A sum of many moving and disparate parts, Avengers Assemble was perhaps always going to underwhelm
A sum of many moving
and disparate parts, Avengers Assemble was perhaps always going to underwhelm
on an emotional and character driven level. What is less expected, however, is
the lack of engaging surface material. After all, this is what you’d want in a
superhero romp with a band of some of the finest comic book heroes all in one
place. The reality, sadly, is a disappointingly banal and lumbering affair.
Less of an ensemble cast of equal measures, and more a mud throwing
contest to see what sticks, Avengers has its superheroes often crash landing
out of nowhere. By relying on the audience to know exactly who, or what, they
are, lies one of the fundamental problems of the ‘Avengers Initiative’ for
general audiences: Unless you are a fan of the comic series and have seen all
the previous Marvel character films over recent years – The Incredible Hulk, Iron
Man 1& 2, Thor, Captain America – you will feel
somewhat cold towards what’s on screen.
Ultimately the film assumes you are aware of all the back
story that has spread over the aforementioned instalments – done either through
tedious post-credit sequences or contrived and incongruous cameos – and that in
order to get what’s going on you have to be a follower, not a bystander.
This is perfectly fine. Sitting through a film that
routinely explains all the back-story is insufferable and the fact that this is
ostensibly a fan’s picture is admirable. What is inexcusable, however, is a turgid
and frankly awful script. For large parts, the film grinds to a frustrating
halt while characters explain the plot. Which, incidentally, is remarkably
simple: Mankind posses a powerful energy source and a mysterious alien force
wants it for themselves. Loki – the ethereal malcontent from the Thor story
strand as played by a superb Tom Hiddleston
– is hired to retrieve it and wages war on mankind. The Avengers must stop him.
Director Joss Whedon
certainly has an eye for original and compelling concepts, but here the
responsibility of shepherding this sprawling project together is even beyond
his talents. There are some typically Whedonesque quips and quick humour – Mark Ruffalo’s incarnation of The Hulk
in particular injects some much needed life into the character – that will be
familiar to those who admired the teen vamp slayer series Buffy and the wonderfully quirky Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog. On the other hand, a final act of
cumbersome action set pieces draw an unwanted comparison to Michael Bay’s Transformers movies thanks to their, frankly, bone headed dullness.
What has been appealing to the recent Marvel series of
superhero films is the light heartedness and fallible representation of these
characters. Clearly the producers behind this project have noticed the hardened
realism of Christopher Nolan’s
popular Dark Knight series and
backed their own, very successful, approach. But with more Assembling than
Avenging, the vision to have all their star players under one banner is in the
end a muddled and confused one.