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Centretown News Online
Sunday, July 22, 2020
Film Review: The Avengers
Monday, 07 May 2020
By Corcoran Conn-Grant
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Published in : Centretown News, Our Critics

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The preliminary groundwork – beginning way back in 2008 with the appearance of Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) after the closing credits to Iron Man – has been extensive, even unprecedented.

The stakes – the popularity of all Marvel Studios’ name-brand comic-book properties – could not be higher.

The Avengers


Directed by Joss Whedon
Starring Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johanssen, Jeremy Renner, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgård, Gwyneth Paltrow

But the rewards for Marvel, which opened its first superhero ensemble picture over the weekend to a record-setting debut, are likely to be immense, even before merchandising enters the equation.

Initially discernible as a vague idea bridging movies and storylines (mostly in the form of Nick Fury cameos), The Avengers seemed, by the time of Iron Man 2’s release, to be an influence to which these other films – standalone blockbusters in their own right – were partly or even wholly subordinated.

But with Tony Stark a.k.a. Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Steve Rogers a.k.a. Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Dr. Bruce Banner a.k.a. the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), the Black Widow (Scarlett Johanssen), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) finally all in the same room – and later in the same battle – Marvel’s ambitious gambit has paid off in spades in the currency of sheer delight at the sense of a sprawling, contiguous universe that spans years, movies, characters and worlds.

Disaster looms when Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s brother, returns to earth, stealing the Tesseract retrieved from the seabed in Captain America: The First Avenger, and using his godly powers to seize control of human agents who will be useful to him, including Hawkeye and Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård).

Nick Fury, realizing humanity is defenseless against the army of alien warriors Loki plans to unleash against the world, hastens to assemble his team; but with their checkered histories, incompatible personalities, and egos to match their superpowers, the Avengers have some distance to go from their starting point as a fighting unit.

Rogers still has culture shock from waking up in modernity. Thor, naively, would rather reason with his brother than bludgeon him. Stark, who was never vetted to be on the team, has trouble with authority. Banner, who was working as a doctor in India in hiding from the government, just wants to avoid turning green and destroying everything in sight. And Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, has her hands full repaying a debt to the brainwashed Hawkeye by not letting him succeed in Loki’s machinations.

Director Joss Whedon keeps the pace brisk and never lets a bland millisecond grow into a dull moment, weaving recap seamlessly together with brand-new backstory, mining superhuman characters for their most human qualities and always with an eye for the overall structure, a pleasing if ponderous totality with buttresses of ample humour and cantilevers of adrenaline-soaked comic-book combat.

Enhancing the sense of overarching continuity are a group of past supporting characters along for the ride, including Dr. Selvig, Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and Fury associate Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), to whom it falls to serve as heavy-handed geek surrogate.

The fundamental motivation for The Avengers is the same as the impulse at the core of The Expendables: assemble the most awesome warriors around and unleash them in the direction of the biggest, baddest threat on offer. It is truly a treat to see these characters together at last, and there is plenty of time for everyone to shine.

Hulk’s unbridled gorilla fury, in particular, is a cathartic trigger that gives rise to a couple of the film’s best moments, one of them in which Dr. Banner’s big green “other guy” threatens a teammate; his inclusion, as both the Avengers’ and the film’s secret weapon, adds an element of tension associated with the fact that while Banner’s intent can always be trusted, his explosive Hulk alter ego is as dangerous and unpredictable as nitroglycerine.

Logic lapses here and there, but the major drawback is the overwhelmingly generic race of antagonistic aliens mobilized by Loki for a battle in which exciting, character-driven moments compete for attention with the sound and fury of a Transformers-league demolition derby. There is a lack of narrative ebb and flow to the combat, and enacted by these disappointing stock villains – who really might as well be Power Rangers ‘Putties’ – it is surely less climactic than envisioned.

In large part, however, The Avengers is everything an audience could ask for, and in crisply serviceable 3D. Given the amount of time and energy – the sheer amount of story – that went into setting up this particular film, it is impossible to blame Marvel for jumping at such a low-risk, high-reward proposition (and, to their credit, the risk is low only now, in hindsight).

With Iron Man 3 due out next year, catalyzing “phase two of this saga that will culminate, God willing, in Avengers 2,” it only remains to be seen where they will go next. Fans are recommended to wait in the theatre until the end of the credits.


Last update : 07-05-2020 17:08

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