The Avengers out­does all the rest

The Avengers

Kapi-Mana News - - ARTS & ENTERTAINMENT -

Star­ring Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruf­falo, Chris Hemsworth, Scar­lett Jo­hans­son, Jeremy Ren­ner, Tom Hid­dle­son, Clark Gregg, Co­bie Smul­ders, Stel­lan Skars­gard, Sa­muel L Jack­son. Writ­ten and di­rected by Joss Whe­don. 142 min­utes, rated M (vi­o­lence). Show­ing at Read­ing Cine­mas Porirua in 3-D and 2-D (3-D was re­viewed).

Ladies and gen­tle­men, ev­ery­thing un­til now has been a pre­lude to this. Well, at least as far as Mar­vel Stu­dios’ re­cent hand­ful of pic­tures are con­cerned; Iron Man and its se­quel, The In­cred­i­ble Hulk, and last year’s dou­ble-punch of Thor and Cap­tain Amer­ica: The First Avenger.

Never be­fore have block­buster movies had the added pur­pose of be­ing a warmup, a $200 mil­lion trailer for the real thing. Need­less to say, Mar­vel has a hell of a lot rid­ing on The Avengers – and not just the wage de­mands of hav­ing mul­ti­ple lead­ing men. The fu­ture po­ten­tial of su­per­hero movies’ abil­ity to repli­cate a key com­po­nent of their comic-book ori­gin – the team-up – has been left in the hands of geek dar­ling Joss Whe­don ( Buffy The Vampire Slayer, Fire­fly).

The folks at DC, mulling over a Jus­tice League of Amer­ica picture; or at Fox, weigh­ing up the mer­its of X-men v Fan­tas­tic Four, will have eyes peeled and bean coun­ters at the ready.

So, does The Avengers work? You can bet your Stark In­dus­tries stock on it.

Whe­don has al­ways had a knack for deftly bal­anc­ing drama and ac­tion, and reap­ing a lot of heart and hu­mour from the in­ter­play be­tween char­ac­ters – he was def­i­nitely the right film­maker for this job. The child­ish thrill of watch­ing Thor, Iron Man, Cap­tain Amer­ica and Hulk bash each other up, then join forces to save the planet, is matched and en­hanced by sharp ban­ter and well-or­ches­trated car­nage.

And don’t dis­miss my en­dorse­ment as fa­nat­i­cal fan­boy ado­ra­tion. I’m a comic-book geek to be sure, but only picked up an Avengers ti­tle for the first time last

There’s rarely a dull mo­ment when the Avengers get to­gether. year. I thought Iron Man 2 sucked hard, and have much pre­ferred the som­bre re­al­ism of Chris Nolan’s Bat­man films to the more flam­boy­ant in­ter­pre­ta­tions of Mar­vel’s cos­tumed freaks.

I ex­pected The Avengers to be good, maybe as much fun as the first Iron Man but it’s ac­tu­ally pretty damn great.

When Norse God Loki ( Tom Hid­dle­son) claims Earth as his own and in­vites a horde of alien nas­ties to lay waste to hu­man­ity, Nick Fury (Sa­muel L Jack­son) – the di­rec­tor of top se­cret but well­heeled se­cu­rity agency S.H.I.E.L.D – makes the rather risky decision to team-up ‘‘Earth’s Might­i­est He­roes’’. How­ever, at this point, they’re more cranky and mis­trust­ing than mighty.

Tony Stark/ Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr) is a law unto him­self, and his swag­ger and self-in­ter­est rubs the du­ti­ful Cap­tain Amer­ica ( Chris Evans) the wrong way. Thor is be­mused by the petty per­son­al­ity clashes of earth­lings, while ev­ery­one else is try­ing hard not to stress out Dr Bruce Ban­ner (Mark Ruf­falo – the best Hulk yet), ex­cept for Stark, who wants to un­leash the beast.

As Dr Ban­ner ob­serves, ‘‘ we’re not a team, we’re a sci­ence ex­per­i­ment’’.

There is so much plea­sure in the char­ac­ter dy­nam­ics, the plot is al­most ir­rel­e­vant – not a bad thing given it fea­tures a lot of el­e­ments we’ve seen a dozen times be­fore – mega­lo­ma­niac af­ter world dom­i­na­tion, an all- pow­er­ful Mcguf­fin ev­ery­body is look­ing for, alien bad guys large in num­bers but lack­ing in smarts.

But this is a picture that plays to its strengths and is greater than the sum of its parts.

It’s not as am­bi­tious as Watch­men or as in­tense as The Dark Knight, but when the Avengers as­sem­ble – Cap­tain Amer­ica shout­ing or­ders, Thor and Iron Man soar­ing above a Man­hat­tan un­der seige, and Hulk smash­ing stuff – the movie will grandly ful­fil its pur­pose: make us all feel like 8- year- old kids open­ing a Mar­vel comic-book for the first time.

Team-up take­down:

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