Wednesday, 9 January 2013

FILM: The Avengers (8/10)

Why did I watch it?
I watched all the character origin films in anticipation for this film. I missed out when it was on at the cinema so it was must once it came out on DVD.

What's it all about?
Thor's evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) returns to Earth via energy from the Tesseract and having struck a deal with an extraterrestrial army, he wreaks havoc intending to open a portal allowing the Chitauri army to follow him to Earth. S.H.I.E.L.D. director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) initiates the recruitment of Iron Man, Captain America and Bruce Banner to help fight Loki, while Thor arrives to stop his brother. 
Should you watch it?
My main concern with The Avengers was, in encompassing all of the members, the film would be spread too thinly between the characters, resulting in a watered down attempt to integrate characters and personalities, a little like the X-men films. Thankfully this is not the case, although it's interesting that co-writer Zak Penn was involved in two of the X-men group films. Penn and Joss Whedon find enough screen-time for all the Avengers and by introducing them gradually through the film's opening third, sufficient emphasis is placed on each character. Similarly, I was disappointed when I discovered that the film's antagonist would be Loki, as I was not overly impressed with him in Thor. Again though, due to Hiddlestone's improved performance this time around and with Whedon's direction, I felt Loki was a much more interesting villain and one more fitting of the collective's film.

The team dynamic of between the superheroes is what really makes the film, alongside the blockbuster action sequences. Thor and Hulk clash, Captain America and Tony Stark routinely throw barbs at each other while Stark shows a surprisingly sincere side when offering support to Bruce Banner. Mark Ruffalo plays Banner with a sense of fear and regret of his destructive, uncontrollable power and I found him to be the most interesting character of the team. There's a slightly contrived back-story thrown in to give Hawkeye and Black Widow something of interest but its the funny moments between Stark and co. that gives the film its spark. Samuel. L. Jackson's brings his usual 'don't mess with me' cool factor and his larger role also benefits the movie. Being critical, I'm not sure the plot gave enough explanation as to why Banner returned to fight alongside the others after showing nothing but resistance to let 'the other guy' appear, or how he was able to control Hulk more effectively in contrast with the film's earlier events.

The so called Battle of New York finale is a really exciting well-directed battle, especially when you consider it's similarities to the frantic city battles Michael Bay treated us to in his Transformer films.

A genuine action blockbuster fit for it's cast. 

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