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Movie Review: "The Avengers"

There are many movies that are worth seeing, but there are a lot of stinkers as well. My goal here is to weed out the good from the bad.

Theatrical Release: 5/4/2012

Theatrical Release: 5/4/2012

Synopsis

Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) has been trying to put together a team of heroes. He fears the world could one day be faced with a threat unlike anything it has seen before, and he feels there needs to be a team of super and enhanced individuals ready to protect Earth from threats ordinary humans cannot face alone. He has his eye on Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), and the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), with the hopes that they will be enough to protect Earth. However, a threat shows up on Earth’s doorstep before Nick Fury has a chance to unite his team.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has made his way to Earth with an explosive entrance. He has a powerful scepter in his hand that lets him control the minds of anyone it touches. He used this scepter to break into a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility, and he has stolen a powerful artifact known as the tesseract. It is clear that Loki does not plan to use these artifacts for anything good, so Nick Fury scrambles to unite his misfit team of heroes. Fortunately, Loki’s brother, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), is the god of thunder, and he has arrived on Earth to retrieve his brother and the powerful artifacts in his possession. Individually, they are powerful, capable heroes, but they need to work as a team if they are to stop Loki from bringing his alien army to invade Earth. The only problem is that Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, and Thor do not exactly get along.

Official Trailer

The Pros & Cons

All movies start with an average score of 75pts, points are then added or subtracted based on each Pro and Con. Each Pro or Con is designated points, ranging from 0-10, to convey how significant these Pros or Cons are.

The ProsThe Cons

Team Tension (+8pts)

Hawkeye & Loki’s Plan (-4pts)

The Avengers (+8pts)

The Chitauri (-3pts)

Loki (+8pts)

Nuke New York (-2pts)

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Pro: Team Tension (+8pts)

Having the team not get along seems like a simple idea, but it ended up being really effective for this movie for a few reasons. To start, it made it seem like this was not going to be an easy victory for the heroes. Having them not on the same page gave Loki a real shot at coming out of this victorious. Then, by having Loki being the one stoking the flames that was the tension between the characters, it made Loki seem like a real threat, as it was like he was beating the Avengers in a game they did not even know they were playing.

The tension also gave each hero a unique voice. These characters had very different views and ideals going into this movie, so it made sense for them to clash with one another, especially considering a couple of them had pretty massive egos on top of their differences. We also had seen each of these characters’ origins, and their conflicting views in this movie were completely in line with who they were in the movies that came before. You will not want them to fight with one another, but you will completely understand where each one is coming from, which made their bickering intense, because I felt that they had to put their differences aside in order to save the planet, but I had a hard time envisioning some of them compromising.

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Con: Hawkeye & Loki’s Plan (-4pts)

Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) made a brief appearance in Thor, but this movie provided the opportunity to learn more about him. Unfortunately, the filmmakers went with a brainwash storyline for him, and it ended up throwing that opportunity out the window. Hawkeye had some cool moments in this movie, do not get me wrong, and the filmmakers effectively setup the history between him and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). However, for most of the movie, this character was little more than a one-dimensional, brainwashed goon, and it left me somewhat disappointed.

The filmmakers would have you believe Loki was a master strategist, but I could not help but think he spent a lot of time poking the bear that was the Avengers. Had he done a few things even a little differently, then he could have taken over Earth relatively easily. His invasion was dependent on allowing enough time to get his full army to reach earth, so why attack New York—one of the heaviest populated cities in one of the world’s super-powers? Why not start his invasion in a remote location on Earth, greatly reducing both military and the Avengers response time? Why do what he did to a top S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, further instigating the Avengers and providing the catalyst for them to unite? Loki was smart, do not get me wrong, but I could not help but think that he would have been victorious if he had made better decisions.

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Pro: The Avengers (+8pts)

This movie definitely benefited from the standalone movies that came before it. Each of these characters were already established in the franchise, and it allowed the filmmakers of this movie to hit the ground running. It was simply awesome to see these characters coming together. It is something we take for granted now, after how many times it has happened and how many other franchises have tried to do it, but seeing these characters all on screen together was a truly epic experience when the movie came out.

Each character had their own voice, their own moments to shine, and their own stories, and all were interwoven masterfully. Would I have liked to have seen more of some characters? Absolutely, but I thought the filmmakers handled all of the characters they got to play with well. Then there were the action sequences which were great. Hulk smashed, Cap threw his shield, Thor got plenty of use out of his hammer, and Iron Man was flying around, doing his thing. There were also Black Widow and Hawkeye doing their part. The filmmakers had a lot on their plate here, but I thought they juggled all of these characters well, and they were able to deliver plenty of awesome Avengers action.

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Con: The Chitauri (-3pts)

Loki was a strong antagonist, despite his flawed strategy, but the Chitauri left something to be desired. They were effective as an army of nameless, faceless villains for the heroes to wreck, but I thought they would have been more effective if they had some sort of general or commander to serve as the face of the invasion. Loki hired them, sure, but having a commander in New York would have made the Chitauri feel like more of a threat, instead of just an army of random minions. Then the final moments of the Chitauri in this movie felt too easy, as it felt like the filmmakers were ready to be done with them, so they just wrote them out of the story in the fastest way possible. The Chitauri were effective at giving the Avengers something to go up against, but I thought the filmmakers could have made them feel like more of a threat, as I never thought they would be too much for the likes of Thor, Hulk, or even Iron Man.

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Pro: Loki (+8pts)

I know, I know, I already talked about what I did not like about Loki's plan at length, but I still thought he was a great villain for this movie. On paper, the character was Thor's envious brother, who had lived his whole life knowing Thor would one day rule Asgard, while he would inherit nothing. He resented his brother, and wanted to rule something himself, so he set his sights on Earth, a planet that his brother was incredibly fond of. The feud between Thor and Loki was already well established, so it made total sense for him to come to Earth, looking for revenge. All that, and the army at his disposal, made him a natural and effective villain for the Avengers to go up against, and Tom Hiddleston was once again captivating in the role. He was so charismatic playing Loki, that it will make you love the character, in spite of how much you will want the Avengers to beat him. The MCU has a track record of underdeveloped and bland villains, but Loki has certainly not been one of them.

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Con: Nuke New York (-2pts)

Nuke New York? Really? That was what the U.S. military came up with? There was a massive portal into space hovering not too far off the city, and the U.S. military decided their best option was to nuke New York city? The country that spends by far the most on its military had no military response other than to nuke one of its most heavily populated cities. It was just dumb writing.

I get that the filmmakers wanted to stack the deck against the heroes, while making us feel like they were on their own and that they were the only ones capable of making good decisions. Nonetheless, I thought this was a dumb little sub-plot. Nuking the portal was the obvious better option, as it was where the threat was coming from and nuking it would not put countless innocent lives at risk. Instead, the filmmakers wanted some generic, cold-hearted world leaders, so that Nick Fury had something to do while the Avengers were saving the planet.

Grading Scale

GradeCategoryPoints

A+

Amazing

95-100

A-

Great

90-94

B+

Good

85-89

B-

Decent

80-84

C+

Average

75-79

C-

Watchable

70-74

D+

Bad

65-69

D-

Terrible

60-64

F

Garbage

45-59

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Grade: A- (90pts)

The Avengers was the culmination of phase one of the MCU, and it brought an assortment of characters that had already been established throughout multiple standalone movies. I liked all of the movies that came before it, but this one was just great. The filmmakers stayed true to each of the characters, while giving each of them further development, plenty of time to shine, and awesome action. There was Captain America, Iron Man, the Incredible Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye. The filmmakers had to juggle a bunch of characters here, and they had to do it in a way that was fun to watch, while giving a clear story for this movie, and also continuing each of their own individual stories. This could not have been an easy task, but I thought the filmmakers did a great job.

The Chitauri were an army of nameless, faceless alien soldiers for the Avengers to fight, Loki's plan could have been better, and the nuking of New York was a comically dumb sub-plot. Fortunately, the movie's strengths were far stronger than its weaknesses. It was awesome to see all of these heroes on screen together. It was fun to see them bantering with each other, it was cool to see them clashing with one another physically, and it was awesome to see them fighting as a team. The tension between the team was an interesting obstacle to see them trying to overcome, and Loki was a great villain played excellently by Tom Hiddleston. The MCU would go on to deliver better movies, in my opinion, but this one was a great way to end phase one and it left me thrilled to see where the filmmakers would take the franchise next.

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