Sunday, 13 May 2012

Avengers Assemble (The Avengers)

So a Thunder God, a Green Rage Monster, a Super Soldier from World War 2, and a Playboy Millionaire in a Robot Suit walk into a bar...
Four Pillars to One Tower. (Mapping the Referencing)
Marvel’s Avengers Assemble is a 2012 superhero action movie directed by Joss Weadon (Serenity) and is unique in that it is a super hero movie starring multiple heroes from across multiple Marvel movies.
The Avengers see’s the return of Asgardian trickster Loki (Tom Hiddleston) who launches an attack on a Shield facility stealing the Tesseract, fearing for the safety of the planet Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is forced to unite Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), And Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) in the hope of forming a team strong enough to defeat Loki and his army.

So to say that this crossover has been hinted at over the past few years would be like saying that the Titanic suffered badly from damp, the work that has gone into crossing over these various films in order for them to effortlessly mesh with one another is remarkable
Here are some brief examples.
Iron Man (2008)
·         Tony Stark’s father Howard Stark is mentioned as having been instrumental defeating the Nazis. (Captain America: The First Avenger)
·         Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) is introduced.
·         S.H.I.E.L.D. is introduced.
·         Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is introduced.
·         Nick Fury appears post credits informing Stark that he is not the only “Hero” out there and mentions to him the “Avengers Initiative”. (Avengers Assemble)
The Incredible Hulk (2008)
·         Emil Bonsky Is injected with the same super soldier serum as Captain America. (Captain America: The First Avenger)
·         The Rocket Launcher used against the Abomination features the Stark tech logo. (Iron Man, Iron Man 2)
·         Tony Stark appears at the end of the film and informs General Ross about putting a team together. (Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Avengers  Assemble)
Iron Man 2 (2010)
·         Captain America’s Shield is seen. (Captain America: The First Avenger)
·         Nick Fury continues to hound Stark about the Avengers initiative. (Avengers Assemble)
·         Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) is introduced.
·         Agent Coulson leaves for Mexico for “secret stuff”. (Thor)
·         When Tony Stark skims through his Dads note book an image of the Tesseract is visible (Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers Assemble)
·         Screens showing The Hulk battling the army can be seen. (The Incredible Hulk)
·         Thor’s hammer is seen post credits. (Thor)
Thor (2011)
·         Erik Selvig mentions a friend of his who was performing research into gamma radiation before he disappeared. (The Incredible Hulk)
·         Agent Coulson reappears following the footage of Thor’s hammer from (Iron Man 2)
·         S.H.I.E.L.D. is present throughout the film
·         Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) appears briefly.
·         When the destroyer appears Agent Coulson Is asked if it’s one of Starks. (Iron Man, Iron Man 2)
·         Loki appears post credits when the Tesseract Is introduced. (Captain America: The First Avenger, Avengers Assemble)
Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)
·         The Tesseract reappears and its power is shown. (Thor, Avengers Assemble)
·         Howard Stark designs the Captain’s armour and features heavily throughout the film. (Iron Man, Iron Man 2)
·         Nick Fury recruits Captain America Post credits to “Help Save the World”. (Avengers Assemble)

As you can see the films have been carefully setting up the world of one another and the overall Marvel Universe for some time creating not a “film Series” but a “film Universe”, and in doing so allows for Avengers Assemble to seamlessly draw these characters together as all the cross over leg work required to introduce these characters to one another has already been completed.

Earth’s Mightiest Heroes (The Cast)
Joss Whedon may have been the perfect directing choice due to his experience in balancing large casts full of complex and very individual characters and his expertise don’t go to waste here with each character being given plenty of screen time for development and their own character arcs.
The wide variety of different characters works as effectively with each hero representing perfectly reflecting their own individual issues: Iron Man is forced to question the nature of sacrifice, Thor struggles with the emotional burden of having to stop his own brother, Captain America feels alienated in a world in which he doesn’t understand and the gentle and kind Banner struggles with the inner rage of the Hulk. It is these very human problems and issues that make the heroes so likeable and relatable.
The quality of acting is incredibly high as the cast are able to carry their characters across films while remaining true to their individual characters (Stark still doesn’t like to be handed things, Thor worries about Jane Foster and Captain America misses Peggy), but it is the edition of Mark Ruffalo (Replacing Edward Norton) as Dr. Banner that brings a completely new perspective to the character of Bruce Banner as a gentle and kind man who greatly fears the destruction caused by the Hulk, giving a new sensitivity to the role lacking in other movies (and this in my opinion makes Ruffalo the best Banner to date).
Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow’s back story is greatly expanded upon and through her own personal sub plot detailing her complex relationship with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye adding an emotional depth to the character unseen in “Iron man 2” making the character seem far more rounded and better developed.
Those of you who were disappointed by Hawkeye’s brief appearance in “Thor” will not be disappointed here as he is given a lot more to sink his teeth into this time and despite featuring less screen time than the other Avengers he is still given enough for him to make the impact that his character lacked last time around.
Even the supporting cast are brilliant without exception Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury is finally given more to do than simply turn up post credits, despite being absent in the events of the larger battles he is still given his chance to shine beyond the “Man behind the curtain” role he has played up until this point. But once again the true king of the supporting cast is without a doubt Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson, who is almost able to steal every single scene that he appears in providing both comedy and raw emotion when it is most needed.
 If there is one under developed character it is Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill who’s role is limited to little more and Nick Fury’s assistant, her scenes featuring her doing little more than simply following his various orders but even she gets her time in the limelight thanks to a early on action sequence.
And in the corner of EVIL, Facing against the Avengers is Loki in a great performance by Tom Hiddleston who really seems to enjoy his role as the menacing antagonist, who hopes to make up from his fall from Asguard by ruling earth and like most terrifying villains is devout in his belief that he is doing the right thing. He is able to make his character both frightening and fun at the same and is given some great one on one scenes with the majority of the Avengers. Unfortunately the only weakness is that the army that he uses in an attempt to take over the planet are never really expanded upon beyond “Evil Invasion Force” but Hiddleston is able to develop his character so well that the army is simply seen as a expansion of him and his goals.

War comes to Marvel (the Plot)
The plot follows the simple story of these multiple heroes having to put aside their differences in order to unite and stop Loki from taking over the planet, but through the use of numerous subplots and character development this rather simple storyline is expanded into a much more deep and human experience than a simple tale of Good vs. Evil with each character getting their own chance to shine which avoids the effect of one character being elevated above the rest.
And despite moments when things look their bleakest the film never becomes too dark or depressing thanks to the brilliant and funny dialogue by Joss Whedon (Ironman calling Thor Shakespeare in the Park, Captain America’s reaction to hearing a reference that he gets) while scenes that should seem cliché heading off in directions you can possibly suspect (Loki standing up to the Hulk, Loki’s Spear encountering performance issues with Starks chest, Loki threatening Black Widow) preventing the film from ever becoming dull.
And for those of you who up until this point have been questioning Marvel’s grand scheme of approaching the Avengers through cross laying the individual character stories, then doubt no longer as the characters fit together perfectly and it saves a lot of time on having to bring the individuals heroes together.

Suit up! (The Effects)
The visuals throughout the film are impressive with great CGI used bringing the combat to life on a grand scale. The action is brilliant with a wide variety of sequences ranging from a car chase through S.H.I.E.L.D tunnels, to Thor, Captain America and Ironman fighting one another in a forest, the Hulk smashing up the Helicarrier (Yes the Helicarrier is in this movie!) And the final action sequence involving a massive battle in the city that looks incredible with special mention going to one continuous shot that passes throughout the city showing all the various Avengers in battle (a scene that couldn’t help but reminded me of Whedon’s continuous shot used in Serenity’s opening sequence).
Iron Man’s weaponry remains largely unchanged from the previous film until he gets a new suit that combines the accessibility of the suit-case suit from “Iron Man 2” and the heavier firepower of the standard suits to allow him to fight all out in the heavier  final battle. Captain America’s suit also gets an update to appear more closely to the comic design in a more streamline appearance.
For the first time the CGI appearance bares some resemblance of the actor playing him through the brilliance of motion capture better connecting these two distinct characters.
And all these brilliant visuals are assisted by the fantastic score by Alan Silvestri which fits brilliantly to the visuals helping the raise the scale of awe and deepen the quieter, calmer moments.
In 3D! (The 3D)
Like almost every action film released these days Avengers Assemble is released in 3D, the 3D process is impressive in the Avengers if not all that necessary, adding depth to the screen and making the moments when used in action scenes look good but leaving you uncertain why it was so vital to include.
 In Summary
So to sum up Avengers Assemble I will simply say that I had really high expectations going in and when I came out this movie had surpassed them, Featuring brilliant action, well developed characters and great dialogue that ranges from moving to hilarious (and did I mention that the Helicarrier is in this movie?). In fact I have actually seen this movie again since I started writing this review.
I highly recommend seeing it (stay after the credits) and future superhero films now have a new level to beat. It is nothing short of a gem in a few disappointing months of film and with a doubt the best film I have seen released this year.

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