Screening Room: “Marvel’s The Avengers”

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MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS (PG-13)

RUSS
The most highly anticipated movie of the summer has arrived. "Marvel's The Avengers" is a comic book movie that delivers the goods.SHAWN
The Avengers doesn't fail to impress it just doesn't do it often enough.

RUSS
I disagree. Writer-director Joss Whedon manages an impressive feat. We get a sense that the characters are in real peril. That's hard to pull off when your characters are superheroes.

SHAWN
The Avengers gets off to a terribly slow start. Appreciate the love in setting everything up properly but a better opening scene would have done the movie good.
RUSS
The special effects and production values are top-notch. But it's Whedon's witty dialogue and snappy direction that makes "The Avengers" a super, superhero movie.SHAWN
For those who have seen the previous movies: Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America and Thor will feel right at home. For those who haven't, the only thing you'll miss are a few clever references.

RUSS
Admittedly, there are a lot of characters darting in-and-out here, but in this case, too many chefs don't spoil the broth.SHAWN
The Avengers plays like a cinematic comic book. Props for that. It's fun. Easy to watch. Not too difficult to navigate despite all of the characters. Robert Downey Jr. is the clear MVP. His charisma as Iron Man a.k.a. Tony Starks carries the entire first half of the movie. He's such a star and larger than life personality. The second half of the movie belongs to the Hulk. Glad the filmmakers subscribed to my theory (Google the April 3, 2008 Pitch article about me). Just let the Hulk get mad and tear things up. No back story. No justification. Just green powered mayhem. Although the Hulk's CGI is still a bit cartoony. But hey....

RUSS

Fan boys will be in heaven and most of the rest of us will have a great time, too.
SHAWN
Overall there is nothing you haven't seen before like with Superman, Blade, the first Spider-Man and The Dark Knight. It's safe generic story telling done very well with a glossy look that defines the high end of average.
RUSS: 4 Popcorn Bags
SHAWN: 3 Popcorn Bags

THE SALT OF LIFE (Not rated)

RUSS

Writer/director/star Gianni Di Gregorio offers a gentle Italian comedy, “The Salt of Life.”

Di Gregorio stars in this semi-autobiographical tale as Gianni, a put-upon retiree with a good heart. He loves his wife and daughter, is loyal to his friends and dotes on his demanding elderly mother. But Gianni sees some of his old neighbors scoring with young chicks, and he wants in some of that action himself.

What could have been the uneasy story of a dirty old man turns bittersweet and even melancholy as his awkward efforts to secure some extramarital sex all fail. The movie is slowly paced, very episodic and oddly anti-climatic. But “The Salt of Life” so unexpectedly sweet natured that you may find yourself rooting for Gianni to succeed at cheating on his wife.

Russ: 3 Popcorn Bags

ALSO OPENING THIS WEEK:

-Keyhole” (R) is a haunted hose movie from quirky Canadian director Guy Maddin.

-Greta Gerwig stars in Whit Stillman’s ensemble comedy, “Damsels in Distress (PG-13).”

-“We Have a Pope” (Not rated) is an Italian comedy about a reluctant pontiff and his therapist.


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