Superhero onslaught on the Avengers Assemble is simply irresistible
10:44 GMT, 20 April 2012
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (12A)
Verdict: It's a Marvel
Chris Evans as Captain America in Avengers Assemble
Avengers Assemble may be a $220 million blockbuster, but it is not as revolutionary as the last feature director Joss Whedon was involved in, The Cabin In The Woods, made for a mere $30 million.
All the same, Whedon has delivered a highly commercial Hollywood product that’s funny and builds to a stirring climax. Not only fanboys will love it.
The biggest weakness is its premise, which is that the Norse god Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is plotting the downfall of the human race, yet we never really know why.
Moreover, until the special-effects finale, Hiddleston — even teamed with sidekicks Jeremy Renner (as Hawkeye) and Stellan Skarsgard (as Professor Erik Selvig) — isn’t scary enough.
It’s like Norwegian football side Rosenborg taking on a Best Of The World XI. The result is never in doubt.
Still, the Loki threat is enough to make top security boss Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) mobilise an impressive array of superheroes to defeat him.
They are Loki’s sibling rival Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Tony Stark alias Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner alias The Hulk — played by Mark Ruffalo far more sympathetically than in the two Hulk movies.
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All star cast: Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Tony Stark alias Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Natasha Romanoff aka Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Bruce Banner alias The Hulk
Hammer of the gods: Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Chris Evans as Captain America on their mission to save the human race
It’s the battling egos of the superheroes that bring about most of the comedy and lead to effective action scenes in which they act at cross purposes. ‘We’re not a team,’ says a rueful Ruffalo. ‘We’re a timebomb.’
Evans’s Captain America, a stiff-upper-lip product of the Forties, is every inch a professional soldier: ‘We have orders. We should follow them.’
Less reliable is Tony Stark, proud to be a loose cannon: ‘Apparently, I’m — what is it — volatile, self-obsessed and don’t play well with others.’
Captain America tries to take Stark down a peg or two by telling him: ‘Big man in a suit of armour. Take that away and what are you’ Downey replies coolly: ‘A genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist.’
Unsurprisingly, Downey gets most of the biggest laugh-lines, such as when he denigrates the Hulk as having ‘breathtaking anger management issues’.
But Ruffalo runs him close, capturing the disparity between Banner’s diffidence as a scientist and the Hulk as his wildly out-of-control Id.
When Loki and his cronies trash Manhattan and the superheroes finally see sense and pool their talents, the movie comes together excitingly and irresistibly.
The first half contains too much laboured exposition, and even the action-packed second half may not convert every-one who finds superhero movies immature.
But this is a superior example of its kind, with sequences on a par with the best Spiderman and Batman movies. And technically, it’s a real marvel.