Review of The Avengers

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Superheroes Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) must band together to protect the earth from an unexpected enemy in this 2012 action/sci-fi flick. Based on the Marvel Comics team of the same name. Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston and Scarlett Johansson also star.
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Movie Review: "The Avengers"

--Rating: PG13 (for fantasy violence and mild drug reference)
Length: 142 minutes
Release Date: May 4, 2012
Directed by: Joss Whedon
Genre: Action/Adventure, Sci-Fi

Ever since the first glimpses back in 2008, "The Incredible Hulk" and "Iron Man" fans have been both patiently and eagerly anticipating the cinematic union of several of Marvel's greatest franchises in "The Avengers." Well, the time has come, and the wait was well worth it. Starring all of the A-list actors who made the tributary films such great successes (except for Edward Norton from "The Incredible Hulk" who chose to opt out because of monetary disagreements), "The Avengers" has smashed world box-office records as if it were the Hulk. Make no mistake, this film completely deserves all of that and even more, because only one phrase can adequately describe it: completely and utterly epic.

The story is engaging from the very beginning as S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury arrives at one of the organization's facilities as the Tesseract-a powerful, mysterious energy source-activates and summons Loki from across the galaxy. Fury then begins recruiting the individual members of the Avengers to deal with the problem, introducing them to the dangers they face as well as each other. Loki is captured but subsequently escapes and summons the galaxy-conquering Chitauri to make war upon the world. The heroes are pushed to their limits as they try to stop the new threat but eventually overcome Loki and the aliens. The Hulk personally puts the beat-down on Loki as the rest of the team save New York. The story has plenty of substance, and it's pretty clear that decent writers were hired to script the film. The movie is gripping from beginning to end as you constantly root for Loki to be put in his place.

The action in the movie is also topnotch, though for a film starring some of the most famous superheroes of all time, that shouldn't have to be said. Each battle scene is exquisitely crafted, showcasing each hero's own strengths and weaknesses. Iron Man is agile and supports the team with his weaponry, including when he's forced to catch a nuclear missile in the air at the end and throw it through a portal into an alien world. The Hulk rips through the fight scenes just as you'd expect the Hulk to do, tossing the Chitauri around New York like they're insects. He even manages to defeat Loki in the finale, proving his strength (if there was any doubt). The rest of the cast get plenty of action time as well, making the battle scenes more than merely entertaining; they're enthralling. You feel as if you're there in the midst of all of the chaos and destruction, fighting alongside the rest of the Avengers and saving the world from utter annihilation. The only way it could have been better would have been to experience it in real life.

The characters themselves are another notable success of the film. Say whatever you want about the performances of the actors in the previous installments in the related franchises, but they all managed to pull it together very nicely for "The Avengers." Not surprisingly, Tony Stark gets many of the movie's best one-liners, causing more than a few laughs. The new Banner, played by Mark Ruffalo, more than makes up for Edward Norton's loss by being more timid and reserved, seemingly quite apologetic of his alter ego's destructive tendencies. Scarlett Johansson managed to make the Black Widow come off as much more interesting and endearing than she appeared in "Iron Man 2," and though Hawkeye didn't get a lot of screen time compared to the rest, his character was fleshed out just as fully as any other.

One of the film's few shortcomings was the dialogue. It wasn't bad by any means, but there were a couple of isolated instances in which things got a bit choppy. Occasionally, there was just a bit too much bickering between the characters, and, overall, the movie's tone was slightly too comical, which undermined the severity of the villains' goals and the nature of the world-destroying alien invasion. However, it wasn't all giggles, and it was certainly a better alternative than being too serious. Overall, the film managed to fly very high above expectations, and Joss Whedon has proven himself a very capable director. As shown after the credits, evil is far from finished with the Earth and its denizens. We can be very thankful for that, for as long as there's someone prepared to conquer the planet (and oodles of money to be made in the real world), the Avengers aren't finished.

Rating: 4 out of 5