Film Review: Summer Movie Season Explodes with ‘The Avengers’

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CHICAGO – When I was a kid, summer movies were an event. They weren’t just marketing tricks, young adult adaptations, or unnecessary sequels. They were blockbusters that you put on the calendar and counted the days until their arrival. Something of that summer movie magic has been lost in recent years – the sense that you weren’t just seeing a movie, you were experiencing something special. I felt that again watching “The Avengers,” a high quality, incredibly entertaining, joyous summer event. If I was 12, it would be my favorite movie ever made. Oscarman rating: 4.5/5.0
Rating: 4.5/5.0

If you liked “Iron Man,” “Captain America,” or “Thor,” I would be baffled if you didn’t love “The Avengers.” It’s really that simple. It’s, by far, the best movie involving these characters and rivals for placement on the list of the best superheroes movies ever made. The first half is a bit talky and the film is naturally crowded but all criticism falls away during the final hour, which is quite simply one of the most impressive and entertaining hours of action in movie history. Writer/director Joss Whedon eschews the typical rollercoaster action formula of peaks and valleys for what is essentially one giant hill. He takes you up slowly for about ninety minutes and then plunges you through some of the most well-choreographed, well-written, and riveting action in years for the last sixty. Overall, Whedon has gotten so much right here where other Marvel directors did not. Kenneth Branagh, Jon Favreau, and Joe Johnson should take notes.

StarRead Brian Tallerico’s full review of “The Avengers” in our reviews section.

Naturally, the first act of “The Avengers” has two goals – set up the villain and get the band together, something that good Marvel movie fans know has been in the works for years. Where the villains have been weak in most of the Marvel films, Whedon is not about to give short shrift to his bad guy, giving Tom Hiddleston’s Loki some of the best dialogue and most remarkable scenes in the film. This is a great superhero villain and Hiddleston completely delivers, playing Loki as both charismatic and remarkably weak. He is a villain who feels he is born to rule but knows deep in his character that he is unable to do so. It’s a great big bad and a stellar performance.

But you don’t go to “The Avengers” for the bad guy. You go for the heroes. And you know most of them by now. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Iron Man/Tony Stark (with a cameo by Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts), Chris Evans does the most charismatic work of his career as Captain America, Chris Hemsworth appears as Thor, Scarlett Johansson really delivers as Black Widow, Jeremy Renner plays Hawkeye, and Samuel L. Jackson moves from cameo player to regular as Nick Fury’s role is notably beefed up here. Mark Ruffalo steps into the oversized shoes of Bruce Banner as the third actor to play The Hulk on film and is fantastic, better than Eric Bana or Edward Norton.

StarContinue reading for Brian Tallerico’s full “The Avengers” review.

“The Avengers” stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Mark Ruffalo, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, and Tom Hiddleston. It was written and directed by Joss Whedon. It is rated PG-13 and opens on May 4, 2012.

The Avengers
The Avengers
Photo credit: Disney/Marvel

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