk. It was a move for the better. Ruffalo very nearly steals the show in every scene he’s in, both as Banner and as the Hulk. The motion-capture work done for our favorite green giant allows Ruffalo to actually physically perform as the Hulk, right down to every facial expression. Unlike the previous two films involving the green giant, this time Hulk actually looks like Banner, which gives him a level of expressiveness and personality that was sorely missing before. He’s an actual character this time around, instead of just a CGI rage monster.

Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston continue to shine as Thor and Loki, respectively. The two of them are just a joy to watch as these characters, sinking in fully and never once mugging at the camera in the wake of their new fame.  Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner appear to be having a blast as Black Widow and Hawkeye, and Chris Evans continues to nail the humility and charm of Captain America. Robert Downey Jr. is in top form as usual in a role he can play in his sleep at this point, but appears to have gotten a second wind here, clearly having more fun than he was in Iron Man 2. But really, I have to say that through it all, Ruffalo emerges as the MVP of the cast, stealing the show from everyone, even Robert Downey Jr., which is no easy feat. He nails every moment, both dramatic and humorous, making Banner a well-rounded character that cares way more about others than his own problems. Here we finally have a Bruce Banner who has accepted the fact that he is the Hulk, and focuses instead on helping others, rather than being a solipsistic character like the previous incarnations. It’s a wonderfully nuanced turn from Ruffalo that he could have just as easily phoned in, but he brings his A-game and then some.

The film is a visual spectacle of the highest caliber, with tremendous work from the team over at ILM, with a great sound design. I can’t in good faith recommend seeing the film in anything but 2D. The 3D doesn’t serve the film in any way other than dimming picture, which is unforgivable considering how bright and colorful the film should actually look. Alan Silvestri continues to prove why he should’ve been scoring the Marvel Studios films all along. His score soars, never too intrusive, but always a treat to hear. The post credits scene will surely leave those familiar with Marvel comics salivating for what’s to come, but will probably leave most casual viewers scratching their heads as to what exactly just got teased.

In a film as good as this, it’s easy to overlook minor quibbles. While Nolan’s Batman films still reign supreme in the genre, The Avengers is never short of top-shelf quality. It’s easily the best film based on Marvel comics, and I for one haven’t been this excited for future superhero films in years.

[notification type=”star”]89/100 ~ GREAT. While Nolan’s Batman films still reign supreme in the genre, The Avengers is never short of top-shelf quality. It’s easily the best film based on Marvel comics, and I for one haven’t been this excited for future superhero films in years.[/notification]

Share.

About Author

Austin Film Critic. I am a blogger, critic, and writer living in Austin, TX. I first became serious about film after seeing The Lord of the Rings trilogy in its original theatrical run between 2001 and 2003. Since then, film has become my life and there's no better job than writing about what I love.