Bigger and goofier just translates into fleeting fun
With so many turbo-charged talents under its comic-book wings, it’s no wonder The Avengers can hover elegantly without effort, and yet, go nowhere.
An action movie that prefers to chase its own tail of dysfunction for the duration, this long-awaited gathering of Marvel characters tries to go for the psychological side of the equation, before pouring on the pyrotechnic gasoline and throwing a match in the finale.
It’s not a bad bet for director Joss Whedon ( Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly), one of a handful of Hollywood creators who brings sincerity and earnest emotion to popcorn formats.
To his credit, he does a good job balancing the all-star pyramid of talent headlined by Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L. Jackson, ensuring each bigger-than-life character is given a chance to shine.
The unlikely superhero team is united to thwart your standard “bad guy wants to take over the world” scheme.
Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is still angry at his brother Thor (Chris Hemsworth) for usurping his royal throne in the heavens, so he forges an allegiance with his space race’s worst enemies: machine-like insects with green skin and metallic bones who desperately crave a forever home on Earth.
They are not nice, nor cuddly, but Loki snuggles up to their riveted breastplates so he can indulge his petty need for vengeance. His new friends will crush humanity like an anthill, but he has to get them to Earth first, and in order to do that, he has to open up a portal with a powerful energy beam.
The Avengers won’t surprise anyone who has seen a feature-length comicbook movie before. Whedon does not reinvent any big wheel, and the movie unfolds almost exactly the way one might predict — right down to the romantic flourishes and sexual asides.
So why subject yourself to all that loud noise, silly drama and unrestrained violence? Easy: It’s fun.
Moreover, the bigger and goofier it gets, the more fun it becomes.
There are more than enough moments like this to keep any viewer entertained, but when it’s all said, done and exploded, The Avengers doesn’t leave a lasting impression, because no one really transformed on any fundamental level.
The banter is engaging, and the acting meets every minimum requirement, but the movie never exceeds the sum of its parts.