Well isn’t that odd, I’m reviewing two films with the same name one after the other. I hope no-one got confused or thinks I did that on purpose. Just so you know, this review right here is for Marvel’s The Avengers, or Avengers Assemble as they’re calling it here in the UK. Apparently they actually think their core audience is aware of the 60s TV series that my last film review was based on. So I guess if you’ve found your way to this review via a search you’re probably already aware of just how good this film has turned out. Which I guess makes me reviewing it pointless then. Oh well. Bye!
Fine I’ll review it!
There’s only one way to really sum this film up. It is exactly the film you are expecting. Well mostly. I’m sure some people have slightly varying ideas of what to expect. No matter what though I can tell you right from the start, if you are a fan of the Marvel universe you will come away from this film not just satisfied but very, very impressed. The last four years of build up, from two Iron Man films to The Incredible Hulk to Thor and finally Captain America, have all been worth it. I’ll explain the story and then get into just what makes this film work so damned well.
Loki (The excellent Mr Tom Hiddleston) has an alien army and then he gets the tesseract/cosmic cube and decides to a war that forces together a group of heroes to plan a fight back against him. They argue, stuff blows up, lots of one liners are uttered blah blah blah yakkety schmackety. It’s as straight forward as super hero storytelling gets. What’s amazing is just how well it plays out. Each hero has some sort of reason to end up getting involved, or a reason they’d rather not be in the case of Bruce Banner, their personalities and egos clash, sometimes physically, and you can guess what the plot unfolds like from there.
Here’s what makes it work. The script and the cast. Joss Whedon has penned a screenplay that is tight, manages to deliver enough of each characters personal conflicts to satisfy and is full of some of the snappiest lines you’ll hear this summer. It manages to maintain the style of the previous Marvel Universe films but does so with quite a large Joss Whedon stamp on it. His knack for building a scene towards a peak is on top form here. The film never feels like it’s lacking directions and, in true Whedon fashion, whenever things start to get a little too heavy he throws in a a quick throwaway line that relieves the tension like a needle relieves a balloon of it’s air. It does maybe run a fine line where if there were a few more jokes you could have classed it as a comedy, but what helps is that no line falls flat. At all. Sometimes it’s not even lines but actions that will have you chuckling. Despite all this comedic relief it never feels out of place and never detracts from the story or the films universe.
When it comes to the cast everyone is bringing their A game to sell their characters as being exactly who they’re meant to be. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is as flippant and self absorbed as usual but thanks to a few verbal encounters with a less than impressed Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) he actually has time to grow as a character by the films conclusion. Chris Hemsworth seems very comfortable in the guise of Thor, just as he was in his film, and there’s even a few nice little gags at the expense of his pomp and Shakespearian tendencies. Scarlett Johansson is the same American accented version of the Russian Black Widow but she has a hell of a lot more to do here and even has a little emotional tether to Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy “I’m in everything” Renner) which helps give the girls something to enjoy. I say that because there’s a lot less topless chesty man action than the other Marvel films had, well unless you count Hulk. Speaking of Hulk, Mark Ruffalo is excellent. He has made no attempt to copy the performances of Edward Norton or Eric Bana who have both been in those formerly size 9 now size all over the place shoes in recent years. He plays Banner as a slightly nervy but nearly zen character. He’s in control but he’s constantly aware of just how bad things could get if he lost that control. When he reveals the secret of how he’s been controlling his rage be prepared for a truly awesome Hulk moment.
Awesome moments are something you’ll have to be prepared for too, especially in the film’s final act. This isn’t hyperbole here when I say that what you will see on screen is the most true to the comics depictions of the heroes powers ever put on film. Even more so than The Incredible Hulk and Thor which were both pretty power heavy films. Hulk probably has the most stand out moments. It almost comes across like Whedon was maybe a little dissatisfied with previous depictions of the big green behemoth and decided to show everyone how it’s really done. Another thing this film delivers on is those hero vs hero fights you always want to see. Marvel have kind of gotten carried away with them in the comics over recent years but this is pretty much the first superhero film to show pairs, or even triplets, of heroes going at it full pelt. You even get a Hulk V Thor fight which would have been one of those tick boxes most fans would want to tick off.
In the interest of fairness I shall now don my cinema snob hat to provide you with the films shortcomings. Because of the large array of characters there isn’t really enough time to go into real depth with their personalities or issues. There is just enough to satisfy though. This was never going to be a character piece anyway. The 3D isn’t up to much. It’s better than a lot of post conversion work but it still suffers from all those problems you’ve come to expect from this stop-gap gimmick technology. There’s strobing on any edges, especially noticeable on on diagonals. There’s a lot of blur and doubled image when anything fast is happening or there’s a sharp pan shot, which doesn’t help that key Avengers Assembled shot that’s all over the trailers. There’s also a question to raise about what the world leaders see as the suitable response for the alien invasion at the films climax. I’d have to really be nit picking if I were to start picking out any more issues. This isn’t the sort of film to hold under a microscope and nothing as obvious as the multitude of technical errors found in the films 1998 Uma Thurman starring namesake happen here. I’ll be seeing the film again on Sunday so I may update if I spot anything as bad as the levels of the wine in the scene between Whiplash and Hammer in Iron man 2. You noticed it I’m sure. If not, watch that scene again.
Hat off now. To sum up The Avengers is the film you were likely hoping it would be. No it’s not as serious as The Dark Knight Rises is likely to be. That film, despite it’s spectacle will be much more focused on character than this film is. That’s not to say this is a lesser film. It’s one of those movies that is pure fun and easily the best of all the Marvel movies. I’d even put it up there with The Dark Knight, which I regard as the best Superhero film, in terms of pure quality. The four year build up to this has paid off and paid off big. Make sure you stay for half the credits, there’s one extra scene which for half the audience will cause a lot of questions as to who they just saw whilst the rest of the crowd will be geeking out like a 6 year old me would have if I had ever met Optimus Prime. Trust me, that’s a lot. So, go see the Avengers and make sure you take a trip to the loo before going in because you’re likely to do a little wee of excitement at just seeing this film pay off the way it does.