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Saturday, 28 April 2012

EXCLUSIVE: Avengers Assemble Review (5/5)

The film-fan's verdict on one of the best movies of 2012...
"There was an idea," says Samuel L. Jackson's iconic Nick Fury midway through Avengers Assemble, "to bring together a remarkable group of people, so that when we needed them most, they could do the things that we never could." In terms of ambitious film premises for flicks released this year, there will probably never be another set-up that matches the sheer audacity and scale of Marvel's first superhero team up here, and indeed that fulfills the expectations of its audience with such bombast and so utterly completely as this. If there is one reason and one release alone that you head down to your local cinema in the next few weeks (and trust me, you will if you know what's good for you) to catch this breathtaking epic, it's this: Joss Whedon has managed to successfully unite Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Fury, Agent Coulson, Loki and the Hulk himself under one incredible storyline that leaves no character feeling underwhelmed and no plot element from fan mythology mishandled. Although it had been said before that Avengers would bring the thrilling experience of reading a comic-book to the big screen in such a way that non-believers would be encouraged to pick up a Marvel graphic novel, I didn't quite buy into it; I am happy to admit that I was wholly wrong not to do so. There are scenes throughout the film where we as an audience truly grasp the nature and relations of each of these iconic heroes, their pasts and everything they have had to leave behind to bring them to this moment, everything that they stand to lose if they should fail in this mission. Indeed, Whedon seems to have no qualms about introducing fatal, realistic and gritty concepts into his narrative about the lengths humanity will go to to prevent extraterresterial domination, and it stands as testament to the writer and director's talents in both fields that we never think too harshly into the implications of the moral dilemmas swiftly presented and remedied, mostly glazed over by his trademark humour and emotive drama. Each of the cast are clearly giving it their all, too: Chris Evans has a lot of potential in his portrayal of a war hero out of his time; Hemsworth proves his worth once again as a fast-rising star when his Asgardian legend Thor bursts back to Earth; Robert Downey Jr never steals the limelight yet gets his fair share of hilarious remarks and Mark Ruffalo has a bizarrely effective calmness about his showcase of Bruce Banner and indeed later the Hulk that might make him an invaluable asset come the inevitable Hulk reboot. Add to that Jackson's SHIELD commander (who gets much more screen-time than expected), Clark Gregg back in a bigger role as Coulson (seriously, get ready for a shock) and Gwyneth Paltrow in a few neat cameos as Pepper Potts along with Tom Hiddleston's amazingly empathetic antagonist Loki, and you've got a stellar cast line-up utilised to its absolute best. The team dynamic is every bit as disjointed as we might have hoped for what is essentially a 'team origins' flick, allowing for a good degree of the film's running time to be spent building up relationships and faith in one another before one of the biggest and best final battles we're likely to see played out in these twelve months of cinema. Naturally, there are one or two ever-so-minor plot holes, such as Loki and his allies' reasoning for attacking Earth (explained in some form), but that it seems that future Avengers sequels will deal with these is perhaps the most exciting element of the whole experience. It didn't seem possible, but there really are some massive story threads set up so that this disparate team of heroes can reunite once more in a few years' time, even though we see them go their seperate ways for solo vaunts come the film's denouement. It takes a truly masterful helm to accomplish all of this in the space of two and a half hours, and if we hadn't worked it out from The Cabin In The Woods, Joss Whedon is most definitely worthy of such a title. Thanks to this grand overlord of what is easily one of the best movies of the year, Marvel Studios has finally reached their full potential, creating in essence the perfect superhero movie that deserves a watch from even newcomers to the series. Instantly accessible and thrilling yet a comic-book fan's dream come true (stick around for the post-credits scene if you call yourself a diehard Marvelite), Avengers Assemble truly is Marvel's answer to The Dark Knight, laying down the gauntlet for all future superhero films and indeed all future flicks in general coming our way in the Summer Of Film and 2012 overall.

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