Friday, 27 April 2012

Review: 'The Avengers' (2012)

I didn't think I was capable of loving Joss Whedon's work any more after reviewing The Cabin in the Woods the other week. However........


So the story ain't the most complicated - god Loki (Thor's brother) arrives and plans to summon an alien army in order to rule mankind. That's it. But plot isn't really what we're interested in. It's the characters. And it was always going to be a difficult task - by bringing together so many huge heroes in the space of one film, there was a high chance that some were going to be overlooked and cast aside as Muscle of Comic Relief. This is true to an extent, but what is genuinely impressive is that every Avenger - Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow, Bruce Banner - are all given their time in the sun. And even some lesser characters (Agent Phil Coulson, Agent Maria Hill, Nick Fury) shine through the egos.

Captain America is our fish-out-of-water doorway to the film, offering a way for the audience to view the premise. Unfortunately, he's the least-developed character, despite being the guy with the most hangups (going to sleep in WWII and waking up in 2012 will fuck you right up!). But Cap never really interested me as a character (I was always more interested in that guy who throws a hammer and wields lightening), so I'm not too bothered.

Tony Stark is his usual cocky self, but now in a relationship with Pepper Potts which is a nice touch. He's still a smart-arsed egotistical, arrogant jerk, but he has heart. And he has a good arc within the movie. Thor obviously has family issues (again!) so there are two sides to every action he makes - saving the world vs. the love for his (adopted) brother. Hawkeye has a good story too - I won't say too much to avoid spoilers, but he gets to shoot a lot of people and sometimes feels bad about it.

But for me, Bruce Banner is the top of the pack. Mark Ruffalo brings great presence to the role - his awkward body language make him seem like a ticking time bomb. Banner's relationship with Black Widow is very compelling and these two probably have some of the best scenes in the movie. They explain each other - through Natasha we learn about Banner, and vice versa.

Obviously the action is great (it was always going to be, right?!) and it's very funny (this is Joss Whedon afterall). But there just seems to be something lacking that stops me wanting to give it 5/5, no matter how much I want to. It's my favourite Marvel movie, but some issues with the Hulk and Captain America prevent  .5 of a star. But Joss says 45 minutes was cut on the editing floor, and with the film already coming in at 2 hours 20 minutes, maybe those issues weren't there earlier on and some necessary cuts had to be made. Personally I'd watch a 3h 30m superhero movie by Joss Whedon, but it wouldn't be for everyone.

It's a war movie, pure and simple - there are a lot of battle sequences, and an abundance of war-room talk. But don't let that put you off if you don't like war films - this is still an fast-paced, exciting superhero flick. It's perfect in almost every way, with Whedon's script demanding the very best performances from the cast. And that's what's so fun to watch - the interactions between these couldn't-be-more-different characters make The Avengers a first-rate film.


The Avengers to date:
The Avengers (2012) -   4.5/5
Captain America (2011) -   3/5
Thor (2011) -   4/5
Iron Man 2 (2010) -   3/5
Iron Man (2008) -   4/5
The Incredible Hulk (2008) -   3/5 

Read more of Neil's movie reviews


Matt Steiner said...

So is the final movie title "The Avengers" or "Avengers Assemble"? I hope for their sake not the second one ..

Marcus Boone said...

@Matt - 'Marvel Avengers Assemble' is the title here in the UK (on account of the TV show 'Avengers'). But the U.S title is The Avengers.

halojones-fan said...

You make a good point about the performances. And I think that the actors really rose to the challenge, which is nice, because this is the kind of movie that would have been absolutely ruined by performers who were Just Working Here.

Neil said...

Yeah, strong performances are VITAL in this film. The subtlety of them is what works methinks. Not over-acting the whole thing into a big camp production.