The Avengers – Movie Review

Before you start reading this, you need to know that I am a superhero-movies enthusiast. Those types of movies always manage to thoroughly entertain me, whether they get critical acclaim or not and whether their die-hard fans think they’re good or not. Case in point? I enjoyed watching Captain America, Thor & Transformers (please read on) among others.

The Avengers, a movie that has been hyped for years, has been well received by critics. But I would be the first to tell you that critics loving a movie isn’t always a recipe for a good movie. Is this the case here? Definitely not. Once again, my inner superhero fanboy was awed at what was happening on screen in a movie that brought together not one but four superheros from four different movie franchises that he likes.

Bringing in characters from the movies: The Incredible Hulk, Captain American, Thor and Iron Man, The Avengers manages to create a story weaved out of the fabric of all those movies. The Tesseract, which first appeared in Captain America, is a source of unlimited energy. It is also sought after by an alien species using Loki (Tom Hiddleston), the exiled brother of Thor, as a key element in its plans of dominating and destroying Earth. In order to deter those plans, Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) decides to bring together a team of superheroes: The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). Helping Fury in his plans is agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johanson) and Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner).

Despite some sequences in the dialogue being trite and somewhat cliché, as is expected from movies of the sort, The Avengers doesn’t leave much room for you to dwell on such shortcomings. There’s always something taking place on screen: when it’s not a special effects-loaded scene that has been fine tuned to perfection, it’s a quirky, fun, or hilarious interaction between the characters of the movie.

The director Joss Whedon, creator of Buffy, has managed to give a movie where he balanced comedy with the sci-fi aspect impeccably. The leeway he gives the characters to breathe and let their wings stretch is very welcome. Whedon knows how to set up the character interactions. He knows which characters to place together, he knows who’s the gunpowder to the other’s lead. He knows how to work the chemistry of the superhero characters. The overall effect gives the movie an organic feel that is at odds with the underlying theme it’s working for, giving a product that is quite interesting in its contrast.

As mentioned before, the special effects in The Avengers are top notch. The camera work is really well done. The performances by all the actors involved are engaging, especially Robert Downey Jr. who definitely takes the cake when it comes to being the most engaging and interesting of the superheros. Chris Evans, as Captain America, is the refined old-fashioned man full of confusion and disorientation. Chris Hemsworth and Mark Ruffalo give way to some needed comic relief. Scarlett Johanson is stiff at times but she’s beautiful enough to get away with it. Jeremy Renner is terribly underused.

However, despite its flaws, The Avengers left me thinking at some points how much better the Transformers movies would have been had they been taken this route. There’s something about this movie that is simply charming and captivating. As the movie culminates in an epic battle scene in New York – speaking of that, how many times has New York been destroyed and rebuilt by Hollywood? You’d think it’s the new Beirut – and some hilarious comment by Robert Downey Jr. about shawarma, you don’t want The Avengers‘ last minutes to tick away. The movie entertains you for the entirety of its duration. It will make you laugh and it will make you catch your breath. There are no dull moments. I don’t know about you but I just can’t wait for round two.


Top 13 Movies To Be Excited About in 2012

Since 2012 is a few days away, I figured I’d make a small list featuring 13 movies that will be released in 2012, which I am personally excited about. So without further ado, let us begin:

13 – Titanic – 3D

This movie is on my list simply because of the magnitude of its initial version. Like it or not, think it’s been turned into a useless cliche or not, it was until very recently the biggest movie in history.

12 – Men In Black III

Because the first two are fun. Hopefully the third one won’t put a damper on the whole franchise.

11 – Snow White and the Huntsman

This movie is on my list simply because Charlize Theron looks (and sounds) absolutely chilling in it. “Hair black as night, lips red as blood. Give me your heart my dear, dear Snow White.” Also, the TV show Once Upon A Time has boosted my Snow White interest as well.

10 – The Avengers

Most superhero movies we watched were a preparation for this. We liked some and hated others. This, however, should be brainless good fun.

9 – The Master

Amy Adams joins Philip Seymour Hoffman in a 1950s-set drama about a cult leader. What more can you ask for? I’ve decided to include this movie even when there’s neither a poster nor a trailer available to it, mostly based on the caliber of its cast, coupled with the intrigue in its story.

8 – The Amazing Spider-Man

A reboot of the franchise. I hated the third movie but hopefully this will be a much needed return to basics.

7 – Prometheus

Gladiator Ridley Scott’s newest movie. I am a big fan of Scott with his movie screen and TV screen work (The Good Wife for instance). So this movie is definitely on my list.

6 – Skyfall

The new James Bond movie. I personally loved Casino Royal and hated Quantum of Solace. So third time will be the charm for Daniel Craig’s bond.

5 – Les Miserables

We’ve all read the book. We’ve also watched the Liam Neeson version many times when we were younger. But there’s a new version coming to theaters and Victor Hugo’s masterpiece will hopefully be more than well represented. Again, this movie has no trailer nor a poster.

4 – Kill Bin Laden

I hated Kathryn Bigelow’s last movie The Hurt Locker. But this movie, about the operation leading up the assassination of Bin Laden from a Navy Seal’s perspective, looks more interesting and promising. No poster and no trailer available for this as well.

3 – The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Having read the book, I can safely say this will be a brilliant movie. The trailer can’t but get you über excited as well. And it’s Peter Jackson at the helm after all. You simply can’t go wrong with anything Lord of the Ring related.

2 – The Hunger Games

I really can’t wait for this. March is just so far away when it comes to The Hunger Games. The books are epic. The trailer looks brilliant. The song of the movie is stunning. It has Jennifer Lawrence, one of my favorite new actresses. What more can you ask for?

1 – The Dark Knight Rises

Because no other movie deserves to be here other than this. One of the most anticipated sequels to one of the best movies I have ever watched. Christopher Nolan’s Batman is back.

Is there any movie you think should be on this list that I’ve missed? Let me know.

Captain America: The First Avenger – Movie Review

Having nothing planned on a Saturday night, my friends and I found ourselves going to the movies with this being as the only viable movie choice available.

Set in 1942, the movie stars Chris Evans as Steve Rogers, a disease-ridden and poor built American wanting to serve his country. Steve attempts to enroll the army many times, under different names and different hometowns, and gets refused every single time. On the eve of his best friend reporting for duty, Steve is overheard by Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) and is taken to a special training program. There, he proves to be the best candidate for the secret project the government is preparing, not because of his physical built but because of his great heart. The project turns out to be a set of injections with a serum that will transform Steve into a superhuman.

At the same time, Johann Schmidt, a Nazi officer, invades a town in Norway and steals an artifact with untold powers that he starts harnessing in building weapons. And soon enough, it’s up to Steve Rogers, who becomes known as Captain America, to stop Johann Schmidt.

Captain America is nothing groundbreaking. But it has heart. It’s rare to see a superhero movie where the main protagonist is unaware of his own power. The vulnerabilities of Steve Rogers’ weaker self are transmitted to his stronger self. And that is refreshing to see on screen: a superhuman who is, at the end of the day, human and weak and vulnerable.

Moreover, there’s an artistic tint to Captain America that you cannot help but notice. The movie feels like it was produced with old-fashioned craftsmanship: the movie cinematography feels associated with the era in which the events take place. After all, the plot is a retrospective view, similarly to X-Men: First Class.

The performances in the movie are nothing over the top but they do not underwhelm. And after all, a movie featuring both Stanley Tucci and Tommy Lee Jones cannot be that bad – no matter how hard it tries. And no, Captain America does not try to be bad.

The plot might be color-by-number, especially with the overdose of superhero movies that Hollywood keeps throwing at us, but unlike other superhero movies, this one is charming. Sure, it doesn’t come close to greatness like The Dark Knight but it holds its own and manages to entertain you at the same time. The action sequences are nothing extraordinary but they are very well done and complement the plot without overdoing it, like superhero movies tend to do.

At the end of the day, Captain America is a breath of fresh air and an enjoyable cinematic experience that will entertain you for the duration of the movie, serving as a good prequel to next year’s The Avengers. You will love the innocence and the genuine characters it portrays. At the beginning of the movie, and part of why Dr. Abraham Erskine takes on Steve for his project, he asks Steve: “do you want to kill Nazis?” to which Steve replies: “I don’t want to kill anyone. I just don’t like bullies.” And that’s precisely where this movie differs from other superhero flicks: the ultimate message it attempts to convey. The 3D in it, however, is mostly useless.