Movie Review: SPIDER-MAN Homecoming

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spiderman_homecomingSony / Marvel
2017
PG-13

“Can’t you just be a friendly neighborhood Spider-Man?”

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, young Peter Parker returns home to live with his Aunt May. Under the watchful eye of mentor Tony Stark, Parker starts to embrace his newfound identity as Spider-Man. He also tries to return to his normal daily routine–distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just a friendly neighborhood superhero. Peter must soon put his powers to the test when the evil Vulture emerges to threaten everything that he holds dear.

So, here we are. Fifteen years since the very first Spider-Man movie made us believe it could be done. Since then, there’s been two sequels, a reboot, and another sequel. Now, everyone’s favorite web-slinger is back home with Marvel, and we have a third reboot. Did we need another redux? Have you seen Amazing Spider-Man 2? I haven’t yet, I was just asking. I hear it’s not good. I digress.

So, as I mentioned, Marvel Studios, through a deal they brokered with Sony (who has held the rights to Spider-Man for quite a while), they were able to play with their own toy again. And after a well-received cameo in Captain America: Civil War, I couldn’t wait for the full-length stand-alone movie to see how bad they could screw things up.

You may have picked up that I’m a tad cynical about these Spider-Man movies. Since Spider-Man 3 ten years prior, my wide-eyed fanboy love had felt jaded that anything after Spider-Man 2 would be disappointing at best. There was a glimmer of hope with the introduction of him in Civil War; but, would a side character rol translate into a feature-length movie? Could Marvel make Spider-Man…well, amazing again?

Well, they did a good job trying.

Don’t misread that–Spider-Man: Homecoming is a very good Spider-Man movie. Easily my second-favorite to date, right behind Spider-Man 2.

There’s a lot to like about Homecoming: Tom Holland is probably the best teenage Peter Parker / Spider-Man going, as he convinced me that he could be bullied and picked upon in his civilian garb. The chemistry between the main characters was fantastic, especially between Pete and his best friend / “Chair Guy” Ned. And Michael Keaton as The Vulture was inspired, as he took what I consider to be one of the more goofier Silver Age villains in Spider-Man’s rogue gallery and made him into something genuinely chilling. The script was well-written, witty and smart, and had me laughing out loud more than just a handful of times. The action scenes were very well done as well, culminating in a final battle scene that had me holding my breath. Good job there, movie. And yet, with all of that going for this thing, I do have to point out what I found to be kind of, sort of not good about it. Minor quibbles, maybe, but they have to be said.

Also, I should point out that I’m probably going to be letting lose with some spoilers ahead, so if you’re one of those who haven’t seen this yet…go see it first. Also, welcome back from whatever isolated cave you emerged from. Anyway…

Spider-Man: Homecoming didn’t feel like a full-on Spider-Man movie. The second half did, certainly. But for the first half or so, this felt more like a teen show on the Disney Channel. Which, okay, I understand that Marvel is owned by Disney, and this is a teenaged Peter Parker, interacting with his teenage chums in high school. But for a handful of Spidey scenes, the first half was more of a sloggy, sudsy teen soap. A very well made and engaging teen soap, but a teen soap nonetheless. Freaks And Geeks, if you will. I would wager to say that it wasn’t until Peter got his high-tech Stark suit taken away from him, that this truly became a Spider-Man movie. The moment that Peter steps up to the hero plate despite not having all the nifty gizmos and gadgets, you didn’t have to say “With great power comes great responsibility”, it was demonstrated by the actions perfectly.

I could continue on like this for pages, but I’d rather just urge you to watch Spider-Man: Homecoming for yourselves. It’s a rather good take on Spider-Man, and kudos for finally getting back home to Marvel. Here’s to many more.

Wait…”Homecoming”…back home at Marvel…I think there was more to that title than just that Homecoming dance in the movie…mind blown…

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Movie Review: LOGAN

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logan20th Century Fox
2017
R

“Charles Xavier, the world famous mutant octogenarian.”
“Actually, I’m a nonagenarian.”

In the near future, a weary Logan cares for an ailing Professor X in a hide out on the Mexican border. But Logan’s attempts to hide from the world and his legacy are upended when a young mutant arrives, being pursued by dark forces.

I think we can all agree that Wolverine was the best thing about all of the X-Men movies that have been produced since 2000. Even the ones that were sub-par, with just a cameo of Wolvie made it at least a bit more bearable to sit through. An all-too-brief oasis of awesome in an otherwise mediocre experience. He was the best thing about that otherwise forgettable X-Men Origins: Wolverine movie. And I have yet to find the strength to review that one.

With Logan, we finally get to witness our favorite X-Men character’s swan song…along with another X-Men’s swan song in the process. More on that in a bit. Also, perhaps now would be the best time to hoist the !!!SPOILERS!!! flag, so in case you’re one of the five or so people who haven’t watched Logan yet, you’ve been warned. And why are you reading this, when you can be watching Logan? Good grief, let’s get our priorities in order, here.

Anyway, after watching Logan with the rest of the Exalted Geeks (and then promptly recording a Pubcast about it), I have to say that, if this is the way in which Wolverine is going to go out, then it’s a very satisfying way to go. Let’s face it, there was no other way than with a hard “R” rating that would do the character justice, and this movie uses that. And yet, even though this is a movie about the X-Men, Logan manages to be much, much more than just a mere superhero movie. This is a gritty western that happens to feature the Marvel mutants.

Here, we find Wolverine–now just going by his civilian name Logan–past his prime. His healing factor is failing him, bringing along several complications with it. Almost all of the other X-Men have died, and due to government modified corn (seriously) there hasn’t been any other mutants born in ages. Professor Xavier is still alive, but he’s in his 90s and suffering from advanced Alzheimer’s, causing his mutant brain to become classified as a weapon of mass destruction by the gov’ment. Logan has been taking care of Xavier at a secret location on the U. S. / Mexico boarder, working as a for-hire chauffeur, providing the meds necessary to keep Xavier’s seizures at bay. He’s hoping to buy a boat, so that he can have his father figure live out his final days in peace on the ocean. But, all of that is stuck on the back burner when they find themselves the guardians of a young girl that seems to be a hot commodity for a shady gov’ment agency. Now, Logan, Xavier and this kid is on the run to the north to get her to a place that may or may not exist. Oh, and the girl seems to have the same powers, accessories and disposition of a certain aging Canuk we all know and love.

Hype for Logan couldn’t have been higher leading up to the opening of the movie. We all knew this was going to be Hugh Jackman’s final portrayal of the character he played since 2000. Then we heard that Patrick Stewart was going to hang up his Professor X character after this one, as well. This was going to be the Wolverine movie set in Fox’s Mutant universe to end an era, and the two actors couldn’t have picked a better film to go out on.

Aside that it is possible to make a comic book superhero movie that’s smart, dark and doesn’t insult the audience’s collective intelligence, it finally manage to let the true character of the Wolverine come out, a man who struggles to do the right thing, despite the inner demons and the ravages of time and age. It maintains a bleak future, but with a light of hope at the end. Also, there’s tons and tons of what we’ve all wanted to see since we saw Jackman’s Wolverine pop his claws in the 2000 X-Men movie: Wolverine’s berserker rage. This may be a Marvel-based superhero movie, but it earns its “R” rating, so be warned, ye who want to bring your young kids with.

That said, Logan is more a modern western, with more than a passing comparison with a Sam Pickenpaw flick (the move Shane is referenced a couple of times, especially at the tear-inducing ending), rather than the glossy sci-fi that the X-Men reside in. The result is a grittiness that’s organic and not forced, where you feel how tired and reluctant to go on with his past Logan is. To that end, everyone involved with the acting were fantastic, especially the young girl who portrayed X-23/Laura. My favorite scene with her was where she was eating cereal when she senses the Reavers trying to stealthily sneak up on her. She pauses, then takes another bite of the breakfast food anyway. You have to watch it to understand, I guess.

Which is what I’m urging all of you to do, if you haven’t done so already. So what if you don’t like comic book superhero movies. Logan manages to transcend this label, and will stick with you long after you realize there is no post-credit scenes, and you just stuck around because they were playing a Johnny Cash song. No, not that one. The other one.

Movie Review: The LEGO BATMAN MOVIE

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lego-batman-movieWarner Bros.
2017
PG

“Wait a minute. Bruce Wayne is Batman…’s roommate?”

There are big changes brewing in Gotham, but if Batman wants to save the city from the Joker’s hostile takeover, he may have to drop the lone vigilante thing, try to work with others and maybe, just maybe, learn to lighten up. Maybe his superhero sidekick Robin and loyal butler Alfred can show him a thing or two.

Admittedly, 2014’s The Lego Movie was probably one of the more unexpected hit movies based on a toy property to come out that didn’t have giant robots turning into vehicles or Michael Bay’s name attached to it. I still haven’t watched The Lego Movie as of this writing, mind you; that’s mostly due to my disdain of the nigh-ubiquitous “Everything Is Awesome” theme song that certain chipper types at work seem to utilize as their own personal theme music. I’m sure I’ll get over myself and get around to watching it eventually. Not as of yet, though.

Anyway, reportedly the most popular side character in that movie was Batman, which lead to the spinoff, The Lego Batman Movie. There was no doubt in my head that I was going to see this movie. I remember sitting in the theater a year prior, waiting for the exorcise in overstuffed mediocrity that was Batman V. Superman, and watching the teaser for The Lego Batman Movie, then leaning over to one of the Exalted Geeks in attendance and saying, “Why aren’t we watching this movie?” The Lego Batman Movie, even then, looked to be the superior Batman movie to, not only the one that we ended up watching that day, but to pretty much every other Batman movie that has come before.

Calm down, fanboys and fangirls. You know I’m right. Just hear me out. But first, the rundown (also, there may be spoilers ahead, so be ye warned):

The fun begins with Batman villain The Joker, along with pretty much all of Batman’s rogue gallery (and then some) attempting to hijack a plane carrying stupid amounts of explosives, when he’s once again foiled by The Batman…only to have his heart broken when Batman informs Joker that he doesn’t consider him his greatest nemesis. This prompts the Joker to begin planning his greatest revenge against the Dark Knight…by surrendering himself and the rest of the rogues to the newly appointed Commissioner Barbara Gordon, thereby rendering Batman’s crime fighting services superfluous. Bruce Wayne, while attending a charity event, inadvertently adopts Dick Grayson, then hatches a plan to sneak into Superman’s Fortress of Solitude to steal the Phantom Zone projector with plans to put Joker in the most inescapable jail in existence. Of course, this is just playing into the Joker’s hands, as his master plan is to break out all of the ultimate baddies that were stuck in the Phantom Zone previously to take over Gotham. Can Batman get over his need to be on his own to fight the evil that has taken over Gotham? Will he allow himself to be part of a family again? Is it possible to reference every single aspect of Batman history without coming off as pandering and ham-fisted?

As many have already indicated, The Batman Lego Movie was a highly enjoyable animated action comedy that not only works well as a satire of the various bits of media that Batman has appeared in since Detective Comics No. Something-or-other, but somehow gets to the very heart of who the character of Batman is much better than the other movies ever did. And that is, deep down, Batman doesn’t want to suffer the pain of losing the people he loves, so he keeps everyone at a distance. Until he comes across a situation in which he has to drop those emotional shields of his and let others inside to work together. As a family, if you will.

Character deconstruction aside, The Lego Batman movie should be watched by everyone, not only the fans of the Batman movies, or the first Lego Movie, but everyone. The writing, the animated action, the imagination that went behind this, everything gels together so well that you almost have to take in a second showing just to get all the things you may have missed before. And believe me, if you want to go just to geek out on the Batman, this movie is jammed to the cowl with various references and Easter eggs to geek upon. Even I was impressed at how obscure some of the villains included were.

I need to reel myself in, lest I spend more time geeking out about this movie. Bottom line, if you haven’t seen The Lego Batman Movie by now, you need to go see it while it’s still out in the theaters.

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NecRoSarX Chronicles Header

So, here we are. The tail end of the month of May. Which means, we’re officially at the half-way mark of the year that is 2016. And since there hasn’t been much as far as “content” on this blog of mine, outside of the usual NSR post, I thought now would be a good time to bring anyone still reading this up to speed as far as the goings on in the life of your beloved Uncle NecRo.

Besides still doing NECRO SHOCK RADIO, I’m also recording and producing another podcast, called WILL CODE FOR BEER. Essentially a PUBcast, it’s more or less the recording of the various conversations the constantly mentioned (and alluded to) Coven of Exalted Geeks have on the night we converge at Sean O’Casey’s in Omaha. Then, I chop the entirety up into half-hour long bits and post them here on this blog that was recently set up. Things tend to get wacky. You should check ’em out, if you have nothing else better to do.

Once in a while, there’s a special Nerd Rage Episode, where we get together after watching a movie, and discuss our thoughts on the thing. So far, there’s one for Batman V Superman, and Captain America: Civil War. Coming soon: X-Men Apocalypse.

Earlier this month, at the beginning of May, the four seniors in the youth group graduated. The final night for the season was the last week in April, and there was hardly anyone there who didn’t find themselves verklempt. Proud of those kids, I am. The second week in May, though, my own nephew/godson Christopher graduated High School. Here’s the obligatory pic:

IMG_20160515_141149321_HDR

Click to embiggen

Also having graduated on the same weekend as Chris (and thus necessitating having to miss out on it due to helping with the open house and all that) was my cousin’s eldest, Trevor Donahey. Here’s the obligatory pic:

TREVOR DONAHEY GRADUATION PIC 2016

Click to embiggen

Gads, I’m still wrapping my head around how these two lads are now 18 and moving on to the next phase in life. Only six more years until my next nephew graduates. Better pace myself, here. Feel old, I do.

I didn’t help out with the annual pancake feed that my aunt and uncle does with their Volunteer Rescue team in Dunlap, Iowa this year. The idea was to bring along the two younger nephews to it, so they could gorge on breakfast stuff and have some fun hanging out with the cusins and riding on the fire trucks. Which I did. And they did. Only, I made the grave mistake of taking my blood pressure and diabetes medication without any food, which resulted in enough of a pain level that resulted in me having to leave after only an hour or so. Fortunately, my sister and brother-in-law decided to attend the feed also, so the boys just rode back with their parents. I felt awful having to leave so soon; but, I was feeling even more awful physically. I got back to the Haunted Victorian without further incident, and after an extended nap the pain was gone and I was back to my normal self. And by that, I mean the post-nap depression swing was in full-force.

I trust everyone managed to enjoy their Memorial Day. Everyone reading this in America, that is. If you’re not from America and have no idea what I’m talking about, it’s a day set aside to remember those who died in active military service, traditionally by drinking copious amounts of beer and eating obscene amounts of grilled meat.

Merely good-natured ribbing, my dear Alphonse. Cheers, all.

::END TRANSMISSION::

Movie Review: CAPTAIN AMERICA: Civil War

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captain america civil warMarvel/Disney
2016
PG-13

“Ok. Anybody on our side hiding any shocking, or fantastic abilities they’d like to disclose, I’m open to suggestion.”

Political pressure mounts to install a system of accountability when the actions of the Avengers lead to collateral damage. The new status quo deeply divides members of the team. Captain America believes superheroes should remain free to defend humanity without government interference. Iron Man sharply disagrees and supports oversight. As the debate escalates into an all-out feud, Black Widow and Hawkeye must pick a side.

I’ve decided, right off the bat, to begin this particular review with a hearty SPOILERS AHEAD. You’ve been warned. There, that aside…

I have to admit that I was a bit late to the game when it came to the movie adaptations of Marvel Comics’ Captain America. Since he was never my thing in the funnybook format, naturally I didn’t really bother seeing the first movie until it was out on DVD. Then, even though I enjoyed that one, I still waited for the sequel to hit the local Second Run theater house to watch that one on a big screen. With Captain America: Civil War, I went to see it opening weekend, the Saturday morning, with some of the Exalted Geeks with. Then we went to lunch and recorded a podcast of our thoughts on the movie, which you can totally listen to here. But, I’m also gonna stick my own personal thoughts on the movie here on my bligity-blog. Because movie review. It’s what I do. Anyway…

Right off the bat, I’ll have to admit that Captain America: Civil War felt more like Avengers 2.5 rather than an actual stand-alone Captain America movie. It pretty much has all the current Avengers in there, save for Thor and Hulk, along with Bucky / Winter Soldier, Ant-Man and the very first appearance of Spider-Man and the Black Panther in the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

We start with a bit of a flashback to 1991, where the Winter Soldier is reactivated for a mission that involves the theft of some liquid packets from the back of somebody’s trunk. Then, we arrive to the present day, where the current roster of the Avengers are in Lagos to stop Crossbones from stealing a deadly biological weapon, which doesn’t end well when Crossbones blows himself up and inadvertently causes the death of several dozen citizens, and injuring hundreds more. The public blame the actions on the Avengers, which leads to the world governments to enact a policy to oversee and control the Avengers due to this issue. Heading up this accord is the King of Wakanda, due to the blast killing the Wakandan humanitarian workers who were there. Due to an encounter with the mother of one of the victims who was in Sokovia when Ultron was battling the Avengers the year previous, Tony Stark is all for the Sokovia Accords, while Captain America is naturally dubious about the whole thing. Things escalate when the UN building in Vienna where the Accords is being ratified is bombed, killing (among others) King T’Chaka of Wakanda, by someone who is identified as the Winter Soldier. Captain America wants to bring in Bucky himself, peacefully, while S.H.I.E.L.D. has orders to shoot him on sight; T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, however, has an agenda all his own to take down Bucky himself, as the Black Panther. Captain America manages to find Bucky and barely escape with him; Bucky maintaining his innocence. Turns out one Helmut Zemo is the real Vienna Bomber, and while Bucky, Falcon and Cap are ultimately captured, they manage to escape when Zemo sneaks in and brainwashes Bucky back to the Winter Soldier and causes him to go berzerk again. To take Zemo down, Cap and Falcon decide to not wait for authorization and go rogue, recruiting Hawkeye, the Scarlet Witch and Ant-Man in the process. Meanwhile, Iron Man’s got his own posse, consisting of Black Widow, Vision, Black Panther, War Machine, and a newly-suited Spider-Man. They rumble at an airport, resulting in Cap and Bucky getting away, but the rest of Cap’s team getting captured and sent to a submersible prison. Iron Man discovers that Bucky was innocent all along, and catches up with Cap and Bucky as they discover the abandoned compound where the Winter Soldier project that created Bucky was at, catching up with Zemo. Zemo reveals that it was never his intention to create more Winter Soldiers, then shows the video of Brainwashed Bucky killing Tony Stark’s parents back in 1991, causing Iron Man to go mental and attack Bucky, which leads to Cap to jump in, leading to another massive throwdown in the bunker. The fight ends in a draw, Zemo is captured, and the movie ends with the team still divided and bitter.

Obviously, I left out a good amount of details that you’re just going to have to watch to find out for yourself. Can’t spoil the entire thing, now can I? Regardless, it still took a lot of words to even get that Reader’s Digest Condensed Version, which should tell you what kind of epic scope this movie was. Still, with all of these characters crammed into the movie, Captain America: Civil War still gelled completely, working in a way that a certain other superhero team-up movie that was released earlier this year couldn’t seem to be able to do with just three. When you get past the action (which was done very well) and the various comic book superhero drops (and there were many), the story was still engaging and streamlined, with character development on each one that invests you with the outcomes. Also, the story didn’t take the easy route with the resolution. It was a very dark ending, kind of the Empire Strikes Back of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. With the two new introductions to the superhero stable of the movies–namely, Spider-Man and Black Panther–they did a good thing by touching on the origins without spoon-feeding us and insulting our collective intelligence. And dare I say it…I am all on board with this new Spider-Man. Bring on the stand-alone movie. Sony, you did good by letting Marvel play with its property again. Fox could learn a thing or two by that.

Overall, Captain America: Civil War is a very good, very entertaining superhero action movie that you should try and see on the big screen while you can. It’s heads and shoulders waaaaaaaay better than DC’s attempt this year. If that one is still leaving a bitter taste in your head, watch Captain America: Civil War as a nice palate cleanser.

Movie Review: JUSTICE LEAGUE: Starcrossed

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justice league starcrossedWarner Bros. Animation
2004
NR

The Justice League is on patrol in Washington, D. C. while the international peace summit takes place. Suddenly, the Capitol is under attack by an alien spaceship, and the combined forces of Superman, Batman, The Flash, Martian Manhunter, Green Lantern, Hawkgirl and Wonder Woman can’t stop it…until a whole fleet of spaceships swoop down and destroys the menace. A fleet that turns out to be Thanagarian, from Hawkgirl’s home planet. And the leader of the winged warriors happens to be Hawkgirl’s old fiancé. Which kind of weirds out Green Lantern, as he’s been having a little somethin’ somethin’ with Hawkgirl since about the middle of Second Season or so. But, anyway, referring back to Plot A: Seems there’s a warlike alien race headed toward Earth with notions of worldwide conquest on their noggins, and the Thanagarians have arrived to help the citizens of Earth defend against the horde. Only Batman thinks it’s too much of a coincidence that the Thanagarians arrived just as the one ship attacked. Soon, the true purpose of the Thanagarian presence is made known, which would mean the utter annihilation of our planet. With Hawkgirl’s allegiance now apparently with the Thanagarians (how many times can I say that?), the Justice League must try to stop their plans…otherwise, well…boom…

Starcrossed The Movie is technically the three-part series finale of the Cartoon Network series (it changed over to Justice League Unlimited afterwards). Clocking in at 68 minutes on DVD, it seems a bit short for a movie, but trust me when I say, it jams a lot of action in little over an hour. Like the other Bruce Timm-created cartoons utilizing the popular DC characters (Batman, Superman, Batman Beyond, etc.), Justice League manages to recreate the wonder of the superhero comics while not insulting the collective intelligence of those watching it. Meaning, this Justice League ain’t your daddy’s Superfriends. There’s the action, natch, but the script explores the complexities of the relationships of the characters- Hawkgirl’s feelings for Green Lantern and friends in the League versus her duty to her people, and the betrayal felt by the League. This made these superheroes more than just comic book characters…you feel something beyond just a quick ‘toon fix. The ending, I must admit, brought a tear to my eye, something that hasn’t happened since the end of Iron Giant, and Snoopy Come Home before that. Bite me.

Final analysis: Starcrossed The Movie is yet another example in the high-quality cartoons that Bruce Timm and co. have been putting out- simple yet engaging animation, fantastic voice actors, and a script that doesn’t dumb it down. Quality stuff…

Movie Review: The AVENGERS (2012)

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TheAvengers2012PosterMarvel Studios / Paramount Pictures
2012
PG-13

“He’s my brother.”
“He killed eighty people in two days.”
“He’s adopted.”

Okay, allow me to explain my position on super-duper big ensemble action movies.  Usually they’re overbloated, overfunded, and handled rather shoddily.  Either you get someone who doesn’t understand the source material – be it a director, producer, writer, or all of ’em – or they could care less about the story and cram it full of ‘splosions and really tight revealing costumes, or you get the studio suits getting involved, messing with things and inevitably bringing in a “director” whose only credit previously was making sure Lady Gaga’s costume didn’t go rancid during her last video shoot.  Or something like that.

So, I’ll freely admit that, despite being a big fan of the recent Marvel movies, I still had my nagging doubts as to whether the much-anticipated Avengers movie deserved my hard-earned income on opening weekend, or if this big comic book flick was to be regulated to the “Wait Until It’s At The Second Run Theater” list that seems to grow bigger and bigger every summer, it seems.

Now, there were some factors in its favor: Written and directed by Joss Whedon (fanboy squee), the reaction overseas when it was released a week earlier was very positive…but, the deciding factor was when Nex planned the mass watching Saturday evening opening weekend here in the States.  Figured, if it sucked, I wasn’t alone.  Plus, the venue we went to featured one of those all-you-can-drink soda dispensers with the touch screens and the literally 100 different varieties going.

But, on to the actual movie…

Fortunately, the movie didn’t suck.  As a matter of fact, it did quite the opposite of sucking.  The Avengers, I am happy to say, was a movie that was way more awesome than it should have been.  Seriously, crossover events as this, at least in this kind of media, haven’t fared very well.  And yes, I am well aware that the comic book itself is a long-running favorite that is essentially a crossover of Marvel favorites.  I’m talking media-wise.  And in television and movies, super hero and comic-based stuff are generally better off solo titles.

In The Avengers, though, it worked.  That, I believe, having to do with the main characters already being established in their own solo movies.  Time wasn’t wasted trying to cram individual back stories into the thing; it was all there to build upon.  Mind you, you don’t have to watch the previous movies to enjoy this one, but it does enhance things immensely.  And as to the story itself:

Loki, still tremendously butt-hurty from the events in the movie Thor, manages to whip up an army of warlike intergalactic beings, then proceeds to open up a wormhole back to Earth, mentally enslave both Hawkeye and that old scientist guy from Thor, steals the Cosmic Cu…er, Tesseract, and turn the entire S.H.I.E.L.D. installation into a massive crater.  That last four points were all done in ten minutes, by the way.  Bad mother-shut-your-mouth Nick Fury is havin’ none of that, so he brings together the three super heroes considered for the long-dormant Avengers Initiative to bring down Loki and get back the Cosmic Cu…er, Tesseract.  Things don’t seem too positive on that end: Tony Stark / Iron Man is his usual cocky arrogant self, Steve Rogers / Captain America is broody because of that whole Man-Out-Of-Time, Stranger In A Strange Land thing going on, and Bruce Banner / The Hulk is trying really hard not to “go green”, if you get what I’m groping at.  They manage to capture Loki, and after an awesome scuffle that introduces Thor into the group, they bring Thor’s adopted brother to S.H.I.E.L.D.’s helicarrier, and proceed to brood, bicker, and get into stupid cat fight with each other.  Loki escapes, things go boom, something happens to a long-running character that I can’t say due to my pledge to keep this relatively spoiler-free but trust me you’re going to want to bring tissues, the four heroes finally put aside their differences and work together as a team, they fight a bunch of freaking aliens, more things go boom, Hulk go SMASH!, and the whole thing ends with everyone going their separate ways, but with mutual respect for each other.  Also, TWO post-credits cut scenes.

Overall, with a nearly two-and-a-half hour running time, honestly that time just flew by.  The Avengers isn’t a perfect movie, by any means.  But, as I reflected with one of the Exalted Geeks on the way out to my car, there were many, many chances for this to be messed up.  While there are a few minor slowdown spots, overall the story managed to keep my attention through the entire thing, didn’t insult my intelligence, and ended up being perhaps the first really big entertaining summer blockbusters.  For me, I never once regretted spending money to see this in the theater.  As a matter of fact, I catch myself contemplating seeing this again sometime soon.

Bottom line, I strongly encourage anyone even slightly contemplating seeing The Avengers to do so.  Don’t bother with the 3D, as I’ve heard it doesn’t do anything for it.  Go forth, grab your soda and popcorn, and enjoy yourselves immensely…