The Avengers is like an amped-up version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith, that Jolie-Pitt starrer that worked wonderfully when it focused on its characters and got a little ho-hum when it focused on the gunfights.
I say amped-up because, while a grudge match between two professional killers only trashes a suburban house, anything involving Thor (Yeah, Thor. Son of Odin? Asgard? Don’t f** with me or I’ll shove my hammer up your a**?
Zeus Thor! You got a problem with that? (If that just sounded like random obscenity to you, you clearly haven’t watched enough Samuel L. Jackson.))…
So where was I? Yeah, when Thor and the Hulk decide to go mano-a-mano, the collateral damage is a lot more than a house. Add the Iron Man, Captain America and Loki to the mix and what do we get? Manhattan-sized collateral damage, yes. But also lots of CGI, to the point where you just sit back and let the action get over because it’s all just gotten too much.
The plot is straightforward: Loki comes to earth with an intention to rule it. He gets his hands on something called a Tesseract, which is apparently a source of unlimited power, and uses it to bring an army of minions from another world/dimension. Arrayed against him is the aforementioned bunch of superheroes, with Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) playing traffic cop. There are also a couple of humans — Hawk-Eye (Jeremy Renner), who can do things with a bow and arrow that only Angelina Jolie could with a gun in Wanted, and the Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson), who was disqualified from becoming a Charlie’s Angel for excessive bad-assery. Oh, and there’s also Cobie Smulders, whose reward for playing Robin Scherbatsky is the privilege of strutting around in a tight outfit, looking serious and converting O2 to CO2.
I probably sound like I didn’t enjoy the movie. Ah, but you’re wrong there. When the Hulk and Iron Man are doing their thing, I usually just go meh. But when Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) are talking, it’s beyond fantastic. The rest of the cast do their jobs, and do it well. But it is really these two who make it work. While Downey Jr. provides everything we have come to expect of him after the two outings in this role, it is Ruffalo who surprises us by stealing every scene he is in without seeming to try. And thankfully, there’s enough talking between all the fighting that we don’t care so much if the action is not especially inventive or interesting.
Come to that, a confrontation between the Hulk and one of the other characters is probably the only action sequence I’ll endorse from this film. But what a face-off that is! You’ll know which one I’m talking about when you see it — suffice it to say that it single-handedly justifies the price of the ticket and the popcorn. The talking is just gravy.