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Sandy: After two attempts and our real lives getting in the way, Ann and I finally made it to my most anticipated movie of the Summer, Marvel Studios’ The Avengers.
The movie brings together iconic Super Heroes Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Black Widow and Hawkeye. When an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global security, Nick Fury, Director of an international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D, must assemble a team to protect the world from destruction. Despite pulling together this ultimate dream team, Fury must find a way to convince the Super Heroes to work with, not against each other, when the powerful and dangerous Loki gains access to a device of unlimited power.
Marvel’s The Avengers is based on their popular comic book series, “The Avengers,” first published in 1963. The film stars Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Mark Ruffalo, Jeremy Renner and Tom Hiddleston, and is directed by Joss Whedon.
Ann: You forgot to mention we saw this for $4 each, thank you very much. It pays to get up early in the morning.

Sandy: We’re also going to avoid spoilers this time around, so nobody panic.

Ann: As someone who was never into comic books, and has little knowledge of the heroes they contain, where they came from, or how they became what they are, I can say I was able to follow the story and have at least a basic comprehension of the action and motives.

Sandy: The villain in this is Loki, brother of Thor, (played by “Can my eyes get any bluer?” Tom Hiddleston). He’s a perfect rampaging sociopath, if ever there was one.

Ann: Yep. If you are looking for a rampaging sociopath, Loki is definitely your man.

Ann: We are introduced to each of the “freaks” as Nick Fury brings them together. We see Tony Stark after a very clever introduction of Natasha Romanoff, a.k.a. Black Widow.

Sandy: I’m surprised you were even able to focus on the movie once Robert Downey Jr. made his appearance.

Ann: I know. I don’t know what it is about him, but I adore him. Unfortunately, we also meet his girlfriend, Pepper Potts played by Gwenyth Paltrow. I wanted to hate her on spec because she was in the room with RDJ and I wasn’t, but since her character is funny and smart, I got over it.

Sandy: And she’s only in the movie briefly this time around. (As opposed to the Iron Man film.)

Ann: Actually, each of the characters is introduced in a way that gives you enough of a glimpse into their characters and motivation, without wasting too much time getting to the action.

Sandy: Scarlett Johansson plays Russian spy Natasha Romanoff and Jeremy Renner is Clint Barton a.k.a Hawkeye. Hawkeye – because Katniss Everdeen can’t have all the fun with a bow and arrow. He’s a master marksman with hints of a past with Black Widow. Natasha is one tough skin-tight leather clad super girl. She’s smart and her power is her own. It wasn’t given to her by a serum or an accident.

Ann: She’s actually outfitted in a costume that enables her to fight. No thigh high stiletto boots for her. I always wondered how Wonder Woman fought in a corset. I can’t keep a strapless dress up to save my life.

Sandy: Who can keep up a strapless anything? Natasha is sent in to recruit Dr. Bruce Banner who has been “off the grid” for some time. Banner is subtly played by Mark Ruffalo. With all due respect to Eric Bana and Edward Norton, Mark Ruffalo is the best Bruce Banner to hit the big screen. His anger simmers just below the surface through the first half of the movie until “the other guy” is finally released. Three words of thank you to Joss Whedon…best Hulk ever!

Sandy: Fury then pays a visit to my personal favorite, Steve Rogers a.k.a Captain America. Growing up in the 30s and 40s, Captain America was a favorite of my Dad’s, so I was brought up on his stories. I love his old-fashioned honor and love of country. Plus, the arms on Chris Evans…who can’t love that?

Ann: I don’t dislike him, but he was a bit too goody-goody for me, but then, I’ve always liked the bad boy.

Sandy: I can’t fault you for being partial to Tony Stark, but I will make you watch Captain America: The First Avenger, and change your opinion of Mr. Rogers.

Ann: You are welcome to try.

Sandy: Thor enters the scene after three of our heroes have their first encounter with Loki. The relationship between the brothers of Asgard is the weakest development in The Avengers. Their story is played out in the 2011 Thor and I think those that didn’t see it miss a bit of the angst here. Thor wants to solve the problem of Loki himself, but Iron Man doesn’t like someone taking his toys. Iron Man pursues Thor while Captain America pursues Iron Man. The three have a battle royale with a final face-off between Captain America and Thor. Who wins in a contest of hammer versus shield? The result may surprise you.

Ann: Hello, Thor…

Ann: The group is brought together to sort out Loki’s mess, but there’s no “I” in team, which is a problem for this group. They can’t seem to unify, or agree, or really get along very well at all.

Sandy: It does look like Nick Fury’s Avengers initiative is well and truly dead. Loki’s plan leaves them bereft and scattered. What they need is something to unite them.

Ann: And something does. See? No spoiler.

Sandy: Then, a small nudge from Nick Fury helps them realize what’s at stake and what they can do about it.

Ann: Fasten your seatbelt.

Sandy: As much fun as the sniping is in the beginning, the movie takes off at this point into summer blockbuster “let’s make everything explode and look cool doing it” status. AND let’s do it as a team.

Ann: A really attractive team.

Sandy: Not sure the term “eye candy” has ever been applied better. Fury is betting a lot on his theory; specifically, the fate of the world. As the Avengers assemble to fight off Loki and his alien invasion, I enjoyed the ease with which each slipped into their respective role. Captain America immediately took on leadership, assigning each hero his or her job. The easiest…Hulk…SMASH!

Ann: He IS very good at SMASH.

Sandy: Hulk was a scene stealer in the battle – his moment with Loki. I defy anyone to not howl at that scene.

Ann: What I appreciated about the climactic scene, is that it is a scene in every sense of the word. And it’s ONE. Not one of those movies that keeps going and you think this has to be the end, then it starts back up again. And again. And again.

Sandy: The biggest problem I had with the movie was the transformer rejects that came through the cosmic portal opened by Loki. The CGI was great, but all of a sudden I was watching a Michael Bay movie.

Ann: I can see that. But I could also see that I would have nearly killed myself getting out of the way of those things if I’d been watching it in 3D. All in all, I thoroughly enjoyed it, and now want to watch the individual movies that introduce these characters.

Sandy: I have to admit it’s hard for me to be objective about this movie, as a comic book hero fan. I loved just about every minute. I could nit-pick things here and there, but I don’t want to. I have been waiting for this movie since Iron Man was released in 2008 and cannot wait to see where they take this franchise. It deserves every dollar of it’s almost one billion made.

Ann: Oh! I almost forgot – the end…

Sandy: One thing to be aware of in these movies are the scenes after the credits. Each movie leading up to this has had a hint about The Avengers. This one has two. One that gives us a hint as to the next villain (and I must say I was thrilled). Then, a scene at the very end that is not to be missed.

Ann: For those who walked out before the end of the credits, I can only say, “Boy, did you miss it.” It is well worth waiting a few extra minutes to race to the restroom.

Sandy’s summary:
The Avengers is a Summer blockbuster that completely lives up to its hype. It is a fun, action packed thrill ride that allows you to see flawed heroes learn to accept each other on a journey to save the world. This film is bold with its action, effects and especially its humor. Yet, oddly enough, one of the best scenes is a very quiet sixty seconds at the end of the film’s credits. I loved it from beginning to end and look forward to the next time this team is called to assemble.
Grade: 4 shields and a hammer.

Ann’s summary:
SMASH.
Grade: 4 Robert Downey Jr.s and one hammer – held by Thor.