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Reel Review: The Avengers

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Some people say that you can judge the quality of a movie by counting the number of times you check your watch when the movie is still screening. When I exited the cinema after a whopping 142 minutes, I never even got close to touching my watch. In fact, I seriously thought the movie felt too short! Yup, folks…The Avengers is really THAT good!

I have to admit that I went into the cinema with many high expectations of this movie. All the buzz and hype leading to its release certainly didn’t help. 😛 So, were my high expectations met? Oh YEAH…not only did The Avengers met it, it surpassed it beyond ‘infinity’ (hint! hint!)

The story starts off explosively enough with Loki attacking a SHIELD facility and steals the Tesseract, a cosmic cube with mucho mucho powers of universal proportions (what else?!). It is also capable of opening up a portal to allow an alien army from another dimension known as the Chitauri to invade Earth with Loki at helm. This immediately triggers Nick Fury to become ‘very desperate’ enough to begin gathering Earth’s mightiest heroes..Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk (Bruce Banner), Black Widow and Hawkeye.

The initial ‘assembly’ didn’t exactly go as planned as the customary mistrust, teamwork issues, bickering, arguments, etc. sets up some mouth-watering superhero vs superhero battles. The heroes seem to be like a hopelessly divided lot after falling for Loki’s schemes during the stellar battle scene onboard the Helicarrier.

Eventually, they would regroup and stand ‘assembled’ in Manhattan (where else?!) where Loki’s army of Chitauris would begin its invasion of Earth. Would the Avengers prevail?

Under the directorship of Joss Whedon ( he of Buffy, Firefly, Dollhouse fame), the Avengers benefited from a very impressive script – witty and charming dialogue with just the right amount of action sequences. With a movie of this magnitude and so many heroes clamoring for silver screen space, Whedon successfully and cleverly distributes the stage spotlight for all the characters to shine without allowing some characters to be given the teacher’s pet treatment (read: Wolverine from X-Men movies). I also began to appreciate that Whedon chose to use the Chitauris as the alien army in the movie compared to more regular and obvious alien races like the Skrull or the Kree. With already so many superhero characters to develop into the storyline, putting in the Skrull or Kree would surely mean additional time to be clocked in to explain their origins, powers, etc. The Chitauris were less prominent and better choice for the audience to keep focused on the main antagonist, Loki.

All the action sequences’ choreography and movements were excellently filmed. I certainly liked that not too many slo-mo shots or shaky camera realistic shots were used. Compared to the action scenes in Transformers where the battle scenes ranged from being too messy, choppy or confusing to follow at times, The Avengers has clearly set the standard of how action sequences should be filmed as it allows the audience to be totally immersed in the action lines! Another gem of the movie has to be the technological evolution of the CGI Hulk. When compared with the earlier screen versions, the Hulk here is definitely the most realistic and impressive!

One of the many talents I love about Whedon is his ability to create great team chemistry as seen in his earlier works. In the Avengers, he brings this up to another level with many great teamwork spots – where a superhero tag-team fights side-by-side – Cap/Iron Man, Thor/Hulk, Cap/Widow, Widow/Hawkeye, Cap/Thor, Iron Man/Cap, etc. In addition, the superhero vs superhero scenes didn’t disappoint as well. We were treated to superb battles like Iron Man vs Thor, Widow vs Hawkeye, Thor vs Hulk, etc.

I have to admit the casting was another special touch. For example, it isn’t easy finding the right actor to portray Bruce Banner/Hulk but I think they have hit the jackpot with Mark Ruffalo, who carries Banner’s shy, geeky persona to its very best. Jeremy Renner was certainly ‘spot on’ to play Hawkeye. I did notice Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow having difficulties maintaining her Russian accent but overall, I think she managed to stay tough with the guys. Robert Downey Jr. as usual has the best lines as Iron Man/Tony Stark, Chris Evans did well enough to play the soldier out of time/captain of the team when needed role. Whilst Chris Hemsworth played Thor well, I personally thought Thor looked best in all battle scenes. 😛

If there was any flaw to The Avengers, it would have to be its overly simple storyline. I kinda expected a little more sub-plot twists to the story, but at the end of the day, it turned out to be plain old enemy aliens invading earth (via USA, of course) and superheroes standing united to defend it. I guess when I start to analyse deeper, Whedon was probably doing his best movie cover of a comic-book, where plots are kept simple and actions fast and furious!

In summary, The Avengers is one engaging and exhilarating ride of a lifetime that shouldn’t be missed. Although framed with a rather simplistic and childish plot, the movie is brilliantly paced with its sharp dialogue, fantastic action sequences and wonderful team chemistry. it certainly delivers in all departments and has undoubtedly thrown down the ‘gauntlet’ to future superhero movies to follow.

Oh yeah…don’t forget to stay on after the movie to catch an exclusive teaser after half of the credits roll. It’s gonna make you breathlessly wait for the sequel! 😀

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