Newest Review: ... makes for an uneasy alliance at first. In time though, the team quickly learn that the only way to beat Loki is for them all to work togeth... more
Assemble at Your Nearest Cinema!
Marvel Avengers Assemble (DVD)
Member Name: Larrabee
Marvel Avengers Assemble (DVD)
Advantages: Something for everyone to enjoy
Disadvantages: None, this film is fab!
I admit, I didn't have high expectations of 'Avengers Assemble', I do like a good comic book/superhero film as a good bit of escapism from time to time but with the exception of the Iron Man films, the individual Marvel character films leading up to this one (Captain America, Thor, The Incredible Hulk) had been pretty underwhelming. However, as a card carrying nerd, I was duty bound to give this a chance, and I am very very glad I did, this is so far my favourite new film of 2012, and it will be hard to top!
The 'Avengers' are a collection of a disparate group of 'unique' individuals, all living within the fictional Marvel universe. We see them recruited one by one to join the mysterious and powerful 'S.H.I.E.L.D' (headed by an eye patch wearing Samuel L Jackson as Dr Fury) in order to protect the Earth from an other worldly threat.
The Avengers consist of:
Tony Stark/Iron man (Robert Downey Jr), a self professed "Genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist" who has invented a powerful metal suit/vehicle that gives him extraordinary strength and power. Downey Jr is as charismatic as usual, he gets most of the best lines and delivers them perfectly but doesn't steal the show completely, he plays well as part of an ensemble, which is a bit of a surprise as he's usually very much the star of the show!
The Hulk/Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), a brilliant and mild mannered scientist who turns into a giant green monster when he gets angry. Ruffalo beats the previous 'Hulk' actors hands down, he gives Banner a new edge, he is a gentle man but with a simmering and powerful presence lurking just beneath his mild exterior. Ruffalo delivers some real tension in his human moments, and this is the first film where the Hulk is also portrayed by the actor playing Banner, so he is able to bring humanity and emotions beyond anger to the Hulk side of his character too.
Thor (Chris Hemsworth), is a being from the world of 'Asgard', whose inhabitants are god like and are able to travel between planets. It seems at first as though this is quite a one dimensional character and a bit of an anachronism, seeming as though he'd be more at home in Lord of the Rings rather than a high tech secret base! However, Hemsworth plays the part well and Thor blends in perfectly soon enough.
Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans), a genetically altered 'super soldier' who was created in WWII but has been frozen for 70 years, waking up in a different world and struggling to adjust to life in the 21st century. Chris Evans plays him very straight at first but he becomes more and more human and more connected to the 'team' as the film goes on. He is always moral and self sacrificing.
Natasha Romanov (Scarlett Johansson) doesn't have superpowers, but is a highly skilled and deadly S.H.I.E.L.D assassin, she is first seen casually escaping a seemingly hopeless hostage situation without breaking a sweat. Throughout the film she is fearless, confident and Johansson more than holds her own with the big names in the male cast.
Clint Barton/Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is another assassin with no superpowers, however he is a highly skilled archer and has similar fighting skills to Romanov. Renner plays him quietly but confidently, I liked this actor in 28 weeks later and he doesn't disappoint here either.
The obligatory bad guy that the Avengers have assembled to bring down is the God-like Loki, Thor's troubled brother who is orchestrating an invasion of the Earth by powerful aliens so that he can take over in the aftermath and rule the humans with an iron fist. Loki is played ably by Tom Hiddleston, he manages to portray him both as a scrawny, pale, greasy haired youth rebelling against his family, but equally as a truly scary and threatening villain with an ice cold, ruthless presence.
I'll admit, even though its a bit embarrassing, that I was probably the only person in the cinema who didn't know before watching the film that it was written and directed by Joss Whedon (of Buffy and Firefly/Serenity fame). I didn't realise until I saw his name appear in the end credits but when I saw it I though "Ah, of course, that makes perfect sense!" This film has everything that Joss does best. The film doesn't take itself too seriously but stays true to its genre rather than descending too far into spoof. The action sequences are energetic and athletic, relying just as much on the physicality of the actors as on the visual effects and pyrotechnics, Johansson's moves are very reminiscent of Buffy or River from Serenity. The characters all have a sense of humour, and brilliant one liners are scattered liberally throughout the film, shared between the whole cast, even serious Thor gets a few laughs. The dialogue is as snappy, clever and sophisticated as you'd expect from Whedon. Physical comedy is used to great effect too, particularly with the character of The Hulk/Bruce Banner, making the most of the inherent silliness of the character and helping the audience warm to a great big angry lump of green in a way other directors haven't been able to.
The visual effects in this movie are top notch, from the huge green Hulk crashing through narrow corridors, to the thrilling fight scenes between the various characters and their powers, to the final epic battle sequence nothing leaps out as looking fake, it all knits together nicely. I watched this film in 3D but to be honest, I didn't really notice the 3D after the first few minutes so it wouldn't be worth paying extra for it, this film would be just as enjoyable in 2D!
Basically, this film has everything you could want from a Marvel team up. There's enough of the comic book world in there to keep the purist fans happy, the characters stay true to their origins but the film is also accessible and enjoyable for complete comic book/Marvel virgins, such as the friend I went to see the film with who loved it and immediately downloaded the solo Avenger films! Whedon manages to strike a fine balance where he respects the die hard comic book readership enough to give them the film they've been waiting for without sacrificing them for a mass audience, but also manages to give the casual or new viewer a great experience that they can understand and thoroughly enjoy even if they never glance at anything Marvel related ever again.
Oh, one tip, don't leave the cinema until the very end of the credits, you'll be glad you stayed!
Summary: Well done, Joss. A triumph!