Film Foray Cavalcade no. Cincuenta y Tres: The Avengers
I suppose that I should begin by pointing out the obvious. I am slightly late to the game on reviewing this film. Granted, if you saw the first trailers from this film and the stories about the film's post-production, you would have been apprehensive about the film as well. Couple the fact that Lady Funkowitz wanted to watch The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America and it is a small wonder that it took a couple weeks to work this film in. Thankfully, we did not screen Iron Man II or all of the momentum for this film would be lost. I would like to say that I was excited by the involvement of Joss Whedon in this project but I was only in the seat because of Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Mark Ruffalo and the cinematic return of The Hulk. The devil take the rest of the cogs.
For the few remaining people who have not seen this film, The Avengers are a collection of superheros comprised by the most popular Marvel superheros that are not named Spiderman, Wolverine or Mr. Fantastic. In the cinematic universe, this team operates on behalf of the humanity (Cough Cough, covert American intelligence agency ran by Powers Booth) to protect mankind from any kind of threat that cannot be defeated by throwing a nuclear missile at it. This means an armed galactic force under the command of the Norse demigod and trickster, Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Needless to say, without the foresight of one, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), you would be bending the knee.
Now, that you have an over-simplification of the plot (which was relatively spoiler free) and we can get to the proverbial meat. The Avengers is the best thing that Marvel (and its corporate parent, Walt Disney Pictures) has released. Now, this statement has little in the realm of cachet since practically every film is an improvement over its predecessor (Although, both Thor and Cap improved on repeat viewing, whereas Iron Man decreases in quality but I digress). This film also suffers from the same criticism that has been made about any other film based on a Marvel property, it makes little effort to break new ground (cinematic technique, story or characterization) and the overall feel of the film is too clean. This might come across as a heavy handed or vicious attack on the film (I have literally made this same comment since the first Spiderman film) but it is a small complaint of an otherwise enjoyable jaunt to the local cinema.
Honestly, The Avengers was a pleasant surprise as the marketing campaign failed in creating any sort of excitement for yours truly. I honestly thought that it was going to be a cinematic mess. Much of this credit belongs to Tom Hiddleston whose performance made Loki mulch-dimensional when compared to the gaggle of boy scouts trading one-liners. In many ways, my affinity for the world of Marvel Comics (whether it be the films or the comics themselves) has dulled with age (sorry... Hulk old chum) and DC appeals to my more grown up side (yes, I know that I am referring to comic books)... In spite of that, The Avengers was a means to re-connect with characters that I had enjoyed so much as a kid, which was something that I had not expected to experience when I entered the theater.
Mark Ruffalo really nailed Bruce Banner. As I mentioned earlier, I like the Norton version of the character but I think I would rather see Ruffalo in the big Green One's next cinematic foray.
Finally, I thought Natalie Portman was bad in Thor but Cobie Smulders is far worse (I really thought this was impossible. I would say don't quit your day job but you are one of the bad parts of How I met Your Mother.