Ror Reviews: Marvel's THE AVENGERS
Or Avengers Assemble if you really must. Anyway, you might have heard of this one, probably thinking of seeing it. Wanna know what I made of Joss Whedon's little indie project? Click and find out..
So, the holy grail of CBMs is finally upon us. To say that Marvel's The Avengers is the most anticipated comic book movie of all time is no overstatement. Sure, most of us are just as excited for the Batman threequel coming our way, but Joss Whedon's superhero team-up flick is truly the first of its kind. I don't need to tell you the history, you've been watching right along with me after all! But although those last five Marvel movies have been building to this, and there are obviously some things that carry over, The Avengers feels very much like its own thing, and not - as some previous movies felt at times let's be honest - just a trailer or preview to something bigger. The something bigger is here.
As other reviews have already pointed out, as much as we have seen from The Avengers via clips, trailers and tv spots etc, they have actually done a great job of keeping all of the very best stuff under wraps. What kind of stuff? Well, here we get into spoiler territory. Ordinarily with any other movie like this it would be fine to talk about the various action scenes and set pieces, but with this one I just feel everyone should go in blind - or as blind as possible. I'm sure you all know a few of the superhero smackdowns and face-offs that occur from the trailers, but lets just say the highlight of the entire movie for me was a showdown between two characters that every fan has been anticipating since this movie was announced. One moment in particular that happens in slo-mo is instantly iconic, and when the movie is out a while is sure to adorn many a desktop background. The rest of the action scenes are expertly handled and come fast and frequent, but that slightly longer run-time means they never engulf the movie. Whedon ensures just as much time is given to character interactions and development, and in a movie that features so many, that is no small feat.
Performance wise it's pretty much a success across the board. Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr and Chris Evans are all better in this than they were in their own solo movies - some more credit to Mr Whedon I think - and Scarlett Johansson gives a much more assured account of herself as Black Widow than she did in Iron Man 2, in fact she might be one of the stand-outs. But THE stand out for me is ironically enough the man most people worried about - Marvel newbie, Mark Ruffalo. He gives Bruce Banner a twitchy, nervous energy while still maintaining the aura of a good man desperately trying to remain calm lest the beast within breaks free. It's subtle, but that's the mark of a truly great performance. And when he "Hulks out", well, you've seen the trailers - Hulk smashes a LOT. Tom Hiddleston makes for a worthy foe and is much better here than he was in Thor imo (I actually think that performance is a bit overrated), probably because he's allowed to be a proper bastard this time, and really relishes the chance to get nasty. His most memorable scene is definitely a great moment between he and Black Widow while he is imprisoned on the Hellicarrier.
As I mentioned before, even though there are the fingerprints of the larger Marvel movie universe to be found, this is every bit Joss Whedon's film. You can just tell this guy is a real fan of the comics these character sprang from, and he pays homage to not only the stories, but the reasons people read them. There is a wonderful moment right at the end, which shows average citizens' reactions to the team and what they stand for that really sums up what I mean better than I can convey it in writing. He has also further cemented his title as the king of the ensemble cast, ensuring that every member of the team not only has an interesting and well thought out arc, but that they all get some kind of interplay with each other. And that is when the movie shines brightest thanks to some fantastic Whedon dialog. Admittedly, one or two exchanges or one-liners miss the mark, but not so much that they'd be considered an eye-roller. And that brings me to another Whedon staple: humor. This movie is frequently not only funny but hilarious. That's a good thing right? Well, yes and no. Early on it's great, and even at the end when I personally felt that it should have been reigned in a bit, it's still very funny. I just think a bit more emphasis on the drama and a few less jokes would have strengthened the finale, and added to the sense of something really being at stake. More problems arise with the arrival of the alien invaders. To put it bluntly, they suck. I get that these guys are just there to be beat up by the heroes, but if they had of been made to seem just tad more formidable it would have worked a lot better I think.
But these really are small gripes in a movie where so much is done so well. Has it lived up to expectations? Well considering most fans were expecting a frackin religious experience I'm not really sure anything ever could, but it genuinely comes pretty close. If you are not a comic fan, or if you haven't seen the previous Marvel movies you may not enjoy it quite as much as if you were or had, and may think the rating below is a bit generous. But anything less just wouldn't feel like worthy praise for such a damn enjoyable piece of cinema. The best CBM of all time? Actually, from one perspective, yes! See it, then see it again.
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