Synopsis: Set in the Depression-era Franklin County, Virginia, a bootlegging gang is threatened by authorities who want a cut of their profits.
Release Date: August 31, 2012
Thoughts: Curse you Shia LeBeouf…why’d ya have to go and show your mug in this otherwise interesting trailer? You’re lucky that you’re surrounded by an intriguing cast, talented director, and challenging screenwriter. Director John Hillcoat and singer/screenwriter Nick Cave teamed up before for the excellent western The Proposition (have you seen it? If you appreciate revisionist Westerns you need to check it out) so their pairing here is an exciting bit of news. The Western has a basic formula that Hillcoat and Cave delight in re-arranging so you can expect a lot of violence and surprises to this picture. The only question will be if movie audiences will be ready for a movie with brains in August after a summer of stupid. We shall see.
Synopsis: Nick Fury of S.H.I.E.L.D. brings together a team of super humans to form The Avengers to help save the Earth from Loki and his army.
Stars: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner
Director: Joss Whedon
Running Length: 142 minutes
Random Crew Highlight: Gangboss ~ Richard Crain
TMMM Score: (9.5/10)
Review: With so many movies to see this summer I have to admit that The Avengers wasn’t high on my radar for rabid Must See status. I knew that based on the cast, history, and behind the scenes players that it was absolutely going to be an important kick off to the summer movie season…but I wasn’t prepared for a movie that transcends its own genre and establishes itself as one of the best superhero movies to grace the silver screen. Is it the “Best Movie Ever!” as I’ve seen several people proclaim on Facebook…well, no. Is it one of the better comic-to-movie adaptations to come along….yes. Will you be entertained even if you aren’t well versed in the Marvel Comic world of The Avengers…absolutely.
What makes The Avengers work so well is that they started with a great script by director Joss Whedon. Building on that strong script, a strong cast was assembled. Most of the cast has had time to explore their characters in their own summer blockbusters – Downey Jr. in the two Iron Mans, Hemsworth in Thor, and Evans in Captain America: The First Avenger. Renner’s Hawkeye had a uncredited cameo in Thor and Black Widown Johanssen joined up for Iron Man 2. Only Ruffalo is the newbie of the group…and he winds up nearly stealing the show (well, the Hulk does the smashing/stealing but more on that later). So with that great script and great cast all the behind the scenes people needed to do was make a great movie. And that they did.
It’s an amazing feat to have all these players from previous movies in place and deliver a movie that doesn’t feel like a sequel or origin story. This is a full bodied, well conceived thrill ride that has more than enough moments for each star to shine. Whedon is smart enough to know what audiences want to see and he delivers again and again with each development and danger our Avengers face. Whether it’s a large action sequence or quiet conversation there is never a dull moment in the perfectly paced story.
Plot wise, it may be a little thin if I’m being totally honest. After all, aliens wanting to destroy earth are nothing new and will be played out in several movies opening this summer. The Avengers makes the movie more about our heroes and heroines than it does about huge explosions and effects…a smart move.
Speaking of explosions and effects, there is no shortage of these in this here movie and all are executed to near perfection. It’s hard to see what Whedon and company have created here and not shake your finger at Michael Bay’s brain-dead Transformers series for selling us a bad bill of goods. The Avengers is better than all three Transformers movies and any of the other similarly themed event movies of the last decade. It makes them all look like bargain basement SyFy Channel wannabees.
Whedon works well with all of the actors in his tether and doesn’t restrain himself when letting the ones with bigger personalities hijack their own special moments. Downey Jr. has Tony Stark/Iron Man down pat and still managers to give him a few interesting wrinkles, further breathing life into a role that could easily be off-putting. Hemsworth works best as a supporting hero and fares better than he did in last summer’s underwhelming Thor. I personally found Captain America: The First Avenger to be the best of all the Marvel adaptations and Evans establishes the Captain as a true-blue American hero that just so happens to walk tall and carry a big shield. Renner and Johanassen haven’t had their own movies to explore their characters but I would be on board with pairing them in their own adventure when the time is right. Jackson and Gregg have been the constant in all of the previous films and they move easily into the spotlight as supporting players rather than end of the credit cameos.
The best thing that happened with The Avengers was replacing Ed Norton with Mark Ruffalo. Norton was an ill-advised choice to play Bruce Banner/Hulk in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk and he was thankfully given his walking papers for this outing. Ruffalo finally gives us the perfect Dr. Banner as a man more concerned with peace than anger. His conflict is relatable and tangible because of his layered performance. When the Hulk does appear, the effects team makes him wholly realistic and Whedon graces him with several of the more crowd pleasing moments.
That’s what this movie is…a genuine crowd pleaser… a movie that you can’t help spontaneously cheering for or reacting to because it draws you in so well. It’s more than just a comic book movie…it’s a honest-to-goodness superhero movie that Hollywood had simply forgotten how to make. Whedon has showed us all that it is possible to make a movie with multiple people to root for with one sequence near the end managing to capture each Avenger in action with one incredible tracking shot. With its huge opening numbers and critical praise expect this to be the first of many Avengers films…and deservedly so.