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...And there came a day, a day unlike any other...,
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This review is from: Marvel's The Avengers (Four-Disc Combo: Blu-ray 3D/Blu-ray/DVD + Digital Copy + Digital Music Download) (Blu-ray)
I am more giddy than my giddy aunt. I saw the midnight showing of the AVENGERS last night and, at the end, my face hurt and warped from grinning so big. I am so wired I can't form a coherent thought. Here's a salvo of stream-of-consciousness impressions, in whatever order.
Mark Ruffalo is simply terrific as the Hulk's alter (and calmer) ego. I actually prefer his interpretation of Dr. Banner over Bana's and Norton's. Ruffalo steers away from the deadening angst that made me fidget in earlier Hulk pictures. He finds a balance. This Banner exhibits a dry sense of humor but exudes this quirky, low simmer edginess. And I love Ruffalo's interactions with Downey, Jr., two swaggerful eggheads matching their test tubes against each other and applying big, sciency words. I like that there's respect between their two characters. There's an intriguing twist involving Banner's relationship with the Hulk, of which I won't say more. The Hulk - and this seems to be a unanimous impression - hijacks the movie.
Comic book geeks like me have recently been dogging Marvel's latest company crossover event, AVENGERS VS. X-MEN. And, yet, this film demonstrates that, sometimes, there's nothing more exhilarating than eyeballing an epic hero vs. hero scrap. Mjolnir, meet the Hulk's face. And have you ever wondered what happens should Thor's enchanted hammer go up against Captain America's indestructible shield?
The plot revolves around the far-ranging machinations of Loki, Asgardian god of mischief. Those who've read the Avengers' comic book origin should note a smidgen of familiarity, but only a smidgen. The Tesseract - someone mistakenly thought "Tesseract" sounds cooler than "cosmic cube" - plays a part. The bad guys whom Loki recruits as an invasion force aren't Skrulls. Not exactly. But they do pose an extinction level threat, alarming enough that some assembly becomes required.
Captain America is well utilized here, although I'm hating his awkward modern-day costume. I vastly prefered his more practical WWII outfit. But maybe I just like pouches.
Joss Whedon, Joss Whedon. His storytelling has big scope; it has grandeur. Whedon orchestrates a sprawling, high-profiled cast and just about gets away with not slighting anyone. He does rely some on your familiarity with the character development sunk into the prior films. He manages to tie in various plot threads from previous Marvel pictures. Although Stark, Cap, and Banner get the lion's share of the spotlight, Whedon devotes time and space to side characters like the slinky but lethal spy, the Black Widow, and the likable, unobstrusive Agent Coulson. If you assume the Black Widow's defining action moment surfaces in that early interrogation scene, you'd be all kinds of not right. Scarlett Johansson ticks off Whedon's Buffy box, not only in things asskickery but also in terms of strong character beats (the Widow's dialogue with Loki happens to be an acting showcase). She's so much more here than when she was featured in IRON MAN 2. But if I were to pick out two people who may have been underused, they'd have to be Maria Hill and Hawkeye. I do feel that Cobie Smulders was wasted.
I love that, like in the comics, Thor never gives up on his half-brother.
The first half hour is essentially a slow burn set-up that may or may not keep you engaged. And at times Whedon does sacrifice narrative for those wild action sequences, and that's okay, because Whedon treats us to a series of marvelous cape-on-cape violence. In true Marvel fashion, these heroes harbor instant grudges against each other. But all those violent "misunderstandings" merely whet your appetite. Joss unleashes the white knuckle action in the third act. The extended climactic combat sequence - as the Avengers hold the line against a horde of grotesque Not Skrulls - is off the charts and so damn gratifying. There's this now famous tracking shot in which I'm reminded of the 1990s X-Men cartoon in which the camera would often track the X-Men in frenzied action, as they hurtle in and out of the picture, occasionally mingling with each other only to break off again into individual skirmishes. I was mesmerized by Whedon's sweeping, organic approach to the battle scenes.
No surprise, there are heaps of whip-smart one-liners, plenty of them generated by a smirky Robert Downey, Jr. - and yet even Hemsworth's regal thunder god elicits chuckles. No contest, though, the brutalizing Hulk - who, by the way, is rendered to savage life in impeccable CG - captures two of the film's biggest laughs.
For pure escapism and sheer fanfare and fan service beyond expectation, THE AVENGERS is the best superhero movie I have ever seen. I have to see it again. But you, you make sure to stick around for the embedded scene during the post-credits and then for the post-credit scene. You may wet your pants. Or you may, afterwards, go "What the flippin' flip was that?"
Hours and hours later, I'm still big grinning. Joss Whedon actually pulled it off.
What I have is the Blu-Ray 2-disc edition. I must say I'm digging the crystal clear, hi-res video quality of the blu-ray disc. We've probably all gotten spoiled by the extras on the Lord of the Rings packages, so the following bonus stuff probably won't overwhelm anyone:
- Audio Commentary by director Joss Whedon
- "Marvel One-Shot: Item 47" - A short film in which we learn what happens to the one piece of alien tech not collected by S.H.I.E.L.D. in the aftermath of the New York battle (00:11:20 minutes)
- "The Avengers Initiative: A Marvel Second Screen Experience" - use your iPad, iPhone or laptop to access the S.H.I.E.L.D. data base to immerse yourself in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, dive into the Avengers Comic Book History, and much more
- Gag Reel, which is hilarious (00:04:04 minutes)
- Deleted/Extended Scenes (totaling 00:14:58 minutes):
* Alternate Opening - Maria Hill being interrogation by the World Security Council (you could see why Whedon scrapped this)
* Extended Scene - "Loki & Barton Strategize"
* "Steve Rogers - Man Out of Time" - This is the best deleted scene of the lot as it explores Steve Rogers' ties to his past in clearer detail; it also features another cameo by Stan Lee and that waitress
* "Nick Fury & World Security Council"
* "Extended Viaduct Fight" - Raw footage of Black Widow and Hawkeye battling Chitauri aliens
* "Fury & Hill Discuss the World Security Council"
* Extended Scene - "Banner and Security Guard" - Banner gets a pep talk and a motorcycle
* Alternate Ending - Maria Hill still being interrogated by the World Security Council
- 2 Featurettes:
* "A Visual Journey" (00:06:26 minutes)
* "Assembling the Ultimate Team" - Whedon and cast members talk up each other (00:08:06 minutes)
- Soundgarden Music Video - "Live to Rise"
- There's also a code provided which when entered on AvengersAssembleOffer.com allows access to a Free Digital Comic Book Offer and a Free Marvel Poster Offer
And if you intend to pick up the basic Avengers DVD, you'll be treated to only these following Special Features:
- Audio Commentary by Joss Whedon
- "Assembling the Ultimate Team" featurette
Some info on what's included in the Phase One: Avengers Assembled 10-disc, 6-film super-set (which may or may not come in an officially issued S.H.I.E.L.D. briefcase):
* Marvel's The Avengers (Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray)
* Captain America: The First Avenger (Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray)
* Thor (Blu-ray 3D and Blu-ray)
* Iron Man 2 (Blu-ray)
* The Incredible Hulk (Blu-ray)
* Iron Man (Blu-ray)
* Bonus Disc - "The Phase One Archives" (Blu-ray)
* Collectible packaging with exclusive memorabilia from the Marvel Cinematic Universe
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Showing 1-10 of 124 posts in this discussion
Initial post: May 7, 2012 2:53:26 PM PDT
Excellent review. As for DC, they seem to be more concentrating on their Animated line-up, run by Bruce Timm, and doing a great job with it. I"m looking forward to Dark Knight Rising.
In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 3:53:32 PM PDT
Yeah, at this stage, I think DC's got Marvel beat in the animated film department.
I'm trying real hard not to get too stoked for Dark Knight Rising. I was never too much of a Bane fan.
I've got my fingers crossed for the Spidey flick, although the Lizard also isn't one of my favorites.
In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 4:32:40 PM PDT
Previews look good for both. :)
In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 4:56:02 PM PDT
Yeah, they do :)
And since we're talking trailers, the one for Prometheus has got me all kinds of intrigued...
In reply to an earlier post on May 7, 2012 5:12:37 PM PDT
Oh yes, agreed. And "Brave", since I"m a pixar fan.
Posted on May 14, 2012 10:44:17 AM PDT
Danny G. says:
In reply to an earlier post on May 14, 2012 10:59:18 AM PDT
I've actually seen Frosty the Snowman twelve times and never got bored.
In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2012 8:23:49 AM PDT
Sounds like a troll trying to make trouble. I don't take these comments seriously. There's always someone who wants to slam a popular film simply because it's popular. Sad, really.
In reply to an earlier post on May 16, 2012 8:24:13 AM PDT
Yeah, Berl Ives is a great singer, too! LOL.
Posted on May 18, 2012 12:52:03 PM PDT
John Panagopoulos says:
H. Bala, what do you think of the probability that we will see a "Justice League of America" movie in the future?