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USA 2012
Directed by
Joss Whedon
142 minutes
Rated M

Reviewed by
Andrew Lee
4 stars


Synopsis: Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has done a deal with an alien race to take over Earth. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) draws together a super-group of super-heroes to fight him. The only problem is that Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) don’t exactly play well together.

An Avengers movie has been brewing since Iron Man first took the world by storm four years ago. A little teaser at the end of its credits made it clear that Marvel Studios had a plan behind their film schedule. With Iron Man, Hulk, Thor and Captain America each getting their own film to set the scene, and Black Widow and Hawkeye playing supporting roles in Iron Man 2 and Thor respectively, the roster of heroes has been carefully seeded into public consciousness. Now that the film has finally arrived, the only real flaw is that without having watched these films, you’re stepping into the third act slightly unprepared. That shouldn’t matter, as events rock along at a good clip and information from previous films is casually thrown around as received wisdom, so new viewers are catered to reasonably well. But even so, you’ll get a bit more out of it if you’ve at least seen Thor and Captain America, as they’re the two films that have significant story elements dedicated to setting up The Avengers.

I was initially only going to give Whedon’s film three and a half stars, because for all the fun I had, I’m not in a mad hurry to see it again. I’m definitely going to buy the bluray, and it’ll be one of those films I throw on when I want some time out, but it didn’t leave me in awe of its achievements. But talking with the friends, I’ve changed my mind.

The Avengers is so polished yet seemingly effortless that it’s easy to miss exactly how perfectly it tackles the challenges of making the cinematic equivalent of a rock supergroup album. Juggling a set of characters (and actors) who have each merited their own franchise in a single film, keeping faith with the history of those characters and the tone of their respective films, it is actually quite astonishing. The action is superb, cleanly blocked out and interesting within the frame (no shakycam to disguise a lack of choreography) with an epic final battle that actually is epic for a change. Add to that the fact that the quip-o-meter goes off the scale regularly, with one-liners and sight gags that brought the house down, plot and character trickery that goes beyond the standard threats and posturing of regular action fare and you have what will probably be the most entertaining blockbuster of the year. Actually, I think I just talked myself into going and watching it again. It really is very, very good.




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