'Avengers' Usher In Summer Blockbuster Movies

Marvel's The Avengers is expected to break box-office records. If you have to watch a bunch of superheroes and explosions, this movie provides good ones.

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DAVID GREENE, HOST:

OK, so it's still officially spring, but the movie world is kicking off the summer blockbuster season this weekend with a whole lineup of superheroes in Marvel's "The Avengers." Here's film critic Kenneth Turan's review.

KENNETH TURAN, BYLINE: "The Avengers" are here, and resistance is futile. Even if you don't particularly like comic book adaptations, this film might make a believer of you. "The Avengers" begins with the bad news that a tiny, but enormously powerful extraterrestrial energy source has started to act up. That opens a portal to the other side of space, and who should arrive on our planet but the Norse god Loki, up to no good. His goal is nothing less than dominating us feeble earthlings, a species he feels is ripe for subjugation.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE AVENGERS")

(SOUNDBITE OF GRUNTING, HITTING)

TURAN: It is the mission of Nick Fury, played by Samuel Jackson, to protect the planet from just this kind of nonsense. He doesn't hesitate to give Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston, a piece of his mind.

(SOUNDBITE OF MOVIE, "THE AVENGERS")

SAMUEL JACKSON: (as Nick Fury) How desperate am I? You threaten my world with war. You steal a force you can't hope to control. You talk about peace, and you kill because it's fun. You have made me very desperate. You might not be glad that you did.

TURAN: Fury is counting on the Avengers - a group of superheroes, including Thor, the Hulk, Iron Man and Captain America - to save the day. Saving the day for this particular movie is writer-director Joss Whedon, best known for creating TV's "Buffy the Vampire Slayer." Whedon's got an innate gift for bringing stories like this to life with the energy and intelligence that should be popular entertainment's birthright, but rarely is. As "The Avengers" underlines, comic book movies are the ultimate expression of today's Hollywood zeitgeist, the way "Gone with the Wind" or "Casablanca" epitomized an earlier time. So it's good to at least have them done this well. If you have to watch a handful of freaks save the planet for the umpteenth time, you could do a whole lot worse.

GREENE: That's Kenneth Turan. He reviews movies for MORNING EDITION and for the Los Angeles Times.

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