Saturday, May 5, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

PG-13, 2 hr. 22 min.  Directed By:  Joss Whedon.  Release Date:  May 4, 2012.

It’s not very often that one of these blockbusters lives up to the hype, but I have to say that the cast and crew of Marvel’s The Avengers delivered.  I was greatly surprised, because I’ve gotten a little lukewarm on the last three Marvel releases related to this effort:  Captain America: The First Avenger, Thor, and Iron Man 2.  Most of my complaints about this, stem from my complaints about those individual movies which were held over in to this one.  But overall, I’d call this a smashing success, and I know why no other movies were released this week, or at least, no other movies were released in Dallas this week, and believe me, I looked.  I tried to make today a double feature, but no such luck. 

What do I look from in a blockbuster?  It’s a little different than what I look from in a regular movie: (1) Action and stunts, (2) special effects, (3) solid story effort, and (4) cast.  Let’s start with the action and stunts, which were very cool.  Not over the top (at least not frequently so) and the explosive final battle between the Avengers and whatever alien race drops out of that wormhole looking thing was… truly awesome.  The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spiderman will have some big shoes to fill.   The special effects were used effectively (no pun intended) and mostly limited to Iron Man and a few gunfights until the very end of the movie, then they got BIG and seemed to borrow a little from the newer Star Wars trilogy.  As you might expect from Whedon, his story was TIGHT, yo.  I remember questioning a few things, but not many, and now those moments are gone, so the high vantage point says everything was great.  The cast is great, and I’m hoping new members join us for the inevitable sequels. 

My favorite thing about this effort is that it didn’t take itself too seriously.  There are a LOT of uses of humor, most of it tongue-in-cheek, most of it from Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark (some of it, and some of the best uses of humor, actually came from The Hulk).  It managed to be good and give the whole superhero movie phenomenon a big, erect middle finger all at the same time, and that’s well, impressive.  Many have tried to walk that balance between being part of a genre and poking fun at it, and only a small, small number have succeeded.

I’m not sure this is worth the money for 3D.  It was great on IMAX, even from my left-most chair vantage point.  The lady next to me kept freaking out, acting like stuff was going to hit her, so maybe the problem I have with 3D comes from my inherited vision problem.  But, I do look for things that are clearly filmed with an eye to 3D and I didn’t see much, so I still call the 3D thing a fad, a novelty that may not continue unless the technology for it improves immensely in coming years.

Go see this movie.  Take your kids unless you don’t want them to see a lot of people take beatings, or explosions, or you just don’t want them to be cool.  I’m done.