Film Fan

Review: The Avengers

Summer’s first big blockbuster demands multiple Seattle Met geeks to review it.

May 4, 2012

It’s been four years and five movies in the making, but the comic book mash-up The Avengers is finally here this weekend. It’s a movie so big—so overstuffed with geeky goodness—we needed two people to review it.

Matthew Halverson (senior editor): Okay, I admit it, I’m a nerd and I’ve seen all of the Marvel movies that preceded The Avengers. I already had a good grasp on characters like Captain America, the Hulk, and Iron Man and didn’t have any trouble following Avengers’ fairly straightforward plot: Megalomaniacal Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) from Thor wants to take over Earth, and a handful of superheroes put their supersized egos aside to team up and stop him. But I can’t decide if that means director Joss Whedon’s job was easier, since a lot of the work was already done for him.

André Mora (design director): I hadn’t seen Thor —in fact, I’d only seen Iron Man—so Loki’s appearance at the very beginning of Avengers was a little confusing. But, like any adult male with long hair, perfect skin, and a hat with two long-ass horns, he’s suitably terrifying and worthy of being hunted down. As for Whedon (who also wrote the script), I think his job comes down to making the superheroes work as one—and he nails it. He revels in making the crew believe in each other. Maybe that’s why Samuel L. Jackson is a bit lifeless as the team’s leader, Nick Fury. He’s kind of useless.

MH: Only in a movie with this many big personalities could Sam “the human F-bomb” Jackson be boring. And speaking of that script, it’s what makes Avengers work. Sure, the scenes of mayhem and destruction are eye-popping, as Loki and his interdimensional army tear up Manhattan (not to mention a little squirm-inducing, even a decade after 9/11). But without the witty banter between cocky Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), earnest Captain America (Chris Evans) and regal Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the explosions would just be cheap Michael Bay ripoffs. What about Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner and the Hulk? Am I the only one who worried the indie icon would be out of his element in a big-budget CGI-fest?

AM: No, I wondered if he might be too good for this kind of blockbuster. But Ruffalo’s ability to bring quiet intensity to Banner before he hulks out makes him a perfect fit. And the Hulk, though mostly mute when green, is crucial to the action scenes. His size in relationship to the other Avengers—and buildings—makes the battles almost believable. The action has a certain choreography that takes it to another level. Maybe it’s a testament to how quickly visual effects are improving, but rather than clinging to closeups, Whedon backs up the camera and lets you take in the scale of the mayhem, where as many as four superheroes are fighting at once. It really brings the feel of a comic book’s page to the big screen.

MH: So we’re both down for the inevitable Avengers sequel?

AM: Yeah. Maybe by then I’ll have had a chance to watch Iron Man 2—and Thor 2 and Captain America 2

The Avengers opens nationwide May 4.

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