“The Avengers” hits theaters this weekend, marking the official start of Hollywood’s summer movie season. This lovingly crafted superhero movie should kick the summer off with a high profile bang, giving both general audiences and hyper-critical comic book fan boys plenty of legitimate reasons to cheer.
Based on characters from some of the hottest movies of the past few years, this is the story of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) gathering together the earth’s most-powerful superheroes so that they can protect humanity from the Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston). That means that Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) is now fighting alongside Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and none other than the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo).
Much of the film deals with the clash of egos between these characters, and it’s a lot of fun to watch them fight among themselves as they mark their territory within the group. Director Joss Whedon wisely gives each of the characters a time to shine before forcing them all together for the final battle sequence. That means that “The Avengers” features a surprising amount of humor and genuine character development at the beginning of the film, with rousing action and special effects scenes peppered throughout — including one all-out battle sequence that takes nearly an hour to fight. What more could you want from a summer popcorn movie?
Much of the credit goes to Whedon, who is obviously a huge fan of these characters, but also adept at drawing the audience into his stories. Under his assured direction “The Avengers” is a thrilling adventure, but also a solid piece of moviemaking. This is a film that manages to weave together all these iconic comic book characters, gives them intelligent dialogue and well-defined character motivations. Granted, it takes nearly two and a half hours to pull this off, but the film mostly moves at such a quick pace that you won’t be checking your watch.
Summer movies are frequently thrilling, but also generally too shallow and silly to be considered as great (or even good) movies. Superhero movies are frequently either too campy to be believable or too reverential to appeal to anyone other than the character’s most devoted fans. Whedon and his cast walk the perfect line between these two potential stylistic pitfalls. “The Avengers is not only a superb example of Hollywood filmmaking at its best, but it also does the near-impossible in that it finally presents a version of the Hulk that comic book fan boys can embrace.
If “The Avengers” is any indication, I’m thrilled to report that it looks like we’re in for a great summer movie season.
Movie reviews by Sean, “The Movie Guy,” are published bi-weekly in “The Port Arthur News” and seen weekly on KFDM-TV and KBOI 2-TV. Sean welcomes your comments via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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