The Avengers

Joss Whedon's The Avengers is as sure a bet as any to come out of Hollywood's dream machine. An A-list TV and Tinseltown producer/director/writer with a narrative intelligence and imagination that is difficult to overpraise, Whedon pulled from previous Marvel(ous) film entries -- Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America to construct a story that weaves together fairly disparate characters, origins and tones into a movie whose individual parts are just as intriguing and entertaining as the whole. The cast includes a host of bankable talent -- Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Scarlett Johannson (Black Widow) and Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye) -- in set pieces that are large and loud, brimming with detail and outrageous touches of humor, provided mainly by the Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo when Bruce Banner). The diverse talents of this team of superheroes are called upon to respond to an intergalactic invasion orchestrated by Norse god Loki (a scenery chewing Tom Hiddleston), the brother of Thor (the ubiquitous Chris Hemsworth). It's fairly intense and though it is not bloody, the film is loaded with comic book violence. It is rated PG-13, but tons of youngsters under 10 were in the screening I attended. Nightmares will surely ensue.

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