Saturday, 28 April 2012

Avengers Assemble (2012) - Joss Whedon

Superhero films really are hit and miss, ranging from the highs of Iron Man, Thor and the Batman films to the dismal lows of Daredevil, Captain America and recent flop Green Lantern.  But are six heroes better than one?  Avengers Assemble brings together the elite squad with the aim of creating the perfect fighting team.  Instead, they form a volatile mix - much like the film itself.

The plot and script are far and away the film's weakest elements.  The narrative is a load of nonsense about an alien invasion, forcing Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to form 'The Avengers' to save the day.  The script is quite simply pitifully bad, filled with appallingly unfunny one-liners and lines that state the bleedingly obvious.  Case in point: Captain America "Wait, you need a plan of attack!", Iron Man "I have a plan. Attack!".  Thor's "he's adopted" line also stands out as utterly dire.

Still, you're not watching this for its story, really.  Undoubtedly, bringing these characters together provides opportunity for some very cool moments which fans are sure to lap up (the Iron Man vs Thor battle springs to mind).  The problem is that their individual films are very different in style and don't necessarily gel together.  Iron Man (Downey Jr) is well known for his laddish comedy, yet here he's reduced to a joke, despite having some of the best action moments.  Likewise, the mythology of Thor (Hemsworth) forms much of the backbone of the story, but taken out of context his character feels stilted.  Meanwhile Evans's Captain America is as brainless as ever, whilst without separate films to support them, Johansson's Black Widow and Renner's Hawkeye are vastly underdeveloped.  Ruffalo succeeds where others have failed at playing Hulk, a rather meek scientist who fears for his own abilities.  However, a superhero film is only as good as its villain and, although his motives are fairly convoluted (especially to anyone who hasn't watched Thor), Tom Hiddleston's Loki is excellently played, rising above the other more established actors.  The rest of the cast are perfunctory at best.

Amongst these flaws, Whedon's direction is well executed.  Avengers Assemble is certainly a stylish film and his camera work is surprisingly abstract at times.  The music, on the other hand, is utilised in the corniest of ways to ensure maximum cringe potential.

But despite all this, it's the action you're after and here the film tirelessly delivers.  The CGI effects are outstanding, but moreover the action sequences are superbly choreographed and (unlike the plot) manage to combine the best bits of each characters' powers.  There's even room for some comedy, usually stemming from Hulk at the expense of the others.

As far as blockbusters go, Avengers Assemble offers some of the best action you're likely to see this year.  It's a shame then that it's framed by some of the worst dialogue put on the big screen.