Friday, April 27, 2012

Review: The Avengers [2012]


Background:
Release Date: 27 April 2012 (Malaysia), 4 May 2012 (USA)
Directed By: Joss Whedon
Written By: Joss Whedon, Zak Penn
Starring: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Cobie Smulders
Duration: 142 minutes
In A Nutshell:
When Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) threatens to bring an alien army and rule the entire human race, the Director of S.H.I.E.L.D, Nick Fury (played by Samuel L. Jackson) and his assistant, Agent Maria Hill (played by Cobie Smulders) assembles a group of superheroes to protect the earth. The team named "The Avengers" consists of Iron Man/Tony Stark (played by Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (played by Chris Hemsworth), Captain America/Steve Rogers (played by Chris Evans), and The Hulk/Bruce Banner (played by Mark Ruffalo). Rounding up the team are existing S.H.E.I.L.D members, Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (played by Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye/Clint Barton (played by Jeremy Renner).



Thumbs Up:
+ Good character depth and story development
+ Witty dialogue and hilarious banter between the characters
+ Great fight scenes and jaw dropping action sequences
+ Absolutely the best enactment of The Hulk on screen so far, please give Mark Ruffalo his own movie
+ The usual after credits bonus scene that we've come to expect from Marvel, signalling an inevitable sequel. Comic book fans will know exactly who the character is.
Thumbs Down:
- Although Black Widow and Hawkeye are extremely deadly, don't really think they would survive a full-blown war. This is of course is purely nitpicking as it wouldn't be a stretch to suspend belief for this type of movie.
- How Hulk is able to control himself in the final battle is left unexplained
- Once again 3D adds almost nothing to the overall experience



The Verdict Is In:
If you watched any of the multiple trailers or TV spots, and there are many of them, you would be led to believe that this film is nothing but a CGI-loaded action feast. But while there really is an epic battle scene at the end, The Avengers actually succeeds in creating a good story-line with rich characters. Every superhero here is flawed and conflicted that it wouldn't be out of place to say that this film is actually character-driven. All of them are also given ample time to shine in the spotlight to the extent that even Agent Maria Hill surprisingly has plenty of screen-time (not complaining here because I love Robin Scherbatsky Cobie Smulders). And all this is done without losing focus on the story.

Followers of director Joss Whedon's previous works would know by now about his ability to create some really witty dialogues and interesting scenarios. That is apparent by some hilarious scenes especially whenever there is banter involving Tony Stark and any other person. Robert Downing Jr. is well known for his improvisational skills so his natural charm combined with Whedon's writing is a delight to experience. There is also a truly memorable scene involving The Hulk and Loki, who it has to be said, excels at making a great villain.

The individual fights our heroes engage in are as good as in any film but the final epic battle is just jaw dropping awesome. Not only is it a visual spectacle but it also packs a lot of suspense and most vitally is it has a human element to it. We get to see how all the chaos actually effects the average citizens. The action is well structured and actually tells a story. This is what elevates it far apart from the mind-numbing set-pieces conjured up by the likes of Michael Bay or by the recently released Battleship [2012].




Its been 4 years of anticipation since Nick Fury made a cameo in the after-credits of Iron Man [2008] and announcing "The Avengers Initiative". Since then there's been 4 more movies (all with their own after-credits scenes). 4 trailers (including a Japanese edition) and countless TV spot/commercials have emerged after that. Add to the mix a childhood of watching TV series, playing with dolls action-figures, and reading comics (best summed-up in a previous post Me And My Superhero Childhood) and you can imagine the ridiculously enormous expectations I had for this movie. The only previous time it was this huge was when George Lucas released Star Wars: Episode 1 - The Phantom Menace [1999]. That of course was a huge disappointment (truth be told even without expectations, that movie was a downer).

So overall The Avengers is a very solid movie, but there's a catch. I raised my bar so high I can't help but feel my excitement a little unfulfilled. I somehow wanted more. Greedy me. It was like watching 100 meter sprinter, Usain Bolt. There was a time when he broke the World Record with what seemed relative ease every time he competed. So you watch a tournament expecting another World Record only to be disappointed when he didn't and that he only managed to break a tournament record. We fail to realise that was still a big achievement. That's probably how I feel with this movie. Maybe I'll have a better feel of it after another viewing (and let's be honest, the decision to do exactly that was made a long time ago). Still, lesson learned. I'm trying to contain my excitement for The Dark Knight Rises [2012].

Oh, by the way, I've read early reviews saying this is the best superhero movie ever. Nope, The Dark Knight [2008] isn't threatened. It isn't even the best Marvel movie. That still belongs to Iron Man [2008]. But The Avengers [2012] is only a photo-finish away.

UPDATE: After seeing this for a second time in less than a week, I totally take back my statement about my excitement being a little unfulfilled. This really could be Marvel's best movie!
Rating:
9 out of 10

11 comments:

  1. I'm glad the movie is good and it has acutal story, the trailers indeed made it look like nothing but CGI and explosions.

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  2. I did not know that Robin...err Cobie Smulders is in the movie. I really want to see it now! (I did not follow marvel superheroes in movies lately, so..) Nice review, you successfully sold it to me.

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  3. @Sati: even with the story put aside, the final battle sequence is much better than the action in the usual CGI-heavy film we're used to.

    @Andina: I was surprised she got plenty of screen time. I thought her role would be the blink-and-you-miss-it type.

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  4. sweet write up. I can't wait to get to check this out next week :-)

    Still not a fan of the Hawkeye costume. Wish they had gone with more classic purple color, with pirate boots and a mask.

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  5. I guess they didn't go for the comic outfit because they felt it was too cartoonish for a movie. But then again look at Captain America's costume! Thanks for the visit.

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  6. aku pon cam commenter kat atas xtau Robin ada dlm tu, serious aku terpekik sat "eh robin!" ...dan mmg aku lebih layan dia dari Widow...

    movienyer pula...aku impress..walaupon aku pada dasarnyer benci avengers, gotta admit it is a good movie..nih yg mengharap planned x-men sequel hebat lagi

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  7. reza... aku tau lama dah pasal Robin tuh, aku mmg follow segala berita, casting, trailer tuk Avengers.. tuh pasal aku kata anticipation tinggi!

    Avengers ngan X-Men = I live in a world big enough for both of them. Dua2 aku minat, pasal masa aku kecik aku layan komik Secret Wars (rujuk post aku: Me And My Superhero Childhood) and Avenger ngan X-Men bergabung dlm komik tuh lawan Galactus.

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  8. ahahah aku if ada avengers je sangkut ngan x-men aku ignore...ada lah satu dulu bloodties yg aku kumpul lain tu ...malas layan...oh but the latest Avengers vs X-men aku beli...best :D

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  9. Ahh reza... you're breaking Stan Lee's heart... haha

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  10. Banner was able to control the Hulk in the final battle because he never LOST control, as before. In the Helicarrier, sudden explosions, pain, and fear made him completely lose it. At the end, the only thing triggering his transformation was himself, so he never lost control. I get the impression that when he DOES lose control, he's a lost cause, but it all boils down to how he turns.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for the explanation Werew! It does make a lot of sense...

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