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AVENGERS, THE (MARVEL)

SYNOPSIS:
When a powerful but unexpected enemy threatens global safety and security, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Director of the international peacekeeping agency S.H.I.E.L.D., needs a team to pull the world back from the brink of disaster. Spanning the globe, a daring recruitment effort begins, to gather together Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Not all goes according to plan when internal quarrels erupt and Thor's scheming half brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) uses his mysterious powers to subvert one of the superheroes and a S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist (Stellan Skarsgård).

Review by Andrew L. Urban:
Spectacular and bristling with superhero stunts from New York to outer space, The Avengers is a movie comic made for fans of the superhero fantasies that entertain the teenager in us all. My favourite bits are the humour, the design and Mark Ruffalo as Dr Banner/The Hulk. Much of the humour comes from Robert Downie Jr's slightly smartarse Tony Start aka Iron Man, whose calm under pressure allows him to quip and verbally whip anyone he chooses. It could become tiresome (nobody likes a smartarse) but Downey's ability to inject an element of self mockery saves it. There are several LOL moments, too, some of them visual. Comic, after all, is what the genre says.

Ruffalo is a standout as Dr Banner because he plays it entirely as drama; his character is a real person with a profound and debilitating problem. It's a major bonus for the film.

As for the design, I'm especially talking about the alien forces whose superfast mini-fighters zip around like the fighters in Star Wars - perhaps it's a respectful homage. But it's the big, animalistic ships that are really exceptional, a cross between a lobster and a giant sloth with huge front teeth, these flying vessels are enclosed in a dark grey exoskeleton structure, and move at an ominous, determined pace through the air.

The cool gadgets and guns are to be expected, and the high tech screens and electronic devices are ultra cool. The destruction level is extreme; by the time it's over, New York is a mess, half the buildings and the yellow cabs have been destroyed, the city is annoyed.

The story is off the shelf, really: Aliens under the control of ancient gods are threatening the earth; a mysterious substance provides the power and has been the subject of testing by S.H.I.E.L.D. scientist (Stellan Skarsgård). It's stolen by Thor's (Chris Hemsworth) scheming half brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) so he can use it for his own plan to destroy or subjugate humans. The Avenger team is engaged to stop this happening - before our very eyes.

The key cast provides the necessary air of importance, but some of their lines get lost in the chaos. Not that it matters. The film doesn't have the emotional involvement of the best of sci-fi action films, but it's a thrashing good big dipper ride and the 3D actually works.

Review by Louise Keller:
Biggest is best in this full throttle action fantasy of excess, when superheroes Mr America, Hawkeye, Thor, Iron Man, The Black Widow and The Hulk join forces to save the world from evil and destruction. While all of Marvel's favourite superheroes have their moments of glory, it is Mark Ruffalo's angry, green Hulk who bursts from his clothes in a show of unrestrained fury to combat the biggest, toughest, most complex foe at the most pivotal of times that wins the day. Lovers of the genre will be hard pressed to name their favourite superhero or moment - egos, powers, personalities and conflicts let rip, as extravagant action, awe-inspiring stunts and extraordinary special effects in 3D fill the screen in a blaze of spectacle. There's humour too, with in-jokes for those in the know, wry lines and tantalising situations in which each of the superheroes can shine.

The story involves a plot in which S.H.I.E.L.D director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) and Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) come up with the notion for the disparate Super Heroes to pull together as a team, when the potential for a global catastrophe involving the Tesseract, a Cosmic cube with unlimited sustainable energy. It is the evil Loki (Tom Hiddleston), adopted brother of Thor (Chris Hemsworth) - of the long blond hair, bulging muscles and powerful hammer - who prompts the impending catastrophe, opening a portal, enabling destructive alien forces to threaten the survival of the Earth.

Robert Downey Jnr has the natural ability to carry a line lightly, and he has a great presence here, throwing disparaging quips about how without his Iron Man Suit, he is nothing but 'a genius playboy billionaire philanthropist.' Sexy Scarlett Johansson wearing fitting black vinyl with scarlet hair to match her name, pouts as seriously as she shows she is able to take care of herself as Natasha Romanoff, the Black Widow, while Jeremy Renner is solid as Clint Barton / Hawkeye, who boasts an unsurpassed skill with an arrow. Chris Evans is able to inject some tongue-in-cheek as Captain America and Samuel L and Clark Gregg make a fist of their roles.

For my money, it is Mark Ruffalo as The Hulk who is the biggest surprise in every way, offering a contained performance as the quietly spoken Dr Bruce Banner, who eventually reveals his secret in the midst of the splashy climactic scenes when cars flip and fly, fireballs rocket through the skies, alien creatures jet between the skyscrapers of Manhattan and a gigantic, scaled, metallic creature makes its deadly presence felt as it crashes through buildings and slithers in flight with ominous threatening overtones. On its own terms, The Avengers is sure to thrill and satisfy its core audience, delivering a whole load of visual effects eye candy and a whole lot more.



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CRITICAL COUNT
Favourable: 2
Unfavourable: 0
Mixed: 0

AVENGERS, THE (MARVEL) (M)
(US, 2012)

CAST: Robert Downey Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Stellan Skarsgård, Samuel L. Jackson, Gwyneth Paltrow, Paul Bettany

PRODUCER: Kevin Feige

DIRECTOR: Joss Whedon

SCRIPT: Joss Whedon (comic by Stan Lee, Jack Kirby)

CINEMATOGRAPHER: Seamus McGarvey

EDITOR: Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Lassek

MUSIC: Alan Silvestri

PRODUCTION DESIGN: James Chinlund

RUNNING TIME: 142 minutes

AUSTRALIAN DISTRIBUTOR: Walt Disney

AUSTRALIAN RELEASE: April 25, 2012







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