Friday, 27 April 2012

Xcursus: The Avengers Movie Review!

Yup, today (27 April) THE most awaited movie of the year (yeah, for you DC boys as well- admit it :P) released out here in India & I went for the first day first show! :D Read on to know what I thought about The Avengers, I've tried to keep it spoiler-free. Also you'll find a generous sprinkling of downloadable official Avengers wallpapers as well as some brilliant artwork released by Mondo for each of the Avengers.

Obviously the main reason this movie was so eagerly anticipated is that it's got 6 superheroes packed into one MEGA film! SHIELD Director Nick Fury rounds up this motley group of superheroes- Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow & Hawkeye to form the Avengers & fight the menace that Loki unleashes on planet Earth.

Marvel Studios entrusted the mammoth task of helming this epic movie to Joss Whedon. I was relieved after knowing Whedon was in charge- could we expect anything less from the guy who gave us the (beloved) Buffy the Vampire Slayer series? PLUS he's a comic book writer as well, having written Astonishing X-Men amongst others. So we all know the guy can deliver & he does. In spades.

Besides directing, Whedon has also co-written the script (with Zak Penn), & you can definitely see his stamp throughout the film. The witty lines, the quick & crisp pacing, AND most importantly, the ample justice given to EACH character (yes, even the minor ones) to shine in their own respective capacities. The character interactions are immensely entertaining.
Right from the ego clashes at the beginning to the camaraderie at the end, the movie is PACKED with "moments"- Black Widow getting completely terrified while dealing with Banner & "the other guy", the constant schoolboy bickering between Stark & Steve Rogers, the powerful dynamic between Thor & Hulk- they're all in here. I'm also glad that Joss has made it a stand-alone film, so it's okay if you haven't seen the individual movies of the respective heroes as he's cleverly woven it all in.

One thing that Whedon has ALWAYS excelled in is character development- ALL the characters have a definite arc. What's great is that for Joss, it's not just all about the explosions & spectacle- he ensures his film has heart & you are moved to feel for the characters & not have an indifferent approach to them just cause they're heroes. The human side of each character shines through.

The action is amazing & will keep you on the edge of your seat the whole time, rooting for these heroes to win & save the day. Hulk & Thor bashing each other up is one of the most entertaining scenes in the movie! The climactic battle is pretty spectacular too. I especially went- *.* -with this one particular scene where in one sweeping shot Whedon manages to catch amazing moments of each of our heroes being badass against the alien army summoned by Loki (& that's not a spoiler).

On the Visual Effects front, you are in for a treat. The Helicarrier? She's a beauty. I love how they actually made it look so practical that even a non-comic book fan wouldn't go, "What the frick is that??" Hulk? This is how Hulk should have been all along- super-realistic, full of emotion, & erm, BADASS! The aliens & their ships? Spectacular- some real good scenes to behold. Again, very believable, not at all distracting. Overall, some pretty flawless work from the VFX team out here.
Now onto the performances. Robert Downey Jr. is THE reason that Iron Man is my fave Avenger! As the tongue in cheek & unabashed rebel of the team, Downey's performace as Stark is top-notch, as always. I've read in some interviews that he's known to do quite a lot of improv & you can definitely see that this guy loves, no, LIVES this character! Chris Evans as Cap is great as the ever-sincere, & sometimes naive, man out of time. Mark Ruffalo is actually the first actor to ever act AS Hulk in a live-action movie through the marvel (pun intended) of motion capture. So it's all Ruffalo's movement & emotion showing through that helps uplift this Hulk in leaps & bounds. Trust me, if you loved Edward Norton's Hulk, you'll forget all about that one after seeing this.
Chris Hemsworth as Thor also excels in his role, who like RDJ, seems to be born for this role. He really uses his gravelly voice & towering physique to translate the grandeur of the God of Thunder. Unlike in Iron Man 2, this time round Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow is not just all about looking hot, but she also proves why she deserves to be an Avenger inspite of just being a human with special skills. Johansson does a bang-up job as Widow & it's great to see her take full opportunity of the meaty role she's given here (oh & she IS Russian in the MCU! Thank God!). Jeremy Renner's Hawkeye is also good but personally I found his role a wee bit under-developed. At the end of the movie, despite all the tweaks they've done to his archery equipment, I still felt there's only so much a guy with a bow & arrow could do whilst fighting alongside a Super Soldier, a demigod, an engineer extraordinaire with his own power suit. AND a Hulk.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury? Another great performance. I cannot even imagine anyone else in that role! The ever-amiable & affable Agent Phil Coulson by Clark Gregg is just such fun to watch. There's guaranteed laughs from EVERY scene he's in. Being a How I Met Your Mother fan, the announcement of Cobie Smulders as Agent Maria Hill definitely got me excited, but honestly, I was pretty wary about how our lovable Robin would be able to transform into the tough Agent Hill. Smulders, however, does a commendable job & if Whedon is to be believed, she's done most of her stunts, so she's really shown that she's more than capable to do action roles too. And lastly, the villain himself- Loki by Tom Hiddleston. If you found him menacing in Thor, you ain't seen nothing yet! Hiddleston successfully portrays a villain of many facets & layers, so complex & powerful. Loki's true array of power as the God of Mischief is put on full showcase here & you will thoroughly enjoy it.
^The awesome Avengers art released by Mondo. OMG that Iron Man poster! I wants! *.*

That's all well & good but I do have a couple teeny niggling issues. First, about Hawkeye- personally I think Ant Man would be a more deserving member to have on the team cos a) he was one of the founding members & b) you'd go for Hawkeye instead? Really?? I can only hope that Ant Man & Wasp are in Avengers 2. Second, I saw the film in 3D, but I dunno if it was the glasses at the cinema I watched it at, but the bright vibrant film went SO DARK with the glasses on! I'd suggest watching it in 2D first & then 3D (if you insist :P). I'm gonna be watching it next in 2D, as I'm pretty sure I'm gonna enjoy it a whole lot more!
^More mind-blowing Mondo artwork! Love that Black Widow poster- minimalist but oh so clever!

So after reading this big-ass review what's my final verdict? An EXTREMELY well-deserved 9/10. With a story that is true to the essence of the Avengers comics, The Avengers almost effortlessly manages to serve the audience with entertaining action & a whole load of laughs. Add to that the terrific character development & the power-packed performances, this is ONE superhero movie you DO NOT wanna miss.

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