This is a difficult movie to review. On the one hand, it’s a shallow-by-design superhero-action summer-blockbuster explosionfest which almost requires the viewer to have seen at least four previous movies in order to understand the premise. On the other hand, it’s completely awesome.
This is an unabashed action movie: the fight scenes start early and recur often. Unlike most superhero movies, there is no romantic byline here. Some female associates of the heroes are given token references, and one actually gets screentime, but if you’re looking for heartwarming relationships and character development, you’re looking in the wrong place.
This is, however, a very fine action movie. The set pieces are varied enough not to be repetitive. They frequently actually relate to the plot instead of being gratuitous, as in so many action movies (I’m looking at you, John Carter). At times they border on original, which is somewhat shocking.
The effects are outstanding. Even in 3D (boo), which highlights the presence of computer-animated effects and characters (such as the Hulk), the effects were very good indeed.
The cinematography was much better than it needed to be for this kind of movie. There was a downright artistic touch to the camerawork at times, and in a genre where short cuts are the norm, some scenes (even complex ones with motion, many characters, and significant dialogue) were long, which takes both ambition and skill to execute.
The characters are spot-on – dynamic and distinct, which is quite the trick with a cast this large, with so many outsized personalities. The only character who deviated from his previous movie incarnation was Hulk, but that’s OK, since that movie wasn’t really that good anyway (and they used a different actor, so the character was bound to feel a bit different regardless).
Most of all, the movie has wit and heart. I suppose this isn’t much of a surprise, given that it’s written and directed by Joss Whedon. The man is not a god – he has flaws, and many of them. But when he’s on, he’s one of the best, and it shows here. In Joss’s hands, Marvel’s heroes are essentially human, the more so for their unusual abilities and circumstances. It is this humanity that makes the movie more than just a bunch of (very good) action sets glued together by some talking bits. Instead, this is a damn fine action movie. One that I want to see again.
Not in 3D though, thanks.
When I reviewed Captain America last year, I said that it had everything one could ask for out of a superhero movie. This one does too, only more so.
1. The Avengers
2. The Cabin in the Woods
3. The Secret World of Arrietty
4. Hunger Games
5. The Lorax
6. Mirror, Mirror
7. John Carter