The premier of Joss Whedon’s take on the Avenger’s legend is creeping up fast. (For Americans at least. I am aware and envious that the U.K. premier was last weekend.) Though it seems like yesterday that Nick Fury introduced us to the Avengers initiative, it was totally four years ago and I’m bored with this intro. Here are my micro-reviews of the Avengers-universe-films thus far!
As the flick that launched the Avengers franchise, Iron Man walks tall at the head of the pack. Surprisingly fun performances by Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges and Robert Downey Jr., along with a great story and cool effects, managed to tear us all away from GTA4 for as long as it took to watch Tony Stark become the lynchpin that holds the Avengers together. Five stars.
Iron Man 2
Not so much. Iron Man 2 felt like a rushed, cash in of a sequel, and it got so excited about universe continuity that it forgot about the elements that made the first movie great. Though cluttered and tedious, IM2 had its saving graces, such as Scarlett Johansson’s introduction as the Black Widow. Scar snags the best combat sequence in the film, and she does it without a robotic exoskeleton and all of the CGI that that entails.
After Thor, Iron Man 2 probably laid the most track for The Avengers. That makes it worth seeing, but it also makes it all the more unfortunate that watching this movie about a rebel billionaire fighting supervillains with a robot suit feels like taking medicine. Two stars.
Thor lacked believable CGI and dialogue, but it somehow managed to mash what it did have into a halfway decent movie. Chris Hemsworth, for example, is good enough in the title role to apologize for the weakest Natalie Portman performance I’ve ever seen. There are a few decent action scenes, (those that don’t rely too heavily on the shoddy CGI,) and we’re introduced to Loki, evil stepbrother to Thor and future arch-nemesis to the Avengers. He makes for a promising baddie. If nothing else, Thor made us feel grateful that it wasn’t as dissapointing as Iron Man 2. So… Kudos I guess. Three stars.
Captain America: The First Avenger
Now this was more like it. Captain America kept the continuity factor subtle and fun instead of shoving our faces into it whilst spanking us with a rolled up copy of the New York Post. It had the balls to take two steps back from the previous films into the realm of propaganda cinema and the period piece. It’s a stylized standalone that only nods occasionally to Thor and Iron man, so kudos, and a toast to all of us who look forward to watching the Cap’s face turn red as he plays a reluctant foil to Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark. To say sparks will fly would be an understatement. 4 stars.
The Incredible Hulk
The usually stellar Edward Norton should have been great as a tortured loner confronting his inner demon considering he’s done it twice already in American History X and Fight Club. Instead he seems bored, and his mediocre performance detracts from what could’ve been a damn good meat-and-potatoes hulk movie. Tim Roth does well as the Abomination, Tony Stark pops his head in, sure, yeah, that all probably happened I guess. Maybe if we’re lucky the Avengers will become the first really worthwhile Hulk movie. (Either way, I’ll be angry at Ang Lee for the first attempt and Ed Norton for the second until they both personally apologize. WillKosh1@gmail.com.) 3 Stars.