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Movie Review: The Avengers

Title:
The Avengers
Cast:
Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johannson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany, Alexis Denisof
Director: Joss Whedon
Writing Credits:
Zak Penn, Joss Whedon
Distributor:
Walt Disney Pictures / Marvel Studios
Running Time:
143 minutes
Philippine Release Date:
25 April 2012

Movie Synopsis from Showtimes.com:
When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are brought together to stop Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the God of Mischief and Thor’s brother, in his attempt to destroy Earth.

Official Movie Trailer:

Review In A Nutshell:
The Avengers is one of those movies that went beyond my judging. Well, almost because if it were, I wouldn’t publish this review.

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There’s so much I want to say about The Avengers. And since I presume that most cinema-savvy Pinoys would’ve seen it by now, I guess I’ll just let out as much as I can. Therefore, be warned. If you still haven’t watched The Avengers (and why haven’t you?), this is going to be my first review with some spoilers here and there. And perhaps, even the longest to date.

Captain America, Thor, Iron Man and The Hulk wants you to watch The Avengers. Resistance is futile.
Image courtesy of USA Today

To kick off the many things I want to say is that I have seen the movie about five times since it was released here in the Philippines. I rarely watch movies more than once but if I like it, I don’t mind a second trip to the cinema. Beyond that count, it just goes to show that I really, really liked it. If I were to borrow the words of the great Steven Tyler when he’s in his AI judge mode, The Avengers is one of those movies that went beyond my judging. Well, almost because if it were, I wouldn’t publish this review.

The Avengers is an ensemble movie that took seven (7) years in the making, with the assembly being kicked off with the release of Iron Man back in 2008 and culminating with Captain America: The First Avenger last year. That seven years was really worth the wait if you were to consider the box-office performance of The Avengers wherein it has literally broke records set by every conceivable blockbuster movie both in the US and worldwide. In the Philippines alone, it now holds the record of the fastest movie to hit PHP 200 million in five days. Considering the country’s reputation in… uh… well… you know what I mean… that amount is ridiculous. I wouldn’t be surprised if it’ll hit the billion-dollar mark worldwide before the month ends.

Since the movie took seven years before it hit the cinemas, I think it’s best if I just delved into sharing seven things I loved about The Avengers because it’ll be a nightmare if I did a billion (although I can if I really wanted to):

Thor discussing Loki’s plan in the Hellicarrier’s bridge.
Image courtesy of Marvel.com

“He’s adopted.”

One of The Avengers strongest suit is its script. It’s perhaps one of the wittiest, funniest and coolest scripts I’ve ever come across in all the movies I have watched. It was full of pop culture references, snide remarks and deadpan humor; and these were blended well with the more serious dialogues of the movie. However, most of these fun lines were delivered by Robert Downey Jr., which I somewhat expected given his characterization of Iron Man. Thus, you can imagine how much I laughed when Chris Hemsworth was given that line in response to Black Widow’s quip about Loki’s dripping 80-headcount, 2-day ledger. I can quote so many lines that I liked in the movie but this is perhaps my favorite.

Director Joss Whedon holding on to Captain America’s shield.
Image courtesy of Marvel.com

A chemical mixture that makes chaos

If chaos would be those terribly long lines to the cinema during the movie’s opening week, then we can thank Joss Whedon for being that mad scientist behind the chemical mixture. I’ve seen a lot of ensemble movies, believe me. Sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t. Often, the reason for the failure of an ensemble movie can be easily attributed to direction especially when the cast profile is as high as what you have with The Avengers; some of them have Oscar nods under their belts. It really takes a strong person to command a ship as huge as a Hellicarrier and Joss Whedon was definitely front and center. He was able to draw out the best from each actor, all without losing sight of the movie’s team spirit. Thus, it isn’t surprising that he is already optioned to direct the sequel a few years from now.

Make a wild guess who stole the show in my book… 😉
Image courtesy of Marvel.com

And the scene-stealer award goes to…

I’m not much of a comic book reader but if I’m right about what I know of its canon, the alpha male is Captain America. For the movie version, although Captain America’s war background easily made him the ideal strategist, Iron Man is the obvious alpha male all because of Robert Downey Jr. I mean, come on, it’s too undeniable during the course of the movie. However, the person who kept stealing that torch is Mark Ruffalo. His portrayal of The Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner is far better than how Edward Norton and Eric Bana did theirs. Seriously. Mark Ruffalo is so good that I wish he would get his own spin-off. So yes, that’s my appeal to Marvel Studios: I know it’s not in the pipeline but please give him a spin-off before The Avengers sequel comes out. Mark Ruffalo deserves it.

Standing in the middle of battle-torn New York
Image courtesy of Marvel.com

No longer just a pretty face with moves that kill

If you’ve watched Iron Man 2, you would know how formidable Black Widow is, at least on a fighting standpoint. Other than that, you hardly know anything else. However, in this movie, not only was she back in an even better form, but she was finally given a back story and emotional depth. We finally get to understand Black Widow’s assassin past and her motivation for joining S.H.I.E.L.D. I also loved that while she is the lone female Avenger, she cannot be easily dismissed. Scarlett Johannson gave the right amount of toughness and charisma to the role that was so palpable, she fit right in with the boys.

The ant trapped underneath the boot… or so it seems.
Image courtesy of Marvel.com

Putting the “chief” in mischief

As soon as you see the lead antagonist in any movie, the immediate reaction is often seething hate coupled with death wishes. Unfortunately, this was not the case with Loki for two main reasons: how the character was developed in Thor and Tom Hiddleston’s portrayal. For me, Loki is the bad boy any girl hopes to help change for the better. While the character’s motives are clear yet disgustingly crazy, there still lies a relatable factor to Loki that truly makes sense. And those monologues… boy, aren’t they powerful? I couldn’t imagine anyone else playing that role so I thank the Asgardian skies for finding Tom Hiddleston. And if the movie’s ending is any indication, I don’t think it’ll be the last time we’ll see him, which makes me very excited for Thor 2.

You can drop the dark shades now, Agent Coulson.
Image courtesy of Marvel.com

Out of the shadows and into the light

In the course of four Marvel franchise movies, Agent Phil Coulson, played by the wonderful Clark Gregg, has always been that shadowy figure representing S.H.I.E.L.D.; merely content on being in the sidelines and displayed no attempts to court center stage. However, this time, he finally takes his share of the limelight and we get to know the extent of his influence and affiliation in the covert agency. Having separate personal encounters with Iron Man and Thor — and admiring Captain America while he was sleeping — Agent Coulson served as the link that somewhat binds all members of The Avengers. He knew everything there was to know about them. Thus, my heart broke when he died while trying to stop Loki from dropping a caged Thor thirty-thousand feet in the air. Although he got to tell Loki a thing or two about conviction, his death elicited several fat tears that flowed freely down my cheeks. I am definitely going to miss him in the succeeding Marvel sequels.

Director Joss Whedon with Samuel L. Jackson
Image courtesy of Marvel.com

The devil is in the details

Aside from crediting the director and the script for the movie’s success, I think it’s safe to say that everyone, from the cast to crew, did an excellent job with The Avengers enough for me to suspend my nitpicking attitude. I loved the sound mixing and the score; it’s great to hear the individual themes of each Avenger namely Iron Man, Thor and Captain America during key albeit solo sequences. The set design, special effects and action sequences were awesome. Even the secondary actors, most especially Cobie Smulders, made their presence felt. Everyone contributed their efforts into making the movie a nearly flawless, seamless product that is definitely worth experiencing for all its entertainment value and made sitting in a cinema for nearly two-and-a-half hours feel like a breeze.

I wish I could get one of those director chairs as a gift for my birthday.
Image courtesy of Marvel.com

By now, I know it’s pretty clear with you that I love The Avengers enough for it to get high marks in my book but I did hint about the movie being nearly flawless. Since the movie is currently $200 million short of hitting the billion-dollar box office performance, it is just apt for me to share two things that I felt were the movie’s pain points: the argument in the lab and the end credit sequences.

Well, it definitely took the team a while to get to this point.
Image courtesy of Marvel.com

The argument in the lab amongst The Avengers was fueled by the idea that Loki has Dr. Bruce Banner under his spell. This came out as a result of the interrogation that Black Widow did with Loki who was imprisoned in that impressive steel and glass cage. While it certainly helped in making for a good confrontation sequence in relation to the discovery of Phase 2 project for the Tesseract, it never really appeared to me that Dr. Bruce Banner was under Loki’s spell. If it was Black Widow’s way of covering up that she was emotionally compromised during the interrogation, the suggestion seemed like a foolish and unnecessary way to start that argument. I would’ve preferred that the argument was fueled by Tony Stark’s hack into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s database since there was a hint to such given Nick Fury’s observation of a virus as he was roaming around the Hellicarrier’s bridge. However, it wasn’t the case. Therefore, strike one.

I also shared earlier that I wasn’t into reading comic books therefore the appearance of Thanos in the end credit sequence drew a lot of question marks from me as well as the moviegoers who had the same background as I did. Only the fans of the comics knew exactly who he was and I felt alienated to some extent. While I understand that any movie adaptation should still stay true to its source material, it still should be packaged in such a way that non-comic book readers can still relate to it. Plus, I didn’t get to see The Avengers eating shawarma after their battle with the Chitauri, which was the second end credit sequence only made available to US viewers. This was a thank-you-for-waiting treat since they saw the movie nearly ten days after it was released in select countries worldwide. While I was able to see that second end credit sequence as I was doing my research for this review, I find myself wishing that it can still be attached to international screenings since The Avengers has been released in the US for quite some time. So dear Marvel Studios, can you perhaps send an updated reel to our country? Frankly, I don’t mind going for a sixth screening if only to see that sequence. So yeah, that’s strike two.

A screenshot of The Avengers eating shawarma exclusively for US viewers.
Now, wouldn’t you want to see this in our local screens too?

Fortunately, The Avengers was that good enough to avoid a third strike. It definitely managed to hit some home runs with me, about five times and… maybe… counting.

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My Rating:
5 out of 5 stars

My Two-Cents:
Watch it over and over again! And in 2D, no less. I don’t recommend watching it in 3D though since the dark scenes don’t translate well. If anything, the 3D glasses made those scenes a little darker than they should.