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Movie Review: The Avengers

Norse god Loki takes control of the Tesseract in an attempt to portal an alien army to defeat Earth and serve as ruler. Nick Fury must bring together a band of heroes to thwart him.

Some Assembly Required

RATED: ★ ★ ★ ★ 1/2 buckets

Rated: PG-13 Intense Sci-fi action/violence and a mild drug reference
Release Date: May 4, 2012
Runtime:  2 hrs 23 mins

Director: Joss Whedon
Writers: Zak Penn, Joss Whedon, based on the comic book by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Cast: Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Stellan Skarsgard, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany

SYNOPSIS: Mischievous Norse god Loki takes control of the cosmically powerful Tesseract in an attempt to portal from the far end of the universe an alien army to defeat Earth and serve as ruler. Nick Fury, director of SHIELD, must bring together a band of heroes to thwart the invasion.

REVIEW: Joss Whedon, director and director of such genre-loved classics as Buffy - The Vampire Slayer and Firefly, works with co-writer comic book adapter Zak Penn (The Incredible Hulk, X-Men: The Last StandElektra) to bring to screen the long-awaited Marvel superhero ensemble film that comic book fans have been dreaming about since cracking open their first Avengers tale.

When an unexpected surge of power starts to emanate from the Tesseract retrieved by Howard Stark in the 1940s and experimented on in the present day by the scientists of SHIELD, the result is the opening of a portal and the return of Loki (Tom Hiddleston, War Horse) to the earthly plane. Escaping with the powerful cosmic energy source, Director Nick Fury of SHIELD is forced to bring together the various powerful men and women who he had slated for the now defunct Avengers Initiative. He enlists the help of the former Russian assassin turned SHIELD agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson, We Bought a Zoo), code named Black Widow, to bring in Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo,Shutter Island) from abroad to hunt down the cube with the hopes that the Hulk will be kept under wraps.

Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr., Due Date) is sought after for his brilliance and technology. Steve Rogers (Chris Evans, What's Your Number?) is a super soldier who needs to get back into the world to serve his country in the best way possible. Fury hopes that self-proclaimed protector of earth Thor (Chris Hemsworth, The Cabin in the Woods) will fulfill his promise to defeat the earth. And archer Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner, Mission: Impossible - Ghost Protocol) is the resident bolt loading marksman whose skills as a trained assassin is only matched by Romanoff. Loki's master plan is unknown to the heroes, other than the fact that he plans to bring to earth an alien armada to decimate the earth and put himself as king of the planet. The only force with any chance to stop his evil plans is the Avengers - but only if they can come together as a true team.

Jon Favreau hinted at a possibility of an Avengers movie with Samuel L. Jackson's utterance of a "...bigger universe..." and "...The Avengers Initiative". He may have added the end scene to the first Robert Downey, Jr. Iron Man as a cool lark and easter egg, but that scene started to slowly galvanize a spark of an idea that continued through four other films, The Incredible HulkIron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger, and culminates in an already franchised powerhouse and anticipated film with this summer'sThe Avengers. With five films put together as an ultra long set of origin stories, The Avengers is freed from the shackles of usually necessary back story to get right into the heart of a new story.

Coming in at two hours twenty-three minutes, you would think that this epic superhero story would drag its feet for a bit until the momentum started to build. But from the moment that the Tesseract starts to pulse and the godling Loki steps back into the world, the only slow point is Fury looking to assemble his team to combat the immediate threat to the planet. Each member of the rag-tag team is acquired in thoughtful and funny ways, gathering them together to take on Loki. At each step of the way, the fanboys and fangirls are treated to inspired nerdgasms that keeps the grins on the face and glint in the eyes.

For instance, with any major superhero team-up there is usually a misunderstanding between heroes that results in a all-out brawl. We are treated to more than one! The classic nerd dilemma - who would win in a fight - Thor or the Hulk? Captain America or Thor? Iron Man or Captain America? Black Widow or Hawkeye? The story is so well laid off that every fan would be satisfied with the outcome. And once the heroes stop fighting each other, they get to take on an entire alien army with abandon.

With an ensemble picture, it is difficult to focus any long attention on any one character. And that's fine. Each hero gets enough of a spotlight to appeal to anyone who did not take the precious time to watch all of the first five aforementioned films in one sitting (hey, it wasn't me!) to have a refresher going into this film. And we do learn just enough to add a little depth and new knowledge about the characters to carry us through.

I could wax nostalgically about the lose that Steve Rogers feels about being a man out of time, or that Tony Stark's cavalier pursuit of his own aspirations portrays him in a poor light, or that the intense training that Nastasha endured at a young age by the Russian government as left her emotionally scarred. But in reality, all we want is to see the most powerful heroes of the Marvel Universe kick some serious butt!

Whedon and Penn bring to life a story that filled with phenomenal action, great humor, and a story with enough heart to get the audience to applaud during the film! Clark Gregg's (Iron Man)  Agent Coulson,  brings the same straight man laughs to his government role that he entertained us with in the earlier films. Cobie Smulders' Maria Hill (How I Met Your Mother) seemed under worked in her first appearance as a SHIELD agent, playing a simple second fiddle to Jackson's Fury.

She does has a strong action sequence early on, and does smolder a bit in the eyes, but I hope to see more of the Hill character evolve in future franchise entries. Everyone else puts on their characters as if slipping into a fitted jacket, knowing what the character is about and how to get a little more out of them.

As a true 'Make Mine Marvel' fan, The Avengers gave me everything I could have asked for, and more.  It met and exceeded all of my expectations. Some may point out that the story was a little weak in spots, or certain characters were underused, but the fact that I can't really give an example of any of that is a testament to the the film as a whole experience.

With dazzling effects, superior action, a cool story that crosses fandom  to mainstream lines, it is little wonder that The Avengers is poised to break $500M on an international stage. With these individual heroes there may be some assembly required, but once they come together there seems to be no stopping them! Avengers Assemble!!

WORTH:  Friday Night and BluRay

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

Tom LaSusa May 10, 2012 at 03:54 AM
Awesome review, Chuck! It will be interesting to see how Warner Brothers (owners of DC Comics) tries to respond. Sadly, anything at this point they do is going to be looked upon with trepidation and skepticism. Meanwhile, 2015 (when Avengers 2 is tentatively slated) can't come soon enough!

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