Wednesday, 25 April 2012

Review: The Avengers

Last night I went to see the midnight premiere of The Avengers, and my opinion can be summed up in one line:

This movie is pure, concentrated awesome.

I have not read The Avengers comics (though I might do so now), but I was easily able to keep track of who everyone was and what was going on, so this is accessable to the casual viewer as well.

I've tried to keep this review as spoiler free as possible, but if you absolutely don't want to be spoiled about anything, proceed with caution.

- What I really loved about this movie was that it's a real ensemble piece. I was worried it would be the Iron Man show and was pleasantly surprised when that did not happen. Each character has their own storylines and arcs. This works to brilliant effect in the fight scenes as each character gets plenty of moments in the spotlight. The action sequences make use of all the Avengers' unique strengths and characteristics, so the action sequences never start to feel same-y. The only one who is underused and thus we connect with the least is Hawkeye, which is a shame as he seems like a pretty interesting character and I'm going to read up on him now. Also I may now ship Hawkeye/Black Widow.

There's plenty of personality clashes particularly between the three egos of Iron Man, Thor and Captain America, but there's also a lot of bonding moments too. When the Avengers step out as a team, they feel like a team and it was great to see how they worked together. This is what X-Men: The Last Stand should have been.

- Black Widow was great, proving that it is possible to have a female superhero who isn't just fanservice on screen. I've never been a huge fan of Scarlet Johansson, but she manages to give Black Widow real depth here. She's an intelligent powerhouse who kicks plenty of butt in her own right. I also liked that her story arc didn't centre on a romance, although they're clearly hinting at one.

It was also refreshing to have a female character in an action movie who isn't subject to threats of sexual violence or intimidation, which was a welcome change especially after that episode of Game of Thrones I watched yesterday.

- Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner is the heart of the film, and the Hulk provides a lot of comedy. And smashes.

- The jokes in this movie are great. From the more or less the first scene the zingers start flying. They're funny and witty without being too 'Whedonesque.' It doesn't feel like Joss simply reworked jokes from Buffy.

- The 3D doesn't add all that much apart from a few cool perspective moments. You can enjoy it just as much in 2D and save yourself some money.

- The movie is pretty thin on plot, but that's to be expected in a superhero movie and having a basic main plotline actually worked to the film's advantage in my opinion. It left more time for character interaction rather than trying to cram in tonnes of confusing twists and exposition. Joss Whedon's strengths have always been with character development rather than plots, so keeping things simple was a wise move. One criticism I do have with this is we don't learn much about Loki's army and what their agenda is, but when everything else is so good, who gives a damn.

- This is not a 'serious' superhero movie that goes above and beyond the genre like The Dark Knight. But it is a brilliant example of a comic book action flick done right, with plenty of character moments and humour among the explosions. I give The Avengers an A.

Go see it. You'll have fun.

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