Punchy does more than just review comics, he also goes to see movies based on comics! The long-awaited Avengers movie is out now in the UK, and, just to rub in even more the fact that America has to wait a week... it's freakin' awesome.
Credits & Solicit Info:
The Avengers (2012)
Directed by Joss Whedon
Starring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg and Samuel L Jackson
Written by Zak Penn and Joss Whedon
Marvel Studios/Walt Disney Pictures/Paramount Pictures
Out May 4th in the USA, out now in the rest of the world.
Marvel's The Avengers (called Avengers Assemble round my neck of the woods) may very well be the greatest film I have ever seen in my life.
OK, that's hyperbolic, of course this film isn't really one of the best when you look at it from a film-making perspective, but from the perspective of a life-long fan of Marvel Comics and these characters? It's the stuff that dreams are made of, and I guarantee it that anyone who is even remotely familiar with the comic books will have a massive grin on their face for the entire movie. It's epic, exciting, funny and dramatic, it's all of the things that made me love superheroes, it's the Avengers! On screen!
Just the idea of this movie existing is a comics fan's dream, the idea that we'd have individual Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America movies and that they'd all connect and lead into one big Avengers movie would have sounded ridiculous 30, 20, even 10 years ago, but it's happened and it's exceeded expectations. This movie builds on all of the stuff you liked about the previous Marvel Studios films, and improves on them.
The acting is great all the way through the cast, we already know that RDJ and the two Chrises are the perfect Iron Man, Cap and Thor, and they continue that here, and are, probably even better than their solo movies. Captain America especially gets to show a few more sides to his character, and the fact that the Thor/Loki relationship remains central to the storyline allows both Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston as Loki to have their own, almost Shakespearean film going on at the same time as all the madness.
It was also great to see Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner step up and take larger roles. ScarJo has better hair in this movie, kicks even more ass than in Iron Man 2 and gets some decent back-story. Renner as Hawkeye easily has way more to do than his one scene in Thor, and although he probably has the least to do of all the Avengers, he owns his screen-time. I swear, this movie makes archery look so bad-ass it's not true. My only complaint would be that we didn't get a scene of him butting heads with Cap, but they kind of already had Iron Man set up as Cap's sparring partner. Samuel L Jackson's Nick Fury also has more to do here, and he lives up to his Samuel L Jacksonness and without getting to do a lot of action, still comes off as a bad-ass. I also appreciated that the film kept Fury an ambiguous character, he's not wholly good, and while he's not quite the bastard that he is in the Ultimate Universe, he's not quite the good-guy he is in the Marvel Universe.
New to the Marvel Movie-verse is Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, who does a good job of filling the shoes of Ed Norton, his twitchiness means the audience is always on edge, never sure of Banner is just nervous, or about to get big and green. Speaking of big and green, this movie features the best on-screen Hulk action yet, putting both of his previous movies somewhat to shame. The CGI is especially good with ol' Jade-Jaws, he looks a bit like Ruffalo and when he bounds around the screen, it's a real thrill. Hulk even provides some of the funniest moments in the film.
The whole film in fact has plenty of laughs, most of them provided by Robert Downey Jr's fantastically quick-witted Tony Stark, but a lot of them from unexpected places like the aforementioned Hulk or Clark Gregg as Agent Phil Coulson (who's now showed up in the comics, hi Phil!). It's hard really to apply auteur theory to this movie, because the film is not about Joss Whedon, it's about the characters, but you can spot his hand in a lot of the humour and dialogue. I will say that Whedon has upped his game when it comes to directing action when compared to Serenity, the long action scenes in the film are very well-done, avoiding becoming Michael Bay-style explosion-fests, but never getting boring.
The film just (Kirby) crackles with energy, the action is amazing, especially the lengthy final battle at the end of the movie, where the Avengers take on Loki and his alien army of Chitauri (readers of Mark Millar's Ultimates will recognise the name) in the middle of Manhattan. But even in the quieter scenes the film is brilliant, it's a thrill just to see these famous characters on screen at the same time talking amongst themselves, let alone fighting alongside or against each other. I didn't know it at the time, but this is the movie I've been waiting for ever since I picked up a Marvel Comic at the age of 7.
The Avengers surpasses any kind of critical microscope I could put it under, if I was really pushing I could talk about how the film takes a little while to get going and that the Chitauri are kind of lame villains, and that their giant robot snakes look exactly the same as the evil aliens from Transformers or Battleship or Battle: Los Angeles, but I'm not going to, this movie isn't there to be criticised really, because for any true comics fan, there can be no criticism, it's pure superhero gold, and I can't wait to see it again, to see the Marvel Universe come to life.
As always with the Marvel Movies, make sure to stay behind for the credits, because there's a bonus scene that reveals who the true villain behind the Chitauri was, and it's a familiar face. And no, I don't mean Stan Lee, although he does have a cameo. Oh yeah, and if you can, see it in 3D, it looks awesome.
Review by: Niam Suggitt