Much was promised. Much was expected. And much was delivered. The Avengers brought it all to the silver screen – action, adventure, intrigue, even a little trip down Psych 101 for our viewing pleasure. This blockbuster, which took $220 million to make, was an ambitious undertaking on multiple fronts, putting together a cast of giants like Robert Downey, Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L Jackson, and Gwyneth Paltrow, and weaving together the story lines from the five lead-in films of Captain America, Iron Man 1 and 2, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk. The latest of this Marvel Comics franchise had to stay true to the fanboys or risk their blog-filling wrath, while keeping the attention of the uninitiated — a task only a true movie hero could potentially accomplish, for many have tried, and most have fallen short.
Joss Whedon is that hero. Whedon, creator of the sci-fi/fantasy hit Buffy the Vampire Slayer and its spinoff Angel, is the screenwriter and director of this tour de force and is able to juggle the egos, expectations, and explosions with the same ease with which Thor wields his mystical hammer.
Our main characters, Iron Man (Downey), Black Widow (Johansson), Captain America (Chris Evans), and Dr. Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Ruffalo), are summoned together by Nick Fury (Jackson) of S.H.I.E.L.D. to chase after an indestructible energy device which originated from the other-worldly kingdom of Asgard and had once been used by Captain America’s nemesis, The Red Skull. Thor’s banished brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), uses the device to bring hordes of alien creatures to conquer Earth. Our mighty heroes are the only thing capable of getting in their way. Thor (Hemsworth) joins from the heavens, and the battle rages over (where else?) New York City.
One of the many aspects of the movie that I like is the very well incorporated CGI effects. The Hulk actually looks like Banner, and the invading cyborg minions aren’t just epileptic-inducing flashes of metal and noise a la Transformers. You can actually tell what they are, and bask in their enormity.
I also enjoyed how well the psychological profiles are developed to help advance the plot. Stark’s narcissistic genius, Thor’s patronizing godliness, Banner’s anger issues, Black Widow’s secret demons, and Captain America’s old fashioned goody-two-shoes-ness (not a technical psych term, I know) come into conflict with each other in fantastic form. Add to this powder keg some mind control induced double crossing and you’ve got a never ending supply of popcorn-munchable battles of brains and brawn.
The psychological and physical battles are punctuated by snappy repartee and surprisingly well-timed slapstick provided by incredibly intelligent writing and superb delivery from the actors. Wit is in abundance here and has the stamp of Whedon’s alma mater, Wesleyan University (mine as well, full disclosure) all over it.
So, Family — Assemble! This one is good for the whole gang, though there are some violent scenes and Hulk-induced smashing which may scare the tiny ones. There are very few times in Hollywood where such a big build up has had such a huge payoff. This feat can only deserve my highest rating yet.
Your Daddy Time – Worth it or Wasted? — WORTH IT!!! 5 out of 5 Stars
The Worth It/Wasted Rating System is for dads who need to know one thing- Is this movie WORTH IT to:
* Pack up the kids, bags, etc and trek to the theater – or
* Find a babysitter so Dad can have a date night – or
* Cash in brownie points with the Mrs. so he can go with his buddies
If it doesn’t fit these simple criteria, the movie gets the WASTED rating, which means – don’t waste the precious time you have, wait for video/cable when you can squeeze it between chores, work and sleep.