Saturday 6 October 2012

Film: Avengers Assemble (2012)

I have rather enjoyed some of the recent superhero movies, particularly the first Iron Man and also Thor, both reviewed on this blog. They both took the time to develop their principal characters plus their relationships with other people, and contained a lot of both dramatic and amusing situations and repartee to balance the action scenes. I haven't seen any of the films about the other superheroes so can't comment on those, but a movie which brought several of them together to defend the Earth against an attack from an alien dimension sounded entertaining and the reviews looked good, so I began watching Avengers Assemble with interest.

Sadly, I was greatly disappointed. Only a few token gestures were made towards the elements which made the other films so enjoyable: there was hardly any character development or humour. Most of the movie consisted of fight scenes which just went on and on interminably. As Scarlett Johansson said of her part in the film: "I've spent so many months training with our stunt team, and fighting all the other actors, it's crazy. I do nothing but fight—all the time." After it was over, the person I saw it with commented "That was for eight year olds. I thought it would never end". I think that was maybe a little harsh and that the age of the target market was possibly as high as twelve, but I took the point. While the CGI was of the spectacularly high standard we expect nowadays, the story was about as subtle as being hit over the head with a rock, over and over. I was recently rather critical of the remake of Total Recall, but that was positively Shakespearean in the quality of the plot, dialogue and acting compared with Avengers Assemble.

There seems to be an increasing tendency for SFF films to split into two groups; the big blockbusters which are aimed at the lowest common denominator and focus almost entirely on spectacle and violence, and the more subtle and complex movies intended to appeal to adults. Some films have managed to combine elements of both quite successfully, as I mentioned at the start, but I have the impression that they are in a dwindling minority. The second Iron Man film, for instance, impressed me a lot less than the first. I note that a sequel to AA is intended, but I have no great hopes for that. Since the original was such a huge box-office success, the sequel will almost certainly just be more of the same. Oh well, I'll just have to pick and choose my films a little more carefully in the future.


Chimeradave said...

Respectfully, I disagree. I'm 30 years old and I felt like the movie was made for me. I mean the ending with the huge fight scene was a bit much, but I loved the characters and the humor. I thought the film was a love letter to people who grew up reading comic books.

Anthony G Williams said...

I think that your final point explains the disagreement. The only comic books I can recall reading as a youngster were the Commando WW2 series, which were more or less realistic war stories. The superhero ones never appealed to me.

So I had no historical baggage to colour my opinion as far as superheroes are concerned, I simply judged the film on its merits as a fantasy thriller.

Carl V. Anderson said...

While I think Iron Man and to a lesser extent Thor were better in that they had a more focused story, I thought Avengers was a lot of fun. I just watched it last weekend for the first time. I wasn't disappointed to have waited on it, it looked great on blu ray on the big screen tv, but I was actually impressed that they had such a large cast and told a story that didn't, to me, feel like it drug on trying to get everyone screen time. I don't need to see it over and over again, but I thought it was a good addition to the superhero film lineup.

ultraviolet said...

good review

i'm not realy a comic fan as well and i agree with you that Iron Man and Thor are great comic book films.
AA just seems to be a special FX tour-de-force which is the only reason why i loved it.

big budget adult sifi films just just don't get the funding any more; they always slip into the sub-genre sifi-action

Anthony G Williams said...

I agree, David, that the "blockbusters" seem to be increasingly aimed at the adolescent market, but there are some brilliant adult SF films still being made - take Inception, for instance.