Saturday, 5 May 2012

Film Review: "The Avengers" (2012)

"There was an idea… called the Avengers Initiative. The idea was to bring together a group of remarkable people to see if they could become something more. To see if they could work together when we needed them to, to fight the battles that we never could." This is what The Avengers is all about. This epic superhero film produced by Marvel Studios, based on the Marvel Comics superhero team of the same name. It is the sixth installment in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film was scripted and directed by Joss Whedon. In The Avengers, Nick Fury, director of the peacekeeping organization S.H.I.E.L.D., recruits Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to form a team that must stop Thor's brother Loki from enslaving the human race.

Avi Arad, the CEO of Marvel Studios, first announced plans to develop the film in April 2005. Marvel discussed their plans in a brief presentation to Wall Street analysts; the studio's intention was to release individual films for the main characters—to establish their identities and familiarize audiences with them—before merging the characters together in a crossover film. Screenwriter Zak Penn, who wrote The Incredible Hulk (2008), was hired by Marvel Studios to write the film in June 2007. After the successful release of Iron Man (2008) in May, the company set a July 2011 release date for The Avengers. In September 2008, Marvel Studios reached an agreement with Paramount—an extension of a previous partnership—which gave the company distribution rights for five future Marvel films. Casting began in October 2008 with Downey's signing. At the same time, two major prospects occurred for Marvel; Jon Favreau was brought in as an executive producer for the film, and the company signed a long-term lease with Raleigh Studios to produce three other big-budget films—Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)—at their Manhattan Beach, California complex. In February 2009, Samuel L. Jackson signed a nine-picture deal with Marvel Entertainment to play Nick Fury in Iron Man 2 and other films. The next month, executive producer Jon Favreau stated that he would not direct the film, but would "definitely have input and a say". In March 2009, actress Scarlett Johansson replaced Emily Blunt in portraying Natasha Romanoff in Iron Man 2, a deal that subsequently attached her to The Avengers. The following day, Marvel announced that the film's release date had been pushed back to May 4, 2012, almost a full year later. Chris Hemsworth and Tom Hiddleston joined the film's cast in June, returning as Thor and Loki, respectively. In March, it was reported that Penn had completed the first draft of the script, and that Marvel editor-in-chief Joe Quesada and Avengers comic-book writer Brian Michael Bendis had received copies. Also in March, Chris Evans accepted an offer to play Captain America in three films including The Avengers. In April 2010, Variety reported that Joss Whedon was close to completing a deal to direct the film, and to rework Penn's script. Whedon was announced as the film's director in July 2010. In August 2010, it was reported that Paramount Pictures and Marvel Studios were planning to start shooting in February.  Also that October, The Walt Disney Company agreed to pay Paramount at least $115 million for the worldwide distribution rights to Iron Man 3 (2013) and The Avengers. The deal also allowed Paramount to continue to collect the 8 percent box office fee it would have earned for distributing the film and a marquee credit — placement of the company's logo on marketing materials. As a result, the onscreen production credit reads "Marvel Studios in association with Paramount Pictures" though the film is solely owned, distributed and marketed by Disney. In February 2011, Cobie Smulders acquired the role of Maria Hill, after participating in screen tests conducted by Marvel for the role of a key S.H.I.E.L.D. member. Over the successive months, the film's cast expanded to include Stellan Skarsgård, Paul Bettany, and Gwyneth Paltrow. Paltrow was cast at Downey's insistence. Principal photography began on April 25, 2011, in Albuquerque, New Mexico. Production then relocated to Cleveland, Ohio in August 2011, where filming transpired over a period of four weeks.

The film features an ensemble cast that includes Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston and Samuel L. Jackson. Nick Fury said that the Avengers is about "bringing together a group of remarkable people..." That was exactly what I felt about with the ensemble cast. Never in my life have I seen the perfect group of individuals working together on a single massive film. The cast gave their best performances to date. Vast improvements from their solo films, especially to Downey Jr. And Hiddleston made a great threat with a major role and diabolical plan as opposed to supporting role in Thor with the typical ‘take over the kingdom’ phase.

So much is happening, you feel the immediate need of a sequel just as a reward for absorbing it all. The Avengers takes your breath away wire-to-wire the way X-Men (2000) did, it's an accomplished piece of work with considerable pulp watchability to it. The film is effectively paced with a good balance of exposition, character development, and special effects-enhanced action. Neither the plot nor the character relationships are difficult to follow, and the movie avoids the trap of spending too much time explaining things that don't need to be explained. Avengers fandom is likely to agree that the picture is a success. I started out liking this movie, while waiting for something really interesting to happen. When nothing did, I still didn't dislike it; I assume the Avengers will further develop their personalities if there is a sequel, and maybe find time to get involved in a story. No doubt fans of the comics will understand subtle allusions and fine points of behavior; they should linger in the lobby after each screening to answer questions.

Simon says The Avengers receives:

See my review for Captain America: The First Avenger at

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