It’s a word that’s used far too often in this modern world. A true masterpiece is a rare thing of beauty — as it should be. Beethoven’s “Fifth Symphony.” Shakespeare’s “Hamlet.” The Who’s “Who’s Next.” Marvel’s “The Avengers.”
Am I overselling it? Maybe. But I’m not a judge. I don’t have to recuse myself from reviewing something because I’m too close to the subject matter. Ten-year-old me has waited 40 years for this movie and the 10-year-old inside me loved it.
Is “The Avengers” a perfect movie? No. Not enough Hawkeye. Some wonky plotting. It eventually ended. But director Joss Whedon gets so much right, the film’s weaknesses are irrelevant.
Bringing together threads from the five previous Marvel Studios movies, “The Avengers” opens with an alien race — the Chitauri — determined to invade Earth. Their ally is Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Norse god and brother to Thor (Chris Hemsworth), last seen falling into a hole in space at the end of last year’s “Thor.”
In order to attack our planet, Loki needs access to the Tesseract, a glowing blue cosmic cube that contains unlimited power and can open bridges across outer space. The Tesseract was previously in the possession of the Red Skull, who used it to power his advanced weaponry in World War II. Captain America (Chris Evans) stopped the Skull (for details see “Captain America: The First Avenger) and the Tesseract eventually made its way into the hands of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), commander of SHIELD.
When Loki steals the cube, Fury pulls together an elite team of Earth’s Mighteous Heroes — Thor, Captain America, Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), whose anger management problems mixed with gamma radiation turn him into the incredible Hulk — in order to stop Loki and push back alien invaders.
“The Avengers” has everything you’d want in a pre-summer superhero blockbuster — relentless action, humor, special effects, drama, fighting, explosions, humor, death, secret agendas, fun character interplay, more fighting — everything but romance. And who has time for love when aliens are invading Manhattan?
You know how I’m often complaining that movies run on too long? Not the case here, even though it clocks in at more than 2 hours. There’s so much going on and so many characters to follow that the time flies.
While he’s best known for television work, Whedon proved to be the right man for the job. And frankly, he’s been preparing for it for years — “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” were really superhero ensemble shows, just without costumes.
It’s a crowded cast but everyone gets their moments to shine. I was hoping the breakout star would be Renner’s Hawkeye, but the real scene stealer turned out to be not an actor, but the CGI Hulk. The two biggest laughs in the movie — the biggest laughs I’ve had from any movie in some time — are courtesy of the big green guy. Who knew that the ultimate loner actually works better as an ensemble player?
I could go on and on listing highlights but better you experience it for yourself. As is the rule for action pictures these days, it is being offered in 3D. It’s pretty good 3D if you want to spring for the extra cash, but it’s probably just as awesome in regular D.