I won’t share the unspeakable acts that had to be committed, but hands were shaken, a deal was struck, and I was off to see the Avengers in IMAX 3D. Unfortunately several hundred other people were also off to see the Avengers in IMAX 3D and they didn’t have to trouble themselves with unspeakable acts, handshakes, and deal making before heading out to the theater. The IMAX show was sold out all day by the time I got to the front of the line so I had to settle for 3D on a plain ole movie screen. Let’s just recap by saying it was AWESOME.
I can’t tell a lie, I’m an Avengers fan from waaay back. I didn’t read comics as a kid but once I got old enough to make my own spending money I started occasionally picking them up, and Avengers was at the top of my list every month. The interplay between the huge personalities of the superheros has always been a big draw for me. The team essentially has the physical embodiment of science (Ironman), rage (Hulk), duty and sacrifice (Captain America), and mysticism (Thor). They couldn’t be more different if it were designed that way. (Okay, so they were probably designed that way, forget I said that last part.)
Christopher Nolan’s Batman movies are excellent, but they wear their ‘not just a super hero movie’ anxiety on their metaphorical sleeves. Avengers is a straight up summer blockbuster action movie, with no attempts at anything else. Jamming all those big personalities in means the unifying plot and backstory are wispy at best, but I get the impression this was done intentionally so the hero characters have more time to bounce off each other. The characters are well written and true to the nature of their comic origins, so the writer’s decision paid off. I was prepared to not like the movie based on the ever so thin plot it in the beginning, but it wasn’t much of a problem once the characters all got in a room together. The main draw of the Avengers has always been how the powerful personalities conflict and complement each other.
I may need to backpedal a bit on the ‘straight up summer blockbuster action movie’ just a little bit. The action and aliens were mixed with just a dash of comedy. Robert Downey as Tony Stark was the obvious source, but his quips went from witty to grating mighty quickly. Just when I was starting to cringe every time Downey opened his mouth I realized he was meant to be annoying, and once again true to the character. Ironman has always been at his best as a contrast to the stodgy by nature Captain America. They make for a fun odd couple pairing and I’ve always felt like they should team up more often.
While Downey is the obvious comedic relief, the role of team clown is really stolen by the CGI Hulk, and his human counterpart played by Mark Ruffalo. I had my doubts about Ruffalo’s casting when it was first announced, but consider them withdrawn. He plays Bruce Banner as a mellow surfer genius which seems logical for a guy who turns into a giant green ball of destruction if he gets angry. I’m pretty sure I missed some subtext in the scene where Banner admits he’s actually always angry. Everyone is upstaged by the CGI Hulk in two hilarious scenes. The first is merely chuckle worthy, but the second had everyone in the theater with me laughing.
The climactic battle involves destruction of a large swathe of Manhattan during a battle between the Avengers and some alien invaders. (An event that occurred about every 3-4 issues in the comics.) The CGI was impressive throughout, and this was the only time the 3D actually come in handy. There was a lot of zipping around on floating chariot platforms that showed up well in the 3D, but up until the battle sequence I could have really done without the glasses.
I recommend it for anyone interested in action movies. I don’t think you need to see the previous solo movies the characters have all been in, but it would probably help. It never stops running but it has just the right mixture of action and character to keep everyone interested. Don’t bring your little kids though. No matter how much they love their superhero figurines there are going to be some scenes that are a little bit scary.