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Believe the hype The Avengers'

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Comic book culmination even better than advertised 

'The Avengers' is the culmination of a years-long buildup spread across multiple films. It is an incredibly ambitious attempt at world-building the likes of which the summer blockbuster genre has never seen before. It is an effort at creating not just a comic book movie, but a comic book universe. The hype has been enormous and the anticipation even greater. So it's here.

And it's outstanding.

A mad Asgardian demigod named Loki (Tom Hiddleston, 'War Horse') the brother of Thor has stolen an alien artifact known as the Tesseract in order to build an army to conquer the Earth. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson, 'Meeting Evil') is the head of a superspy organization known as SHIELD and is the point man on dealing with this (or any other) alien attack against the Earth.

Fury reactivates a dormant program called the Avengers Initiative, in which he gathers people with extraordinary talents together to face extraordinary threats. These heroes include Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr., 'Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows'), Captain America (Chris Evans, 'What's Your Number?'), Thor (Chris Hemsworth, 'The Cabin in the Woods'), Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson, 'We Bought A Zoo') and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renne, 'Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol'). Oh, and Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo, 'The Kids Are All Right') is there as well. You know, the guy who turns into the Hulk.

From there, all they have to do is prevent a crazed supervillain and his bloodthirsty extradimensional hordes from taking over the world.

Loved this movie. Love, love, LOVED this movie. As a longtime Marvel fanboy, I have been excited for this film ever since I first heard that it was on the horizon years ago. And even with all the buildup and the hype, 'The Avengers' failed to disappoint. It was smart and well-crafted. The writing, the performances and the direction all of them are uniformly exceptional.

A lot of the credit for the film's success has to go to Joss Whedon, who both wrote and directed the film. First of all, there is no mistaking the fact that Whedon is clearly a comics fan. The script reflects that understanding of the source material; he just gets it. And when you combine that with his uncanny ability to instill ordinary qualities into extraordinary characters, you get a screenplay that manages to be alternately action-packed and a bit introspective with a liberal dose of humor to boot.

The action sequences are stunning, giving us the superpowered fights we crave on two levels the one-on-one brawls and the epic battles against thousands. Whedon's direction comes into play here; he has a great eye for memorable screen pictures moments that resonate with pure comic bookiness.

Still, without quality performances, all the writing and direction is for naught. With the exception of Ruffalo (who is very good in his own right), all of these actors have played these characters before. They wear them easily and unselfconsciously; each actor has found a level of comfort that allows for a nuanced and genuine performance. Downey in particular is very good his Tony Stark is the perfect balance of arrogance and masked insecurity.

'The Avengers' lives up to the hype and then some. The Marvel master plan has finally come to fruition. I for one can't wait to see what they do next.

5 out of 5

Last modified on Thursday, 24 May 2012 13:50

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