Northeast Times

‘The Avengers’ is an ensemble masterpiece

Mar­vel’s ‘The Avengers’

Start­Frag­ment

The storyline of The Avengers ba­sic­ally boils down to a gi­gant­ic fight over a sparkly blue cube — and it’s one of the best su­per­hero movies in re­cent memory.

The movie is in good hands with writer/dir­ect­or (and com­ic-book fan) Joss Whe­don. All of the char­ac­ters get suf­fi­cient screen time. There are lots of spe­cial ef­fects (which look pretty good in 3-D) and plenty of loud, de­struct­ive battles. Let’s just say that by the end of the movie, New York City is leveled and is a dark, dusty mess.

Samuel L. Jack­son fi­nally has more than just a cameo in a Mar­vel com­ic movie; he ac­tu­ally has a le­git role this time around as Nick Fury, dir­ect­or of the in­ter­na­tion­al peace­keep­ing agency S.H.I.E.L.D.

When that afore­men­tioned sparkly blue cube, a.k.a. the mys­ter­i­ous, power-yield­ing Tesser­act, is stolen by the evil Loki (Tom Hid­dle­ston), Fury calls in as­sist­ance from a team he has dubbed the Avengers: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), The In­cred­ible Hulk (Mark Ruf­falo), Thor (Chris Hems­worth), Cap­tain Amer­ica (Chris Evans), Hawkeye (Jeremy Ren­ner) and Black Wid­ow (Scar­lett Jo­hans­son). You may re­call from the Thor movie last sum­mer that Loki is Thor’s ad­opt­ive broth­er, so they have quite a bit of his­tory.

It’s great fun watch­ing the Avengers as­semble. They aren’t all ex­actly best bud­dies from the get-go (it’s par­tic­u­larly amus­ing to watch Iron Man and Thor duke it out), but they even­tu­ally come to­geth­er for the great­er good — to pro­tect hu­man­ity.

The su­premely likable Downey Jr. prob­ably gets the most screen time and funny lines. His gal Pep­per Potts (Gwyneth Pal­trow) makes a (thank­fully) brief ap­pear­ance at the be­gin­ning.

Ruf­falo (new to the Mar­vel uni­verse; the Hulk was played by Ed­ward Norton in 2008 and Eric Bana in 2003) got the most cheers in my screen­ing audi­ence when he trans­formed from the mild-manned Dr. Bruce Ban­ner to the angry Hulk, heap­ing gobs of de­struc­tion on everything he touched. The Hulk was def­in­itely a scene-steal­er every time he was on screen.

Thor and Cap­tain Amer­ica (the less­er-known su­per­her­oes) aren’t nearly as pop­u­lar as Iron Man and the Hulk, but they had plenty of ac­tion scenes to make their marks. Hawkeye (a.k.a. agent Clint Bar­ton) spends a bit of time play­ing for the oth­er team. Get your mind out of the gut­ter! Loki kid­naps him along with Pro­fess­or Erik Selvig (Stel­lan Skarsgard, who had a sup­port­ing role in Thor) to ob­tain in­tel on the Tesser­act. The Black Wid­ow (a.k.a. agent Nata­sha Ro­man­off) doesn’t have any real su­per­powers, but she does have the abil­ity to kick butt while wear­ing a tight black jump­suit.

I was def­in­itely feel­ing some su­per­hero-movie burnout as of last sum­mer, but it has been lif­ted thanks to The Avengers. It kicks off the sum­mer movie sea­son, and I doubt there will be a more ac­tion-packed, crowd-pleas­ing movie this sum­mer — OK, hope­fully The Dark Knight Rises will be right up there with it.

The com­bin­a­tion of its simple story, witty one-liners, abund­ance of ac­tion and likable su­per­her­oes makes The Avengers the movie to see this sum­mer. ••

Movie Grade: A

You can reach at shorbrook@bsmphilly.com.

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