By Mark Saldana

Rating: 4 (Out of 4 Stars)


Marvel Studios started something in 2008, with the release of Iron Man, setting into motion, an exciting, albeit somewhat risky; plan to duplicate their comic universe on the big screen.  Their “Avengers Initiative” would produce several individual hero stories on the big screen leading up to an epic motion picture where all of these heroes come together.  Marvel followed up Iron Man with The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.  All of these films are linked together by having certain characters (Agent Phil Coulson, Nick Fury) and story elements and references (Stark Industries) make appearances.  Now, the time has come–the epic moment for which fans have been clamoring.  Marvel releases their masterpiece in theaters on Friday May 4th, their “9th Symphony”, and it is incredibly amazing! 

So as not to spoil too much of the movie, I will keep the synopsis basic and slightly vague.  Since the events of Thor, Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson) and S.H.I.E.L.D. have been working with Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) in studying and utilizing the power of the tesseract which was once used by Red Skull in World War II.  Loki (Tom Hiddleston) infiltrates the S.H.I.E.L.D. base and manages to get away with the cosmic cube.  Fury, Agent Coulson, (Clark Gregg) and Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow (Scarlett Johanson) begin assembling their team which consists of Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Capt. Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), and Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to recover the tesseract and capture Loki who may work with forces more powerful than anticipated.  It is up to “the world’s mightiest heroes” to put aside their differences and unite to save the earth. 

With the films leading up to this one, Marvel really has done something truly remarkable in this culmination of pure awesomeness.  Writer/director Joss Whedon does some outstanding work here.  Whedon, who co-wrote this film with Zak Penn, assembles an amazing summer movie blockbuster which will definitely set a high standard for superhero motion pictures from now on.  Whedon and Penn’s script delivers the entertainment goods on so many wonderful levels.  They take all of the elements which made the previous “Avenger” movies great, remaining true and faithful to those storylines and characters, and pull it together in this stupendous masterpiece.  The script displays Whedon’s and Penn’s talents for exciting storytelling, hilarious comedy, and character development.  Whedon and his crew also pull out all the stops when it comes to the thrilling action and the mind blowing visuals on the big screen.  

Not only am I thoroughly pleased with the writing and direction, but I am also happy that Marvel brought back almost all of the original cast members.  Mark Ruffalo takes over the role of Bruce Banner, first portrayed by Edward Norton in The Incredible Hulk.  As much as I really loved Norton in that role, Ruffalo performs wonderfully here.  He seems to have an exceptional feel for the character, and considering how Whedon and Penn develop this character, Ruffalo brings a stronger edge that Norton does not have in the previous movie.  I have nothing bad whatsoever to say about the entire cast.  Hemsworth is perfect as Thor.  Evans certainly has Cap down almost effortlessly. Renner makes a welcome addition to the team as the skilled marksman archer Hawkeye.  One of the real standouts in the movie is Tom Hiddleston who deliciously portrays the evil, manipulative, and power hungry Loki.  While his efforts in Thor work nicely, but he doesn’t excel as he does here. His performance in this film really soars! 

Bringing a classical and gleeful badness to Loki, Hiddleston certainly exceeds all of my expectations.  It probably should go without saying at this point that Robert Downey, Jr. provides the other standout performance.  The man is at the top of his game here as Stark/Iron Man.  It probably helps that he has all of the best comedic lines and quips.  His ribbings on his teammates had me laughing every time.  I really liked that Whedon and Penn don’t make Stark as insufferable as he can get in Iron Man 2.  His arrogance and sarcasm has a likable and enjoyable quality here.

 Because I am running out of superlatives with which to praise this movie, I must conclude my already lengthy review.  This is the first blockbuster movie in a while that gave me that giddy, joyful feeling I used to experience as a kid watching movies during the summer.  As I watched this one in child-like awe, I laughed and applauded often.  I even teared up once.  I left the theater with a grin from ear to ear.  I couldn’t possibly recommend this film anymore than I already have.  I will advise that the 3D added nothing to the experience, so don’t spend the extra money on this.  This movie without the added charge and annoyance of the glasses is perfect as is.  I cannot wait to see it again and again.

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