FILM REVIEW - The Avengers
So back when I started this page, I thought I was gonna speed through film reviews and being a largely superhero genre-focused individual it was to be assumed that I’d have watched and reviewed all the MCU films. That clearly didn’t happen, but there are so many projects coming out now, that I thought I better get a move on before it’s too late. Luckily, I’d finally reached the last film of Phase 1 in the MCU: The Avengers!
‘The Avengers’ sees a S.H.I.E.L.D. lab, which is holding the Tesseract, attacked by a force from the other side of the Universe. That force happens to be none other than Loki, who didn’t die in the ‘Thor’ film and has been given an army to help him conquer Earth in exchange for the Tesseract. The leader of S.H.I.E.L.D., Nick Fury, sets about to get together a team to help him stop Loki and locate the Tesseract. Whilst Loki has taken control of Clint Barton, one of Fury’s agents, other agents are sent out to recruit members of the team. Agent Natasha Romanoff, who we last saw in ‘Iron Man 2’ is sent to find Dr Bruce Banner who has been in hiding for obvious reasons. Agent Coulson finds Tony Stark and brings him aboard and finally, Nick Fury brings in a recently awoken Steve Rogers, aka, Captain America. The group come together and initially are successful at bringing Loki down. Whilst on route back to headquarters, their drop ship is intercepted by Thor who has come to take his brother and the Tesseract back to Asgard. A scuffle ensues between Iron Man, Captain America and Thor before they realize that they’re all on the same side. They hold Loki in a cell on the S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, believing themselves to have the upper hand. Loki as we know is a trickster and it soon turns out that his actual plan was to get captured so that his lackeys could complete a machine that would let his army be transported to Earth from the other side of the Universe. Can these six heroes come together as a team to stop Loki? Or will their differences divide them to the point of no return?
The thing about a shared universe is that you’ve actually seen the vast majority of the cast already in a previous film. Robert Downey Jr. returns as Tony Stark/Iron Man, once again putting in a performance that makes me wonder if they’re the same person. The only scenes I really enjoyed of his were those acting opposite Chris Evans who plays Steve Rogers/Captain America. The two characters are almost diametrically opposed and seeing them vent their frustrations at each other was great. Also returning are Scarlett Johansson and Jeremy Renner as elite S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow and Clint Barton/Hawkeye respectively. Both have previously had smaller roles and it was fairly interesting to see them step up to main roles. I can’t say that I had any interest in their backstories during the film, but that may well be because there are so many other characters to focus on. Samuel L. Jackson also takes a lead role as S.H.I.E.L.D. commander Nick Fury. I know in the comics that Fury was originally a white character, however, after Jackson’s performance, the comic version just doesn’t even exist. Ed Norton was replaced by Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk and I found his performance to be less believable than Norton’s in ‘The Incredible Hulk’. Rounding off the main cast we had Chris Hemsworth as Thor and Tom Hiddleston as Loki. For me, Hiddleston’s acting was by far the best. We see him as a sort of childlike villain in the Thor film but there was a new maliciousness to the character and it was definitely a highlight!
I did genuinely wonder how I would feel about this film when I sat down to watch it. When ‘The Avengers’ first came out in cinemas and I went to watch it with my family, I thought it was phenomenal. It was 10 years ago, and I had just about started my journey into the superhero world. Now despite still being a hardcore DC fan, I had to marvel (ha!) at how Marvel had managed to reach this point. Bringing together several characters from various films into one big spectacular was no mean feat. That being said, if I look at things objectively now, despite still enjoying the film for the reasons above, I’d say there are quite a few issues I had. The first is that the film takes a while to get to the action. There are small scenes here and there, but the third act is when everything comes alive. The script, I have to say, is super simplistic and there are way too many one-liners. Some of them are funny, some of them seem unneeded. Now I’m not saying there need to be fantastic monologues but at the same time, I think there’s only one speech that I remember as slightly memorable. If you watch the film as a basic action film, however, it’s a good one!
Now I’m a lot more aware of the specifics of cinematography, I have to say that I thought it was slightly basic. There were some quite odd shots where the camera is tilted. I’m not sure if this was due to the filmmakers wanting to make the shots more comic-book-like. Some of them worked, most didn’t. If we’re talking about graphics though, the Chitauri alien army was done brilliantly and even that post-credit scene had viewers excited. I have to say, the music was very prominent and in fact one of the strongest parts of this film, which was a surprise, but a welcome one at that. Overall, Phase 1 of the MCU finishes strong and defines the term ’Shared Universe’ perfectly!