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Marvel’s The Avengers 3D

They pulled it off. And it’s a summer blockbuster extravaganza unlike anything ever released before it. If Richard Donner’s wonderful 1978 “Superman” film began the modern era of superhero movies, and Tim Burton’s and(especially)Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” features raised the bar to the level of artistic—than “The Avengers” should be remembered as the giant that slayed all the notions of the impossibility of truly bringing the action of a comic book to the screen. I’m happy that “The Avengers” is going to haul a couple of billion dollars, because the film-makers, quite simply—spared no expense. It looks like a billion dollars, so why shouldn’t it gross two. But where other titans like this have looked expensive, but managed to lose focus and fail to exhibit heart when necessary—this film has both elements in spades. It’s on-point, it’s charming, and everyone gets their turn. Our mighty heroes work well separately, and they make it happen when they are a team too. As pointed out in an entry from last month, I was skeptical about the ability to bring all these vehicles together and actually make this behemoth fly. My fears have been assuaged, and I tip my hat to the creators of “The Avengers”. They did it. So, see it on the big screen now—because my current doubt is that they will ever be able to do it again. This is the super-hero flick that every 12-year-old dreams of and awakens the dormant 12-year-old in us pesky naysayers. It’s that freakin’ good.               You probably already know that Robert Downey, Jr. is Iron Man, Chris Evans is Captain America, Chris Hemsworth is Thor and Mark Ruffalo is our brand-new(and easily best)Hulk. But that’s not all. The gorgeous Scarlett Johansson was introduced as a more “B”-level super-hero force with her initial appearance in 2010’s “Iron Man 2”—and both the actress and the character truly come into their own here. It’s now entirely possible to see Black Widow having her very own franchise. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye character(first introduced in a barely there cameo in 2011’s “Thor”)doesn’t fare as well, with much less to do than Scarlett. So, they provide him with resonance by converting him into a zombie bad-guy for a period—a wonderfully impressive script stroke. And, of course, there’s Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury. Lurking on the outskirts of the pre-Avengers build-up films ever since 2008’s “Iron Man”(in the form of hidden post-credits and brief closing-shot scenes)is finally embodying a full-blooded role here as the leader of S.H.E.I.L.D. The Tesseract, a powerful, glowing cube of some sort(also touched on in the 5 film build-up)is stolen by Loki(Thor’s pissed off half-brother, actor Tom Hiddelston)with the purpose of(what, else?)taking over the Earth. So, in the time-honored tradition of “getting the band together”(see the recent “The Muppet Movie”, and countless others), our 4 main heroes are brought into the fold, introduced to each other with often heated results, and ultimately work together in a group effort to stop the bad-guys(Loki’s alien army). That’s pretty much it—and really, what else do you need? It’s the getting there that makes this thing sing, and it builds to an awesome crescendo. Wise-ass Iron Man and squeaky-clean Captain America don’t get along. Thor is a GOD for crying out loud—must he learn to play with these mere earthlings to try to control his equally god-like half-sibling? And then there is the Hulk-factor. That lingers on the outskirts of the plot for a good 90 minutes it seems. Mark Ruffalo plays the anticipation masterfully. And when the big green guy finally emerges, it’s initially downright frightening to the gang and eventually hilarious to all of us. Director Joss Whedon must be given ample credit for managing to implement a big-screen Hulk correctly. Hulk is the true X-factor in this equation. We know after an hour-and-a-half of team-gathering and personality-clash in-fighting what Iron zillionaire, the Captain and Thunder God are going to do. But what’s going to happen, and can anything control, the not-so-jolly green giant. The answers are a blast. And that final battle, seemingly a good thirty minutes long, is huge and astonishing, and(most importantly)—coherent from beginning to end.               Does “Marvel’s The Avengers” have the resonance of our recent superhero standard-bearer, the great “The Dark Knight”? No. But I never thought it would, and no one else should have had that delusion. But it is plentiful to bursting in almost every other respect. Its snark is provided by Tony Stark/Iron Man, its heart is embodied by ultimate good-guy Steve Rogers/Captain America, and its majesty is presented in the Shakespearean interplay between Thor and wayward bro Loki. And Bruce Banner/Hulk is a mix of mystery and anticipation(followed by appreciative comic-relief)along with his smashing derring-do. This Hulk really stands out from his more finely tuned co-heroes. And after mixed reception for both Hulk incarnations from last decade, the green one has found his niche. He just needed company, is all. Plus, you even get completely unexpected poignancy from veteran build-up sideline suit, Phil Coulson(Clark Gregg)—and a nothing character blossoms into something. Obviously—I love “The Avengers”. My seven-year-old loved “The Avengers”. It is better than all of its individual parts. Against all odds, the teaming hits a mammoth home run. 3D or not 3D? Yeah, I think it’s worth the extra few bucks—if only because this summer will probably be the one chance you’ll be able to get a big-screen, “comin’ at ya” view of this thing. Besides, you can get the 2D version on your big flat-screen at home when they release it on DVD by the fall. Or you can see it twice—which is a rarity for me, but I just might do it in this case. “Marvel’s The Avengers” has exceeded my expectations. Now, as stated, my only issue is that they will never be able to do it again. History does not repeat that often. But, happily, I’ve been proven wrong before.         Grade:  A-

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2 comments on “Marvel’s The Avengers 3D

  1. It’s true that they really threw everything at this one and, by doing it reverently and faithfully, seemed to have pulled it off. Although I thought Evans was a bit flat and melancholy (as opposed to a duty-bound straight arrow) the interplay between Iron Man and Captain America was one of the strong points of the comic book in the 70’s and 80’s. In those books Stark was dealing with alcoholism and a flailing business while Cap was the glue of the team and simultaneously yearning for a real personal life away from the mask and shield. Whatever. It’s a fun spectacle. I just look forward to when Hollywood can stop blowing up my city. I’m definitely over the NYC destructo-porn.

    • I’m honestly shocked that they executed this so beautifully, Brian. And originally I thought it was doomed to failure(critically, at least). Also, I must defer and say that I LOVED Chris Evans take on Captain America. Felt he captured it wonderfully. He is a square, and I appreciated the melancholy. I am a big Superman and Captain America fan—so I guess that makes me a square too! Standing proudly as accused, I guess. And it seems like you’re saying the film DID capture the Iron Man/Captain America clash to some degree? Right on—and glad to hear it. As to Armageddon in the Big Apple—like it or not, I think we are stuck with that into the foreseeable future. It looks like both Spider-Man AND Batman will be waging their battles in Manhattan this summer, as well! ML

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