“The Avengers” (2012)

[http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0848228/]

The sum­mer’s biggest movie so far, and like­ly the biggest of the whole sum­mer, is Mar­vel’s “The Avengers”. Direct­ed and script­ed by Joss Wheton, it has all the action any­one would want in a movie as well as the humor, the char­ac­ters, even the pathos.

And, it even has mind con­trol. NOTE: Spoil­ers Ahead! You Have Been Warned!

Descrip­tion: When Loki returns to Earth via the pow­er of the Tesser­act, he is bear­ing the “Scepter of Plot Con­trivance” which gives him the pow­er of mind con­trol, by remov­ing the free will of its vic­tims. Hawk­eye and two sci­en­tists fall under his sway and work for him through­out most of the film. Hawk­eye takes a good shot to the head that brings him out of Lok­i’s con­trol. For­tu­nate­ly the good guys are able to hold off the alien inva­sion ini­ti­at­ed by Loki long enough for a final solu­tion to the prob­lem to be sent.

Com­men­tary: This is prob­a­bly the best comics movie I’ve seen in a long time. (So say a lot of oth­er peo­ple.) It beats out all of the pre­vi­ous Mar­vel movies and builds on (and improves upon) the movies of the past few years that all pre­saged this movie. I would have to go back to the orig­i­nal “Super­man” for a com­par­i­son, and even that pales in comparison.

And how does this accom­plish this? How did “The Avengers” escape the medi­oc­rity trap that affect­ed such recent films as “Green Lantern”? For one thing, the qual­i­ty of the com­pe­ti­tion was equal to the heroes. By the end of the film, Loki man­aged to make him­self an equal foe to all of the Avengers singly, and the alien foes were a match for the team’s assem­bled might. But before then, they were all against each oth­er (some of which was Lok­i’s doing, I’m sure) and there­fore they all were antag­o­nists before they were allies. For anoth­er, it was fun­ny: the num­ber of great lines (or non-lines, as when Steve Rogers just hands Fury a $10) in the movie was greater than sev­er­al of the past super­hero movies put together.  And the lines come nat­u­ral­ly to the char­ac­ters: it shows a great under­stand­ing of the nature of the char­ac­ters that comes from a gift­ed and expe­ri­enced writer like Joss Whedon.

But what brings this to the top are the actors. Every­body is spot on, from the major stars all the way down to the lit­tle peo­ple. Tom Hid­dle­ston as Loki is one of the best cast­ing deci­sions of the year (or before, as he played the same char­ac­ter with­out the same charm in “Thor”, but he real­ly shines here.) And despite their vary­ing lev­els of pow­er and abil­i­ty, each of the Avengers have their own face time and demon­strate exact­ly why they are a pos­i­tive mem­ber of the team: Black Wid­ow’s scene inter­ro­gat­ing Loki is a mas­ter­piece, and Lok­i’s teeth-gnash­ing at the end when he real­ized he’s been played is great; Hawk­eye launch­ing arrows look­ing in the oppo­site direc­tion, then sur­pris­ing Loki with an explod­ing arrow; the recog­ni­tion that Bruce Ban­ner was just as impor­tant to the team, and his ‘part­ner­ship’ with the Hulk was nev­er bet­ter real­ized; Cap­tain Amer­i­ca tak­ing com­mand the way a mil­i­tary leader should in a cri­sis; Thor, the moment he reached for his ham­mer and hes­i­tat­ed, paus­ing a moment to won­der whether he was still wor­thy to wield it; and Robert Downey Jr. who almost steals the show and has the most char­ac­ter development.

I’ve already seen it twice, and I plan at least one more view­ing. Don’t miss it.

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