D-Box Review: The Avengers

by on May 4, 2012 >> MoviesReviews

I’ve been reading comics the majority of my life. Ever since my parents named me after the last son of Krypton I’ve had a strong attachment to comic as a form of entertainment. Whether it was picking up a large bundle of Marvel or DC comics at Costco (where it was cheapest and meant for resale at a news stand) or scrounging through the dollar comic bins at my local comic and trading card post (the long gone Cooper’s Town Comics), comics have always been an escape. Comics can be anything and tell any story the author wants to tell. We’ve had comics about alien invasions, best friends in high school, murder mysteries, impossible to kill super heroes and even cancer. Movies based on comics with all those themes have been made as well. Everything from Scott Pilgrim to American Splendor to Richie Rich. And of course there are the greats like , The Incredible Hulk, The Mighty , The Invincible and now they’re finally together in a film and is the most beautifully bombastic thrill rides you can take in theaters this year.

It was years ago that Marvel decided to create a world in their films that was bigger than just one character. For years we’d seen super heroes stand on their own with no cross over. The closest we’d get is references to Gotham City in a Superman film and the like. It wasn’t good enough, not for me. Ever since Nick Fury showed up in the end credits of Iron Man and told Tony Stark he was part of something bigger, fans have been waiting, hoping that this day would come. But is it good? IS it everything you’d want it to be? Short answer is YES! YES YES YES!

The story here is one of revenge. What started in Thor as a battle between brothers caries on and now the stakes are much higher. The tesseract, the cosmic cube that powered Red Skulls weapons in Captain America: The First Avenger, is now in the hands of Nick Fury and the agents of Shield, and Loki wants it back. Much of The Avengers is trying to answer the question of why Loki wants it and what he plans to do with it and right from the start it’s clearly not good for Earth. One by one the pieces and the players fall into place as Loki twists people to his will, carries out his plan and then it’s clear that The Avengers are needed. Tom Hiddleston takes the character of Loki from jealous younger brother and twists him into something dark. For the first time I believe he’s a threat and not a misguided, whiny young man who didn’t get his way.

Director moves these characters through the story with wits and banter that is like music to a nerd’s ears. Yes there are moments that are akin to a child playing with his favorite action figures as you see some of The Earth’s Greatest Heroes tangle with misguided intentions and while those scenes are great, filled with action that makes my inner geek squeal with delight, it’s the dialog between these characters, seeing them interact that sells the film completely. Watching as Captain America and Tony Stark bicker back and forth, jockeying for position as leader of their team is pure joy. As is watching Stark and Bruce Banner, now played by Mark Ruffalo, nerd out together, talk tech and get their science on, is just as enjoyable. There are other wonderful moments where Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) fawns over his idol, Captain America, effectively turning this character who’s been in more Marvel movies than anyone into a fan boy the audience can instantly relate to.

Whedon is able to bring the heroes of the story together in a way that makes sense. This isn’t just a call from Nick Fury for help. There’s a reason he needs Bruce Banner and it doesn’t have anything to do with the fact that Banner is The Hulk. Thor’s reasoning for showing up is obvious in that Loki is the villain and his brother. Chris Hemsworth is able to keep Thor much more elevated than he did before. Gone is the fish out of water routine and instead you have a man who’s torn between duty and family. Thor’s moments with Loki are stronger than anything that was in Thor’s solitary film. Certain other scientific developments require Fury to reach out to Stark, again not as Iron Man but for his mind. A theme that I think Whedon loves to play with. The nerd who’s brain is just as important if not more important than the physical things he can do. I chalk that one up to bottled up teenage nerd rage (I can relate).

Yes Thor, Iron Man, Captain America and The Hulk are the stars here but Joss smartly and naturally integrates in Scarlett Johansson’s character into a very capable and strong woman with a dark past that is only glimpsed a bit, but is worthy of it’s own film, especially with the teases of Jeremy Renner’s who gets a bit of the shaft as far as story telling is concerned but when the action hits he steals a few shots and earned his own applause breaks more than once, but so did every character. Each character gets a bit more story, a bit more to care about them. Chris Evans as Captain America really pulls off the “Man Out of Time” routine as he misses references, can’t understand computers and feels a bit in over his head, which makes it all that more satisfying when he gets it together. Robert Downey Jr. pushes Iron Man from selfish powerhouse to selfless hero and does so with that same smart alecky attitude that fans love. But the character that really gets a moment to shine is The Hulk. Mark Ruffalo’s turn as the big mean green monster is the best to date. I thought I loved and Ed Norton’s take on the character but seeing what Ruffalo does with him, seeing him channel the rage and focus it is unlike anything in any comic book movie to date.

The action here is over the top, gigantic and in a scale never before seen in a comic book movie. Too long have comic book films tried to be gritty down to earth affairs where they take god like characters and bring them down to reality as much as possible. This is the Anti-Dark Knight. The Avengers revels in it’s ability to have a giant green rage monster slam through buildings, giant space dragons swarm over head New York City and have a handsome man in the red, white and blue become a beacon of hope for a country. People would question can you make a film where a guy in a giant robotic suit can fight aliens with a man who’s a god with magical powers. This will make them wonder why they’d ever watch a movie that didn’t do this. The entire last hour of The Avengers is over the top action in one giant scene. It’s brutal, it’s violent, there are times where you’ll be unsure as to who will walk away from it at the end and knowing Whedon and how he writes, nobody is safe.

That’s the real draw back of The Avengers. I love these characters and I love seeing them work together. I love seeing them bicker, come together, and take on everything that’s thrown at them. How could I ever go back to just Iron Man alone, or The Hulk without his new found rival in Thor. It’s going to be hard. But I’m sure there are directors who will rise to the challenge and hopefully it makes for better comic book films that take joy in the fact that they’re comic book films. The tagline for 1978’s Superman was “You’ll believe a man can fly”. The Avengers makes me believe that anything is possible.

I just experienced a start to finish action feast for my eyes that was something I thought I’d only ever seen in cartoons or on the page. The Avengers is the best comic book movie I’ve ever seen, I will go see it again tomorrow with more friends and I suggest you do the same.

But what about ? I’ve seen two years worth of movies. Ever since I saw my first film in 2010 I’ve been excited about what the next film will be. When I heard it would be The Avengers I got giddy. Then I saw it and my life was changed. is a seat that moves in motion with the film, giving you the feeling of actually being there. It was a completely sold out house when I went tonight and we all had a blast. We were experiencing the movie differently from everyone else there. From the very start with a giant chase sequence, to a downed chopper, we felt every jolt and jostle, every bump and bashing and it didn’t let up for the next 2 and a half hours.

There are no moments in The Avengers where the D-Box is over used or under used. It’s a perfect blend of backing off when the dialogue needs to be focused on and ramping up when The Hulk is smashing through buildings, crashing into giant space dragons and more. But there are also subtle little moves when cameras pan, pull out of a shot or are craned in that push you into the scene as if they’re welcoming you to this moment or you’re arriving to it. This is in stark contrast with the roller coaster thrill ride that is Iron Man flying through the streets of New York blasting alien gun ships out of the sky and making quick banking, outrunning the enemy.

I can safely say that I know a bit of what it feels like to be Captain America battling on the ground, Iron Man and Thor flying through the sky and Hulk as he smashes EVERYTHING. This is the best D-Box experience to date. It’s worth the extra investment. You will feel like you are inside the movie.

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