The Avengers (Rated R) 5 Stars05-23-12-movie.jpg

Now that Joss Whedon has made a success of The Avengers (142 minutes), can we do another Firefly movie? No? Can we do a feature length Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog? Maybe give him some money to do that Buffy spin-off, Ripper? With all the records this film is breaking maybe he’ll get to do all three, and then everyone goes home happy.

We start slow, and those of you who haven’t seen Thor might want to take a minute before entering the theater to look up the summary on IMDB. It isn’t entirely necessary to have seen all the films leading into The Avengers, but if you haven’t seen that one it might take a few minutes to figure out what is going on.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is conferring with a shady alien race, the Chitauri (AKA Skrulls for those of you keeping track). Meanwhile, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is doing some S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff back on Earth assisted by agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders). It turns out that Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) is playing with Thor’s main plot point in a secret underground lab, and it is all about to go horribly wrong. After Loki trashes the place and takes off with a couple of important characters in tow, Fury activates the Avengers Initiative. The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson, who apparently wasn’t good enough to rate her own origin movie) is sent after Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), agent Phil Colson (Clark Gregg) attempts to recruit Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Fury sweet-talks Captain America (Chris Evans).

The only supporting chick from the origin movies to make it into the theatrical cut is Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), although Natalie Portman’s Jane Foster is referenced and a scene between Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Steve Rogers is destined to appear on the DVD release as a deleted scene.

After a few team-building exercises in the second act, the nearly complete team heads out to capture Loki, who has control of both Dr. Selvig and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Of course, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) shows up to join the party before Loki is finally locked away. With so many supposed geniuses on the team, you would think someone would figure out that capturing the demi-god was a bit easier than it should have been way earlier, or at least, when someone finally points this out, they would be more interested in following the thought to its logical conclusion. Sadly, they are all too busy making fun of each other, which is okay because that’s part of the on-screen chemistry that makes the film work so well.

The film is full of adolescent comic-book logic of the sort that serves the plot more than common sense. For example, Thor comes flying out of the sky on a pretty regular basis. At one point he gets dropped from the S.H.E.I.L.D. Helicarrier … is anyone really that concerned he’ll end up with even a scratch? And since Loki has mind control powers, does it not occur to him to sneak up on the Avengers and mind control a few more of them, having demonstrated in the first 15 minutes of the film that he can easily do so?

If you want my opinion (and you’re reading the review so I assume you do), The Hulk might nail most of the physical comedy, but Iron Man gets most of the best lines. Overall, the film is as satisfying as a Snicker’s bar, even if it does run a bit long. Speaking as a comics fan, the focus on the team’s 1960s dynamic really worked. With any luck, by the time they get around to the sequel they will have sorted out the licensing issues that kept some of best characters out of the first entry in this franchise. And yes, there are not one but two after-credits scenes. One of which features *spoiler!* THANOS!

Now showing at Wynnsong 7, Carmike 12 and Carmike Market Fair 15.

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