6:00pm Thursday 26th April 2012
By Damon Smith
AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (12A) Sci-Fi/Action/Comedy. Robert Downey Jr, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, Gwyneth Paltrow. Director: Joss Whedon More is less in Avengers Assemble, the special effects-laden amalgamation of four Marvel Comics franchises.
Bringing together characters from Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Incredible Hulk, Joss Whedon’s frenetic romp deftly knits together plot strands from the earlier films, threaded with tongue-in-cheek humour.
There’s a clear presumption that audiences will have seen the pictures that inspire this battle royale, accounting for a paucity of fresh character development, which undermines the relationship between the two heroes without a franchise.
However, while psychological substance may be thin, exhilarating action-packed sequences abound, choreographed at breakneck pace by writer-director Whedon, who knows how to seamlessly mix live action with digital trickery for maximum impact.
Interestingly, he keeps the Avengers disjointed for most of the film, only bringing everyone together in the same location for the protracted final showdown to decide mankind’s fate.
Thor’s evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) plots to exterminate mankind by harnessing the power of the pulsating Tesseract cube.
Aided by an army of aliens, Loki steals the artefact from the subterranean headquarters of the international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D, and enslaves scientist Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and ace marksman Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) to do his bidding.
“As of now, we are at war,” declares Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D, to the dismay of fellow agents Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders) and Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg).
Fury scours the globe for the ultimate team of superheroes, uniting the inflated egos and rippling muscles of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). “You’re going to leave the world’s fate to a handful of freaks?” scoffs one political leader.
However, Fury has great faith in his team, so long as they can overcome their petty jealousies and insecurities.
Avengers Assemble doesn’t quite scale the dizzy heights of the original Iron Man, but for almost two and a half hours, we’re entertained and energised by Whedon’s distinctive vision of the Marvel universe.
He gifts many of the best lines to Downey Jr, including a belting quip about Thor’s olde worlde vernacular.
There is also a lovely moment when Thor attempts to defend the actions of Loki, only to learn that his sibling has killed 80 people in two days.
“He is adopted,” deadpans the hammer-wielding god.
Since the cast and script don’t take anything too seriously, nor do we, marvelling at the overblown special effects.
When Ruffalo mutates into the Hulk, the final battle becomes hilariously one-sided.
“Hulk smash!” he growls. Avengers Assemble is simply smashing.
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