Friday 27 April 2012

Movie Review - The Avengers

After a slew of successful superhero flicks building up to one action ensemble, the end result in question has finally arrived: The Avengers. Bringing together a selection of superhero greats including Iron Man, Thor, Hulk and Captain America, this blockbuster is definitely a worthwhile treat for fans of the saga's previous installments.

When the war hungry Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) brings the people of Earth to their knees, it's down to S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury (Samuel L Motherfuckin Jackson) to kickstart the Avengers Initiative, bringing together a selection of remarkable superheroes dedicated to defending the Earth: Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo). Together, the four heroes must battle against Loki and his sinister armies, who plan to use the Tesseract energy source as a means for global domination.

The Marvel Cinematic Universe began with Iron Man in 2008, and since then has formed a franchise consisting of now six films and many more on the way. Those unfamiliar with past instalments of the series may wish to brush up on them before deciding to see The Avengers, for the film wastes no time explaining backstory or character motivations; it is all assumed you know this already, and if you have seen the other films, you will. Though it's not excessively complex, as a standalone flick it falls short due to the lack of explanations, and watching the other Marvel Cinematic Universe films would do audiences a lot of good.

The story moves at a relentless pace, with a huge action scene spearheading the entire film and really establishing the dark and thrilling vibe. The film is nicely and tightly plotted with the action scenes nicely intertwined with the narrative; this gives them a lot more purpose, but there are moments where it feels like mindless abuse of CGI to create some low grade spectacle. It's hard to deny that the action scenes are fantastically made though, with some excellent use of camerawork and editing, and of course stunning special effects. It's all made quite nicer in 3D, but throughout the two hour duration this effect is never made overly remarkable and instead adds simple depth; there are also moments where it completely ruins the images on screen.

Our four main superheroes are enriched with a solid chemistry that involves much antagonism. This presents more issues for the narrative and a more interesting storyline in general, instead of rendering them as delightful children playing happily together. Their bickering often results in many tense scenes, yet there establishment of teamwork and co-ordination by the time of the film's climax brings much satisfaction to the audience. It's also all very well acted and written; though it is sometimes cheesy (think of the genre: why wouldn't it be?), it's never laughably terrible and the performances across the board are generally great.

The Avengers embraces all the charming albeit hit or miss humour we've come to expect from the MCU; this is a film that will generate many satisfying laughs, but it's hard to deny that certain gags, one liners, among other jokes, particularly during the final showdown, are the key source of jarring tonal shifts. The villain, Loki (who is often subjected to these gags), is rendered as a completely foolish and pretentious idiot whose role as a villain is progressively downgraded. As he was a very good villain in Thor, it is a shame to see him severely ruined in this film, which could have made him even more sinister. The lack of depth behind his armies also makes them nothing more than CGI foes for the heroes to smash, which is a disappointment.

Aside from these issues, The Avengers is a highly enjoyable superhero flick with a fantastic cast, stunning special effects, brilliant action scenes and a well put together narrative. Fans of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and indeed even the genre, will definitely lap this up in an instant, for its conventional superhero nature is what makes it so awesome.