Avengers Review

I did something Tuesday that I’d never done before – I went to see a film at the cinema for a second time. There were a few reasons why I went to see Avengers again – one was that I wanted to see it twice before writing this review. Another was that I figured if I was going to go to the cinema, I’d like my money to go towards a film that deserves to make a lot of money. The main reason, though, is that Avengers Assemble is freaking awesome.

Avengers does right what almost every other summer blockbuster over the past 5 years or so does wrong. It creates a massive action spectacle, but bases it around characters with depth and story, and actually makes us care about what we’re seeing and what’s happening on screen. What makes this more impressive is the fact that it could have gone so wrong, with so many characters all shoved into one film. The bulk of the main characters are fit to hold their own films (and for the most part, had their own films), and so squeezing all of them into one film and not making it feel messy or rushed was quite a feat, but one that was achieved seemlessly.

The real beauty of this film is how it balances its characters – there was a very real chance that one or two of the bigger names (in terms of how strong the actor is, and also in terms of the superhero they convey) would completely overshadow everything. Instead, though, we have a film with scenes about the relationship between a spy and a guy good at archery alongside scenes with a hulk, Iron Man, Captain America and 2 demi-gods – and we’re intrigued. We care about every single character, regardless of how insignificant they could have felt.

The other great thing about the film is its ability to generate a story that makes sense, keeps us interested and makes us feel involved. At the heart of it, the film doesn’t really do anything new in terms of story – what happens is pretty much what you would expect; something happens that threatens the world, we meet each of the characters one by one, they get together and don’t get along very well, but then they push past that to save the day. As formulaic as it gets really, and yet the film is fantastic because it takes a frame that works and layers onto it interesting personalities, believable dialogue and action scenes that are more about how the characters react to events, rather than focusing on the events themselves. This is why films like Transformers are interesting enough as you sit there and watch, but are instantly forgettable. You see a bunch of cool CGI and impressive scenes, but you don’t really care other than to say ‘that looks pretty cool’. Avengers proves you can have real story and characters in a summer popcorn epic, and hopefully future filmmakers take note of why its critically acclaimed and made so much damn money.

So that’s why you should see the film, in a nutshell, but I can’t really keep my nerd cred if I don’t go into more detail on my favourite parts of the film. Most people have been saying that The Hulk steals the film, and he certainly does have some of the best moments – punching Thor, destroying Loki. He’s portrayed incredibly well as a guy who’s trying to come to grips with being an unstoppable monster, and that sub-story is weaved effortlessly into the main plot. That said, I think my favourite character at the end of this film was Captain America. While every character has their own themes and problems, the Captain is out of his time but doesn’t stop to think about it. He’s essentially just an impressively strong guy with a big shield, and next to demi-gods and engineering marvels it would be reasonable to think he’d be overshadowed.

But he isn’t. He steps up to do his duty – because he chooses to, because he can. He doesn’t whine. He doesn’t ask why. He doesn’t wonder how he’s ever going to make a difference. He just sees a problem, and starts fixing it by being a total badass. He earns respect from others and earns his place alongside the other avengers by just BEING a superhero – saving the day by any means possible, because he has the ability to. In a world where the anti-hero rules, he sticks to his morals, and fights for justice, and shows that you don’t need to be snarky and arrogant to be a hero. When the giant armored space lizard thing runs into Hulk, he holds his shield over Black Widow, not because he’s patronizing, but because he’s a hero and thats what hero’s do – protect people and be a gentleman while your doing it. Insert obligatory ‘Like a Sir’ meme here. I remember seeing the trailer and loving the part where the Captain asks Stark what he is without the suit, and he answers ‘Millionaire, genius, playboy, philantropist’. In the film though, after Starks witty response, he just tells him straight to his face that you don’t need any of that to be ten times the man. There’s no come back to that.

OK, that’s enough nerdgasm. The film isn’t flawless of course. While Loki is a really interesting villain, his motives seem blurred at times, and he seems content to let others – scientists, the army – take care of things when he has such a high personal stake in the outcome. Thor is also not quite used to his full potential. While his entrance is awesome, and his characterisation as a demi-god who’s realized the importance of humanity is great, he doesn’t quite seem to get as many good scenes in the film. The action scenes with him in are pretty good, but it would have been nice to see a couple more scenes where he has more dialogue.

These are all petty gripes though. The film was incredible, and I urge everyone reading this to go see it in the cinema if they get the chance. You don’t need to be a comic book nerd or Marvel fanboy to enjoy it. I’m certainly neither, and its one of the best films I’ve seen in years.

/end rant

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