Curse of the Chupacabra

Tuesday, May 1, 2012

The Marvel-ous Avengers

This Friday, May 4th, the 2012 summer tent pole season kicks off with the highly anticipated, massive undertaking, The Avengers, and if this movie is a precursor of what is to come this summer, it will be a summer never to forget.

Iconic Marvel Super Heroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Hawkeye and Black Widow answer the call to action when Nick Fury, director of the international peacekeeping agency know as S.H.I.E.L.D., initiates a daring, globe-spanning recruitment effort to assemble The Avengers team to defeat an unexpected enemy threatening global safety and security.

Despite pulling together the ultimate dream team, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and longtime confidant Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) must find a way to convince the Super Heroes to work with, not against each other, when the powerful and dangerous Loki gains access to the Cosmic Cube and its unlimited power.

Now before I go any further, let me just say that although I really, really enjoyed this film, I am not obsessed with it.  Quite frankly, it wasn't until after the first third of the movie was over, did I really start enjoying the film.  I understand the need to set up the "The Avenger Initiative" but as I watched it on the screen, I found myself asking, "Isn't that what Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America did?"  But once the whole set up was out of director Joss Whedon's system, that's when the movie started to shine.  Not only did Mr. Whedon display some of the biggest, baddest, relentless action sequences I think I've ever seen on film, but he also managed to dig deep within each of the main characters idiosyncrasies and show us why The Avenger Initiative shouldn't work.  Having never read a "The Avengers" comic book, I assume these conflicts were created by Mr. Stan Lee, but I still have to give kudos to Joss Whedon for not discarding them and giving each character their own journeys and defining moments.  For what could have easily been another Iron Man vehicle for A-lister Robert Downey Jr., The Avengers truly is an ensemble work.

Of course, Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man/Tony Stark is pure casting genius, but I have to say the shining star for me was Mark Ruffalo as Hulk/Bruce Banner.  No offense to Edward Norton or Eric Bana who previously bulked up computer-graphically for the roles (both of whom I admire as actors), and I'm no Hulk expert, but it feels like Mark Ruffalo is the only one of the three actors to get it right.  What Mark did in this film the previous actors did not do in theirs was give the Bruce Banner character a calmness and meekness that contradicts everything about his alter-ego.  I would see another Hulk movie if Mark Ruffalo were cast in the title role.

Now, just be warned that when going to a Joss Whedon film, expect to get a whiff of Joss Whedon's special brand of cheese.  For me, there was more than one too many weak tag lines and bad one-liners.  I realize they are written with the general public in mind, but for this particular viewer, they felt like forced attempts at humor where this audience member's funny bone is tickled more by the brilliantly subtle, tongue-in-cheek humor of the original Iron Man movie.  However, that being said, there is one hysterical moment between the Hulk and Loki (Tom Hiddleston) that had the entire audience cheering, clapping and laughing to the brink of tears, and that includes myself.

Again, I really, really enjoyed this movie and any criticisms I have are trivial.  And just a heads up, there is an added scene, which suggests a sequel but this time you don't need to sit through the entire credits to watch it.  It occurs after the "primary" end credits.  I even sat through to the very end in case there might have been a second added scene (I can dream) but there wasn't any.  So if you drank too much coke and have been holding it in since the middle of the film - ready to burst - go ahead an run to the bathroom.  You won't miss anything.

You're welcome.

And did I mention relentless action?

UPDATE:  I have been informed that although not on the media screening I attended, there is indeed a 2nd added scene at the end of the credits.  Sorry for the confusion.

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Vlad Dracul, known later in life as Vlad the Impaler, suffered more than any should at the hands of Mehmed, son of Sultan Murad. Of all the pain and indignities brought upon him at the behest of the future ruler of the Ottoman Empire, the curse was the worst. All the young Vlad can do is try to survive and plot his vengeance.