The Avengers

Currently playing around the country is a small-budget indie film called ‘The Avengers’. With a measly budget of only $220 million, I’m hoping this review will work its magic and create the word of mouth necessary to get audiences in the theatres to see this modestly scaled picture. Ah, I kid! Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and The Hulk all in one film! It’s a comic book lover’s wet dream!

‘The Avengers’, directed by Joss Whedon, is one of the best comic book blockbusters ever made, and is my favorite film of 2012 so far. It has a very good sense of humor about itself, and acknowledges the goofiness and giddiness of having all these superheroes together in the same room without disrespecting the fans of this source material. Robert Downey Jr. is terrific again as the brilliant, self-centered Tony Stark (a.k.a Iron Man), and he delivers most of the film’s memorable comedic lines. But, my personal favorite hero here is Steve Rogers (or Captain America) played by Chris Evans. He has the underdog attributes, and there is a sweetness and innocence in his character that makes him stand out, at least to yours truly. Mark Ruffalo’s self-deprecating spin on the Bruce Banner character is far more effective than the Eric Bana and Edward Norton versions. The other players – Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, are all effective, and no one gets lost in the shuffle – there’s enough screen time for each of them.

 Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s brother, has severe sibling rivalry issues. Like every major villain in a superhero film, Loki wants to take over the world, and he plans on doing this by using a cube-shaped futuristic energy device to unleash his powerful army on Earth. Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) assembles this group of superheroes to try to stop Loki, but they spend almost as much time battling each other as they do focusing on their enemy. I saw ‘The Avengers’ in 2-D and refused to pay the surcharge for a potentially inferior viewing experience, so I can’t comment on the effectiveness of the added dimension. But, I can state that ‘The Avengers’ is everything a summer blockbuster should be. The special effects are first-rate, the action sequences are amazing, the characters underneath these ridiculous costumers are very well-developed, the writing is spectacular, there are more laughs delivered by this film than any full-scale comedy I’ve seen all year, and everyone in this exceptionally talented cast is operating at the top of their game. This is the first summer release of 2012, and has already set the bar very high. A rare example of a film that fulfills its hype, ‘The Avengers’ earns my highest recommendation.

– Jerry Nadarajah

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