MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS
Genre: Comic Book Action
Premise: When Earth is threatened by evil demigod Loki and an army of aliens in search of the Cosmic Cube, Nick Fury and all of S.H.I.E.L.D. must implement the "Avengers Initiative" and bring together the world's greatest superheroes (Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow) to fight in unison.
Behind-the-Scenes: This is the culmination of over six years of planning on Marvel's part. Trusted fanboy and geek idol Joss Whedon (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Serenity) wrote the screenplay and directs.
The Good: The Avengers delivers the superhero goods in spades. Hard to imagine a more fun or entertaining superhero film. Christopher Nolan's Batman saga may have more substance, but Whedon's Marvel mash-up is everything you could want it to be. The script is chock full of truly funny one-liners (most courtesy of Robert Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark), and each character gets his or her moment to shine. The action is plentiful (more than any previous Marvel film) and often jaw-dropping, as each Avenger has a go at one another before deciding to put their differences aside and go ape on the villains. There is an undeniable geek thrill to seeing all of these A-list superheroes together on screen. The production seems to have an unlimited bank roll behind it and it shows. Whedon gives audiences one crowd-pleasing moment after another. My theater burst into spontaneous applause no less than five times during the course of the movie, and all of those moments were earned. The cast is fantastic - special kudos go to Mark Ruffalo (stepping in for the first time as Bruce Banner, in lieu of Edward Norton) and his portrayal of Bruce Banner. Whedon and Ruffalo absolutely nail the Banner/Hulk character, and when Hulk gets to smashing, he runs away with the movie. After the mess of Iron Man 2, it's nice to see Downey re-focused and given excellent material to work with. Tom Hiddleston makes for a helluva devious villain. It's just amazing to me that Whedon was able to juggle all of the elements of an Avengers movie with as much style, substance and success as he does. THIS is why I love movies.
The Bad: The alien baddies are pretty generic and don't offer much of a threat to our superheroes, who easily dispatch them. But I didn't really care. I don't need to see our heroes tested too hard on the initial go round. Save that for the sequel.
Should You See It?: Absolutely. If you are excited or interested in any way in The Avengers or any of its individual heroes, you will love it. Oh, and stick around for the end credits - there are two additional scenes you are definitely going to want to see.
Rating: ***** out of 5 stars. Well done, Mr. Whedon.