To say we here at Geekin’ Out are “excited” about the up and coming Avengers movie is like saying Tony Stark likes a drink now and then. Our own Kim Brown has not only been on the hype train, she practically shovels the coal that makes it go. If the coal runs out, I’m fairly sure Kim would get out and pull the train with her teeth. That is how excited The Geeks are. So excited in fact, we went all the way to New Zealand to bring you this exclusive (totally spoiler free!) Advanced Review.
As I talked about here I had not personally seen any media for The Avengers beyond the short preview at the end of Thor and the movie poster. As planned everything was brand spanking new, none the less my expectations for a good film were already sky high. I expected a huge scope, great action, solid characters and for everyone to get a fair share of the spotlight. Were my expectations met? Were they ever.
I’ll begin, however, with my singular complaint and then move on to the praise. As is practically mandatory from comic book films The Avengers runs wild with it’s fan-service. It goes to great effort to include all manner of Avengers mainstays from the comics, classic staples of Avengers lore that are as associated with the franchise as Thor’s hammer or Cap’s shield. There was one in particular (again, I won’t spoil it here) that I was on the look out for the entire two and half hours. One thing that absolutely should have been in the film, even in some small capacity, and it wasn’t. For reasons unknown to this viewer a classic piece of The Avengers was completely missing. That said, in the shadow of all the other greatness running around on screen it’s not a big deal, just left me feeling like they didn’t entirely complete the package.
Now, the good stuff:
Not a single one of the cast didn’t bring their A game. Everyone from Cobie Smulder’s rendition of Maria Hill to (naturally) Robert Downey Jr’s Tony Stark pulls out all the stops. The most memorable performance however, perhaps quite surprisingly is Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner. Ruffalo gives us a quiet, tormented genius who paces about with a nervous confidence that let’s you know he’s got a terrible beast within. Unlike Edward Norton’s performance in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk, Mark Ruffalo doesn’t come off as an A-list action hero who treats his large green Mr. Hyde as little more than an inconvenience to his sex life. Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner in The Avengers is a tortured soul, completely, commendably, making the role his own.
While Mark Ruffalo takes home the prize for stand-out performance it’s Robert Downey Jr. who as always, steals the show. Even in a room with living legends and Asgardian God’s it’s impossible to ignore RDJ’s ravenous scene chewing. Between his natural charm and quick wit it almost seems like Tony Stark is the only one in the room at times, which isn’t a bad thing. Don’t get me wrong, this is by no means “The Iron Man Show with his good pals The Avengers”, far from it. Everyone, both in and out of costume, gets their fare share of screen time. It’s a large cast and, without fail, everyone gets their story told. Unless you have a particular fondness for Maria Hill, a fairly recent addition to the comics, who tends to serve more as a side-kick to Samuel L. Jackson.
Of course all the amazing performances in the world aren’t going to make a great big-budget superhero flick, oh no, for that you’re also going to need some fantastic big-budget battles. Each more memorable than the last The Avengers is chock full of massive action. Aside from being beautifully choreographed, each character fights in exactly the manner you’d imagine, Captain America is suitably acrobatic while still throwing more than a few devastating hay-makers, Hawkeye is deadly up close and even deadlier from a distance and The Hulk smashes everything in a blind rage. A big complaint with many action films (Batman Begins, Transformers) in the last 10-15 years has been the ‘extreme close-up’, sticking the camera so far into the action the screen becomes little more than a series of disorienting blurs. The Avengers, I am extremely happy to say, does not suffer from this at all. Every kick from Black Widow and every repulsor blast from Iron Man is crystal clear, keep your eyes on the screen and you will not miss a thing.
What The Avengers does best of all though, is bring everything together. All the threads from Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk and Thor are assembled and treated with care. On top of that we’re also given new and exciting plots, none of which are forgotten. As is customary with Marvel films there’s a (somewhat predictable for long time fans) teaser scene during the credits, but with that most welcome exception everything else is introduced and tied up into a neat little two and half hour parcel. By the end you’re left with the feeling that a story was told, The Avengers works just as well as a stand-alone romp as it does a collaboration of it’s parts.
Ultimately, what Joss Whedon and Marvel have done is give us The Avengers Movie. It’s missing (almost) nothing. The script is funny when it needs to be, bad ass when is has to be and even manages to tug at the heart strings even when you don’t want it to. This is the movie I was expecting, and more, superb and well worth multiple viewings on the big screen.