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Writer-director Joss Whedon spins an intoxicating web that would made Spider-man green with envy. In the action-packed comic book fantasy Marvel's The Avengers, Whedon delivers what an escapist blockbuster should be in spirit and soul: exhilarating, imaginative, outlandish, stylish and immensely witty. In fact, maybe Spider-man should apply for membership in The Avengers as his fellow Marvel Comic cohorts look to make a big splash prior to the summertime box office explosion?

Obviously Whedon has got the animated chops to helm an action-packed motion picture that oozes with amazing off-kilter adventure given his status as the mastermind behind the Buffy The Vampire Slayer phenomenon. Whedon, along with co-writer Zak Penn, conceives a stimulating story grounded in colorful carnage and a wondrous special effects scope that radiates vibrantly. It certainly does not hurt the cause in witnessing some of Marvel Comics iconic superheroes joining forces to serve up the sizzling sensation on the big screen.

How filmmaker Whedon accommodated the larger-than-life personalities on-screen and off-screen is mighty impressive especially when meshing together an anticipated broad popcorn pleaser that would satisfy avid observers from the finicky fanboy to the impatient movie studio executive. Whatever skillful magic it took to reunite these big name wonders works marvelously as Whedon (The Cabin in the Woods) impressively juggles these actors and their super-powered alter egos with all the precision of a patient-minded clown simultaneously tossing colored rubber balls at a kiddies  birthday party. 

The harried heroes on showcase all contribute brilliantly to the manic mayhem in this visually explosive spectacle. The high-wired hayride in The Avengers kinetic universe includes Robert Downey, Jr.'s Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo's Hulk, Chris Hemsworth's Thor, and Chris Evans's Captain America. Newcomers in Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow and Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye round out the sensational six in an action-packed dose of combustible entertainment. In short, Marvel's The Avengers is a well-structured comic book fantasy that registers with grandiose verve.

Collectively, The Avengers answer to the dynamic leadership of S.H.E.I.L.D's Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson). The global organization S.H.E.I.L.D is designed to keep the peace worldwide. The centerpiece to the latest intergalactic caper involves Thor's villainous sibling Loki (Tom Hiddleston) looking to wreak havoc by stealing the Tesseract, an energy cube with a majestic sinister effect. Loki's arrival through the portal is an obvious dilemma for his brother Thor and a major threat for Earth as the treacherous cad looks to control the planet with this corrosive cube of destruction.

Loki's evil-minded agenda has included his manipulative wickedness against the likes of Hawkeye and Professor Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) who was last noticeable in the motion picture Thor. The persuasive powers pertaining to the petulant Loki is already quite dangerous aside from him possessing the Tesseract. Plus, it does not help that poor Loki has daddy-related issues. Not a very good sign for the universe, huh?

No doubt Marvel's The Avengers does justice to creator Stan Lee's comic book characterizations and the diehard loyalists willing to give these power-packed participants a hearty superhero's welcome. The story is stimulating and fortified with a cornucopia of action-oriented sequences, 3-D special effects flourishes, comical interludes and a detailed depth of the assortment of heroic hucksters looking to save the world from disastrous forces. The cinematography by Seamus McGarvey is undeniably exquisite and adds an extra realm of sheen and mystery.  From capitalist Tony Stark's/Iron Man's posh Stark Towers to S.H.E.I.L.D's Helicarrier headquarters in the sky the set pieces are agreeably opulent.

The super sextet is distinctive, diverse and dazzling in their special ways and mannerisms. Interestingly, nobody overshadows anybody else and is equally involved in the rousing subplots. In particular, Evans's Captain America has an angst-ridden edge that may be more humanly sympathetic of the boisterous band of saviors. No doubt Johansson's curvaceous cupcake Black Widow will cast a hypnotic spell and Downey's industrious Stark/Iron Man is an ego-driven delight to behold. Ruffalo's brooding turn as Dr. Bruce Banner/Hulk is quite haunting. Both Hemsworth's Thor and Renner's Hawkeye contribute to the increasing intrigue of these gifted wonders.

As the resident rogue-in-ruins, Hiddleston's larcenous Loki makes for a fabulous flashy bad guy guided by his dysfunctional demons. Jackson's on-screen menacing swagger is on display in the form of authoritative Nick Fury. Supporting players Clark Gregg as Agent Colson, Fury's capable Girl Friday blueprint Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Gwenyth Paltrow's Pepper Potts marks an exclamation point to this rip-roaring session of popcorn paradise.

Sure, Marvel's The Avengers is positioned to spawn an inevitable sequel-in-waiting and why not? Hardcore comic geeks and Marvel minions your time has come to bask in one of the most gloriously conceived supernatural actioners to come down the pike in a long time. 
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Review of: Marvel's The Avengers
Frank Ochieng Rating: *** stars (out of 4 stars)

Director:Joss Whedon
Starring:Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Stellan Skarsgard, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Gwyneth Paltrow, Cobie Smulders