Reviewed Jul 20, 2012
Monster Zero’s review:
100% popcorn entertainment as delivered by a cadre of actors on top form and a co-writer/director who can do no wrong in the eyes of his fans (and hopefully now the mainstream at last).
As a lifelong Whedon fanboy but a relative newcomer to the Avengers before Marvel's current movie franchise leviathan, 'The Avengers' represents the culmination of a five-movie plan by Marvel Studios, bringing together Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk and a slew of plot points and secondary characters across the other movies into one galactic smackdown.
To make full sense of the complex plot, it does help to have watched the other movies, but to summarise - Thor's evil half-brother Loki (both Norse gods, or in this case powerful beings from another world) strikes a deal with an alien race, the Chitauri (not Cheetara. That was Thundercats) - in return for getting hold of the Tesseract, a wee glowy box of Unimaginable Power And Shit, Loki gets an alien army to subjugate the planet. Director of SHIELD and Baddest Motherfucker In The Room Samuel L. Nick Fury Windu uses this as the excuse he needs to finally recruit the all-star cast of heroes he's been trying to unite for several movies now.
Whedon rattles through the opening gambit to establish Loki and the stakes should he succeed, brings in the would-be Avengers through some neat vignettes that expertly summarise them all (Black Widow's being particularly fun), before a brief smackdown with Loki gets Thor in the gang and a jolly boys' outing onboard the SHIELD Helicarrier.
Zak Penn's co-authored script and Whedon's directorial flair help the disparate characters bounce off each other, tossing in plenty of funny (one-liners, sight gags, the 'That man is playing Galaga!' riff) to keep the tone relatively light, but when Loki's mind-controlled goons sabotage the carrier and set off a Hulk rampage, things start to get even more interesting.
Building the team up then taking them apart means we have to rebuild them once more, with Loki's allies starting a full-scale alien invasion over NYC that brings the Avengers back together in time to save the day.
It's in this siege for the Big Apple that the beauty of the summer blockbuster gets abused to its maximum potential - sweeping, frantic shots flowing through multiple points of action and mayhem keep every member of the ensemble engaged, with Hulk stealing the show on several occasions, and Tony Stark somehow managing NOT to overpower the other personalities. One glorious flowing shot picks up each of the heroes as it pulses through the chaos and is the stuff of legend and balladry.
Rare moments of calm come within this, a death or two to tug at the emotions and enough humour to keep this as a tentpole movie for all the family rather than the intense emotional piledriver of the Nolan Batman movies. Cameos from Alexis Denisof and Enver Gjokaj keep the Whedon Family spirit going, and with plenty of untapped potential for future movies there's lots to love about this. Quite possibly the most perfect summer movie for years.