Film Review: Marvel's Avengers Assemble
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The total sum of my knowledge about superheroes could be written on the back of a stamp, leaving more than enough room for the history essay I should be writing instead of this review. This, however, I do know: when you gather six superheroes together and throw an alien army at them, things are gonna get ugly.
Marvel's Avengers Assemble – to give it its less-than-snappy UK title – sees Loki (Tom Hiddleston) summon an alien army to attack Earth, and only S. H. I. E. L. D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) can divert disaster by bringing together a group of heroes to fight Thor's evil brother. What ensues is fantastic 'check-your-brain-in-at-the-door' sci-fi/action twaddle and a film which has, in many ways, set a new standard for the genre.
Films such as this are never, ever about the plot. Anyone who tries to convince you otherwise has been watching too much Inception and is, quite frankly, trying too hard.
Spectacle is everything. A fine balance has to be struck between plot exposition (that is, explaining to the audience why it matters that the gamma radiation of the Tesseract is traceable – yeah, I have no idea either) and the action sequences which obviously have to be set within an engaging narrative for them to work. The Avengers (as we shall now call it) didn't fully pull this off but little did it matter – the action sequences were so absurd and full-on that they more than made up for the slightly confusing plot.
This was largely due to the amazing CGI effects which were genuinely eye-popping and the final fight sequence was very well-done. The retro-fitted 3D was, of course, unnecessary and in some cases reduced the light levels to such a great extent that I had to take the glasses off to see what on earth was happening (most notably in the opening scene).
Everything about this film is big: the stars, the explosions, the fights, the locations, the CGI, Chris Hemsworth's biceps. To say that The Avengers is gargantuan in its production would be a great understatement. The all-star cast, including Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner and Gwyneth Paltrow, put in solid and dynamic performances and Hiddleston as Loki really knows how to pull off the most evil of smiles.
There was always going to be a problem with how much screen time could be devoted to each superhero and their personal struggles, especially when compared to the individual superhero films such as Iron Man and Captain America. Director Joss Whedon has, however, managed fairly well to give each superhero a definite character arc and, more importantly, retain a humanity to the characters which makes their exploits all the more thrilling. Robert Downey Jr.'s Iron Man provided a nice level of humour which fitted well with the overall tone of the film: it never took itself too seriously but always showed a genuine love for the Marvel characters. Whedon has clearly crafted this film with passion.
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Although Mark Ruffalo's Hulk went through about six t-shirts during his various tantrums, it was hugely entertaining to watch a big green giant smash everything to smithereens and you certainly don't need to be a comic book geek to enjoy this film, you can just sit back and marvel (sorry!) at the craziness of it all.
Marvel's Avengers Assemble is an entertaining romp through comic book royalty and is massive in its visuals and ambitions. A solid cast, some stunning visual effects and an effective balance between plot and spectacle all lead to a thoroughly mad, but equally fun film. However, I may still need that superhero revision guide...