DVD review: Marvel Avengers Assemble

a (Chris Evans) and Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in Avengers Assemble. Picture: Zade Rosenthal

“Phil Coulson died believing in that idea, in heroes. Well, it’s an old fashioned notion.”

Old fashioned it may be, but there’s a reason we love superheroes so much, and it’s all here in Marvel Avengers Assemble.

Captain America, Iron Man, the Hulk and Thor, they may not be a conventional view of heroes but that’s the reason they work so well. Each has as many flaws as the average human being, but their actions elevate them to the status of superheroes.

I haven’t seen the previous films leading up to Avengers Assemble, and while I think I would have benefitted from viewing them, this was still a brilliant watch.

The Avengers are brought together to fight Loki, an egotistical almost-god who wants to wreak havoc on earth as some twisted form of revenge for his own shortcomings. He harnesses the power of the Tesseract to open a portal that brings an army of mutant things and giant flying centipede types flowing into New York.

The film gets off to an action-packed start, with the blowing up of a research facility and the escape of Loki with the Tesseract. Having no other option Nick Fury, director of international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D, calls together the Avengers.

What follows is two and a bit hours of spectacle and amazing fight scenes, all held together with a simple but effective plot – the good guys must win.

The numerous fight scenes, which are essential to the story, never seem gratuitous. Instead, they show us more and more about the characters, about their motivations and emotional states and their struggles to be who they want to be, and who society expects them to be.

Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). Picture: Zade Rosenthal

The effects are amazing. So much of what we see on screen is actually green screen, yet the actors never look out of place or awkward.

Directed by Joss Whedon, who has a history of just being brilliant (see Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, etc) Avengers Assemble was never going to be a film afraid to gear itself towards sci-fi geeks – there are so many little details that would make the geekiest of fanboys and girls (like me) happy. Among the bits geared towards geeks is the launch of the giant S.H.I.E.L.D ship into the air, which is all the more jaw-dropping as you see it through the eyes of some of the characters unused to S.H.I.E.L.D. Yet at the same time, the film is mainstream enough that the average viewer wouldn’t feel confused watching what’s going on.

For all its high tech scenes, the best moments are those which show the heroes at their most human, or that involve those who have no super powers – Captain America and Iron Man constantly arguing, the Black Widow having to recall her past, even Loki’s egotistical, sometimes childish attitude is an all-too-familiar human reaction, although magnified.

The most emotional moment for me came during a very human scene of loss and hope featuring one of the only non-superhero characters we get to know – the aforementioned Phil Coulson. It’s Agent Coulson who inspires the superheroes the most, showing the real power belongs to those who seemingly have no power.

Loki (Tom Hiddleston). Picture: Zade Rosenthal

On the opposite end of the scale to the kind, principled Agent Coulson is Loki, the maniacal baddie of the film. Yet, I still loved him. Tom Hiddleston created a bad guy who really drew you in, and however heinous his behaviour there was always something compelling about him – the mark of a truly successful bad guy. Ultimately though, like the best bad guys, it was his need to be more that led to his downfall.

Unconventionally the end of the film wasn’t the usual bad guys die, good guys prevail and are heroes kind of thing. It was much more complicated than that, and all the better for not adhering to cliche.

Avengers Assemble is two and a bit hours of pure adrenaline, a real rush to watch, and I can’t wait for the sequel.

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