Film Review: Avengers Assemble

After a long period of nervy anticipation from fans, the latest film from Marvel’s movie division hit the screen in the form of Avengers Assemble, starring Hollywood heavy hitters in Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson and Samuel L Jackson. With the project being in line for a number of years upon its release, anxiety tends to swell just as equally as excitement within the large pockets of Marvel fans globally, as a concern arises as to how true the film will stick to the audience’s interpretations of some of their favourite characters. With this, the cinema becomes a ball of enthusiastic energy mixed with a fascinatingly tense undercurrent. Though their strike rate is particularly envious in terms of converting the comics to the big screen, Marvel know that it’s never a sure bet as to whether an often fickle and judgemental fan base will accept the movie as evidenced by the dire performance of 2003’s Hulk being received so poorly that the company felt the need to reboot the series in 2008’s The Incredible Hulk.

Marvel will be relieved then by Avengers Assemble deservedly receiving a round of applause upon reaching the credits at the cinema I attended. Much like I wrote in my review of another of this season’s blockbusters Wrath of the Titans (available here: https://rhettmedia.wordpress.com/2012/04/19/film-review-wrath-of-the-titans/ ), Avengers Assemble is not a film designed to reinvent the wheel of film and having carefully outlined what its intentions were, it is safe to say that Marvel have more or less reached the majority of their goals. The picture itself regards a group of superheroes coming together to form the Avengers in the face of an extra-terrestria threat led by the villainous Asgardian God Loki, played by Tom Hiddleston. Obviously this ends with all-out war ensuing through the streets of Manhattan, destroying the iconic landscape in the name of good versus evil. In this sense the narrative of the piece is typically fairly basic but is exactly what you’d expect and moreover what the picture should be offering. Throughout the movie there is the very strong sense that Marvel’s film division is very aware of the strengths and weaknesses of such movies, and thus as a story Avengers Assemble comes off very well onscreen.

In terms of filming this monster of a film that is truly epic in scale, I voiced concerns in the Upcoming article for April saying that ‘the only potential problem that could occur is if there is not enough room for each character to truly shine in what could become an oversaturated mess’ (full article available here https://rhettmedia.wordpress.com/2012/03/29/upcoming-april/), and it’s clear that the issue was a problem in terms of muddying the movie. The integration of the larger-than-life characters with one another was perhaps the most vital aspect of the movie, insofar as a character looking weaker or less important than another could severely dampen the name value and drawing power of the character in terms of selling one of their individual pictures. With a character list looking to heavily feature the appearances of Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk just for starters, it is clear that the movie may have to have been more balancing act than anything else.

However, the various action-packed face-offs between the characters left everything pretty much even-steven throughout, with every character getting a chance to shine. Robert Downey Jr. typically shone as Tony Stark/Iron Man, despite not appearing until at least the 30 minute mark, and his performance and underlying enthusiasm for the role bodes well for the next instalment of the Iron Man series. Similarly, Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth build well on reprising their roles of last year’s blockbusters of characters Captain America and Thor respectively. The most notable performances though were perhaps Mark Ruffalo debuting in the role of The Hulk and the aforementioned Hiddleston as villain Loki. Ruffalo was thrust into the role after Ed Norton backed out of reprising the character, and he performed admirably by adding a more quiet and refined demeanour to Bruce Banner and it seems only a matter of time before he stars in his own standalone version of The Hulk series in the next wave of Avengers movies. Perhaps most interestingly is that with a cast list boasting stars such as Downey Jr., Johansson and Samuel L Jackson amongst them, the person who is charged with carrying most of the picture is the excellent Hiddleston in his nefarious role as Loki. It is quite a curious thing to consider that Hiddleston potentially received more screen time than any other character in such a packed ensemble cast, yet he owns the screen and completely immerses himself in the character to the point where it genuinely raises the experience.

The only downsides to this picture lie in the typical over-reliance on special effects which drives most of the minutes of the two hour, twenty minute presentation but this is far more of an issue that transcends this film on its own. Overall, the only potential problem laid in the oversaturation of star power and engaging the balancing act of equal screen presence for the character, yet this seems to have been dealt with a certain panache and care. Perhaps the most important factors contributing to the success lies in the typically good script work that builds on stories a wider audience may not know and also the careful control that director Joss Whedon has of the product. With a bevy of typically hard to please fans sidestepped with the perceived accomplishment of the film, Whedon’s performance has led to rumours of him resuming his role in light of a potential sequel. In the meantime, Avengers Assemble will act as a sounding shot for the Avengers franchise, capping off the successful larger scale Avengers campaign that featured the Captain America, Thor and Iron Man movies of the last few years. With a number of potential avenues and characters to explore ahead of the inevitable sequel to this character mash-up, it is perhaps apt to suggest that the Avengers franchise may in fact be a far greater money spinner for Marvel than the upcoming Amazing Spiderman reboot. Only time will tell whether that will be the case.

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~ by jrhett on May 2, 2012.

One Response to “Film Review: Avengers Assemble”

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