Friday, 13 July 2012

Avengers Assemble

At the time of writing this review I have seen (The) Avengers Assemble a total of four times, twice in 2D, once in 3D and my initial viewing in IMAX 3D. This film has become one of the biggest ever cinematic releases, garnering an incredible one and a half billion dollars, and has been lauded one of the greatest comic book films ever made. Here are my two cents.

The Avengers
Joss Whedon // 2012 // 12A // 143 mins

Following the build up of Marvels previous filmic ventures, The Avengers opens as Asgardian God of Mischief Loki is given the power to enter our world, through an energy source in the possession of government agency S.H.I.E.L.D, the Tesseract. Loki's plan is to bring the people of earth to their knees and rule over them as the rightful King he believe himself to be, with the help of a couple-hundred alien creatures. Cue S.H.E.I.L.D Agent Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), who bands together a group of the worlds greatest heroes to take on the alien threat and save New York from destruction.

When bringing together six figures who all have established fan-bases and are completely distinct characters for an ensemble blockbuster, the script is the be-all-end-all of the production. Writer and Director Joss Whedon has not only managed to juggle half a dozen diverse personalities, along with three more agents and a super villain, but he has done so in such a way that not one of these figures seems to have been overtly compromised in the process. Bringing his razor sharp dialogue and immaculate comedic timing, both perfected through his run on Buffy, Whedon allows each character to shine in his or her respective light while weaving an epic master plot for each of them to fall into.

Not only does Whedon pen a fantastic script here, he also realises it on the screen in an impeccably stylish fashion. Taking cues from Kenneth Branaghs implementation of canted angles in Thor, Whedon and cinematographer Seamus McGarvey ensure this film is technically as impressive as it is well written. The visual effects are stunning, Mark Ruffalo's Hulk displaying the absolute pinnacle of motion capture technology, and the 3D is surprisingly impressive for a post-production conversion, never becoming distracting from the overall viewing experience. The films standout sequence comes in the form of a single sweeping shot that takes the viewer on a ride around the city as we see each hero in turn battling off the onslaught of alien entities attacking Manhattan.

The ensemble cast works brilliantly together, each delivering their respective one liners with perfect timing and feeding off of each others individual performances. Robert Downey Jr. once again steals the show as wise-cracking Tony Stark, a sequence between him, Gwyneth Paltrows Pepper Potts and Clark Greggs Agent Coulson is just an early taste of the fantastic writing on display throughout the whole film. Scarlett Johanssons Black Widow is on the receiving end of the greatest character development, as she and the writers tease a backstory which fleshes out her character particularly well. Both Chris', Evans and Hemsworth, are equally effective and endearing as all-round super-boys Captain America and Thor respectively, while Jeremy Renner triumphs his slim-lined role, bringing enough personality and intrigue to his (far too) few scenes to leave a lasting impression.

Amongst this crowd of personalities two performances truly stand out, those of Tom Hiddleston's villainous Loki and new boy Mark Ruffalo as dual personality Bruce Banner. Hiddleston brings the perfect level of smug to his role, creating, at times, a detestable and desperately punchable villain, he brilliantly switches from delivering great comedic moments to displaying the truly evil nature of the character. But the greatest surprise of the film comes neatly packaged in Ruffalo's iteration of Banner, balancing with ease the conflict between the timid doctor and the 'rage monster' within, something that no filmic version of the character has captured this successfully. Even more surprising is that his oversized alter ego receives two of the biggest laughs of the film.

A team of great heroes requires a great theme tune, and composer Alan Silvestri has created a piece of music that's epic scale perfectly captures the awe-some nature of this film. The films entire score is successful in building both the drama and excitement that precedes the climactic action sequences of the latter half, however it is the main theme itself which carries the goosebump-inducing power, especially as it plays over the films stunningly rendered end credit sequence. However, the film is not completely without its faults. The script does at times suffer from the occasional lazy excuse when resolving plot points and the reliance on humour may frustrate someone looking for a more intense and profound piece of cinema, but these are simply nit-picks at an otherwise excellent film.

(The) Avengers Assemble is a brilliantly fun and truly exhilarating piece of cinema. It is an example of the wonderful instance where all the elements of a film work in complete tandem to create a great cinematic experience, one which had a five film build-up to triumph, and triumph it has. A culmination of clever writing, stunning visuals and great performances has resulted in what is possibly the most astounding payoff in recent years. The Avengers has proven that Christopher Nolan's darker and more realistic approach is not the only way in which to create a successful comic book movie, it may not be the best film ever made, or even the best of the year, but it is unmistakably true generic perfection.

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