Saturday, 28 April 2012

The Avengers

Year:  2012
Director:  Joss Whedon
Screenplay:  Joss Whedon, based on the Marvel comic book series The Avengers created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby
Starring:  Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Cobie Smulders
Running Time:  143 minutes
Genre:  Fantasy, action, superhero, comic books

This is the long-awaited film uniting several of Marvel Comics most popular superhero characters.  When the exiled Norse god Loki (Hiddleston) steals a mysterious object called the Tesseracht, which has vast but unknown powers, Nick Fury (Jackson), head of shadowy US Government agency S.H.I.E.L.D., decides to activate the "Avengers Initiative".  He contacts billionaire industrialist and playboy Tony Stark (Downey, Jr.) who fights crime as "Iron Man" using an advanced suit of armour; super-soldier Steve Rogers (Evans), aka "Captain America", who has recently woken after being in suspended animation since the 1940s; Doctor Bruce Banner (Ruffalo) who, after being exposed to gamma radiation, involuntarily transforms into a giant, green-skinned, super strong creature called "The Hulk" when he becomes angry; Norse god of thunder Thor (Hemsworth) who happens to be Loki's adopted brother; and Russian assassin Natasha Romanoff (Johansson), aka "the Black Widow".  Their mission is to find the Tesseracht and stop Loki, however tensions among the group threaten the mission, and Loki's army of Chitauri aliens threaten the entire world.

I had had my doubts about this movie for a long time because with having four main characters each of whom has had at least one entire feature film devoted to them leading into this one, I thought it would be overbalanced with trying too much material for each of them, however the balance works right.  The main focus of the film is the wise-cracking Tony Stark and the serious straight-laced Captain America, and the two bounce off each other well.  Stark's wise-cracks also manage to anchor the pure fantasy element of Thor (2011) in the high-tech science-fiction world of Iron Man (2008).  The film features great performances from the whole cast who have genuine chemistry as an ensemble.

There are some spectacular visual effects and the film features some superb action set-pieces.  It's a witty and hugely entertaining piece of action fantasy film-making which really captures the feel of the source comic books.

In the UK the film was retitled Avengers Assemble in order to avoid confusion with the British television series The Avengers (1961 - 1969) and the 1998 movie version of the show.

Chris Hemsworth, Mark Ruffalo, Robert Doweney, Jr., Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson in The Avengers

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