“The Avengers” is, if nothing else, one of Hollywood’s most successful marketing triumphs of recent years. The picture, which grossed a whopping $200 million this past weekend, has drawn together comic book characters Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), each of whom have previously appeared in their own feature film.
Add “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” creator Joss Whedon as director and throw a few minor characters into the mix – Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) – and there you have it - a cultural phenomenon.
In this case, it’s a pretty decent one. While “The Avengers” does not live up to the near-deafening hype that has led up to its release, it’s a solid big budget action film.
The film’s plot: Villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s wicked brother, arrives on Earth with plans of world domination, Fury gathers together the gang and fights ensue. Lots of fights.
While the film’s numerous special effects are handled well, I personally found the witty banter between the quartet of heroes to be the picture’s selling point.
Downey has, thankfully, recaptured his character’s mojo following the mediocre “Iron Man 2.” He gets most of the film’s best zingers.
“The Avengers” is lacking the complexity of Christopher Nolan’s “Batman” films and the ambition of Zach Snyder’s flawed “Watchmen” movie. But it’s a significant improvement on last summer’s lot, which included “” and “.”
It’s a good summer blockbuster, but not necessarily a great one.
“The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is last weekend’s other team effort.
Populated by a handful of former Oscar nominees and winners, including Judi Dench, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson, the film is a charming, but lightweight, fish out of water comedy.
The group of elderly British characters, which also includes Bill Nighy and Penelope Wilton, all find themselves leaving their home country to spend their golden years in the titular abode, a run-down hotel in India that is operated by a young entrepreneur (Dev Patel, of “Slumdog Millionaire”).
Most of the picture’s revelations are not particularly staggering – one character falls in love with another, a crotchety traveler overcomes her prejudices and one character is returning to the country on unfinished business.
The film mostly works due to the range of talent involved in the project. It’s funny, if not hilarious, and good natured without being maudlin.
At its best, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” is a decent movie for adults wishing to opt out of this summer’s smorgasbord of high concept Hollywood movies.