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Overall Rating

Worth A Look: 23.53%
Average: 4.41%
Pretty Bad: 5.88%
Total Crap: 5.88%

4 reviews, 44 user ratings

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Marvel's The Avengers
[] Buy posters from this movie
by Rob Gonsalves

"Four-color fun."
5 stars

"The Avengers" — or, as the onscreen title has it, "Marvel’s The Avengers" — is perhaps the most purely fun and frisky superhero movie since Christopher Reeve put on the red cape in 1978. ("The Dark Knight" was dazzlingly accomplished, but “fun” isn’t the first word I’d use to describe that brooding crime thriller.)

Marvel Studios has been building towards this film for four years, starting with Iron Man in 2008 and continuing with The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), commander of the spy mega-agency S.H.I.E.L.D., has showed up portentously in all those movies, and here he assembles the aforementioned heroes, plus S.H.I.E.L.D. agents Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), to do battle with an alien army commanded by Thor’s evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Got all that?

Once the set-up is out of the way — and I’ve no idea how much of it will fly over the heads of viewers who missed the previous five films — The Avengers settles into a pleasantly lighthearted combat mode. The stakes are high, but writer-director Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer) never met a quip he didn’t like, and his familiarity with decades of Marvel comics shakes out as a kidding, don’t-take-this-too-seriously approach to the characters, all of whom get to be tersely witty in the Whedon tradition. This is the best writing any of these heroes have enjoyed onscreen; there’s not much of what’s pejoratively called “comic-book dialogue,” and most of that is dispensed with at the start. After that, it’s regular people with superpowers or super-tech putting on their game faces and working as a team.

For comics fans, it’s an undeniable thrill to see Captain America and Iron Man in the same frame. Additionally entertaining is seeing Chris Evans and Robert Downey Jr. in the same frame, rubbing each other’s nerves raw and ultimately arriving at a grudging mutual respect. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, who under duress turns into the rampaging green Hulk, is deceptively laid-back; it seems Banner has developed a bit more control over his transformations, but we still get plenty of crowd-pleasing footage of the Hulk leaping around and bashing the enemy. At its best, The Avengers is like one of those giant-sized Marvel Treasury Editions they used to issue in the ’70s, with the massive conflicts playing out in clean broad daylight. At some points the swooping camera shows you two or three epic fights going on at once; everyone gets his or her turn in the spotlight.

Whedon, whose only previous film as director was Serenity, keeps the fun coming as if nothing at all were riding on it — not millions of dollars, not the hot expectations of fanboys. Whedon understands that this stuff is outlandish and ought not to be taken with monkish sobriety. Most of these heroes — including Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk — were co-created by legendary comics artist Jack Kirby (who also had a hand in Iron Man’s design). The Avengers does full honor to Kirby’s work, even if Marvel hasn’t; last year Kirby’s heirs were denied any of the billions that Kirby’s creations have generated for the company. Some people (rightly) incensed by the raw deal Kirby got have called for a boycott of The Avengers, and I do sympathize, though denying yourself the chance to see a Kirby-esque adventure writ large (and in 3D, though, as with the other 3D Marvel films, 2D is just as good) would be self-punitive and a drop in the bucket besides.

Overall, this is as smooth and sprightly a franchise machine as we’re likely to get this summer; even at two hours and twenty-three minutes it goes like lightning. It’s brawny but punches fast, yet not so fast that we can’t see anything. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye shoots arrows into his targets without even looking at them; Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow comes out the best under Whedon’s jurisdiction, gaining a sense of humor and a similar suave disregard of her own combat skills. The Avengers never overplays its hand (though the marketing machine sure has); everyone in it is smart, using strategy rather than brute force, though the force is certainly brutal when called for.

If every superhero movie we’re about to get for the next decade were as loose-limbed yet tightly-wrought as this one, I’d have no cause for complaint; they won’t be, of course, but at least this one is.

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originally posted: 05/05/12 10:06:53
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OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2012 Tribeca Film Festival For more in the 2012 Tribeca Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

10/12/19 Scuderie Trafficone fa cagare il cazzo 1 stars
6/17/19 Jimmie T. Murakami The most a history astonishingly incredible movie of all-time. 5 stars
10/30/16 morris campbell over stuffed but entertaining & exciting 4 stars
5/12/15 Christian Paulson Winner winner, shawarma dinner! 5 stars
3/11/15 Nik Does anyone remember what those aliens were called? 2 stars
10/02/14 Horror Lover 4.5 stars One of the best comic book and popcorn movies in a long time. 5 stars
9/02/14 Jeff Corny and stupid "fun" 1 stars
7/31/14 turner Whedon is overrated. Terrible TV Director 1 stars
9/19/13 Ionicera standard superhero movie, slightly overrated 3 stars
4/09/13 dr.lao One of the few things in this world that actually lives up to the hype! 5 stars
3/07/13 Kurt It's loud 3 stars
1/31/13 Charles Tatum Often corny, but big and entertaining. 4 stars
12/06/12 Jason Smart, funny, entertaining, and powerfully acted, this movie was a captivating success. 5 stars
12/02/12 Aaron More holes in plot than swiss cheese, even for SH movie 2 stars
9/23/12 D This movie is completely forgettable escapism. 2 stars
9/19/12 Gabrielle Barnard This movie has uncommonly witty dialogue. Everyone in the theater was laughing aloud. 5 stars
9/07/12 Jes Mediocre kids film, good for adults who are at the level of 5 year olds though 2 stars
8/05/12 Billy why superheroes? 1 stars
7/21/12 Sean Harrison The best superhero movie since the Dark Knight. 5 stars
7/01/12 Orlando An fantastic film, The Avengers is the best comic book film i have seen 5 stars
6/20/12 Jordan Kentris Such an amazing mix of talent. This movie was captivating, entertaining and totally rocked! 5 stars
5/28/12 Mattomic Loved it. Fantastic job. Finally, the Hulk done right! 5 stars
5/17/12 Geraldine The perfect summer blockbuster. Exciting and funny with a lot of heart. 5 stars
5/16/12 puddleduck The most fun to hit the screen since Raiders Of The Lost Ark 5 stars
5/16/12 Kimberly Brown The Avengers was amazing, Whedon did a dope job! 5 stars
5/15/12 Marty Big undertaking but fun action w cool heroes all together. not deep tho, just fun. 4 stars
5/10/12 Travis BEST.....MOVIE.....EVER! 5 stars
5/10/12 davofern Absolutely sensational ! 5 stars
5/10/12 Phillip D See it! 5 stars
5/10/12 damalc new favorite superhero movie 5 stars
5/08/12 Jimmy Web Very Cool 5 stars
5/08/12 KingNeutron So many explosions, I thought Michael Bay directed it! +1 :) 5 stars
5/08/12 Toni Peluso Awesome. The dialog made the movie! 5 stars
5/07/12 The Big D Thor's the best character; he saves it from corny jokes, cheesy banter, and overdone SPFX. 3 stars
5/07/12 Koitus Very well done. A notch below "The Dark Knight," though. 5 stars
5/07/12 Adam Myles Can't wait to see this movie! 5 stars
5/07/12 Nate Stalker The perfect mixture of action, humor and interaction, topped off with outstanding CGI. 5 stars
5/07/12 Dan Not typical a friend of pop culture/mass media stuff, but this was just awesome. Good CGI. 5 stars
5/06/12 GLC Excellently done. Great characterizations and interplay. 5 stars
5/06/12 /// one of the best superhero films ever, even better than x-men 5 stars
5/05/12 mr.mike It was good. I did not do handsprings upon leaving the theatre. 4 stars
5/04/12 Darkstar Best comic movie so far. Liked it better than The Dark Knight. 5 stars
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  04-May-2012 (PG-13)
  DVD: 25-Sep-2012


  DVD: 25-Sep-2012

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