The Avengers (5/12/12)

AvengersMovie One Hundred Sixteen

The Avengers is the culmination of several Marvel Comics movies from the past several years, bringing Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk and more together on the big screen.

I think at this point every movie blog I follow has had coverage of The Avengers in some form so this may be a partial retread for most of you.

If you have seen either Iron Man film (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), or to a lesser extent, The Incredible Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo for The Avengers, but Edward Norton in the original film), then you are likely aware of some of the setup for The Avengers. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), head of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is essentially a heavily funded black ops organization, has recruited some of Earth’s mightiest heroes to locate the Tesseract, an all-powerful cube stolen by Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s brother. The team first has to come together, then has to defeat Loki, who has used the Tesseract to call upon the Chitauri, an alien race that wishes to destroy humanity.

The main draw to The Avengers is the fact that Joss Whedon both wrote and directed it. Whedon is beloved in the nerd community for helming the ill-fated sci-fi drama Firefly as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. Whedon makes the action tight and the script fun, there is obvious love for the material here. I have two fairly big issues with the film on a whole. First, the run time, which clocks in at just under 2 1/2 hours. There is a lot of material packed into that time frame, which leads me to my second gripe…The pacing of the first half of the film. For awhile there I had completely forgotten about the Tesseract and the Chitauri threat because the plot was idling around the Avengers internal conflicts. It’s necessary to the story, but could have really been trimmed of some fat.

Once the second half picks up the film grabbed me and didn’t let me go until the credits rolled. The nerd in me wanted more as soon as it was over but once the thrill of the theatrical experience wore off I was less enthused about the film. That’s not to say it’s bad, I guess all the hype about how great it is propped me up for a bit of disappointment. However, The Avengers is proof that Marvel Comics films can still be a lot of fun without needing to take a dark edge like Nolan’s Batman films to be good or successful. I will say that I look forward to the inevitable Avengers sequel very much.

I give it 4 many faces of Hulk out of 5.

(In case you are wondering, 1) Avengers 2) Incredible Hulk 3) Hulk 4) Incredible Hulk (TV series))

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Captain America (2/28/12)

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Captain America surprised me. When Marvel announced they were going to make an Avengers movie, I was kind of excited. I haven’t been a big comic fan in the last decade or so, but comic books have always been something I enjoy. Captain America is not one of my favorite comic books, so I expected a rushed movie just to sell the Avengers down the road. I was wrong.

Captain America has been made into a movie before, and actually that was one of the first DVDs I ever watched. Needless to say, it left a sour taste in my mouth for the character. Luckily, the new movie about Cap treats the franchise with utmost care and it turns out to be a pretty good action/superhero movie.

As an origin story to the character, we see Steve Rogers as a 90 pound weakling that wants to get into the army during World War II. He is eventually accepted into a program that turns him into a super soldier by enhancing all of his qualities, not just his bulk. At the same time, the Nazis are formulating a similar program and the film’s villain, Red Skull, is created in the same manner as Captain America. Obviously the effects are the opposite on his personality and he ends up horribly disfigured.

The film really gives us a detailed account of what makes Steve Rogers become Captain America. Almost too much detail. While I thought the action in the second half of the film really made the time fly, there is quite a bit leading up to those points, some of which may not have been absolutely necessary. Overall, Captain America tells a great story and sets up the upcoming Avengers movie perfectly.

I boldly stated that Captain America was in my top 5 superhero movies of all time, but after thinking about that for a minute discovered that isn’t true (I had forgotten about Nolan’s Batman movies somehow). Most likely in my top 10, though. I was surprised that I would be interested in seeing Captain America’s origin story play out, but it really does make a good movie. Fans of the comics should be pleased.

I give it 4 “I didn’t know Stanley Tucci was in Captain America!”s out of 5.

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