Director: Joss Whedon
MPAA Rating: PG-13
Studio: Michael De Luca Productions
Nothing says 'Hollywood summer' more (or louder) than a good action movie. Let’s hope that The Avengers is a foretaste of what’s to come because it’s as big, funny, shiny, explosive, expert, rip-roaringly entertaining an action movie as we’ve seen in a long time.
The simple plotline of the movie, with its story by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon (the latter of whom also directed), weaves together the fates of a pack of quirky, idiosyncratic Marvel Comics superheroes who are pulled together to save the world when the hammer-wielding Thor’s power mad brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) amasses an astounding army hell-bent on steamrolling humankind. It’s the task of S.H.I.E.L.D. operative Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (a best-yet Clark Gregg) to herd and wrangle an outsized, unruly and egomaniacal super force comprised of Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man, Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow, Mark Ruffalo’s The Hulk, Chris Hemsworth’s Thor, Chris Evans’ Captain America and newbie Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.
Even though the gorgeous-looking movie is shot-through with extraordinary special effects and firepower, the whole thing has style, a witty tone and coherence that—even when it pummels us —makes it satisfying and emotionally-involving. Thanks to the uber-geekery of Whedon, the movie is jam-packed with references to earlier iconic space operas and fantasy films and the script not only has wit and self-spoofing comedy but when it needs to, has a real sense of grandeur. Even when the moviemakers unleash the big guns—superheroes and scary monsters whizzing through Manhattan’s skyscraper canyons and snaky metal monsters wreaking urban havoc—we’re rooting for characters we’ve come to know and to pull for. With such good material, no wonder the starry cast members—Downey and most especially Ruffalo—respond with on point performances. Even better, almost every character gets the arc she or he deserves and the film comments on the world in which we live, especially about the absolute corruption and inhumanity that can come with power. Comic book fans should do handstands but The Avengers is such a fun ride that it makes us all kids at the amusement park—so much so that as soon as it’s over, we want to climb back on have another spin.