The Avengers

Posted: May 9, 2012 in Film reviews

Written and Directed by Joss Whedon. Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston.

I promised my Avengers review wouldn’t be pretty, and it won’t be. Because pretty really doesn’t do this film justice…

First the bad: The title, what were they thinking? Marvel Avengers Assemble? Do they really think the UK audience would mistake it for a reboot of the Avengers TV series?

Ok that’s the bad out of the way.

Loki, the Asgardian, adopted brother of Thor and all round God of chaos, is in league with an alien race who want the power of something called the Tesseract (last seen in the Captain America film) a source of unlimited power. Loki promises to give them the Tesseract after he’s used its power to subjugate Earth. Ranged against an unstoppable foe, one Earth superhero isn’t going to be enough, so Nick Fury brings an eclectic, eccentric even, group of super powered beings together: Captain America, the man out of time; Iron Man, the narcissistic Playboy Tony Stark; Hulk and his alter ego Bruce Banner; and Thor, God of Thunder with a very big hammer. Oh and not forgetting the Black Widow and Hawkeye, who are somewhat less super endowed, but are pretty good in a fight anyway.

The trouble is the Avengers  aren’t so much a team as a fight waiting to happen, and in fact early on they do spend more time fighting each other than Loki. Can they find some common ground in Earth’s darkest hour?

This film has been a long time coming, a film that’s been hinted out in pretty much every Marvel film of the last few years, Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor, Captain America, with Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury a constant background figure in the post credits of every film. When a film is this hyped, this anticipated, I worry. Throw into the mix the fact that you have so many heroes sharing the spotlight and it almost seemed like a disaster waiting to happen, a film that could only ever disappoint, that was doomed to be less than the sum of its parts.

Instead what we have is a film that’s fun, exciting, and yes even moving in places, a film that doesn’t shirk from spectacle, yet understands that spectacle alone if worthless, and provides as many subtle character moments as it does huge city toppling explosions.

I’m not always Joss Whedon’s biggest fan, but he does a great job here, both behind the typewriter and behind the camera, and its truly amazing just how much is packed into the film’s near two and a half hour long running time (though it never feels that long, in fact at times you kind of wish it’d go on a bit longer.)

The cast are excellent, with the standouts for me being Downey Jr who manages to portray Tony Stark as a complete arse, whilst simultaneously making us love him, and Chris Evans, who manages to play Steve Rogers’ 40’s era daring do and moral certainty without ever making him feel like a caricature. His Captain America makes me want to sing the Star Spangled Banner.

Hemsworth’s Thor is somewhat poorly served, and this film does serve to remind me that the Thor film was at its best when Thor was a loveable idiot aboard, rather than the somewhat po-faced, stiff God he is for much of this film, though to be fair he looks good in a fight.

Johansson’s Black Widow gets a surprise amount to do and perhaps gets some of the best character moments in the film, her interrogation of Loki is excellent. And even Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye comes across better than I expected, though it would have been nice if he’d had more of a costume.

Samuel L Jackson is, well he’s Samuel L Jackson, you always know what you’re going to get from him.

That leaves the new boy, the one member of the Avengers we haven’t seen before (Hawkeye was in Thor, though you would be forgiven for not remembering) who is Mark Ruffalo debuting as Bruce Banner, and though we’re made to wait a while for the ‘other guy’ as Bruce calls him, when the jolly green giant shows up he’s worth the wait. In fact Hulk gets two of the funniest moments of the film, and despite being cgi’d he feels very real.

Throw in Hiddleston who makes Loki a joy to watch, crafting a villain who looks like he could take the Avengers on all by himself, even though he looks weedier than any of them, as well as a host of others, and it really is a cast to die for.

Are there flaws, well yes, the start creaks somewhat, and the alien foes are a trifle generic, little more than faceless drones for the Avengers to pound on, but these are minor quibbles that shouldn’t distract from what is an exceptionally well crafted blockbuster, a heck of a rollercoaster ride. 9/10

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