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'The Avengers' a top-flight superhero flick

Date: 10/9/2012

By G. Michael Dobbs

A box office blockbuster and a film for which you'll have to hunt are featured in this week's DVD review column.

The Lady

Director and writer Luc Besson is primarily known for directing films such as "The Fifth Element" and writing the scripts for the two "Taken" movies. His greatest strength has been in quirky action films.

So I was surprised that Besson directed this respectful and moving biography of Burmese human rights activist and Nobel Peace Prize winner Aung San Suu Kyi.

It's again unfortunate that this foreign film has received little theatrical release in the United States and isn't exactly Red Box material. Americans don't have the best understanding of Asia and this film illuminates the recent history of a country — Myanmar (Burma) — in a very human way.

The film recounts how Suu Kyi, married and living with her husband and children in Great Britain, comes back to Burma to visit her dying mother and becomes involved in the movement to bring democracy to that nation ruled by a junta of generals.

Suu Kyi is no newcomer to activism as her father negotiated Burma's independence from Great Britain and her mother served as an ambassador for the Burmese government.

The junta was suspicious of Suu Kyi and after she became active in political change they placed her under house arrest for 15 years in an attempt to marginalize her and to break her spirit. The generals had decided that killing her would make her a martyr as her father, who was assassinated, had become.

This movement details her struggle and her relationship with her husband and children as they support her efforts.

The film has a strong secondary story of the relationship between Suu Kyi and her husband. After returning to Burma, they only saw each other five times and he died from cancer while she was still imprisoned.

With a great script and solid direction, this movie is compelling viewing. I doubt that Michelle Yeoh will receive any award nominations for her portrayal of Suu Kyi, but she should. She's great.

The Avengers

If you missed "The Avengers" in theaters, here's your chance to see a really impressive superhero movie.

In many ways "The Avengers" is far superior to the more pretentious "Dark Knight Rises" as unlike that Batman film, this movie actually reflects the comic book series well and delivers the good fans crave.

When Stan Lee and Jack Kirby gave birth to the comic book series in 1963, they gave it an interesting twist: these heroes didn't like one another very much and didn't know each other's secret identities. Director and writer Joss Whedon smartly kept much of the feel of the original comic intact, including the fact the team's first opponent is the Asgardian demigod Loki.

If you've not seen the two "Ironman" movies or the "Thor" or "Captain America" films, this movie might require a bit of explanation. That is one of the clever aspects of the production: this film is essentially the product of plot points of the preceding films.

Don't worry, as you'll get caught up to speed really quickly and Whedon blends the right amount of action, humor and special effects to create a satisfying film.

The flashiest performance is by Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark, the billionaire genius turned hero as Ironman, but the best performance in my book is by Chris Evans as Captain America. Out of all of the preceding films, "Captain America" was the best and Evans portrays this hero out of time with the correct amount of dignity and sadness.

And for goodness sake, sit through all of the credits for two additional scenes.