The Avengers

The Avengers 2012 Poster

“I thought it was crap. The acting was dire and the story was stupid. It reminded me of an average episode of the Power Rangers. I could predict all the jokes before they told them, and not in an “oh, cool, he’s going to say that” way, but in a here-we-go way, and it just wasn’t funny. The bit with the Hulk and Loki was the only point where I cracked a smile. Samuel L Jackson sounded like he turned up, said, “I’ll say the lines but I’m only going to do them once” and Robert Downey Jr just phoned it in. It reminded me of Transformers – I just did not care what happened to anyone. Too many explosions and too much CGI. I was just really bored.”

I’m staring at Him Indoors. Did we just watch the same film?

Because my first thoughts were … Oh, OK. I’ll be honest here: my first thoughts were, “OK, Tom Hiddleston? I wouldn’t kick him out of bed.” This was important because if there was only one thing I knew about The Avengers (AKA Avengers Assemble), it was that every girl on Planet Earth (and, presumably, Asgard if they have Tumblr there) is very loudly and passionately in love with Tom Hiddleston. I wouldn’t go that far, but he’s not completely hideous.

My next thought after that thought was that I just watched a really good film. You already know this. It’s the third highest grossing film of all time with a 92% rating on Rotten Tomatoes. It’s not the most amazing film I’ve ever seen, but I’d rank it comfortably between the Iron Man films and the first two X-Men. I told Him Indoors four-out-of-five, which concurs with its review average of 8/10. (You’ll notice this about me: when I disagree with the critics, they’re all wrong, but when they agree with me, they’re just stating the obvious.) It just does everything right – exhilarating action scenes, witty banter and a plot that doesn’t ramble.

The opening action sequence probably cost more than most films do, but with a $220 million budget, they could afford it. I think they took a risk putting the relatively unproven Joss Whedon at the helm, since Serenity was fun low budget fluff and television-wise he’s had as many misses as hits. Here, he keeps things taut and slick – kudos to the editing team for some beautifully snappy fight sequences and kudos to the cast for delivering those trademark one-liners in style.

Chris Hemsworth has the toughest job there, since his Thor has some ear-shreddingly awful lines, but his handling of an obvious slice of sardonic wit deserves particular mention. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is a likeable, self-effacing nerd who is effortlessly sympathetic and intriguing. (It would have been interesting to see Ed Norton reprise his role, but he had a fairly spectacular falling out with the studio.) Ruffalo’s Hulk transformations were made, Gollum-style, via motion capture with ILM handling the effects; Weta Digital were otherwise engaged with the fight in the forest. I also enjoyed Scarlett Johansson’s Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow, since she’s just one of those actors who elevates anything she’s in (yes, even The Island).

The 143-minute running time is inherently indulgent, but they’ve got a lot to cram in, and it tends not to feel like heavy-handed exposition. Luckily there’s the individual “origin” movies (Iron Man, etc) to draw upon, so entrances are more recap than introduction. I can imagine someone not steeped in Marvel lore might feel a little out of their depth, but it must be fairly well handled because I haven’t seen Thor and didn’t feel bewildered.

Although the enemies are different, much of the film feels like a Mass Effect game – the gathering of the heroes from ME2 and the Earth invasion of the final chapter – and certainly with the CGI and chaos and silly-looking foes, it really did feel like playing the third game, except this time I wasn’t bracing myself for a crappy ending.

Not sure what else to tell you. If you like any of Joss Whedon’s oeuvre, see it, and if you like superhero movies, see it – although in your case it will just be recap because everyone else has already seen it repeatedly and I’m the last to amble round to it because I was way too busy wading through nine billion pictures of Loki on Tumblr, so frankly that’s your fault. If you really hate Whedon’s brand of humour then you might, like Him Indoors, have a harder time with this, but chances are you’ll enjoy it just as much as the rest of us.

Oh, and that Hulk/Loki scene? Yeah, I laughed out loud.

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