Sunday, May 06, 2012

Review: The Avengers

Even with all the star power and momentum in the world, the long-masterplanned centerpiece of the Marvel movieverse could have easily ended up a bloated failure.

The poor special effects for Hulk alone -- which producers seemed to think was OK for the past two movies in that series -- could have torpedoed all his scenes, if not the entire movie. There was no guarantee that Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner, Chris Helmsworth and Scarlett Johansson could generate any workable chemistry. And the sight of the garishly-costumed heroes together could have been giggle-inducing rather than awe-inspiring.

Instead, the movie is just about perfect, at least as far as popcorn-chomping trifles go. While it infuriates me that some are dismissing Christopher Nolan's far superior work with Batman by calling The Avengers the best superhero movie ever made, I can't hate on The Aventures because it's such a rib-rattling explosion of entertainment, feeling almost too short at 143 minutes.

The film flows with the momentum of a comic book composed of full-page bleed impact-moment illustrations. Samuel L. Jackson serves as a strong point guard in this all-star game, setting up the myriad stars for easy, yet nonetheless thrilling, windmill dunks.

I caught the movie in LIEMAX 3D -- the half-hearted converted-theater "IMAX" instead of the true, wall-to-wall, giant-screeen wonder -- and appreciated the way the third dimension added depth without feeling the need to throw things in your face every five seconds.

The movie is something of a cinematic coming-out party for Joss Whedon, a TV god whose only theatrical credit was Serenity (2005), an adaptation/remake of his cult-favorite TV show Firefly. Consider Whedon a conqueror of another medium, and hope he follows through by directing the telegraphed sequel.

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