The Avengers (2012) Movie Review

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Tom Hiddleston in The Avengers (2012) Movie Image

The dreams of comic book and superhero fanboys around the world finally come true with the arrival of Marvel team up “The Avengers”, or “Avengers Assemble” as it’s been released in some countries. Having gone through several years of development hell, anticipation peaked when it was announced that geek favourite Joss Whedon would be directing, pulling together the heavy hitting all star returning cast of Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man, Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, with Mark Ruffalo stepping in as the latest screen incarnation of the Hulk.

The plot sees Tom Hiddleston again as the villainous Asgardian Loki, who during his exile after being beaten by Thor has joined with the would-be galaxy devouring alien race the Chitauri, being promised an army to conquer the earth in return for recovering all-powerful energy source the Tesseract. Loki appears in the SHIELD facility where the cube is being held, snatches it and enslaves scientist Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgård) and Hawkeye with his sinister glow-stick staff before vanishing. Knowing that war is surely coming, Nick Fury assembles The Avengers, a disparate band of superheroes, hoping that they will be able to overcome their various differences and personality defects and combine their talents to save the world.

Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Renner in The Avengers (2012) Movie Image

First and foremost, “The Avengers” is fun – a great deal of fun. Far removed from the kind of tiresome dark, gritty attempts at realism that some genre outings have aimed for, the film for the most part has a colourful and playful feel, with a focus on banter and camaraderie. Whedon genuinely seems to be having a great time with his characters, and whatever mutations the script has gone through on its long route to the screen, the results are sharp and filled with humour and daft humanity. The film works very well as an ensemble piece, Whedon doing a great job of balancing the various (super) egos and allowing all of them enough time and importance, and as a result each does come across quite distinctly while remaining true to their own origins and franchises.

The film is definitely at its best when exploring the many different dynamics between the Avengers, with some great and frequently hilarious scenes of bickering, fist fights and petty squabbling. Whedon spends a great deal of the long (though not overlong) running time on character, and though there are no real surprises, everything comes together neatly, and when the final battle lands there’s a real sense of fellowship. It helps that the megastar cast all seem to be having a great time, and the film is immensely likeable, even for viewers who are unfamiliar with the original comics. This really makes it obvious that unlike other, director for hire helmed superhero films, “The Avengers” was made by someone who cared, showing a level of craftsmanship and effort which is very pleasing indeed.

Chris Hemsworth, Robert Downey Jr., and Chris Evans in The Avengers (2012) Movie Image

The film also scores highly in terms of spectacle, with the last half an hour or so basically being taken up with one huge scale battle scene as the long promised alien army finally arrives, complete with pointless but fun giant flying snake machines. Although, predictably perhaps, the 3D counts for very little aside from adding depth to some shots, the film earns points for not inserting any needless effects, and the conversion certainly doesn’t offend or undermine the excellent CGI mass destruction. The action is well handled and boisterous, with all of the characters getting the chance to show off their individual talents, and again here Whedon manages to get the best from his cast, from the earlier scenes of them fighting each other through to their believably fluid last act teamwork.

All of this is just as well, as with his eye clearly on characters, comedy and action, Whedon in the process neglects plot, with there being very little happening aside from in-group quarrelling for long stretches of the film. The Chitauri are introduced briefly at the beginning of the film, only to pretty much disappear until the end in favour of an incredible amount of time spent on the SHIELD aircraft, and while the final conflict is impressive, it doesn’t arrive a moment too soon. As an alien menace, they are sorely lacking, being of the vaguely monstrous humanoid variety seen in many other films and possessed of few determinable skills, easily taken down with an arrow or bullet and their only strength seeming to be in numbers. Loki is similarly unconvincing, and aside from the fact that he had already been (quite easily) defeated by Thor, he is from the start incompetent and is caught slipping on many occasions, at times being played entirely for laughs – admittedly making for some very funny scenes. Certainly, there’s no real sense of threat or tension, with the only real enemy being the heroes’ own egos, their ill-defined opponents coming a distant, distant second.

Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans, Jeremy Renner, Iron Man and The Hulk in The Avengers (2012) Movie Image

This is though a relatively minor criticism, as “The Avengers” is clearly a film chiefly about, unsurprisingly, The Avengers themselves, and Whedon more than delivers on the premise, successfully combining the cast and characters to very entertaining effect. Easily the best Hollywood superhero film for some time, it’s arguably also better than any of the individual franchise films, and should be enjoyed by a wider audience than just the fanboy crowd.

Joss Whedon (director) / Joss Whedon, Zak Penn (screenplay), Jack Kirby, Stan Lee (comic book)
CAST: Robert Downey Jr. … Tony Stark / Iron Man
Chris Evans … Steve Rogers / Captain America
Mark Ruffalo … Bruce Banner / The Hulk
Chris Hemsworth … Thor
Scarlett Johansson … Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow
Jeremy Renner … Clint Barton / Hawkeye
Tom Hiddleston … Loki
Clark Gregg … Agent Phil Coulson
Cobie Smulders … Agent Maria Hill
Stellan Skarsgård … Selvig
Samuel L. Jackson … Nick Fury

Buy The Avengers on DVD

Author: James Mudge

James is a Scottish writer based in London. He is one of BeyondHollywood.com’s oldest tenured movie reviewer, specializing in all forms of cinema from the Asian continent, as well as the angst-strewn world of independent cinema and the plasma-filled caverns of the horror genre. James can be reached at jamesmudge (at) btinternet.com, preferably with offers of free drinks.
  • http://www.beyondhollywood.com/ Dedpool

    Nice spoiler free review! Can’t wait.

    And for all the comic fans, Agent Coulson has made hsi comic debut, next to none other than the new Nick Fury. I won’t go into more, but go check out “Battle Scars” from Marvel. They did a decent job with these two chracters and though it does feel slightly forced it’s still works in terms of the Marvel universe.

    • Lexavi80

      Yup! I saw the “Battle Scars” coverage. Looks good!

      Ded, you MUST see the movie. Is AWESOME, and SO much fun!!!! Great action and huge laughs.

      I loved it 99.99%. There’s a 0.01% I hated with my life. You’ll understand when you watch it.

      Don’t forget to stay for after the credits.. ;)

  • kraven

    pumped on this review. downside is Loki. was not impressed with his lack of badness in Thor and it seems to have carried on into The Avengers. In the early comic book days this guy was a real conniving, bad ass threat that could give you nightmares.

    • Lexavi80

      I think Loki was awesome in Thor. A complex villain.

      Is true though. Loki doesn’t seem much of a threat in Avengers. You can see from the begining he’s not THE man. Still I liked Tom Hiddleston work.

  • TotesMagotes

    Is there a good amount of action scenes in the movie before the big battle at the end??

    • Lexavi80

      Yes, there is. There’s alsa some character development, but all in all the action was good.

  • Jonnydownes

    I don’t mind being shouted down about this but….when the only critism is lack of tension and plot line I thought there was loads of tension, mostly from loki. And the plot was 6 bad ass super dudes save the day. So in my opinion for a comicbook film this was excellent and I think “The Future” will be hard pressed to top this movie (I am looking at you Batman,)

    I CAN NOT WAIT for Avengers 2 even if Rob D Jr is 50 and the hulk has to wheel him around in an old person chair I need more avengers

  • Zero-shot

    saw it yesterday,F’Kin AWESOME!!!! and wait till after the main credits ;)

  • tomerik

    One of the most incredible movie experience i ever had. wow wow wow. Lost for words. Have to see it at least two more times while it plays at the cinema. There where so many epic scenes that just blew my brains out . Good story,good action,hilariously funny moments. A perfect movie..

    • Tab_0r

      had to agree; this is the best superhero movie.

  • ekadoken

    HUGE LAUGHS from Action movies, that sound FAIL !

    • Lexavi80

      Is a superhero movie, not an action movie.

      Watch it and enjoy.

      • X_p

        since when is a superhero movie not an action movie? all superheroes talk the villains to defeat?

        • Lexavi80

          Whatever, dude.

          You can bitch about it and resufe to watch it, or you can actually go to the theater and enjoy.

    • Tiyoymokring

      Wow you’re the most stupidest person I have ever known.
      Don’t judge because of the review.

  • Eagle Eye

    One thing was clear, for me, the best character, the most awesome was, my n°1 Hero: Hawkeye… I mean, the grapple arrow, WOW!!!

    And Hulk was an easy 2nd place, so many laughs…

    Ahhhh, and that mid credits scene, almost had me screaming!!!

    So many huge things could happen in “The Avengers 2″

    PS

    Who’s with me for a Hawkeye spin-off?

  • justjoe

    Awesome movie. And while the villains may have been not that threatening, they were perfectly used to bring all these colorful characters together. Judging from the scene after the credits, the Avengers will have their work cut out for them in the sequel. The only criticism (at least for me) was the totally unnecessary 3D presentation which took me out of the movie for the first 10 minutes (and the first big action sequence), before I got used to it.

  • Tiyoymokring

    Thanos! Thanos! Thanos!