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Avengers Assemble (12A) Reviewed

Rachel Winterbottom, Confidential's superhero correspondent, takes over the world - or at least likes the film

Published on April 30th 2012.

Avengers Assemble (12A) Reviewed

MARVEL Studios has been busy producing a slog of prequels establishing some big players in the Marvel-verse.

For the most part, Avengers Assemble accomplishes the considerable feat of living up to the hype.

Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and even some misjudged attempts at the Hulk. Avengers Assemble is to be the big payoff: a superhero ensemble feature on an epic scale. It's up to Buffy man Joss Whedon to fit this many egos into one film.

Specialist government facility S.H.I.E.L.D. (that's Supreme Headquarters International Espionage Law-Enforcement Division, fact fans) has possession of the Tesseract, a cube with the potential to open doorways to other dimensions or be an unlimited sustainable power source. Much to S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury's (Samuel L. Jackson) chagrin, godlike Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) enters his base to wreak havoc by pitting his agents against each other in order to steal the cube.

Loki plans to start a war by using the Tesseract to open a portal to the dimension of beings that gave him his nifty new powers. It's down to Fury to recruit his band of estranged superheroes and offer them the mission to save the world. Unfortunately it's not that easy.


Captain America (Chris Evans) is still brooding from his last outing; Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is building monuments to himself; the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) prefers spying to heroics; Thor (Chris Hemsworth) wants to bring in brother Loki on his own; the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) is in hiding and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is temporarily evil. In order to save mankind, Fury's team of Avengers must first battle their own super egos.

Director Whedon co-writes with Marvel adaptation aficionado Zak Penn, who is no stranger to superhero ensemble films following his script work on X-Men: The Last Stand (although thankfully this time he's actually been successful).

For a film on this scale to work, a fine balance needs to be achieved. Whedon has managed the mammoth task of giving equal screen time to each of his leads and still delivering huge action set pieces.

What really gels this film together is the humour that Whedon has lovingly instilled into every scene.

Larger-than-life characters are able to take themselves seriously because their pomposity is offset (but not too undermined) by the witty, self-aware script. From Downey Jr's Tony Stark attempting to antagonise the Hulk out of Dr Bruce Banner, to a control room extra's sneaky game of Space Invaders, Avengers is the funniest instalment of the franchise to date.

Despite being the main villain in last year's Thor, Hiddleston more than proves that his Loki was the right Big Bad for the Avengers to face together. He is a tormented adversary that can do as much damage with his silver tongue as with his sceptre. This compensates for the fact that the team's other foes are throwaway alien types.

After a couple of disappointing films with below par CGI, Ruffalo's version of the gamma-afflicted Dr Bruce Banner and his alter ego the Hulk, is a wry, self-effacing delight. While the big green one might still suffer from slightly ropey CGI, when this Hulk smashes, things get awesome.

Johansson ensures that the Black Widow is more than just the token female team member. She is strong, vulnerable and coolly witty, with fighting skills that are not hampered by a lack of superpowers or her extremely tight leather outfit. However, while for the most part Whedon handles his cast's individual plotlines and back stories very well, audience members unfamiliar with the Black Widow will remain woefully ignorant of her past.

Avengers Assemble occasionally flags between the action but that is to be expected with so many characters competing for screen time.

The film is at its most entertaining when the Avengers are at odds with each other and loses some of its edge when it comes to them fighting their actual enemies.

But none of the action disappoints and, despite being a post-production conversion, the 3D enhances the film rather than being merely incidental. For the most part, Avengers Assemble accomplishes the considerable feat of living up to the hype.

Rating: 9/10

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Lord of the PiesApril 30th 2012.

I've seen this twice already and think it's brilliant. Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk steals the show. It's about time this character had a good portrayal on the big screen.

Go and watch this film now.

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