Super Hero Season 2012 officially begins worldwide with the release of one of 2012′s highly anticipated The Avengers. Having been cockteased with full-length Avengers teasers (i.e. Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger) and those annoying post-credits sequences, we finally have that long awaited film that’s been hinted at for the past four years (the first Iron Man film was released 2008). So, how does it fare? Was the wait worth it (comic book fanboys have been waiting for this film for DECADES), or have we been waiting for the biggest train-wreck since the infamous 2001 menage trois namely Pearl Harbor, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within?
The good news: I wouldn’t go so far as to describe this film as a train-wreck.
Let me begin by saying that this film is epic. It’s epic in length (we’re clocking at 2 and a half hours), epic in its action set-pieces, epic in the amount of characters, and epic in its Whedon-esque qualities. Director Joss Whedon handles the ensemble cast effectively. There might be some sluggish moments in the scenes between the action set-pieces (which caused me to uncharacteristically squirm in my seat, possibly a bad seat in the theater… hopefully) but the direction is pretty solid. Never does the film tend to favor a single Avenger in character development, most, including Agent Coulson and Maria Hill, are given effective characterization. While some might argue that the lesser S.H.I.E.L.D. agents are given less characterization time, come on: all we need to know about them is that they’re good, and they kick ass when they have to.
The acting department is great, as well. Tom Hiddleston is great as Loki (not surprised here, to be honest); Robert Downey Jr is still a dick as Tony Stark, but nevertheless bad-ass as Iron Man; Chris Evans still gives us his good-boy performance as Captain America; Chris Hemsworth is the blond thundergod, Thor (shut-up, he’s pretty good); Mark Ruffalo offers a subdued performances as Bruce Banner/the Incredible Hulk, Scarlett Johansson definitely kicks ass as the Black Widow; Jeremy Renner does a good job pulling both a badguy/good-guy role as Hawk-Eye; and Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury is, well… guys come on, it’s Samuel L. Jackson, motherf*ckers!
The action set-pieces are indeed well done. It isn’t excessively flashy or anything. At best, they’re pretty straightforward but effective, and that’s a good thing. Considering the amount of characters you’re following (plus the longer than usual running time), it’s pretty much a relief to just watch straightforward action sequences without figuring out who’s who or what’s happening in the film. Don’t worry as these set-pieces are still pretty cool, and the extended third act battle of New York city is sure to rival the destruction of Chicago in Transformers: Dark of the Moon.
Oh, all these above and the terrifically comedic and unpredictable screenplay by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon. We are treated at the most unexpected events and comedic moments in the film, particularly those scenes with Loki and Agent Coulson, and Loki and Hulk.
I said earlier on that there were some scenes which were quite sluggish. These pertain to character development, small expository portions, and humor. I’m not saying that these scenes should be cut altogether, but I think it would be much better if they moved faster as they tend to bog down to pacing to an already long film to begin with.
Additionally, I saw this on standard 2D, and I would say that this film PROBABLY wouldn’t look too good on 3D. Given the post-conversion this film received, and the low-light levels on the film’s first half, I think it’s safe to say that the film would probably suffer to dim and murky images. So, for now (unless other say otherwise), 2D is the way to go on this film.
Overall, The Avengers is a solid and entertaining film. I’d probably go and say that this is the best film of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, next to the first Iron Man film, and my personal favorite, The Incredible Hulk. This isn’t a perfect film due to a pretty standard and by-the-books origin story (of a superhero TEAM), but they are overlooked by a cast of likeable characters, effectively directed action set-pieces, and those Whedon-esque moments which Joss Whedon fans will instantly recognize.
4 stars out of 5.
P.S.- Oh, in case you were wondering about the menage trois that is Pearl Harbor, Lara Croft: Tomb Raider, and Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within, the three were my “Top 3 Most Awaited Films of 2001″…
hehehe… and there I was pretending to be a high-class film critic… :))