Director: JOSS EFFING WHEDON!
Sometimes there’s too much going for something and it can only serve to disappoint. For instance, I love the Marvel superhero movies. I loved Iron Man and Captain America. I liked Iron Man 2 and (I’m in the minority on this) I really liked Thor. Also I love Joss Whedon. This is no surprise to readers of this blog. Heck, it’s in our subject line up there. I loved Buffy the Vampire Slayer (movie and TV show), Firefly, Angel, Dr. Horrible, and I even liked Dollhouse. Combine my love for Joss with Marvel and The Avengers should have been a perfect storm of love. It’s situations like these that test one’s expectations. Rarely are expectations met. They can be exceeded or they can be... Eh, screw it…
I freaking loved this movie.
Sure, I’m coming at this with huge bias but Joss rarely lets me down. The man has a knack for humor, action, and drama (without the melo). He’s a talented director and an even more talented writer. Plus he surrounds himself with other super-talented people. So he’s smart too. The other reason I knew Joss could handle this movie, with all these big characters and egos, is that the man can do ensemble like no one else. Buffy fans can attest to this. Ancillary characters (don’t hit me but they’re not the original Scoobies) like Anya, Tara, and even the abominable Dawn were perfectly fleshed out. And the fact that Joss is more of a pop culture junkie than I am (it’s true, I’m nothing compared to his encyclopedic knowledge of all things pop culture) endears him to me like nothing else.
The writing: it’s a good story and had a good plot; there’s gravity to what they were doing; and lots of humor (mostly physical but some great lines). Everyone served their purpose well. The point of Thor being there to reach out to his brother was just right. Cappy stepping up into a leadership role but knowing when to provide support to the ego-maniacal (but rightly so) Tony Stark was perfect. Speaking of Tony, he really does get the best lines but you have to be paying attention. Dude even threw out a Lord of the Rings reference. Did you catch it? I laughed out loud and next to me, a 12 year-old girl stared at me in confusion. Sorry, kid but there are some jokes you’re just not going to get. A lot of the humor whizzed by so I’m sure I’ll catch more of it when I see it again. And again. And maybe again. How many times can one see a movie before it gets weird and stalkery? There haven't been many movies that I’ve wanted to marry but this was one of them.
The directing: I mean, what else can I say? The camera work was great and even though it moved a lot, it made sense. The pacing was perfect. Assembling the team took its time and the action after was just right. The explosions were big, the effects were great, and the acting was solid. Speaking of…
The cast: As mentioned, Joss knows how to work with a big group. You can have an ensemble film but typically there are a few characters/actors who will rise to the top leaving the rest to support them. One could argue that Tony Stark/RDJ had a lot of the focus in this film but if that’s true it’s only by a little. Everyone did a great job. Somehow Samuel L. Jackson seemed reigned in. That’s not an easy feat. Jackson's Nick Fury needed to be the calm director of the crazy train and he did just that without being too, well, Sam Jackson-y about it.
I’m not the biggest Mark Ruffalo fan and I have a strange loyalty to Edward Norton so I was a little miffed at the casting change. This is inexplicable because I didn’t even like The Incredible Hulk but I do have a weakness for Norton. Yes, I know he can be a dick. I don’t care. But Mark did a great job and I see why Joss went with him. He has the fragility needed for a character like Bruce Banner. Plus I gotta say… this was the best looking Hulk yet. I love when cg characters work so well.
This was our chance to get to know some of the (film franchise’s) newer and lesser known characters. For example we got to know Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye a bit more and the film served as a decent introduction. There’s more to explore with him but the dude will be getting his own movie. He better. Along with Hawkeye we got a lot more of Black Widow. For me this was a make-or-break part of the movie. I don’t love ScarJo. I have loved some of her roles (Lost in Translation) but I don’t care much for her. I didn’t hate her in this. In fact I enjoyed her quite a bit. She kicked ass. Also impressive was the only other female involved (I don’t count Gwyneth. Ever.), SHIELD’s Agent Hill played by Cobie “Robin Sparkles”Smulders. I was paying close attention to Ms. Smulders because this is her big chance to leap from the small screen. I think she totally held her own in a room full of big names.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Tom Hiddleston (love him so very much) as Loki, and Chris Evans as Captain America all did fantastic jobs. Whedon gave a nod to their respective films and then expanded beyond a bit. I think this is something a director with TV experience knows how to do. You need to be able to work within the cannon and not change things too much but still be able to push forward.
Ok, I could ramble on forever. I really am going to see it a few more times. I want to see it on an IMAX screen and it just so happens that one of my local theaters is showing it in 3D on their IMAX screen. Well there goes a week’s pay but it’ll be worth it.
Tracy saw The Avengers this weekend. I'm gonna read her review at Examiner.com right now and so should you.