FILM REVIEW: Avengers Assemble

Marvel’s master gamble has finally arrived but does it live up to all the hype? Do all the characters work well together and has Joss Whedon done the impossible? Let’s find out!

This film has been hyped as one of the most anticipated movies of the year, no scratch that, of the decade (so far), because it started back in 2005 when Marvel decided to start making their own movies creating the foundations of what would become The Avengers movie.

And for those who don’t know what it’s all about – when an unexpected enemy emerges that threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury, Director of the international peacekeeping agency known as S.H.I.E.L.D., finds himself in need of a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins.

First some background. For the record, I loved Iron Man and consider it one of the best comic book movies ever. Yes I am biased when it comes to Marvel and yes The Dark Knight is a great film but for me Iron Man was perfect in all areas and truly embraced its comic book roots. Next, we got The Incredible Hulk which was fun but just off in some ways; Iron Man 2 somehow missed the whole point of what made the first one so great.

Last year was the double punch of Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Both proved that Marvel knows how to handle its properties and were the last pieces of the puzzle to be put in place for Avengers Assemble (aka The Avengers in the US) to work.

‘Enough!’ I hear you cry. ‘What about the film?’ you say?

The first thing to note here is that we really do not get any major character building of any one character, either because they have all been done in their own solo movies or that it is just not needed.

In fact this is by far the dumbest Marvel movie we have had so far. This is an Avengers movie not a Thor/Captain America/Hulk/Iron Man movie but an Avengers movie and that means that it is all about the team. Director Joss Whedon knows this better than anyone and uses conflict and humour to move the characters from one place to another. This no bad thing as we really want to see them fight and have fun.

The most character building is actually done on Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner and the double team of Black Widow and Hawkeye. Ruffalo is by far the best Banner we have seen and I truly hope we see more of him in the future but I do have my doubts if another solo Hulk film would actually work. In this film, he’s perfect and the tit for tat between him and Stark is brilliant. Also the Hulk looks great and is even funny in this film.

We have seen Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow before but we get a better understanding of her past and her relationship with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is something you can actually feel and shows off the human side of the team.

The plot of Avengers Assemble is a simple one with a bad guy causing havoc and then our team facing their darkest hour and a final act which is where the team must overcome insurmountable odds to win the day. This is a by-the-numbers film breakdown and works perfect here with everyone getting screen time to shine. Sometimes the pace moves a bit too fast but surely that is what happens in the comics so why waste valuable screen time?

As is tradition with all superhero team-ups there is confusion, mistakes when they meet for the first time and they end up fighting each other. Although this looked great, I have a feeling that with these interpretations of the characters, it should not have happened but then we would not have had one of the highlights of the whole movie.

Loki’s actions are never that clear even though Tom Hiddleston is on fine form as his alter ego just seems to either be playing a game, figuring out a plan, just angry or all of the above.

Everyone knows that Joss Whedon can write ensemble whether it was TV shows, movies or comics; it shows his trademark humour that will have you smiling and laughing loudly. Even during the intense fight scenes we get some funny moments that work. The best by far is Robert Downey who is pitch-perfect as the sarcastic Tony Stark.

The biggest change to the Marvel films with Avengers is S.H.I.E.L.D who get a real introduction here with Samuel L Jackson and Greg Clark giving much needed depth to Nick Fury and Agent Colson respectively. The newest addition is Agent Hill played by Cobie Smulders (of How I Met Your Mother fame) who is a very serious and by the numbers member of the team but aren’t all S.H.I.E.L.D agents like that? Smulders portrays intensity and sexiness that fits what we have seen of the comic-verse character however she is the weakest link in this film because she just seems uncomfortable on screen.

S.H.I.E.L.D has a base – the Helicarrier – that is well known in the comics and here it is brought to life using a mix of real life location on a Aircraft carrier, sets and some amazing CGI work. Fans of the craft will not be disappointed as it gets some great scenes. I would love to see a S.H.I.E.L.D movie based on what we saw here but I would think it will have to wait till Avengers 2 comes out.

The action in the movie was a joy to watch because it was clear, fresh and without one shaky cam in site. The problem with films these days is that the fight scenes get too close to the action and you cannot tell what is going on at times. Here you can see everything – it is well lit with the visual and colours shining through as though you were reading a real comic book. The final battle is a spectacle over substance affair but maybe that is what we want to see!

The music of the film is by Alan Silvestri who did great work on Captain America last year. I was hoping for a resounding score that would echo through the ages and make me hum it all the way home but from what I can tell it is decent enough but still left me wanting something more epic.

Overall this film rocks in ways you cannot imagine but it is still flawed. It is a real life comic book event disaster film come to life and even Captain America’s new costume has won me over. Yes I have a few niggles with the music and the character building but that is just me wanting perfection which this very nearly is.

The viewing time of over 2 hours and 20 minutes just flies by and you wish it did not have to end. Joss Whedon has done the impossible and made a film that really lives up the hype.

GS Rating: 4/5
GS Reporter: Christophe

 

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