I went into The Avengers with a slight sense of trepidation, this is by far and away Marvel Studio’s most ambitious film to date, it could even in fact be considered one of the most ambitious films in cinematic history, as it attempts to bring together 5 films from 4 separate franchises. Whilst a project such as this has the potential to be truly astounding, it also has the possibility of failing spectacularly, Marvel Studios, and Director Joss Whedon, faced the tough task of integrating all of these huge Hollywood stars into a cohesive and compelling story, and I take great pleasure in saying they succeeded with flying colours.
The film begins running and rarely lets up, that isn’t to say there aren’t great character defining moments in between all the action, as these proud heroes learn to work as one cohesive unit, but this truly is an action film in every sense of the word, in fact I would go as far to say that this is THE quintessential action film, it is everything The Expendables should have been and more. If I had one word to describe the film, it would be “EPIC”, if you are a fan or Marvel comics, or even comic books in general you will have a huge smile on your face throughout watching these legendary characters work together on screen.
Of course there are some negative points, some of the teams bickering seems to come out of nowhere with our favourite heroes suddenly boiling over with little reason to do so, some of the dialogue verges a little too close to being overly cheery, and one or two visual gags (such as the slacker S.H.I.E.L.D agent on the bridge of the Helicarrier) fell flat in my opinion. However all of these negative points are vastly outweighed by the good, and oh boy are there good points! My only other problem was the recasting of Edward Norton’s Bruce Banner. Mark Ruffalo actually put in a great shift as Banner, however I just couldn’t help but imagine his scenes being done by Norton and wondering how great that could have been… I am a bit of a stickler for continuity though so this probably won’t bother a vast majority of people who go to see The Avengers, and by no means is it a deal breaker even for the biggest Edward Norton fan.
So the good I mentioned before? Well where to start… All of the characters get good screen time to showcase their unique abilities, and the final battle especially showcases all six heroes brilliantly. Those of you who were worried Black Widow and Hawkeye just wouldn’t stack up to their superhuman counterparts have no fear as Whedon utilises them to their potential and they really do add a good dynamic to the team.
Marvel films, with the possible exception of The Incredible Hulk, have been criticised of having short underwhelming final battles, something you definitely will not hear from anyone who has seen The Avengers. Without spoiling the truly epic final battle (and oh yes I mean EPIC) be prepared to see all your heroes take it to Loki and the Chitauri for what must be at least half an hour, just when you think it’s over it keeps going…again and again. This final battle is where Hulk really shines, and within those last 30 minutes of face punching action he manages to steal the show, and perhaps the entire film. For those Hulk fans who were disappointed with the Green Goliath’s last two cinematic outings (I personally loved The Incredible Hulk) fret not this really is the beastie’s time to take centre stage.
As expected all of the titular actors bring their A-game with exemplary performances, however some of the smaller and background characters felt a bit wooden at times with their delivery, particularly the civilians reactions to the super powered team. The score also lives up to the films great hype, and the music fit all of the films scenes well, even if it was largely forgettable, the juxtaposition of classical music over the Germany scene where Captain America is en route to square off with Loki for the first time is a real highlight. The special effects department is another area that doesn’t disappoint with the whole film looking flawless (although they did forget to add Stark’s arc reactor glow in one scene – a minor quibble) your jaw will be on the floor for the entire final battle (which must have been largely CGI).
There was a huge danger that this film could go either way, if it took itself too seriously it could end up like Battleship (aka awful) however too many light hearted moments could easily undermine the threat of Earth’s destruction, thankfully Whedon treads this fine line perfectly, knowing when to throw in some light hearted humour, predominantly through Thor, Hulk and Tony Stark, and knowing when to add gravitas to a situation. This isn’t only one of the greatest comic book films of all time, it is also one of the greatest action films in cinematic history, it is non stop from the get go with action and special effects well up to the task. Simply put, if you enjoyed any of the previous Marvel movies, you need to see this in the cinema.