Avengers Assemble (2012)

Film review: Avengers Assemble (2012), directed by Joss Whedon

avengersassembleIron Man, Captain America, Thor, and the Hulk. In the same film. Directed by Joss Whedon. Geeks everywhere should erupt in fangasms. Those appreciating superhero films from a more … aesthetic point of view … it’s a film jam packed with hunks. And Scarlett Johansson. (Yeah, kinda lopsided.)

What’s the best way to see this ultimate comic book geek extravaganza? With a bunch of fans, of course! Which is exactly what we did last night. Our local Cineworld sold out each and every showing, so I think we’re in for a blockbuster. Unsurprisingly.

SHIELD is a secret defense organisation, led by Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson, all kinds of badass). They have an energy cube, the Tesseract, that professor Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård), from Thor, is trying to research. One day, it activates, turns into a portal to another planet, and out pops Loki (Tom Hiddleston), and he’s hell-bent on taking over the planet. Taking the Tesseract with him, along with a selection of SHIELD people he has “enchanted” – including Selvig and master archer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner).

Fury needs to find the Tesseract before all kinds of mayhem breaks loose, and gets his people – Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) to assemble a bunch of people who could possibly be of help. But when your crew is made up of Tony “Iron Man” Stark (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Bruce “Hulk” Banner (Mark Ruffalo), and you’re joined by the alien demigod Thor (Chris Hemsworth) … things aren’t going to run as planned.

Also starring Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts, Paul Bettany as the voice of Jarvis and Alexis Denisof as “The Other”.

Oh, where to begin? The movie was penned by Joss Whedon (Firefly, Buffy, etc.), who is a strong advocate for equality between the sexes and he’s known for writing strong, female characters. That’s why it’s such a shame there are only three women in the film, not counting extras, and while they do hold their own very well, it’s still … just the three of them. Natalie Portman, who was the love interest in Thor, is shown briefly as a photo on a screen … having just been evacuated to a remote location. Damsel in distress.

“Ya got sum nice boobs there, ma’am.”

Pepper Potts, a.k.a. Iron Man’s squeeze, puts in an appearance as … well, Iron Man’s squeeze, that’s about it. Agent Hill gets to fight a bit, but mostly she stands around in the background while the men talk and do things. Thank goodness for Black Widow/Natasha, eh? Can’t complain about her skin-tight suit, considering the men aren’t exactly wearing tents either. She kicks all kinds of butt, and her manipulation skills are amazing. And she didn’t have to fall in love with any of the male protagonists either. Result!

O hai, Katniss!

Her friend Hawkeye I don’t know from any of the other films, and his bow just made me think of The Hunger Games, because that’s what I’ve mostly been reading this week. Apart from that, nice to see archery in this kind of setting. Perhaps it’s making a comeback?

Lookit the crinkles on that man!

It’s a lot of fun seeing all these characters on screen together. We’ve seen Thor, both Iron Man films, and Captain America, so we know where these guys are from and what they’re like. Newcomer on the scene here is Mark Ruffalo. We saw the Edward Norton Hulk film too, and it’s the character from that – only a little older and a little wiser – but not played by Norton. Ruffalo makes the part his own, however, and some of the biggest laughs were to do with the Hulk. (One word: Thor.) This time, the Hulk was made through motion capture, and you can also see a resemblance with the actor in that big, bulky, green destroyer. Nice touch! Banner came across as intelligent and softspoken, so very far from the Hulk. Loved it. Nice chest hair too.

“Hey, quit starring at my butt!”
(You know you did in this scene. I dare you to deny it.)

Captain America seems to have taken to modern times with gusto, even if they do have to simplify things for him sometimes. “Big, red lever” indeed. Nice flashbacks from his own film, even if we didn’t get to see a certain Nazi assassin. Despite having the silliest-looking outfit of the team, you can tell he’s a soldier, and a good one at that. “Has Agent Coulson got you to sign his trading cards yet?” Aww. Coulson rocks. He’s the regular guy, the audience stand-in, so his trading cards and beaming smiles around the Captain are brilliant.

“Loki’s takin’ over the world? I’m not cool with that.”

Iron Man might get some of the best and funniest lines and hog the spotlight a bit … but then again, that’s what he does, he’s that kinda guy. Kept noticing how they seemed to have forgotten to switch his “heart” on in some of the scenes. In some, you can see the disc of light through the Black Sabbath T-shirt, in others, you can’t. Goof? Oh, and there was a point where I wanted to exclaim “I don’t drop character until I’ve done the DVD commentary!” Still, I love Tony Stark, he’s both funny and charming, and … gorgeous.

“You’re saying I should put what on the barbeque?”

Which links nicely with Thor, the god of thunder. It’s hammer time, all right. Oh, the cape. Oh, the hammer. Oh, the hunky blonde. There was a point where his accent went a bit all over the place, because I first thought “why did Thor suddenly become Irish?!” and some seconds after that, there were a few other oddities, but it soon passed. But then, the man’s an Aussie, so he has to put on some kind of accent, I guess. Thor can come visit planet Earth any day.

Speaking of aliens … how come all the baddies, even the extra-terrestrial ones, know how to speak English? Is that working from the same principle as Independence Day? You know, where a Macbook can interface perfectly fine with alien technology, when half the time, you can’t even get it to interface with your own router and/or printer. So is English the lingua franca of the universe? Just a side note, but there you go.

And, while on the subject of baddies, there’s Loki. Oh gosh. I don’t know whether to love him or hate him. After reading interviews with Tom Hiddleston, I’m leaning on the former, but on the other hand, this greasy-haired creep was trying to bend the Earth to his will. That’s uncool. But that green is so fetching, and doesn’t he remind you of Michael Fassbender just a tiny little bit?

Samuel L Jackson? He’s Samuel L Jackson, with an eyepatch. That’s how he rolls. He’s so hard you could hammer in nails without having to ask if you can borrow Mjöllnir. Hard, but fair. Even if he might not be quite what I first expected.

I’m not a comic book geek, so I can’t say anything about how the characters and their storylines were accurate and things like that. I’ve seen the films, and I enjoyed them very much. Avengers Assemble, or just The Avengers, is every bit as entertaining as the heroes’ respective films, if not even more so. There are many heroes of this piece, and it looks as if they all had a lot of fun working on this film. Joss Whedon clearly understands his audience, and he has made a film that made the whole group spill out of the cinema past midnight in an overexcited buzz. Facebook messages today all talk about how amazing the film is.

Because it really is. Toward the end, there’s destruction on par with a Michael Bay film, but the difference here is that the story is one I want to watch and care about, and the explosions aren’t just there for the sake of being impressive. And there are some genuinely breathtaking moments, along with good acting, great special effects and things that had us laughing heartily many a time. It’s the sort of film where villains don’t get to do their villaneous monologue, because they’re too busy having the shit kicked out of them.

Avengers Assemble is all kinds of awesome. If you liked any of the films which involve these same actors playing these same characters, you’ll enjoy this tremendously. It’s like all those films mashed together into a whole heap of marvellous.

5 out of 5 flowing capes.

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