The Avengers
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The Avengers

 

3D Blu-ray

Blu-ray

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For most kids, the first form of entertainment that grabbed our attention was comic books, although frequently derided by groups representing educators legislators and parents comic do represent a vital component of our species, the need for mythological heroes. Scientific explanations have long ago replaced the inhabitants of lofty places such as Olympus, but the morality place and tales of good versus evil are just as relevant today as they were millennia ago. Comic books will never go away for just this reason. Another tendency intrinsically built into this all so human drive is to gather together heroes into tactical units. When it comes to superhuman combat, the more, the merrier. In the DC universe, they gathered together their most popular costume heroes, ‘Batman, ‘Superman ‘and others, into the conglomerate ‘Justice League of America.’ I was a fan until I approached my teens and required a more relatable set of heroes. Those in the Marvel comic group fit the bill perfectly; they were subject to the same humanistic peccadillos present in us all. Their superheroes faced psychological insecurities that made them exceptionally easy to relate to. Once again the publisher saw fit to group them resulting in humanity’s staunchest defenders; ‘The Avengers.’

In a similar fashion to what was utilized in DC, Marvel used well-established characters featured in their comic as the core, joined by ancillary heroes featured in the group’s comic book. For the Avengers the central members are Iron Man’, ‘Thor,’ Captain America ‘and ‘The Hulk.’ As any devotee of comic books will attest the slowest part of any new comic is the origin story; introducing the audience to the characters and the fundamental parameters of the universe. This is where the Marvel Studio demonstrated their genius. Guided by precepts long since established by the grandfather of the Marvel universe, Stan, ‘The Man,’ Lee; the force behind Marvel’s trademark style and subsequent popularity. For the several years, Marvel has been carefully building towards the release of their movie version of the Avengers comic. They released the main character’s individual origin stories. There was a couple of incarnation required to get ‘The Hulk ‘on track with the fans. With each film, the specific hero was highlighted, and his backstory layout. These movies were also an opportunity to insert some of the other players in the climatic film. When it came time for the release of the film, the cast of ‘The Avengers’ had been carefully crafted. This ideal ensemble included Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Steve Rogers, best known as Captain America (Chris Evans), Dr. Bruce Banner and his mean, green alto ego, The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and the Norse god of thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth). Joining the troupe was a Special Forces master sniper, Clint ‘Hawkeye’ Barton (Jeremy Renner) and the globally feared assassin, Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) under her nom de guerre, Black Widow. The protective organization S.H.I.E.L.D devised the Avengers initiative (Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division), commanded by the enigmatic Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). One of his top field agents, Phil Coulson (lark Gregg), served as the connective tissue binding all the films as he helped gather the heroes together all leading up to this moment. A running bit throughout all the films in the series is shown after the credits were the aftermath of the movie is depicted as well as a scene intended to further the gathering of the Avengers. This ties the stories together as one epic story crafted in an internally consistent universe.

The story picks up sometime after the immediate predecessor, ‘Thor’’, the Prince of the realm of Asgard, Thor, has a half-brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), who previously discovered the truth of his nature, a Frost Giant, shown mortal enemy of the inhabitants of Asgard. After being disgraced in the Thor origin film, Loki, god of mischief and discord, has vowed revenge; returning to Earth to subjugate it under his control. To this end, he has place Thor’s friend an astrophysicist, Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) to gain access to a great source of raw power, the Tesseract. With Loki unleashed upon our world Nick Fury issues the order to put in action ‘The Avengers Initiative’ the next segment of the film is the requisite team formation portion of the story. With a group of alpha personalities, a bit of ramp up to the main event is required. Admittedly, even in the comics, this was my least favorite part of the tale. You need a bridge between the egocentric individual films and that always requiring the heroes facing off against each other to either gain dominance, or more realistically, forge a team based on mutual respect. Still, it takes a poignant death scene of a fan favorite to provide the motivation and unshakable resolve required to fight as a cohesive team.

Loki has abandoned his earthly gab, a high-end business suit in favor of his signature green attire complete with exaggeratedly long curved horns. Silver age Avengers aficionados will immediately recognize this from the Jack Kirby artwork utilized I, Avengers, #1 back in 1963. I still remember reading that precise issue although I’d rather not be reminded it was nearly half a century ago. So, with the undercard fighters between the proto-Avengers, it is time for the main bout to begin. Loki opens an inter-dimensional port to bring his mechanized horde to destroy New York City. The Avengers are finally assembled to ward of this unbeatable foe and his extraterrestrial army. As Tony Stark notes Loki, he might have an army, but they have a Hulk. This is just one of many bon mots that spice the proceedings. Longtime fans will readily realize that this is precisely the same type of banter that we enjoyed reading the comics. Unlike most movies based on comic books, this one manages to rise to the occasion providing the look a and feel established and loved with the comic.

With an action blockbuster like this, the special effects are as integral to the story as any character. It took awhile until the technology necessary to display the Marvel universe characters and their abilities realistically. The division between real action, green screen performances, and computer-generated effects are seamless. You’ll have absolutely no problem with suspending belief as these movie envelopes you, pulling you inexorably into the Marvel universe. Directing this film is Joss Whedon, a man famous for his witty banter. This aspect of his style contributed heavily to his classic hits like ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’,’ Angel’ and ‘Dollhouse’ and ‘Firefly. He is a director perfectly in tune with the expectations of his audience and the precise right person to take on this highly anticipated film. His trademark dialogue overlapped with the same great aspect of Marvel. The icing on the cake here is the home theater presentation. All popular formats are represented but if possible go for the 3D edition. The depth of the image is better than usual for 3D movies. It provided the audience with the feeling of several independent visual planes. Mr. Whedon is not one of those filmmakers that constantly has to remind the audience they are watching a 3D movie. This is all too often done by thrusting cylindrical objects out of the screen, directly at the audience. Several of the special effects shots technically meet the criteria his approach to the illusion of depth is natural and organically presented. In his talented hands and intrinsic mastery of visual storytelling, 3D becomes another fully integrated part of relating the narrative. Whedon employs the best possible camera angles to catch the action and pacing that intersperses exposition and character development with some of the most incredible action affect you have ever seen. Topping it off is a forceful audio track that not only enfolds you completely but flawlessly reinforces the 3D effects. This is up there not only the best comic book films but earns its place among the all-time great action movies.

        The Avengers Initiative: A Marvel Second Screen Experience - 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, Much More In This Exclusive Experience For Your iPad, iPhone or Laptop
        Marvel One Shot: Item 47 - Original Short Film
        A Visual Journey: Discover The Amazing Sets, Groundbreaking Visual Effects, and Stunning Cinematography Of This Phenomenal Film
        Marvel's First Ever Gag Reel
        Deleted Scenes
        "Live to Rise" Soundgarden Music Video
Assembling The Ultimate Team: The All-Star Cast Shares The Excitement Of Teaming up To Bring These Characters To Life, And Director Joss Whedon Discusses What Each of Them Brought To Their Role
        Audio Commentary With Director Joss Whedon
        Digital Album

Posted 10/05/12            03/05/2018

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