Avengers Assemble – Review

Avengers Assemble – Review

Review by FilmFellaDarren – 8.5/10

Marvel’s iconic superheroes have ceased fighting crime solo on the big screen – The world’s mightiest heroes, aka The Avengers, have finally assembled. The tentative alliance between such seasoned crime fighting stalwarts as Ironman; The Hulk; Thor; Captain America; and the less seasoned Black widow and Hawkeye seems swift and relatively slick at the start of Josh Whedon’s mega-movie, but as anyone who didn’t rush to the exits after the credits rolled on the early franchise openers for this dream-team of superheroes will know, Samuel L. Jackson’s black leather clad, eye-patch wearing, shadowy figure Nick Fury has popped up at the end of all the films, suggesting he has been scoping out these characters like a sports coach looking for future talent. He’s been tapping up this lot for four years since Ironman made his screen debut in 2008 – has anything taken longer to assemble? It’s a good job one of Marvel’s deadly bad guys like Baron Zemo or Abomination didn’t shoot-up from nowhere to slyly conquer the world, or we would have been screwed. Fury seems to have overlooked Marvel’s Fantastic four presumably on the grounds that they are anything but fantastic. Although seeing The Hulk tussle with that orange rock thing would have been pretty fun.

Anyway, needless to say, the hype for this has built and built as each new character has entered the movie arena. In that time, our collective group have racked up over ten hours of blockbusting screen time.   The four years of hype that comes with five movies has elevated expectations for this sky-high. The question everyone was asking – which now seems to have been categorically answered by critics, fanboys and casual movie goers alike – was : was it worth a four year wait and all those setup movies? Answer: YES! YES! YES! Whoop with joy – high five your friend, get your superlatives ready – Avengers Assemble is spectacular, awe-inspiring, fun- fulfilled entertainment.

So what kind of plot can justify the grouping together of the best crime-fighting ensemble ever assembled?  And what villain could possibly be a match for such a formidable team? Well, the villain is Loki – the slimy brother of Thor, we met in last year’s Thor movie; he’s not much to look at – just a goth with a weapon, but he’s (a self-proclaimed) ‘Demi-God’. He wasn’t much of a match, for just Thor alone last year, but in the year since battling his more illustrious bro’, his villainy has grown in stature and even his tongue has become sharper. Oh, and he now has an intergalactic army of weird alien type soldiers to justify his swagger and brazen affront to The Avengers. He’s on earth to seize back that little blue box of infinite power he was after in the Thor movie; it’s quite powerful apparently – Nick Fury thinks so too, which is why he’s been using it to create a new firebrand of weapon. If Loki recaptures that box, he will have enough power to open up a porthole and summon his army from a different dimension to wreak havoc on the unsuspecting citizens of planet earth; the world is again in peril. We are going to need the proven crime fighting warriors to put their egos aside and fight crime shoulder to shoulder…..

This kind of plot would probably not be that engaging with just one superhero, but with a team of them, the average plot transforms into something more thrilling, and the banality of the narrative is totally disguised due to Whedon’s witty script.

Movie prices are constantly on the rise – and the knuckleheaded, soul-crushing monstrosities that have passed for blockbusters of late have made these summer movies not nearly as inviting a prospect as they once were. Not so here – you get plenty of bang for your buck. There are six superheroes on display– if you paid say, 6 pounds for your ticket – that’s a pound a superhero.  You won’t find a superhero movie for a pound anywhere else. For the people reading outside the UK, that’s a cheap ass superhero – a total bargain.

There’s always a fear when groups of well-known characters are thrown together that the decision is only a money-making scheme and the characters are not going to be as well done as in previous films. Look at what happened when Aliens met Predators or Dracula met Frankenstein in the maddening Van Helsing. This movie totally bucks that trend; Avengers Assemble really does benefit from the ten hours of screen time the heroes have collectively accumulated. When they enter the film here, they all come already equipped with a depth of backstory, which this film cleverly plays-off. It is absolutely thrilling to see each character interact with one another – particularly as their planet sized egos cause them to clash ferociously. The most thrilling sequences in this film come when the heroes fight each other – Thor in particular gets err, a hammering.  So who fights who? Well, the thrill of discovering that is one of the many joys of Whedon’s film; suffice to say, when the heroes take on each other, Whedon creates exhilarating smack-downs we haven’t seen the like of before.  The banter, the thorny relationships, the repartee and the character driven style of the film, is what makes Avengers Assemble so rip-roaringly entertaining.

Robert Downey Jnr absolutely steals the film as Tony Stark ; he’s been fighting crime the longest in this series, given he’s already taken down two super-villains in the two movies he has already got under his impressively built belt. He’s even more at ease with fighting crime than he was before; so he’s a breezy presence, taking crime-fighting and superhero work in his stride – quipping amusingly at the expense of his comrades. The level of humour in Avengers Assemble is the unexpected joy. It is consistently laugh-out loud funny, as formerly humourless, crime-crushers like The Hulk and Thor particularly have added comedy timing to their list of powers. Whedon has some fun with the material and makes the characters even more likeable, witty and charming than they were before.

Bruce Banner must have been tinkering again in the laboratory as he has somehow managed to find a way to morph from the rather intense appearance of Ed Norton, into the rather more laidback form of Mark Ruffalo without Fury and company noticing. That is as impressive an achievement as turning into a giant green Hulk. Ruffalo adds something to the role of Banner – conveying something of the burden of what it must be to spontaneously transform into an angry green Hulk. The Hulk is one of the highlights in the film – the visual problems with him have finally been resolved – he is explosive, ferocious a rampaging force of nature he absolutely tears up the screen here.

A quick word on the 3D – obviously the film gains nothing at all from the extra dimension. It is already eye-popping enough in 2D. As the film is often lit in a dark way to create atmosphere, the light is reduced by the 3D glasses to such a level it is impossible to make out detail in some of the scenes without – ironically – removing the glasses. Save your money people – it’ll blow your mind in 2D.

Although the plot is a pretty linear take-over-the-world narrative, the film does have a little depth under the surface for a summer movie. Superhero comics have always had a strong message condoning the doomsday day device and man’s perpetually flirtation with nuclear annihilation; Whedon manages to capture what has been a strong message in comic culture as he includes a rather contentious little message to the film – suggesting that having nuclear arms just makes one’s country a target, thus a nuclear weapon cannot make a country more secure. Take note tin-pot dictators and world leaders. Fury’s claim that we need nuclear weapons as we are dealing with a different calibre of nemesis is answered wonderfully well by Thor who suggests that the earth’s new found capacity for advanced weapons has suddenly made the earth a target. It’s not all thrilling set-pieces, witty one-liners, and charismatic characters – there’s food for thought here too.

Even before the mightily impressive climax, you feel that the film has already packed some of the most eye-catching action set-pieces seen in cinemas for quite some time. Whedon trumps himself with a wonderfully entertaining finale as our beloved heroes defiantly face up to New York’s latest supernatural threat: the gargantuan robotic fish monsters you may have seen in the trailer.

Delightfully, Avengers Assemble is not another cookie-cutter blockbuster straight off the assembly line. It’s much more than the sum of its parts; it’s a funny, fun, exciting, action-packed thrill ride that has character, charm, wit and a range of really well rendered, and consequently, likeable characters. There is a whole universe full of potential nemeses for The Avengers to tangle with in possible future franchise instalments, on the strength of this, that is a really inviting prospect as Avengers Assemble is up there with the best comic book movies of all time.

Advertisements

About Filmfella Darren
Film critic, writer and long-time cinema appreciator. I write about cinema matters, because cinema matters. Like your clothes and your laptops, my articles were made in Taiwan.

One Response to Avengers Assemble – Review

  1. Mark Walker says:

    I’ll definitely check this out (eventually). I have to admit though, I haven’t been caught up in the whole Avengers buzz. I feel like the only person on earth.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: