Film: Avenged sixfold
Published: 5 May 2012 08:000 comments
Following witty and clever standalone films for Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr) and Captain America (Chris Evans), plus a couple of questionable versions of The Hulk (with Mark Ruffalo making his debut this time round), secret military law-enforcement agency S.H.I.E.L.D and head honcho Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) are back again, this time as the main fixture.
When Asgardian demi-god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) steals a destructive cosmic cube from S.H.I.E.L.D headquarters, Fury is forced to invoke the 'Avengers Initiative'.
Joined by super spy Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and laser-visioned archer Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), the four Avengers are "assembled" to help recover the cube and prevent the inevitable enslavement of the human race. However, as Bruce Banner/Hulk rightly points out, forcing six very different and extremely volatile entities together into one small room is "a chemical mixture that creates chaos - a ticking time bomb".
What follows is a lot of arguments, obviously, and arrogance, especially from billionaire playboy Tony Stark, aka, Iron Man. "Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?" quips Stark to Thor, and from then on the gags just keep on coming.
Although writer and director Joss Whedon (Buffy, Angel, Firefly, The Cabin In The Woods) makes it all too clear that his six heroes have absolutely nothing in common, he still does a wonderful job of uniting them in their isolation.
Also, to Whedon's credit is how each Avenger gets equal screen time and there is no clear main character, despite some personalities being slightly bolder and more vibrant than others.
Even the supporting cast get a solid look-in, with Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) playing his cool, calm and collected chaperone-esque role with ease, portraying a man who is accustomed to facing the perils of the universe and having a strong handle on huge egos. "Phil? His first name is 'Agent'!" jokes Stark, oblivious of the key role that Coulson has in holding the group together.
From the very first scene, you are thrown into a 142-minute whirlpool of pure, unadulterated action, where gods fight monsters, monsters fight men, and descending aliens on space chariots get obliterated by a rich man in a metal suit.
On the flipside, tense moments are broken by sharp, witty remarks, with each of the characters - agent, heroes and villain - getting a fair slice of the funny pie. Whedon stays faithful to the Marvel comics and the previous films, taking the essential parts from each and intricately weaving them together with dramatic overtures and unexpected comedic moments to pack a Hulk-like punch.
Brilliantly crafted on a relatively modest budget ($80m less than the latest Pirates Of The Caribbean movie), Avengers Assemble pits heroism and humour against one another with both sides somehow coming out on top. Really worth a mention is Ruffalo's scene-stealing character, who finally gives audiences a smash-happy Hulk that is true to the comics and funny as hell.
And of course, remember to stick around after the credits as there is a sneak-peak of what's to come in the next instalment...