Monday, May 7, 2012

Marvel Assembles a Winner

With an all-star cast, first rate screen writing, brilliant SFX and a marketing campaign worthy of any presidential candidate, Marvel Studio's The Avengers, is one super ride you cannot miss!

**SPOILER ALERT! While we will try and refrain form giving away anything too major, there is some potential for spoiler content in this post. You have been warned, true believer.**

Anyone order a record-breaking maga-blockbuster with extra appeal?
Arth Vader (AV): This movie built us up to have some VERY high expectations indeed, Ponty. Since The Incredible Hulk (2008, not that other unmentionable disaster), Nick Fury and Tony Stark have been hinting at and implying a movie mash-up of heroes for several years now. Through both Iron Man movies, Thor and Captain America, we have been teased and tempted with the prospect of the greatest Super hero team ever assembled. I don't think we've had such a large strain of multi-movie character continuity... ever. This movie has established itself as the new bar for films in the super-do gooder genre.
Hitting the target, baby!
THE PONTIFICATOR (TP): Well Vader, this isn’t the way the Avengers started in the comic book, but with a movie this good, who cares? Really though, it stayed true to the previous individual movies of the characters and had elements peppered in from the actual origin of the team as well as other continuity elements. The roster is different from the books (swapping out Ant-Man and Wasp for Hawkeye and Black Widow) and of course Captain America wasn’t an original member, but you just couldn’t do an Avengers movie without Captain America. The origin of the team did include Loki as the villain, so the film was true to that, and Hawkeye was an enemy of the Avengers before he was a member... so they nailed that as well. Taking from the Ultimates origin, the Chitauri were also antagonists and the Hulk rampaging on the S.H.I.E.L.D Helicarrier was also incorporated. Overall...several elements of Avengers lore spectacularly blended to make something new, but also true to the real fans.
AV: When you put a quin-jet full of A-List talent behind the masterful direction of Joss Whedon, you get gold. A perfect mix of powerhouse talent (Downey, JR., Johansen, Jackson and Evans) and give them fan-inspired direction and open-reign to improvise guided by Whedon, Marvel, Faverau and (gulp!) Disney–and you have what is commonly referred to as a blockbuster, folks. The on-screen handling of so many hero's working in unison could NOT have been easy but this movie's direction puts the viewer right in the thick of the action and keeps the entire dialogue engaging and entertaining. This is arguably the movie's greatest accomplishment.
Wasn't the Scarlet Letter "A"?
TP: Indeed Vader... my rating on the subjetc: all perfect. They couldn’t have chosen a better cast to make this movie. Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Evans (Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)...all perfect for their roles and delivering excellent performances. The directing of the film is superb and flawless as the movie flows seamlessly into each scene... especially with the battle sequences.
"Hulk Smash... All Box Office Expectations!"

No aspect of this movie was done on the cheap–from the massive advertising and promotional campaign, to the PR and viral marketing efforts, to the talent and production quality and, of course, the special effects. No part of this movie is lacking, Ponitficator. However, I want to call out one particular gem (no not from the Infinity Gauntlet, that's coming!) concerning the SFX in The Avengers. It's the Hulk. Funny, imposing and intimidating, the Hulk's rich CGI presence onscreen was just shy of academy-award winning. Really. It's my estimation that old green genes simply stole the show. The Hulk is leveraged as the "Ace" up the Earth's sleeve, which is–Ahem!–an
incredible undertaking both story-wise and cinematically—as he is literally a 1,000 pound butt-kicking ball of channeled rage. Most notably is the Hulk's beat-down of Loki while he is in mid-monologue–a scene that is just laugh-out-loud funny.

TP: What more is there to say except spectacularly marvelous?! The special effects were all that... and then some. Agreed Vader, the most notable effect, the Hulk, looked... well, incredible! Without question, the best looking Hulk to date, presented as very realistic, especially with conveying emotional content. The expressions on his face are priceless. The aliens were also realistic as were the various powers displayed by our heroes. The lightning from Thor’s hammer, the resilience of Captain America’s shield, the technology of Iron Man and Stark Industries, the mechanism of Hawkeye’s quiver... all flawless and done to the highest expectation.


For the first time since the first Spiderman movie, I felt like I was actually watching a comic book brought to life. Now I am going to geek out here for moment–I hope you, and our readers, will indulge me, Pontificator. I have read and followed the Avengers since Age seven. They are the reason I became so enamored of comic books, why I went to Art School–becoming the catalyst to a 20+ year advertising career–and even the founding pillar of our relationship spanning more than 30 years, Ponty. This movie is a deeply grounded part of my world. Suffice it to say I have been waiting the better part of three decades for this movie to happen–and today, I am one happy camper!

TP: Wow Vader... well said old friend. I use this part primarily to weigh in on the dramatic, comedic and action elements of a film. Not every film has all these elements...and few in enough parts to appeal to the widest audience possible. I’m proud to review a film that shatters this mold and incorporates hefty amounts of action and comedy...and delivers enough drama at the right times to make the emotions connected to the scenes real and memorable.
AV: One of my favorite parts of The Avengers is how accessible it is to non-fans. You need not have seen ANY other Marvel movie to go and enjoy this film. Whether you are an avid fan or a curious movie-goer, you will heartily enjoy The Avengers. As of the posting of this review, The Avengers has posted the biggest domestic box office in the history of Hollywood, with a 4-day (domestic) total of more than $207 million dollars in the US–and a staggering foreign market/overseas pull of $447 million in just 10 days. The Avengers summer of box office dominance has begun!
TP: The interaction between the various characters was a make or break aspect of the film and carried more weight than I would have thought after seeing the final product. Tony Stark was into himself but every bit a hero, Steve Rogers stepped up to take command as the soldier he is, Bruce Banner...probably the biggest surprise of all, provided the resonating link, both as Banner and as the Hulk. The professional approach of Hawkeye and the subterfuge of Black Widow rounded off the team...while Nick Fury offered the guiding hand and motivational spark. This film may have been action packed...but it was the characters that drove it to success.
Gettin' a taste of the Fury!
Arth Vader on Marvel's high-stakes gamble: When discussing the runaway success of The Avengers, it is important to take note of the monumental risk Marvel undertook to get the Avengers to happen. Needing a cash infusion of a reported $525 million to make the series of movies leading up to The Avengers, Marvel–under the watchful eye of parent company Disney–put all of their intellectual properties up for collateral. This is literally putting everything on the line. If any one of the previous movies had flopped, this story could have ended VERY differently. Marvel has come a long way since being on the verge of bankruptcy in 1998–truly a 'super' success story!

TP: There will certainly be a sequel... and the appearance of the end credit villain almost certainly means that it will be bigger in every way possible... meaning the biggest movie of all time. Talk about setting the bar...
AV: Agreed! Show me a movie that generates almost $700 million in just under two weeks and I will show you a franchise that is here to stay. No one will be able to deny the unrelenting money making success of The Avengers. The end teaser at mid-credit roll was an indicator that Marvel is going "all-in" with some pretty heavy-hitting baddies in the future. Let's remember the Red Skull was whisked away into nether space at the end to Captain America and we were clearly given a glimpse of *SPOILER!* Thanos the Mad Titan smiling cynically at us in the cold depths of other-dimensional space. So we have some great things to look forward to in future Avengers installments.
THE PONTIFICATOR Rates The Avengers: I’m not going to waste time with colorful language and glowing accolades... The Avengers convincingly busted all 10 blocks... and then some!
Arth Vader rates The Avengers: If you happen to be one of the 46 people left on Earth who has not yet seen The Avengers, please, shut-down your computer and head to the multiplex. Now. As for me–with an incredibly entertaining overall experience, state-of-the-art SFX and an all-star cast–I will be going weekly until it is pulled from theaters. Even a trans-dimensional army of super-high-tech baddies couldn't keep me from giving Marvel's The Avengers a Perfect 10 Busted Blocks. 'Nuff said. 

Oh, and just because NO ONE has said it yet; "Avengers Assemble!"

The Avengers: 10/10 Busted Blocks!