Saturday, 9 June 2012

The Avengers (2012)

"Dr. Banner, your work on anti-electron collisions is unparalleled. And I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster."

Yes, I know. I'm currently in the midst of reviewing two telly series, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel, both of which are the brainchild of Joss Whedon. Less than a fortnight ago I watched and reviewed The Cabin in the Woods, another brainchild of Joss Whedon. And now I'm reviewing The Avengers, which is so Joss Whedon that it's officially branded as "A Joss Whedon Film" in the credit. It would be easy for the casual bystander (and that would be you, my dear reader) to accuse me of overdoing the Whedon thing.

On the other hand, I've only reviewed one Marvel superhero film previously for this blog, and that was Howard the Duck. I reckon that trumps any accusation of over-Whedonning the pudding. Be warned, though: this review will probably be rubbish. The Avengers is brilliant, but its brilliance lies mainly in bang and spectacle and really cool dialogue. Let's not pretend there's reams of subtext to say clever things about, cos there ain't.

What there is, though, is a triumph of screenwriting. I can't think of a script that had so many boxes to tick as this one, frankly. Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and the Hulk all need to be given prominent roles, they need to interact, fight each other, fight alongside each other, and individually look cool. Oh, and Nick Fury needs to look really cool as well, because he's being played by Samuel L. Jackson, for whom coolness is compulsory. The film makes this look easy, which is no mean feat, although it doesn't quite manage to hide the awkward fact that Cap, Black Widow and Hawkeye (or just plain Clint Barton as he is here) are significantly less powerful than the others. Also, there's a subtle but noticeable pecking order, with Iron Man getting a slightly bigger role, as befitting the greater success of the character's film and the greater star wattage of Robert Downey Jr. But, such things being accepted, the balance is right. Also, Downey Jr. is brilliant, funny, and supremely charismatic as always. He's easily the best leading man in Hollywood today.

Mark Ruffalo, incidentally, is probably the best Bruce Banner ever, and it's so very cool that CGI (of which I'm generally lukewarm) also allows him to play the Hulk.

That's about all that can be said. Not that there are any problems with the plot, but it's all about the set-pieces here, and the set-pieces rock. The film is long, much longer than I can usually take without whingeing, but the whole thing is so much fun that you never want it to end. If you haven't done so already, go and see it. Now.

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