By Mikhail Chernyavsky

It all started as a post-credits scene at the end of 2008’s “Iron Man.” Now, “The Avengers” unite for the best superhero movie thus far.

It’s hard not to use worn out clichés like “the best movie of the year,” “an action-packed thrill ride,” “hold on to your seats,” and so on, but “The Avengers” lives up to all the hype it has created over the years.

Joss Whedon did everything right with this film, starting with the script. The dialogue is smart, funny, and most of all purposeful. The action is constant, and the characters continue to develop right where their previous films left them.

Like any fan of the previous films, I was excited to see how this heavy ensemble cast would interact, but I was also skeptical. Michael Mann’s 1995 hit “Heat,” brought together some of the biggest stars at the time, Al Pacino, Robert DeNiro and Val Kilmer. However, Pacino and DeNiro were only on screen together a fraction of the time. Unlike 2008’s disappointing “Righteous Kill,” it felt like the two were trying to out-act each other and steal the scene (not to mention a bad script). The actors are solid, just not in the same scenes.

Each superhero has carried his own film (or two), and what makes Avengers work so well is that the story is built around the characters and their interactions with one another. This is the first time that Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) meet each other and form S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury’s (Samuel L. Jackson) Avengers Initiative.

Whedon does a wonderful job of developing the characters’ relationships with one another, showing how idealism is attracted to idealism (Captain American and Thor), and genius to genius (Iron Man and Hulk). Then, where most of the film’s conflict derives from, how big egos are blinding and isolating, to the point of self destruction. To quote Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner, “We’re not a team. We’re a time bomb.” (Not a spoiler! It was in the previews.)

The biggest, and best, surprise of the film was Hulk. Ruffalo is the third actor to play Banner/Hulk, but he steals the show and proves that he is the Hulk that fans have been waiting for. Ruffalo’s portrayal of a mild mannered Banner juxtaposed to the raging Hulk created the perfect character distinctions that are required to portray the two personalities. Ruffalo deserves his own Hulk film.

The fight sequences between the heroes are epic. Flying and fighting throughout, it’s a battle of powers between godlike beings, one of which is. The Manhattan alien invasion is spectacular. And the real icing on the cake, there’s no love story.

Any hint of romance that tends to side track action films is brushed off and cast aside. Some of the heroes’ romances are given a quick address but quickly move back to the main story.

“The Avengers” is full of as much action as comedy, wit and intellect. This is one movie that will not disappoint.

Make sure to stay through the credits for the staple bonus scene and sequel tease.

Check out “Mark at the Movies” to get Mark S. Allen’s take on the film and hear what the “The Avengers” cast has to say when Mark sits down with them.

New On DVD This Week
Joyful Noise: Staring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah. A small Georgia town has fallen on hard times, but the people are counting on the Divinity Church Choir to lift their spirits by winning the National Joyful Noise Competition.

New Year’s Eve: Staring ensemble cast including Halle Berry, Jessica Biel and Jon Bon Jovi. A follow up to Valentine’s Day, the lives of several couples and singles in New York intertwine over the course of New Year’s Eve.

Haywire: Staring Michael Douglas, Ewan McGregor and Michael Fassbender. A black ops super soldier seeks payback after she is betrayed and set up during a mission.


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