I was excited about The Avengers. I didn’t hate Iron Man, Thor or Captain America which, for me, is a pretty lengthy winning streak. So what would there not be to love about seeing them all on screen together? And with Joss Whedon scripting it was sure to be sharply written and focus as much on character development as it does thrills and spills. On top of that, early reviews of the film have been so positive that I genuinely fear that I might’ve seen a different film. The film that I saw was long and baggy, with some pleasantly funny moments, but swathes of celluloid that were devoted nothing more than varyingly advanced robots beating the crap out of one another. Hollywood: when will you learn?
The basic plot of the movie sees some uber-McGuffin get stolen by Tom Hiddleston’s Loki (wonderfully British in his villainy). In order to get it back, Sam Jackson inexplicably amasses Tony Stark, Cap, Thor, Hulk, Hawkeye and token sexy lady on an enormous flying boat (wtf?) and sets them on the Norse God’s tail. What could possibly go wrong? There are some interesting fight scenes early on and it’s nice to see one Avenger going after another Avenger (Thor vs Iron Man is the highlight) but the moment stuff starts to blow up, get ready for fifteen minutes of tedium.
Whedon is most competent when he’s getting the characters to engage in sparkling dialogue and, on a few occasions, the film did, genuinely, make me laugh. That’s perhaps why it was such a shame when it decided that intelligent cinema was beyond it and sent in an army of giant mechanical eels and aliens on jet skis to fuck shit up in Manhattan. The ‘climactic’ sequence is so long and overblown that it was hard to think anything other than ‘please let this end and then have some amusing dialogue’.
The show stealer, as everyone is noting, is the Hulk, which is surprising given that he’s not had a suitable solo vehicle (except some parts of Ang Lee’s trippy adaptation). Robert Downey Jr is on auto-pilot, Chris Hemsworth had more fun in The Cabin in the Woods, Chris Evans looks confused as to how Captain America can help the situation, Jeremy Renner is better as a villain than a good guy, Clark Gregg is just delighted with every moment of screen time and Cobie Smulders seems to only be there in order to stop Scarlett Johansson from feeling too objectified. It’s an interesting ensemble but one that only gels fleetingly and never when they’re each smashing aliens in different locations.
A disappointingly immature film, that couldn’t quite get to grips with the idea that superhero movies can still have plot and character.
|Starring:||Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, the Incredible Hulk, the Girl with a Peal Earring, Hawkeye, Nick Fury, Robin, Loki|
|Running Time:||2 and a fair bit hours|