If it's crap ... We'll tell you
I have really been looking forward to today. Today is the culmination of four years of work by Marvel Studios. Today, we get to see The Avengers. The Marvel Studios/Paramount Pictures production, rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference, stars Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, and Samuel L. Jackson. This movie has the potential to set the bar high for any other superhero movie franchise, but would it? Would it have the courage of its convictions, or would it sink faster than Daredevil? Only one way to find out.
The movie begins with the evacuation of a joint facility between NASA and S.H.I.E.L.D. to discover the power of the Tesseract (last seen in Captain America: The First Avenger). Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård, reprising his role from Thor) is working with S.H.I.E.L.D. to harness the power of the tesseract to provide unlimited power for the entire world. Meanwhile, Thor's brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) survived the events from Thor, and is working with a race called the Chitauri to exact his revenge. Back on Earth, the facility is being evacuated because the tesseract is active, and it's opening a door to the other side, allowing Loki to come through and reclaim the cube for the ultimate goal of universal domination. Loki dispatches the S.H.I.E.L.D. agents with ease, saving Dr. Selvig and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner) to aid in his escape. He does get away, despite the best efforts of Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), leading Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Natasha Romanoff, also known as Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to assemble Earth's most dysfunctional heroes: Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) in a last-ditch effort to save the world.
What did I like about this movie? Well, to be perfectly honest, I don't think I can narrow it down to one thing. The cast performed as admirably as to be expected, with Mark Ruffalo and (in my opinion) Cobie Smulders stealing the show. I was really impressed with Ruffalo, primarily because he portrayed Bruce Banner as a nebbish and feeble man, but Hulked out to be a menacing figure. It also didn't hurt matters that he actually performed as the Hulk by using some of the same motion capturing that Andy Serkis used to give life to King Kong, Smeagol, and Caesar. The score was fitting, and the scope was spectacular. I also liked the little touches they added in: Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) coming in for a bit, Thor checking on Jane Foster (Natalie Portman) via Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), Paul Bettany returning to give voice to the incredibly snarky artificial intelligence J.A.R.V.I.S., just tiny little touches helping to bridge the gaps between the movies.
Sadly, I have to mention what I didn't like about this movie, because there was something I didn't like. The low camera angles really bothered me. I would've been fine with a minimal amount of it, but it got to the point where it was really detracting. I appreciate the thought, but I really don't need to see up their noses as much as I did in the early going. Thankfully, this petered out as the movie went along.
The movie is directed by Joss Wheedon, and to call him a geek icon would be like calling fire hot; saying it alone doesn't do it justice. Wheedon - who also co-wrote the script - brings a love for the subject material the likes of which have never been seen before. The film has all of his trademark quirks and foibles, and the cast wears it like a suit of pride. Alan Silvestri did the score, and it was phenomenal. He didn't go over the top, and he didn't undetstate it; he pretty much hit it right on the nose.
So, in case you haven't figured it out yet, I really loved this movie. As much as I would like to say it was everything I was looking for, I'd be lying to myself. It exceeded my expectations, and it was a treat to see something comic book fans thought they'd never see: a true adaptation of Earth's Mightiest Heroes. It gave me everything I wanted and nothing too severe that I didn't, so I feel comfortable in saying this movie is Five Times More Epic Than Love Jones. Oh, and don't leave right away; there's something you need to see.
Trust me; there is no assembly required here.