Avengers Assemble!

(Video courtesy YouTube)

After dodging my friends and potential spoilers for two days I finally saw the Avengers on Sunday.
Marvel has come a  long way since their earlier attempts to do live action productions of their comic book heroes, and not just in the special effects department.  The entire production, including story and character development, has stepped up.

When it was first announced that Marvel was doing a series of movies leading up to the Avengers, I was skeptical.  I thought that such a grand scale project would be hindered by the classic problem of having too many chefs in the kitchen.  I figured that there would be continuity errors, and the flavor of the movie, its mood and pacing, just wouldn't feel right.  I'm happy to say my fears were baseless.

The Avengers was a top quality comic book movie that maintained continuity, and therefore the validity, of the movies that preceded it.  The plot was suitably big and the villain, Loki, appropriately proportional to the forces of good.  Director Joss Whedon did full justice to each character, no small feat in a movie starring four iconic figures and three minor ones (It's arguable that Samuel L Jackson is turning Nick Fury into a legend, but the same cannot be said for Black Widow or Hawkeye).  There were even a few surprise plot twists that I didn't see coming which added to the impressiveness of the film.

I'm sorry to say that Scarlet Johansson as Black Widow just isn't doing it for me.  In Iron Man II she could barely run -that scene of her teetering down the hallway like a six year old is forever etched into my mind- and here in the Avengers she can't seem to get the acting thing down.  That's not to say that Ms. Johansson can't act in general, she was quite good in Lost in Translation, but I'm just not buying her as a tortured Russian ex-pat spy.  For me, she lacked the gravitas to pull it off, and no, I'm not dazzled by her looks so it really was a bit grating when she was on screen.  I'll give her this though, I did like how she handled the scene with recruiting Bruce Banner.

The real highlight of this film is the Hulk, hands down.  Not only did I really like Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, but the scenes with the big green guy had just the right amount of awesome and comic relief to make his screen time an absolute pleasure.  The touches that Mr. Whedon put on Bruce Banner's relationship with the Hulk were fantastic as well, and there's a line towards the end he says that just will send chills of cool down your spine.  I hope they stick with Mr. Ruffalo for future films.

I've babbled on about this long enough now.  In short, see the film if you haven't.  I'm hoping to make some time to see it again this week if I can.  It's worth the price of admission and then some!


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