The Avengers—movie review

Reviews
by Leonard Maltin
May 4, 2012 1:01 AM
27 Comments
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Zade Rosenthal © 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel.
If every summer blockbuster or comic-book movie were as good as Marvel’s The Avengers I’d greet the upcoming release slate with a lot more enthusiasm…but there aren’t many writer-directors as talented as Joss Whedon. Indeed, it’s the writing that sets this film apart from the crowd, in harmony with perfect casting, first-rate visual effects, and other key ingredients.

During the past few years, as we’ve been teased about this gathering of superheroes in the epilogues to Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Thor, andCaptain America, I’ve wondered how Whedon—or anyone—would deal with so many strong yet distinctive personalities in a single picture. The answer lies not only in the imaginative, superbly orchestrated script but in the baggage we bring to the theater. We’ve already met Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans as Captain America, seen Scarlett Johansson strut her stuff as Black Widow, and enjoyed Robert Downey, Jr. as snarky Tony Stark (aka Iron Man). Even Clark Gregg is by now a familiar presence as Agent Colson, not to mention the formidable Samuel L. Jackson as S.H.I.E.L.D. honcho Nick Fury.

Yet The Avengers is better than any of the films that led up to it, and I for one had no problem embracing newcomers Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner (The Hulk) or Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. The story, which Whedon conceived with Zak Penn, establishes territorial tension among these larger-than-life figures, presents them with a way to work out their problems, and unites them against a common enemy. As for the performances, it would seem that Downey set the bar high and inspired his colleagues to play at the same level. There’s no weak link here.

Zade Rosenthal © 2011 MVLFFLLC. TM & © 2011 Marvel.
That leads me to the next not-so-secret ingredient: a great villain. Tom Hiddleston chewed the scenery in the Shakespearean arena of Thor, as the hero’s maligned step-sibling, but here he’s allowed to be sly, sarcastic, and casually cruel. It’s a delicious performance.

Finally, Whedon has injected a welcome dose of humor to the proceedings. With a sure-footed sense of pacing, he has punctuated his screenplay with wonderfully funny dialogue. It’s the first superhero movie I can think of that has made me (and the audience around me) laugh out loud, repeatedly.

          We can only invest in an action movie if we relate to the characters and believe that something is at stake. Whedon gives us all of that and more, in a film that clocks in at well over two hours but never seems long.

I can’t say that 3-D made a big difference to my enjoyment of the film; there are moments where foreground pieces really stand out and show off the dimensionality of a shot, but I suspect the film and its spectacular special effects play just as well in 2-D. Content is king in this film, and it’s a marvel to behold.

Marvel's The Avengers is now available on Blu-ray, DVD and by digital download.

Marvel's The Avengers

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    Black Widow

    Marvel's The Avengers
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    Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D.

    Marvel's The Avengers
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    Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey, Jr.

    Marvel's The Avengers
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    Thor and Captain America mid-battle

    Marvel's The Avengers
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    Hawkeye, Black Widow

    Marvel's The Avengers

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27 Comments

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  • mike schlesinger | June 7, 2012 6:14 PMReply

    Wow, 25 comments and still not one mention of Cobie Smulders, who does an excellent job and proves she's capable of more than just being a straight (wo)man for the arrested-development cases on "How I Met Your Mother."

  • Patrick M. Gouin | June 6, 2012 12:54 PMReply

    Simple eye candy where all matters of CGI are displayed on film? Sure, it is. The difference this time is that there is a real story, albeit farfetched.
    This film has the distinction to bring together many Super-heroes that have graced the big screen in recent years to pool their resources and talents to save the World from a terrifying menace that would reduce humanity to nothing more than an ant hill.
    It’s the classic good vs. evil battle. Guess who wins? To its merit, the film underlines the character flaws of these larger than life beings. Can one be completely sane when omnipotent? The question had to be raised.
    Not my usual kind of film, but effective. It is noteworthy that Robert Downey Jr.’s usual amusing presence raises the quality of the whole.

  • Jeffrey | June 4, 2012 11:50 AMReply

    A real crowd-pleaser. This film has a rousing beginning, a somewhat protracted middle and an outstanding finish. Despite what Mr. Maltin has said, you do notice how long the film is. The good news: The story picks up so much in the climax that the film's length isn't a fatal flaw or even a significant one.

  • Norm | May 30, 2012 3:21 PMReply

    In the World of Super Heroes , they have to do something Super, and in the film "The Avengers" that is exactly what they are. Not easy making Super Heroes come off of the screen, Jack Kirby, Steve Ditko could expertly do it in Comic Book form, but a visual film, where storyline, dialogue, and pace demand a well crafted skill set, Josh Whedon and crew do it in Grand Scale !
    Combining the talents of Robert Downey jr, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, and Samuel L. Jackson that blend together like potatoes and gravy...
    Even though this is a psuedo -epic, comic book with adult themes that wildly stretch the imagination it is worth your time, and the 10 year old boys and up will love it ! As long as you have some background on the characters, otherwise you might find yourself looking in from the outside. I think Kirby , Ditko , Dick Ayers,Joe Sinnott,Don Heck would approve...All talented artists whose skills are legendary, just like the film "The Avengers." A Must See, IMO...

  • Frank DePaola | May 30, 2012 12:22 PMReply

    I'm an old fart, so my opinion should be taken with a grain of salt.
    But, The Avengers ranks as one of the worst movies I've ever seen in my life.
    I would have walked out on it, but for the fact that I went with three other people who seems to be enjoying it if only because it got favorable reviews.
    Are they really going to rate this movie with the likes of Raiders of the Lost Arc and Star Wars? I know I'm past my prime, but they've got to be kidding. Feel sorry for this generation of kids if this is what they feast on.

  • Rowdy Mia | May 27, 2012 1:52 PMReply

    Saw it in 3d!!! It was very entertaining. Funny aspects of Hulk were something new, but Robert Downey Jr. in the role of Iron man is at his best in the movie. Amazing, especially the final battle scene have clearly been staged with 3D in mind without trying to be more roller coaster than movie. You'll totally feel like you're in the thick of the action though

  • fred | May 26, 2012 5:51 AMReply

    Leonard i have to agree with you on this movie. Joss Whedon, the producers and the actors all came together to make one truly exceptional ensamble piece. Comic book films as we all know can be a hit or a miss, and this one is a grand slam in my opinion. "Spider-Man 2" was the best comic book film i had ever seen, but this tops it. "The Avengers" is just a brilliant film period. Do you know when your 2012 issue of Movie Crazy will be in stores?

  • Albert | May 21, 2012 2:01 PMReply

    The trouble is that many people who are not fans of this type of film will think that it's just another endlessly hyped superhero movie in which what really matters are the special effects.

  • online movies | May 20, 2012 7:00 AMReply

    i daerm alot that one day all my super heros in a movie and here we go my darem come ture go and watch it
    http://moviesiwanted.blogspot.com/

  • http://moviesiwanted.blogspot.com/ | May 15, 2012 6:52 AMReply

    very nice movie u must watch it

  • Jaden | May 10, 2012 1:39 PMReply

    Now this is a really good, I stress good movie. For the Marvel Heads out there...ball was dropped when Loki is using human transporation and is just not very Asgardian most times. Hawkeye was kind of an afterthought but Black Widow was done well. Johhn Storm as Captain America was doable...Hul and Iron Man owned the movie..completely.

  • Trevor | May 10, 2012 7:30 AMReply

    I can't agree more even if I wanted to as " The Avengers " in my opinion is the best darn super hero movie of all time....it's SO brilliant :)

  • Grandmaster | May 10, 2012 4:39 AMReply

    Thanks for the review. Please check out my review of the movie at http://meinfilmyhoonyaar.com

  • Pure Sophistry | May 8, 2012 10:20 PMReply

    Pure Sophistry give a more thorough, hero-by-hero review of "The Avengers." You've probably seen it already, so read the review and vote in the poll!
    http://www.puresophistry.com/2012/05/08/the-avengers-review/

  • Mikael | May 8, 2012 9:17 PMReply

    I saw the movie The Avengers on Friday May 04, 2012, it is simply awesome movie defiantly one of the best movies I saw this year. This movie is packed with superstars and the animation is superbly done. I am a huge science fiction buff so it was a thrill to see all the high quality animation. Should you see it? Absolutely but, if you are not in to science fiction and star wars you may not appreciate this move. I can't wait until it comes out on DVD.
    www.tigraionline.com

  • dqaf | May 8, 2012 10:44 AMReply

    love it

  • Alexia | May 8, 2012 12:16 AMReply

    I agree that Josh Whedon wrote and directed a slam-dunk with the Avengers. Its obvious with the specific superhero’s chosen for the film, as well as the casting. I’m also in total agreement that Marvel had a huge part in the success of this film, setting the stage with all their recent films. My friend and colleague who works the late shift with me at Dish, loves movies as much as I do. Once a week we get together for a movie night, which is always late, and a blast. For that reason, I subscribe to Blockbuster @Home so that we can stream our movies to my HDTV. He’s not seen The Avengers yet, so I’m looking forward to the DVD release so we can relax after a hard weeks work, and bask in the glory of our favorite genre.

  • AyetoZed | May 5, 2012 9:12 PMReply

    I went to see this last night with the wife, we are both in our early 40's and we have seen all of the lead up movies. We both thoroughly enjoyed the Avengers and it did not seem like we were in the Cinema for two hours +. The story was great, Joss Whedon is a Legend and ALL his Cast were awesome in their respective roles, congrats to you all. The movie was well paced and both the wife and I laughed out loud on numerous occasions.... the humour is well timed.

    on another point... I am looking forward to seeing the new Spiderman... especially since Tobey Maguire was dumped from the role... what a Dweeb. Hopefully the new guy can give the role some credibility and depth as Christian Bale has done for Batman.

  • NEGA SCOTT | May 5, 2012 10:25 AMReply

    I am simply going mad over seeing this movie! RELEASE THE KRAKEN!!!!!! :3 (derp)
    also, JOHNNY, I totally agree with what you just said. AVENGERS, ASSEMBLE! >< ( although im not a big fan of spiderman making more movies) spider man 1: Yah!!!! spiderman 2: woohoo!
    spiderman 3: ...really? spiderman 4: ok lol. STOP!!! there are also rumors of a fifth spiderman movie, but my brain simply cannot comprehend it.

  • johnny | May 4, 2012 7:32 PMReply

    I completely agree. It seemed every character was well thought out, had layers, interacted well, had moments to shine, had humor, and great star making hero iconic comic book memories for kids of all ages. It's a throw down to all comic book making movie companies: if you wish to blend characters, heck, if you wish to bring them to movies at all, step up. Don't get me wrong, the first two Superman movies were great, and while Burton did good with his batman, the new Batman's are fantastic. But Now DC needs to do a Justice League movie. This just wets the fanboy's dreams and hopes. I have had this vision since I was a boy. To see Superman fly, Spiderman swing, The Avengers assemble, the Justice League Unite and Batman to be real! I'm actually excited agian for these movies... and I'm freakin 40. That tells you something.

  • mike schlesinger | May 4, 2012 5:44 PMReply

    But seriously, how good can it be without Patrick MacNee and Diana Rigg?

  • Mike | May 12, 2012 6:48 PM

    I'm old enough to get that reference.. I enjoyed that avengers.. This one was awesome for this comic book loving kid reading them in the late 70s and 80s...

  • Norm | May 4, 2012 3:39 PMReply

    2-D /3 -D, will still wait the required 10 days before I can use my coupon..Hero or No Hero..the price of admission isn't .35 cents...Shazam...

  • daqf | May 8, 2012 10:47 AM

    wtf bitch

  • Brian Ruff | May 4, 2012 4:59 AMReply

    Thank you for the great appetizer of a review before going to see the movie myself!

  • Jerrold Reber | May 4, 2012 3:44 AMReply

    AMEN. Spot on. I think that Marvel has officially let DC know it can have giant universe of connected characters and have everything make sense, an issue DC is unlikely to face anytime in the near future.

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