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The Avengers

Genre: Action and Adventure, Science Fiction

Director: Joss Whedon

Cast: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård , Samuel L. Jackson

MPAA-Rating: PG-13

Release Date: May 4th 2012

The Avengers have finally arrived.

After a series of films that introduced many of the Marvel characters to moviegoers worldwide, the long-awaited blockbuster that brings the crew together is in theaters now. Featuring beloved comic book characters like Thor, Captain America, Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk, the new film brings the super-powered team together to battle Thor’s evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his alien army.

The movie begins where many of the other films end: with the individual heroes living their own separate lives but on the brink of coming together to form one unit.

Fate and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jacskon), the director of a secret agency known as SHIELD, eventually bring this disparate team of do-gooders together. Thor’s evil brother Loki is planning to use a cube of energy for his diabolical plan for world nomination and Fury is eager to stop him. As the story’s menacing monster, Loki speaks like a super-villain in waiting. “I am burdened with glorious purpose,” he says followed by “Freedom is life’s greatest lie.”

Fury knows that such a nemesis is more than just what one superhero can face so he recruits a team known as “The Avengers.” This alliance includes several characters who have previously been introduced in their own individual films. Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Downey Jr.) are here along with the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and newcomer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Also on the crew is The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) whose story was introduced in two previous films which featured different actors in the main role.

There’s a lot to enjoy about this new film, including the invaluable input of Joss Whedon. The Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator directed The Avengers and the screenplay with the help of Zak Penn(X-Men: The Last Stand) . For fans of Whedon’s work—he’s the creator behind Angel, Firefly and others– his touch is evident throughout the story. From witty one-liners to the great climactic action sequence, viewers will recognize Whedon’s strengths throughout the film’s nearly two and a half hour running time.

But The Avengers, despite its many positive attributes, never achieves greatness. Loki, for one, often feels like an unworthy opponent. This sour sibling simply seems to want revenge against his brother and despite some of his memorable never really stands out as a memorable opponent. He’s more fleshed-out here than he was in Thor but the character still leaves a bit to be desired despite a few great scenes showing him locked in capitivity.

Admittedly, The Avengers never offers a great plot or a strong story. The cube of energy at the center of the fighting leaves a lot to the imagination. What it does offer though will appease fans of summer films. Many of the action scenes are great and the main characters—especially Iron Man—are fun to watch.

Plus, there’s a sheer joy in seeing these Marvel characters join forces to defeat a bad guy. When the team stops destroying itself, they inevitably come together as one and the scene where they stand as one unit on the street almost gave me chills.

That’s more than I can say for most summer blockbusters but I did expect more from The Avengers. Despite a noble and noteworthy effort, this film never fulfills all of its potential and never achieves the status that superhero classics like The Dark Knight and Spider-Man 2 have already achieved.

Note: If you’re interested in the film, make sure you check out my friend Kevin McCarthy’s interviews with the cast and the director.

Review by: John Hanlon



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