Sunday, 6 May 2012
Allow me to start this review by saying that I have never been a fan of comic books. As a girl who's brother is an extremely talented cartoonist and comic strip creator, this is not a good thing to admit. I have tried to get on board with them. And of course I can appreciate the talent of the writers and artists involved. I just don't enjoy it as a medium.
Film however is another matter entirely. There is a medium I've been on board with for as long as I can remember. And in fact recall that one of my (or possibly THE) first cinematic experiences I had was Bambi. An animated film. So on film I can totally get on board with cartoons, animation, comic book characters etc. This is why, although I've never read a Marvel comic book, I still consider myself a fan of the Marvel universe. And of Stan Lee. Who is of course a legend.
The only problem with having not read the comics is that I don't really KNOW these characters as well as those who have read them. Or as well as my 6 year old nephew who has taught me a thing or two about these characters since I watched Thor with him last year.
Regardless of my lack of knowledge I was excited to see some of my favourite Marvel heroes, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America alongside some newer characters who have yet to have their own movies, Hawkeye and Black Widow, and even some of my less favourite characters such as The Hulk.
So how and why does this band of misfits come together? Well to save the world of course! SHIELD head honcho Nick Fury has been running some experiments on a powerful cube of energy called the Tesseract (you may recall seeing it in Captain America: The First Avenger). This cube allows a gateway between worlds, which Loki uses to come to earth with his plan of ruling it. Nick and the team at SHIELD cannot allow this to happen and so call upon Dr Bruce Banner to help them locate the Tesseract, as it omits a low level of gamma radition of which he is the expert. When things at SHIELD's headquarters go from bad to worse it's up to the unlikely group of heroes, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and Black Widow to put things right. But can they stop bickering amongst themselves long enough to fight their combined enemy and his army?
The first thing I want to say is that the key word in the title is Assemble. Not Assembled. So if you're expecting the characters you love, teamed together, fighting the big bad from the off, you'll be disappointed. Avengers Assemble is a slow burner, re-introducing the characters one by one, then introducing them to each other. To be honest, I loved this entire part of the film, Agent Romanoff bringing in 'the big guy', the Dr shaking hands with the Capt. Thor holding his own against the Iron suited Stark. And then Stark taking the p*ss out of all of them. The one-liners kept coming and the friction/camraderie really showed.
Whether you love or loathe these build up scenes, the waiting is worth it when they do eventually team up for the grand finale. This is where I was worried that writer/director Whedon would stumble. As a long time fan of his from Buffy (yes even all the way back to the Buffy movie) through to Dollhouse and Cabin In The Woods which he co-wrote and produced, I knew he could do ensemble casts until the cows came home. What I wasn't sure he could do was all out action. But I'm happy to say he pulls it out of the bag with a truly stunning end sequence in which each character has a part to play and a chance to shine.
Character wise, The Hulk was everything. He might have thought they were more of a time bomb than a team but he was undoubtedly the glue that held them together. Think about all his scenes in the movie and how things would have turned out without him. He was pivotal. Hulk also, surprisingly, got both the biggest laughs and the biggest cheers in the showing I was in. And the laughs for once were not for the way he looked on screen. The artists on this film have done a fantastic job of making The Hulk actually look like the man playing him, not just like a big green monster. Ruffalo's facial expressions are evident, which for the first time makes The Hulk feel human. I loved him, and he was my least favourite going in so that was quite a turn-around. I thought Ruffalo was inspired casting as Banner and Hulk and that he played both guys perfectly.
I also loved the relationship between Banner and Stark and think this was helped immensely by Ruffalo and Downey Jr's on screen chemistry. First forged in their previous on screen collaboration in David Fincher's Zodiac. This lightbulb moment only occurred to me after I saw Avengers Assemble for the second time (on IMAX - HIGHLY recommended!) and was reflecting on how good their scenes were.
Avengers Assemble is not only an action packed spectacle, it's also genuinely laugh out loud funny and has a lot of character driven moments which make it what it is, an all round great film. Go and see it, more than once and definately make one of those screenings an IMAX experience. The sound and picture quality will blow you away. 9.5 out of 10.
Viewing Date - 26th April 2012
UK Release Date - 26th April 2012
Robert Downey Jr ~ Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans ~ Steve Rogers / Captain America
Mark Ruffalo ~ Bruce Banner / The Hulk
Chris Hemsworth ~ Thor
Scarlett Johansson ~ Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner ~ Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston ~ Loki
Clark Gregg ~ Agent Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders ~ Agent Maria Hill
Stellan Skarsgard ~ Professor Erik Selvig
Samuel L Jackson ~ Nick Fury
Director ~ Joss Whedon
Writer(s) ~ Joss Whedon (Screenplay and Story), Zak Penn (Story)
and Stan Lee and Jack Kirby (Comic Book)