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|aka: Avengers Assemble
dir-scr Joss Whedon
prd Kevin Feige
with Samuel L Jackson, Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stellan Skarsgard
release UK 26.Apr.12, US 4.May.12
12/US Marvel 2h23
Teamwork: Hemsworth, Johansson, Renner, Ruffalo and Evans
|R E V I E W B Y R I C H C L I N E
Like four action movies mashed into one, it's often difficult to know where to look while watching this busy blockbuster. It takes a while to get going, but once writer-director Whedon hits his stride, the film rockets through a series of frantically entertaining set pieces.
When mischievous Loki (Hiddleston) steals the tesseract from top-secret agency Shield, director Nick Fury (Jackson) and his sidekicks (Gregg and Smulders) call in their superheroes: Tony (Downey), Steve (Evans), Natasha (Johansson), Bruce (Ruffalo) and Clint (Renner), better known as Iron Man, Captain America, Black Widow, the Hulk and Hawkeye. And Loki's brother Thor (Hemsworth) also turns up. But calling them a team is misleading, as they find it tricky to put rivalries and mistrust aside to save the world from Loki's apocalyptic plan.
Cleverly, each colourful character approaches the crisis in a distinct way as they are slowly becoming a united fighting force. And while there's never any doubt how this will end up, and not much real originality along the way, Whedon continually finds suspense in unexpected places, inventively shifting the film's tone as it goes along. The opening scenes are ludicrously po-faced, with characters spouting stiff dialog until Downey appears (in a hilariously snappy scene with Paltrow) to introduce sarcasm, which then infects everyone else.
Each actor is terrific in a role that's pared down from the solo movies. And this actually makes makes us look forward to Black Widow and Hawkeye movies, as both Johansson and Renner add terrific texture to their characters. But Ruffalo steals the film, bringing complexity to Bruce and sassy intelligence to the Hulk. By comparison, Evans and Hemsworth feel vintage, with their archaic declamatory dialog. So when they team up for the final battle, they make an intriguing muscle-boy duo. Through it all, Hiddleston is simply fantastic.
Whedon keeps things moving briskly, racing through lengthy chunks of exposition that only matter to geeks. As so many characters compete for the spotlight, it's somewhat bewildering, with vague close-ups (who's gadget is that?) and characters sometimes sidelined (most notably Renner). But the cataclysmic final act is thrilling, both for the scale of the effects and, by now, the power of the relationships. It'll be great to see each of these characters in their own adventures, but we also want Marvel to throw them together again.
|R E A D E R R E V I E W S
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© 2012 by Rich Cline, Shadows on the Wall
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