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Eleanor Ringel Cater

‘The Avengers’ — an action-packed movie collage of super-heroes

By Eleanor Ringel Cater

A primo example of the variety-pack approach to summer block-busters, “The Avengers” lumps together a half-dozen super-heroes, in much the same way cereal companies stack grocery shelves with snack-packs of Sugar Pops, Special K, Cheerios, Coco Puffs, Raisin Bran and Fruit Loops.

Fun? You bet. More fun certainly than I expected, having felt only so-so about the several single-hero movies that built up to this final…crescendo?

Maybe smack down would make more sense. But that would undercut one of the movie’s greatest strengths. The more super-heroes, the more action, right?

Well, “The Avengers” does not lack for action. In fact, New York gets smashed up pretty damn good as Ironman (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Captain America (Chris Evans) and the Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) pool their respective powers to defeat Loki (Tom Hiddleston), a badass from Asgaard, where the Norse gods hang out.

To try to explain what each of these folks do (I’m still not sure about Black Widow, aside from Johansson — surprise! — looking great in black leather) would take up half the review. And I’m trying to make a point.

Namely, the banter is, in its way, as impressive as the CGI budget. Now, I don’t mean Tennessee Williams or Tom Stoppard have anything to worry about.

I’m just saying that director Joss Whedon — who seems to have been born with dweeby fanboy DNA — understands the crux of super-hero aggregations like X-Men, The Fantastic Four, Metal Men, Justice League of America and, yes, the Avengers.

Like, what would Thor say to Ironman if they were teamed up against the same villain? Can the Incredible Hulk be a team player? (Mostly not, to hilarious effect).

Werewolf or vampire in the “Twilight” series. Hannibal Lector vs. Michael Myers. Lassie vs. Benji.

In its way, “The Avengers” is about as “character-driven” as a huge summer comic-book movie can be. And in just the right combination of affection and silliness.

Just watching what an angry Hulk does to a vainglorious Loki —a kind of unexpected Bam-Bam joke — is worth the ticket.

Eleanor Ringel

Eleanor Ringel, Movie Critic, was the film critic for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for almost 30 years. She was nominated multiple times for a Pulitzer Prize. She won the Best of Cox Critic, IMAGE Film & Video and Women In Film awards. An Atlanta native, she graduated from Westminster and Brown University. She was the critic on WXIA’s Noonday, a member of Entertainment Weekly's Critics Grid and wrote TV Guide’s movie/DVD. She is member of the National Society of Film Critics and currently talks about movies on WMLB and writes the Time Out column for the Atlanta Business Chronicle.


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