| The 2012 summer movie season officially began this past weekend with all the iconic superheroes in the Marvel Comics’ universe assembling to save Earth from an alien invasion.
This big-budget blockbuster lives up to all the hype and sets the bar high for all future sci-fi fantasy action adventures. Much of the credit for the “Superhero Team-Up of a Lifetime” goes to director and co-writer Joss Whedon. Whedon, a comic book fan, adds energy, enthusiasm and style to a familiar blueprint dating back to the classic screen Westerns. The enlisted All-Star heroic champions are the costumed good guys sans the customary white hats. The boo-hiss villain clothed in black garments poses the threat to peace and tranquility.
The main storyline continues the Cain and Abel struggle from last summer’s “Thor.”
Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s younger adopted brother, craves power and vengeance. His grand scheme to subjugate humanity and rule the world begins with the theft of a magical cube known as the Tesseract. This mysterious power source was used by Red Skull in “Captain America.” Loki plans to harness the energy to open a portal in space from which an invading alien army can descend upon our planet.
To diffuse the threat to global safety and security, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), espionage ace and director of the international peacekeeping agency S.H.I. E. L.D., recruits a group of superheroes dubbed the Avengers-comprised of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson)-to retrieve the Tesseract. Their ultimate mission is to battle Loki and a mysterious extraterrestrial force.
The movie is divided into three acts. The first part is devoted to the recruitment process with lots of exposition. Each superhero gets their moment in the spotlight with separate vignettes that enhance their already enormous popularity. The middle portion involves the petty bickering among this assembled group of remarkable individuals. It is all part of Loki’s plan to divide and conquer. Fury is ready to accept defeat because it appears the Avengers are unable to get along and work together toward a common goal. The final act begins with death of a famous character at the hands of Loki. This makes things personal and unites the mighty Avengers into a serious fighting unit. The climactic battle featuring bombastic non-stop action takes place in midtown Manhattan.
Top acting laurels go to Ruffalo for his portrayal of brilliant scientist Dr. Bruce Banner, the alter ego of the big, green, mad-as-hell Hulk. A close second is Downey Jr. who adds comedic relief with all the best lines of dialogue. The supporting cast includes Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye, Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson, Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, Stellan Skarsgard as Professor Erik Selvig and, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts.
This highly entertaining sci-fi fantasy has cool special effects, decibel-level sound effects, thrilling action set pieces and an awesome soundtrack from composer Alan Silvestri. The outstanding dialogue has lots of humor and clever references to old and modern pop culture.
It shattered the domestic weekend opening record previously held by “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2” with $207.4 million. It is already a monster worldwide hit earning $441.5 million overseas. The film’s production budget was estimated at $220 million.
The movie engages the viewer from a very strong opening sequence through the two bonus scenes included in the closing credits. The nearly two and a half hour running time passes by swiftly and leaves you eagerly awaiting a follow-up sequel.
The movie earned a rare “A+” Cinemascore in an exit poll of ticket buyers split evenly between those above and below 25 years-of-age with 60 percent male.
This exciting action adventure is suitable viewing for children ages 8 and up. It is available in various formats including standard 2D, Digital 3D and RealD. If you want the ultimate moviegoing experience, I highly recommend the unsurpassed cinematic quality of the IMAX 3D version available exclusively at select AMC Theatres.
Keith Cohen "The Movie Guy"