Droll humor, special effects make ‘Avengers’ Marvel-ously enjoyable

By Daniel de la Rosa

Menlo Park Mall in Edison, New Jersey is a bandbox of a shopping center with a refurbished moviehouse where the seats swallow you and the arm rest is as big enough to plant your corn shrimp, fries and humongous Diet soda.

Drove there on a warm Friday evening that had a hint of summer after several days of dreary rain hoping to catch the 6:15 p.m. showing of “The Avengers.” The electronic ticketing machine splashed “sold out.” Same thing with 7:15 p.m. and all the way to midnight. Even tried the counter hoping a human ticket seller could work around the system and produce a ticket for me. No luck.

Hopped back into the car and decided the nearest moviehouse was in Hadley Center on the boundary of Piscataway and South Plainfield. I got a ticket to the 6:30 p.m. showing and fell in line with a bunch of rambunctious kids whose parents were trying mightily to herd them.

The movie ran for nearly two-and-a-half hours and featured a classic comic-book theme. It was in 3D, which always seemed to give one a bug-eyed view of the action.

Here’s the simple plotline: The Marvel characters try to save the world from an alien invasion. Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow is the lone woman in the SEALS-like rescue mission composed of Robert Downey as Iron Man, Mark Ruffalo as Incredible Hulk, and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, among others. Like it says in the flick, it is an old-fashioned concept of teamwork where the whole is infinitely more powerful than the individual parts. Only a director and scriptwriter like Jose Whedon, who loved these characters growing up, could make the whole thing come together.

For an ensemble cast, it is hard to miss Robert Downey Jr. He is the pivot for this movie, his glib one-liners and put-downs sprinkling laughter in a movie that would otherwise be dominated by fight scenes and special effects.

Downey’s Iron Man has a ticker that can go at any time because of a shrapnel near his heart, but his narcissism is boundless as he describes himself as a “billionaire, genius and a playboy.”

Mark Ruffalo as Hulk with anger management issues was also great, especially in the climactic battle scene where he and the bad guy trash Manhattan. I digress, but why does Hollywood love to destroy New York like some god-smiting Sodom. Hulk’s scene with arch-villain Loki was one of the most hilarious in the movie. Actually, the droll sense of humor made the movie thoroughly enjoyable.

For me, the two best comic book adaptations are the “Batman” series under Chris Nolan whose brilliant vision dwelled on the nature of evil which got the late Heath Ledger his Oscar. “The Avengers” ranks right up there.

Now, onto the “Dark Knight Rises” in the summer.

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