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The Avengers Assemble Review

The Avengers Assemble Review
5
Book Name: Avengers Assemble (Movie)
Author: Joss Whedon (Director)
Publisher(s): Marvel/Disney
Formatt: Movie/Cinema/3D
Genre(s): Superheroes
Release Date: April 2012

Well, The Avengers has just topped the American box office for a third week running, so I figured it’s probably about time we wade in and give it a review.

First of all, I must begin with an important confession: I, Paul Wiseall, am a Marvel Boy. I love Marvel comics, I really do. Beneath my bed (and in my attic, garden shed, girlfriend’s wardrobe…) I have boxes and boxes of Marvel comics that I have collected since I was eight years old. If you were to see me right now you might notice my Ghost Rider t-shirt and even my belt which is a montage of Marvel characters and to be honest, you would probably be left thinking that I like Marvel a bit. However, the Iron Man boxer-shorts that I’m also wearing, kinda tip me over in to the realms of obsessive. The reason I tell you this is not to suggest that I am instantly going to love this film, and so render this review pointless, in fact it is to let you know that I went in to this film with a head full of comic-book history and the knowledge of just how badly movies based on comics can turn out – ahem…

SpiderMan 3, Green Lantern, Batman and Robin, Xmen 3: The Last Stand, The Punisher, Howard The Duck, Elektra, The Spirit, Steel, Superman 3: The Quest For Peace, Daredevil, and The Hulk to name a few.

As it turns out, The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble in the UK apparently for fear of association with that terrible Uma Thurman film of the 90s) is absolutely bloody brilliant.

The film opens with Loki (Thor’s anemic brother, god of mischief, ‘Reindeer games’) standing in space making a deal with a very creepy looking member of an alien race. The deal is that Loki will give these aliens a source of unlimited power, if they give him an army with which he can conquer the Earth. This opening scene immediately gives you a sense of scope for this movie and lets you know that you are in for something truly epic.

What follows is a near perfect blend of incredibly huge set pieces, amazing WTF moments and enough well executed funnies that I guarantee you, you will laugh out loud (or LOL if you’re a 14-year-old girl).

The cast is absolutely stellar, and Marvel did a fantastic job hiring the right person for each role. Robert Downey, Jr. IS Iron Man and I truly cannot imagine anyone other than Chris Hemsworth playing Thor. Despite my initial apprehensions, Scarlett Johansson is great as Black Widow (although maybe not chiseled enough), Renner is cool and Ruffalo as Banner – damn he blows the role out of the water. I’m still not wholly convinced with Evans as Captain America but that’s purely for aesthetic reasons and in portraying the real human element of the super-powered Avengers, Evans nails it. The fact that they got Samuel L. Jackson on board as Nick Fury still brings me fan-boy glee.

For anyone who doesn’t know, in the olden days Fury was a cigar smoking, suave, grey-ing Caucasian but in the Ultimate series of comics (where Marvel effectively rebooted all their characters in to the modern world) Fury was drawn AS Samuel L. Jackson and the fact that they now have him playing the character is a beautiful touch.

I was relieved to find that The Avengers does as I hoped it would do and pretty much assumes that everyone has seen the previous Marvel films and knows who their characters are. As such, it is allowed to jump straight in to the story. The only downside to this though is that it is, perhaps, not the most suitable film as someone’s first foray in to the realm of comic book movies. For maximum Avengers appreciation start at Iron Man and work your way up.

I suppose one of the biggest points of discussion surrounding The Avengers has been Joss Whedon. Whedon is almost deific in the comic world and when The Avengers was first announced the forum boards lit up with calls for Whedon to direct it. The reason being, Joss knows comics; he’s written enough of them (including The Avengers) and he’s also the king of the ensemble (Buffy, Angel, Firefly etc), seemingly having that magic touch to weave multiple big personalities into something coherent. He’s also known for his witty and hilarious scripts. The nerd world cried out for him as the superhero, to save their potentially doomed loved one and Marvel will be glad that they brought him on board to both write and direct.

The script is one of the best I have experienced since Kiss Kiss Bang Bang (interestingly, the writer/director of KKBB, Shane Black, is the director of the forthcoming Iron Man 3) and in a cast full of egos, Whedon miraculously manages to give each character a pretty even spread of limelight. Whedon’s script also does a great job of capturing the essence of each character and developing humour out of their individual personalities. Captain America is dry and serious yet surprisingly gets a few genuinely excellent laughs, Bruce Banner the tortured Jekyll pulls laughs from his tragic situation and his Hyde, the less verbose Hulk, relies on more physical methods to get the well deserved chuckles that reverberated around the cinema.

The Hulk is arguably the most talked about element of the actual movie itself, and he really does almost steal the show. However, rather surprisingly for me as I like my heroes all suped up, I was really drawn in by Johansson’s Black Widow. Along with her fellow agent Hawkeye, she doesn’t have superpowers, but from the outset she’s one of the coolest characters. Throughout this movie, we get to see a full spread of characterisation, from her chair interrogation, to her brilliant scene with Loki in the Helicarrier, to her confrontation with The Hulk. She’s great.

The film is also (thankfully) peppered with little throw away bits of Marvel lore and cool cameos, with a particular favourite point of mine being Tony Stark’s mention of Life Model Decoys or LMDs, for those in the know. Whedon also ties up a lot of the tiny questions that hardcore fans are likely to be asking such as why Jane Foster from Thor isn’t in this movie. Points like that I found to be nice touches.

My one last point on Whedon is his directing. In the past, he has been known to be a little bit hit or miss, but with The Avengers I think he nails it perfectly. Everything seems natural, and despite there being a flurry of different things going on, at no point does it feel nausea inducing or chaotic. In fact, there is one shot in the final battle of the film, which is a long, gloriously shot masterpiece that weaves around the action and individually focuses on each Avenger. It’s stunning.

A small niggle though, is that the editing can sometimes be cut a touch too tight (almost certainly dictated by the fact that it’s a loooong film) and at certain points this can feel a bit rushed, but not often enough that it hurts.

So how to sum up this A-mazing film? Well, I would like to make a joke about how it’s a HULK of a movie but I think I need to come up with a better punch line than that. (Gettit?) However, trying to come up with something clever and witty is making my head Thor and so, I think I’m going to go with a simple and more Loki summation. So heroes… (heroes/here goes… no?) This film is absolutely brilliant, in fact I would say it is Marvel-lous! …I’ll get my coat.

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10 Comments

  1. Avatar Jamie says:

    Completely agreed. I adored Avengers Assemble – one of my favourite superhero movies (second only to the superlative Dark Knight). Whedon hit all the right spots with the mix of action, character development and humour, and he deserves every success awarded to him.

  2. Avatar JL Merrow says:

    Interesting to see it from your perspective. I’m NOT a marvel girl – at least, I’ve never read the comics, although I’ve eaten up the film adaptations – but I too loved Avengers Assemble. Although the in-jokes and nods were lost on me, I didn’t feel I was missing anything when I watched the film. So huge kudos to Joss for making a film that appeals to fans and noobs alike.

    One thing I would have liked was some backstory on Hawkeye. He never really came alive for me, as I had no idea where he was coming from. But it was a very minor niggle. 🙂

  3. Avatar Lor says:

    All I can say is I’m glad I’m not the biggest fanboy here 😉

    Also someone else got the LMD reference, that made me do a little happy dance.

    The credits scene though; I got Squish and I kicked out of the cinema first time round because I couldn’t help but yell “Oh My F***ing God!” at the top of my voice. 😀 then had to explain to Squish what had happened, he was not amused 😀

    I am with you on the Chris Evans/Captain America thing; the aesthetic is slightly odd, but he nails the character. And Ruffalo properly nails Banner, so nice to see him well realized at last.

  4. “or Avengers Assemble in the UK apparently for fear of association with that terrible Uma Thurman film of the 90s”

    I suspect it’s actually to avoid confusion with the brilliant TV show of the 60s. That film version is best forgotten.

  5. Avatar Barry Rich says:

    Awesome review! I couldn’t agree with you more about Whedon’s talents and how they show in this movie. Moreover, after thinking over the movie as a whole, I concur that Black Widow and Hawkeye may have provided some of the most interesting parts of the movie. Personally, Renner made me reassess my stance on the Hawkeye character… Bravo on the Review!

  6. Avatar Elfy says:

    I totally agree with this review. I LOVED The Avengers. It was as close to perfection as I’ve seen a film like this get. As a bit of a Whedon fan boy I could see his fingerprints all over this and it was great. I really appreciated that he gave every character as much screen time as he could, allaying fears that it was going to be Iron Man and the rest. There are many awesome moments, but three favourites are the Hulk punching out Thor just because he could, the Hulk using Loki as a rattle (that moment had people laughing so hard in one of the screenings I saw that many of them missed the next line) and Hawkeye using one of his arrows in a rather different way. ‘Just like Budapest.’ is also a line that will live on in my mind, at least until they make a movie featuring the Black Widow and Hawkeye together. Good news about the direction of Iron Man 3, I was a little worried that without Joss they may not sparkle, but good to know they have a decent director for IM3.

  7. Avatar Ladyhelix says:

    Thanks for your review – it was wonderful to hear what a knowledgable/experienced Marvel expert thought.

    I LOVED the Avengers, and I didn’t suffer at all from never having read a comic, or seen a superhero movie (other than 20 minutes of Thor). I’m sure it was richer for you – but I felt like I knew exactly what was going on in the movie – and didn’t feel left out. The characters were clear and their motivations, histories, & personalities were etched fully and economically – often with action/interactions rather than dialoge (typical Whedon). The second viewing revealed a lot – but more themes and nuance (it did move fast) – rather than facts and pedigrees.

    So yes – I went to the movie as a Whedon fan (only), but am now tracking down the individual movies, looking forward to Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 – and even negotiating to borrow comic books from one of my son’s friends. Crossover is a wonderful thing!!

  8. Avatar cairi says:

    Terrific review for a terrific movie. I loved it so much that I asked hubby to take me to see it for the second time for Mother’s Day. Who needs a steak at a fancy restaurant when I could have a tub of buttered popcorn and the Avengers!

  9. Avatar Zah3212 says:

    I’ve loved The Avengers for years! This was a great movie! Thanks for the review-

  10. Avatar Larik says:

    My favorite part was in the end where they showed a life feed of news from all around the world and there’s a scene of Stan Lee going: “Superheroes in Manhattan? Give me a break.”

    It was hilarious. The old guy knows how to bring out some laughs. xD

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