The Avengers Assemble

YOU sit around waiting for one Joss Whedon project to come along, and two come along in quick succession. Following on from the horror feature, The Cabin in the Woods, which Whedon co-wrote and produced. Now the American director brings ultimate superhero movie to the big screen with the Avengers, Assemble, certificate 12A.

The Avengers Assemble project marks the fruition of almost five years’ work by Marvel. The film has been hinted at from as early as the 2008 stand-alone super hero features, The Hulk and Iron Man. The decision to hire the self-confessed fan boy as director, was a considerable gamble by the film’s producers, considering his last directorial effort, the underrated 2005 feature Serenity was a box office flop.

The film has a cast worthy of its blockbuster billing. Including Robert Downey Jr as Playboy Billionaire, Tony Stark, aka Iron Man. Chris Evans as the out of time all American solider, Steve Rodgers, better known as Captain America. Chris Hemsworth returns as the Nordic god, Thor and Mark Fuffalo replaces Ed Norton as Bruce Banner, whose green alter ego, The Hulk has to date proved the most problematic character to portray on screen.

Mysterious super spy and S.H.I.E.L.D agent, Nick Fury, played with enthusiastic gusto by Samuel L Jackson, is forced to bring together Earth’s greatest superheroes. Fury’s character has only been seen briefly throughout the various stand-alone projects and finally gets to take centre stage in this feature.

He must gather the group together to help save the earth from Thor’s meddlesome brother Loki, brilliantly played by Tom Huddleston. Loki threatens the planet with a mysterious army of alien creatures, who wish to enslave the planet with the power of the Tesseract. Fury’s attempt to unite the heroes proves more troublesome than expected as the superheroes’ egos collide.

The film’s concept is nothing original and owes much to cinematic classics such as The Dirty Dozen and Seven Samurai. As a group of heroes unite together to battle a much greater menace. Whedon manages to pitch the feature perfectly, its greatest strengths is the interactions between the various super heroes. The clash of ego’s prove to be highly entertaining, in particular Downey Jr’s interaction with his comrades. The actor is on fine form throughout and almost steals the shows.

But the director’s greatest achievement is the Hulk. Mark Ruffalo does a great job with the character’s dual personas. He is quiet and unassuming as Doctor Bruce Banner but his green alter ego, referred to as the ‘the other guy’ finally gets the onscreen  performed he deserves. By using Ruffalo’s face and facial expressions, the Hulk doesn’t feel like just another CGI incarnation, his performance feels defining and improves upon the two previous incarnations. Whedon finally manages to capture on screen the characters wonderful  sense of madness and uncontrollable rage.

Whedon is the master of working with a large number of characters onscreen. Having worked on the TV series Buffy The Vampire Slayer, the director knows how to work with his cast, giving everyone enough screen time, so that no one  feels marginalised. Even the relatively new character, Hawkeye played by Jeremy Renner gets ample screen time throughout the feature.

Surprisingly the film has a wonderful sense of comedy throughout, it’s great to see a superhero feature not taking itself too seriously. That said some viewers might be put off by the films bright and colourful style and tone. It will be interesting to see how this film compares to Christopher Nolan’s conclusion to his Batman franchise with the Dark Knight Rises, out later this year.

Sadly though, the film’s action scenes are a little long and there is nothing on screen that hasn’t been seen before. The sequence upon the helicarrier, in the film’s middle is a little drawn out, The climatic battle is alittle  similar to Michael Bay’s, Transformers, Dark side of the Moon.

However, Whedon is much more restrained than Bay’s head banging approach to CGI and credit must be bestowed upon the director for not over sexualising his female cast members. Scarlett Johansson’s, Black Widow and Cobie Smulders’, Agent Maria Hill, never feel like mere eye candy for male viewers. Whedon doesn’t have the same lustful eyes towards his female cast that Michael Bay has become associated with.

The Avengers Assemble, is a fun thrilled blockbuster that doesn’t fail to disappoint. In fact the feature managed to surpass even this reviewer’s expectation. But viewers should be advised to avoid the needlessly retro fitted 3D and see the feature in traditional 2D. With 3D’s light reduction issues the film’s opening sequences is too dark to truly enjoy.

Review by William McClean

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