After the past few years of teasers at the end of Marvel Studios productions: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America - plus months of viral and commercial promotion - The Avengers lived up to the hype.
Arguably the best super hero based movie to date, The Avengers brings "Earth's mightiest heroes" together to take on Thor's half-brother, Loki, the God of Mischief, who is working in concert with alien forces to lead a takeover of the Earth.
The biggest surprise with this film is the amount of humor beautifully blended into the story under the direction of Joss Whedon. Fan boys and sci-fi folks who are familiar with Whedon's popular work on TV's Buffy the Vampire Slayer won't be at all shocked by the integration of Whedon's wit into the story line as the director, a comic book author and fan himself, provided The Avengers with just the right care as he brought it to the big screen.
Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), sporting an eye-patch, brings the heroes together under the umbrella of international peace-keeping organization SHIELD, when a powerful cube with unlimited power from beyond this world power falls into the possession of Loki (Tom Hiddleston) - who has designs on world dominance. Don't they all. Threatening an inter-galactic war, Fury brings the idea of The Avengers Initiative back to the forefront - much to the chagrin of a shadowy council overseeing his action. The team, however, doesn't play nicely together. Straight-laced Captain America (Chris Evans) has no time for playboy billionaire Tony Stark, a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.). While the two don't click, Stark provides many of the film's more comical exchanges. Questioning Fury's ability to see what's going on around him and catching one of the SHIELD technicians playing video games on the job are classics. Stark also blends well with the Hulk's alter ego, Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo - the third and best actor to play the role). The two geniuses don't understand why nobody gets their lingo. Not to be outdone, the Green Goliath shows he has a bit of humor underneath that gruff impenetrable exterior. His behavior is also comedy legend at moments.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the demi-god, finds all the human interaction and word play petty, but steps up when needed to help put the wraps on his "adopted" brother.
The two other heroes - described as highly functional assassins - Black Widow (Scarlett Johnansson) and bow-and-arrow wielding Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are great in hand-to-hand combat but add a bit of human frailty to the team, as does Fury, who manipulates and directs the team to come together and fight for the common cause.
Also joining the cast is Stark's love interest and assistant Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), Agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders - of TV' hit "How I Met Your Mother"), Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg), who has had a recurring role in the lead-in films.
The action and special effects are stellar, the acting and chemistry is at its best, and The Avengers does what blockbusters rarely do: live up to the hype.
Add The Avengers to the list of one - which is The Dark Knight - at the top of super hero movies. It sets the bar high for coming releases "The Dark Knight Rises" and "The Amazing Spiderman."
Randy's Review: The Avengers. On a scale of 5 popcorn buckets, The Avengers rate 4 3/4 buckets out - as close to perfect as you can get - but no human being can make the perfect movie. It's seasoned with just the right amount of butter to taste, and complimented with carbonated liquid of the highest order. Buy the combo deal, sit back and enjoy. MPAA Rating: PG-13 (for intense sequences of sci-if violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference) Run Time: 2 hours 22 minutes. This film was previewed at the Southpark 7 in Spencer.