Assemble! “The Avengers” in review!

On April 14, 2012, I ended up being one of the lucky few granted access to a free advanced screening of Marvel’s “The Avengers”, possibly THE most anticipated movie of the Summer season. Disney had run a contest on Facebook stating that the cities with the largest population of Avengers fans, who “liked” the FB page, would get this most coveted prize. Is it really any wonder that NYC, being the headquarters of the Avengers and Stark Tower would manage to pull this coup?

To say I was trembling in excitement is putting it mildly, but I was also trembling with cold! Merely being on the list to get in wasn’t, in fact, a guarantee at all. It was first come, first seated, as most screenings are. And if anyone knows the meaning of sacrifice, its a bunch of geeks who happily revel in fandom. Yes, I am proudly one of those geeks. Which is how I found myself waking at 4:30am in the morning (late, to be honest) to make it to the AMC 25 in Times Sq. by 7:30am, freezing with my fellow die-hards.

Worth it? I think so!

The sea of folks in desperate need of coffee but with proudly displayed Avengers gear was heartening! I, myself, would have rocked my Loki tee if the weather hadn’t been such that I wished I’d remembered my gloves. What can I say, I’m a sucker for a tortured villain! Still, knowing that I’d be out there for another few hours turning into a human popsicle left much to be desired. I found my mind full of the silent mantra of “please don’t suck” so this would all be worth it; we have to admit that a fair number of comic book/superhero movies have been…ahem…lacking in their justification of admission price.

The line wrapped around the corner

By 9am, the coordinators decided that, rather than letting the line continue as usually happens at screenings, it would be best to cut it
off and alleviate false hope for the stragglers. Finally, some sense! Too many times have people lined up for screenings only to not make it inside at the last minute and the Disney folk obviously knew that pissing off geeks was NOT the way to go. This cutting of the line was then followed by the passing out of numbers. So, not only did one have to have been lucky enough to get a reservation number, they also had to PHYSICALLY be on line to receive a paper number granting entrance. It was a bit like American Idol, if I’m going to be honest! I somehow managed to get an extra number for my cousin who was coming to meet me and, by the time he got there, things started moving.

The promised land!

Not all advance film screenings are super strict; most let you keep all of your personal effects without fear of piracy though there are a few that can’t afford to be that lenient. This was one of them. All cell phones were bagged, tagged, and stored for later retrieval before we were treated to the skills of a Hot97 dj. In the theatre, there were already 3D glasses waiting on every seat and I honestly thought I would pass out from the adrenaline rush. Looking back, I know it was a near thing between that and puking.

Ahhhhhhhhh!

Movie time:
I REFUSE TO SPOIL THIS FILM. Plenty of people already have and, surely, plenty of Europeans will as they’ll be seeing it before us
Americans. But, if you’re in any way looking forward to seeing The Avengers, spoilers are the last thing you want or need.

Everyone already knows that the main villain in the film is Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s “brother”. He’s basically come to Earth to subjugate the population being that, hey, he was MEANT to be a king. And, according to him, “we were made to be ruled” i.e. humanity obviously can’t be left to their own devices without trying to kill each other. With this lofty goal in mind, he stages an event that leaves S.H.E.I.L.D. (actually, Nick Fury aka Samuel L. Jackson) with no other choice but to jumpstart the “Avenger Initiative” to try and stop him. Cue the bunch of misfits chosen to outfit said initiative!

We’ve got Tony Stark (Iron Man), Bruce Banner (The Hulk), Natasha Romanova (Black Widow), Clint Barton (Hawkeye), Steve Rogers (Captain America), and Thor (God of Thunder). Between their clashing personalities and this planetary threat, its a less than smooth ride.

There were a lot of surprises in the film which is classic Joss Whedon (if that makes sense) because he always finds a way to leave mouths agape. You’re going in with assumptions about how everything will play out and Joss turns that on its head; he uses it against us. Somewhere, about a quarter of the way through, it really hits you that this film will NOT disappoint! There’s action, a smidgen of romance, bad-ass super (anti)heroes, non-cheesy effects surprisingly unmarred by the 3D treatment, skillful character development, and AMAZING acting on all fronts. Even from the more minor , background characters!

Everyone is so multifaceted that one can’t just judge any of them as being either good or bad which is completely true to life. This applies, too, to Loki who leaves you feeling what Thor must be; you know he’s done truly evil things but he’s NOT a wholly evil person who can be simply written off. I like how there was also strategic backstory placement that not only makes “The Avengers” accessible to non-comic fans/folks who haven’t seen the previous Marvel Universe movies, but also manages to avoid stagnating the storyline. As I said, you’re thoroughly enjoying yourself without being able to predict what’s going to happen next, thanks to Whedon. Who knows? Maybe the Avengers DON’T win in the end, hmm?

And, yes, there IS an extra scene during/after the credits! I’m aware its already been spoiled for the longest though, just in case some haven’t heard of its contents, I won’t state specifics here, but it gives us a clue as to where the next movie will take us. Whether it continues in the inevitable “Avengers 2”, “Thor 2, or “Iron Man 3”, I can’t say. Stay for the credits, see for yourself, and try to figure out how they’re EVER going to top this. As a guy behind me said, “I’ve been waiting for this movie my entire life. I can die tomorrow.” I feel your sentiments, my friend. Indeed.

Oh, and, no worries! We totally got our phones back.

“Avengers”, starring Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Mark Ruffalo, and Chris Evans, hits US theatres May 4, 2012.

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