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Reviews
STAR RATINGS EXPLAINED
Unmissable 5 Stars
Excellent 4 Stars
Good 3 Stars
Poor 2 Stars
Tragic 1 Star

POSTER ART
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FILM DETAILS
Certificate
12A
Cast
Robert Downey Jr.
Chris Evans
Chris Hemsworth
Tom Hiddleston
Scarlett Johansson
Mark Ruffalo
Jeremy Renner
Samuel L. Jackson
Clark Gregg
Gwyneth Paltrow.
Directors
Joss Whedon.
Screenwriters
Joss Whedon.
Running Time
142 minutes

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Avengers Assemble
The Marvel mash-up attains nerdvana


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Plot
When trouble-making Asgardian reject Loki (Hiddleston) launches an attack on Earth, S. H. I. E. L. D. boss Nick Fury (Jackson) decides it’s time to call in the big guns, and gathers Captain America (Evans), Bruce Banner (Ruffalo), Thor (Hemsworth) and even Iron Man (Downey Jr.) together in one elite fighting team. Good luck with that...


Review
Avengers Assemble
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*Very mild spoilers in this review*

Four disparate main characters, all with specific personalities, abilities and back stories that need to be wrangled into a cohesive fighting force. It’s a job that only Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury, with the backing of S.H.I.E.L.D., is suited to, but it’s the one that Buffy creator Joss Whedon has taken on in bringing Marvel’s Avengers together at last. You don’t envy him the task at hand, but then, it’s not every day that a writer-director is handed what is essentially a massive comic franchise toy box and told to go have some fun. And fun is certainly had here.

For Whedon has taken the various threads of the Marvel universe and weaved an impressive tapestry filled with action, humour, charm and heart. There was always the danger that this could become The Tony Stark Hour (Featuring His Costumed Chums), but Whedon is canny enough to realise that he’s got a well-balanced cast, and everyone shoulders their respective portion of the storyline with ease. It’s not really surprising coming from the man who handled a large, charismatic set of characters in the undervalued Serenity, and it’s even more satisfying to see him pull off the same trick twice. Chris Evans’ Steve ‘Captain America’ Rogers is the conflicted hero, adrift in a world he doesn’t quite truly comprehend (though he understands it a lot better than he thinks). Chris Hemsworth’s Thor is still full of his Asgardian swagger, but even he manages to find a way to fit in with everyone else when truly called upon, while working out more of his sibling issues. Mark Ruffalo is a superb Bruce Banner, bringing a subtlety and sweetness to the role that counterpoints well with the rage-fuelled big, green roaring machine. When he does go ballistic, the motion-captured Hulk features great work from ILM, even if it’s not quite as revelatory a step forward from the creature in the 2008 film. And, of course, there is ol’ Shellhead. Robert Downey Jr.’s trademark dry wit and easy magnetism is on full display, and there’s a real joy to Stark’s comic undercutting of the more OTT elements. Witness him describing Thor as “Shakespeare In The Park” or “Point Break”. Still, when the stakes are raised and the emotions run a little deeper, even he steps up and delivers. The leads are handed some cracking interplay, bolstered by set-pieces that combine both the comedy and the drama. It’s long been a Whedon hallmark to spice up the danger with laughs, and the actors clearly had a blast getting to grips with his script.

The S. H. I. E. L. D. agents are largely treated well, too. Jackson’s Fury gets to do more than show up, look tough and talk about the initiative. While he may not be as much a part of the big battles as the fab four, he’s still very much a kick-ass mofo, even in the face of a truly dangerous threat. Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow is the beneficiary of Whedon’s love for tough, smart female characters, resulting in a much more nuanced take on the character than we’ve seen before. In particular, her conflicted, deep friendship with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye is put to serious test, especially since he’s part of a darker plotline.

It’s a smaller piece of the overall puzzle, but there’s more than enough to be worthy of Renner’s talents. The Marvel movies’ secret weapon, Clark Gregg’s Agent Phil Coulson (“Phil? His first name is ‘Agent’,” cracks Stark) steals many of the scenes he’s in, whether it’s hero-worshipping Steve Rogers or providing his usual cool, calm, collected reaction to the sort of peril that would reduce most mortal men to blubbering wrecks. In fact, if anyone from the assembled ranks could complain about being short-changed, it’s probably only Cobie Smulders’ Maria Hill, who largely fills the role Sigourney Weaver’s Gwen DeMarco complains about in Galaxy Quest. Translation: lots of time carrying out Nick Fury’s orders. But then, even she gets a moment to shine early on during a frenetic car chase.

Moments that feel as though they might be clichéd are upended with grace and style, either through dialogue or action. Witness a captive Loki’s (Tom Hiddleston) glimpse into the dark heart of Black Widow, full of apparent perception and old wound-opening menace, which suddenly turns into something quite different. It’s a fine flourish and one that Whedon uses sparingly so it never loses its impact, except for one crucial beat where he gives in to one of his more infamous impulses. The various plotlines stitch together nearly seamlessly, adding layers to our heroes’ interactions and finally hinting at much deeper, darker depths to S.H.I.E.L.D., ones that even Fury isn’t as comfortable with as he might first appear. If what we’ve been shown in the various origin films (and Iron Man 2) so far is the tip of the iceberg, this is much more of a glance under the water. And it opens the doorway to plenty of potential conflicts in the future.

With Earth’s Mightiest Heroes™ gathered, they needed a good villain to fight, and Loki certainly fills that void. He’s even more devious and devilish than his introduction in Thor and Hiddleston thoroughly owns the role, imbuing it with pure, malicious delight. Not only does he get one or two distinctly Whedonesque lines, he also provides one of the film’s biggest comic moments during an unfortunate run in with The Hulk.

If there’s a complaint about the Big Evil Plan, it’s that a) the alien army our favourite evil demi-god has allied himself with are very throwaway, bland types who serve as little more than intergalactic cannon-fodder. Yes, they’re from the Marvel universe (we won’t name them, but they’re not who has been rumoured), but they display very little in the way of unique abilities. And b) the whole thing hinges on a mundane version of the old MacGuffin narrative trick.

This might not match the pyrotechnic power or CG clout of, say, the Transformers films. Yet there is something much more valuable — real human interaction and more of a brain on display. Whedon opens up the canvas and offers something that, with so many characters in play, feels epic and yet never loses sight of the real reason we’ve come to enjoy this particular dysfunctional super-family forced to play nicely together for the first time. In a few brief moments, the pace seems to sag, and the exposition needle pushes a little into the red zone once or twice, but even that is usually wrapped up with swift aplomb. Total newcomers won’t be completely lost, but this really is one for the fans. There’s probably no way any movie could quite live up to the expectations put upon this long-awaited Marvel mash-up, but Avengers Assemble gets very, very close to pulling off the trick. Assuming someone else tackles the next team-up, whoever catches the Cosmic Cube next has big shoes to fill.


Verdict
The Avengers have been assembled and, for the most part, they fit together superbly. A joyous blend of heroism and humour that raises the stakes even as it maintains a firm grip on what makes the individual heroes tick.


Reviewed by James White

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Your Reviews

Average user rating for Avengers Assemble
Empire Star Rating

Superb Entertainment

This is an action fantasy film with everything - top cast, great acting & chemistry, clever & witty dialogue, some great nods to the comic, outstanding action scenes and all managed quite superbly by Joss Whedon. Every major character has their moments on-screen (with Thor being my personal favourite) - you really couldn't ask for much more in the areas of fun and entertainment. To compare it to the ludicrous DKR is a joke (coming from someone who counts Dark Knight and Batman Begins amo... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Hillsman at 13:26, 17 April 2014 | Report This Post


re: whatever i said a minute ago

i say 'shit' i enjoyed it i just thought it was shit and ridiculous ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RLTShirley at 00:36, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post


Why did you change your review empire?

just curious as to why Empire has changed this review, i have the original review still in the magazine and it was completley different and 5 stars. im not complaining i thought the film was shit but just thought it was wierd ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by RLTShirley at 00:33, 31 December 2013 | Report This Post


Strong 4 stars probably more appropriate than 5, like most are calling for

A strong 4 is where this movie should stand. Not compelling film making by any stretch, but extremely entertaining entertainment. If all superhero movies gave their lives for another one of these, that would just fine with me. Sucks about the awkward "Avengers Assemble" oceanic title... ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by soggy bottom sam at 17:03, 11 August 2013 | Report This Post


Fantastic

I have no idea what else this film could've done to get that last star. I guess films that do well around these times call for a certain "darkness" to them (e.g The Dark Knight trilogy), but a film lacking this is a welcome break, and with such a setup, this technique probably wouldn't have worked as well anyway. For a director to succeed so brilliantly with a film as hard to make as this is a great achievement, and one that deserves FIVE stars. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Seaan2 at 13:06, 03 August 2013 | Report This Post


Six heroes....one mission... WIN A LOT FOF MONEY AND BE SOO MUCH FUN!

This film was expected since 2008 with the movie Hulk (movie more or less), since Marvel has promised the film "THE AVENGERS", the famous group of super heroes (basically, the Justice League Marvel). Then came the movies Iron Man (2008-Great), Iron Man 2 (2009-Good) Thor (2010-Good) Captain America (2011-Very Good), and finally in 2012 came the expected and exceeded all expectations! A film that brought together four powerful super heroes (and 2 that appeared in the movie Iron Man 2 a... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ralph25 at 22:18, 11 April 2013 | Report This Post


Brilliant

As many have pointed out, this movie really shouldn't have worked. So since Whedon not only pulled it off, but pulled it off with such wit and style, this movie deserves 5 stars for that miracle alone. Just like with what made X2 so great, everybody is given a moment to shine in this movie yet it never feels like a clusterfuck. One of the very best comic book movies of all time. Very, very entertaining. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Mr Gittes at 22:32, 08 February 2013 | Report This Post


5 starts

Not sure what more this film had to do to warrant 5 stars. Great film well acted, funny, emotional and put together well. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by rcrofty7 at 17:54, 04 December 2012 | Report This Post


RE: The Avengers – Review

I'm abit skeptical when it comes to comic characters converted to the big-screen,as I feel the best medium for comic characters is still and will forever be Comics. I was also skeptical in how the film will play with (arguably) 6 major Protagonist characters (Hulk,Thor,Widow,Hawkeye,IronMan,Nick Fury) and obviously not forgetting the villain of the film in Loki. My feelings at the time was "this will be a convoluted mess" or "How in earth is this going to be pulled off" (yes,positive thi... More

Posted by OPEN YOUR EYES at 01:01, 03 October 2012 | Report This Post


The Avengers – Review

]ngers – Review A Marvel comic book adventure transformed into an action packed sci-fi film. ngers[/i]” Photograph: Marvel Studios [size=3] Add five of the bengers[/i]; a comic book sensation from its well-known comic book writer Stngers[/i] to an action packed sci-fi Hollywood adventure through a battle ngers[/i] revives a cast of recognizable superheroes from Marvel’s past firedible Hulk, Thor, Iron Man, and Captain America: The First Avenger[/i]. ngers[/i] to link intertex... More

Posted by LIBS 7014 at 22:48, 29 September 2012 | Report This Post


blah

Edit - if you wish to post a review it would be welcomed but we don't allow advertising of your own site in posts. If you'd like add it in your sig, but please don't direct users off-site from within posts. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by jakesfake at 15:00, 24 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Doth your mother knoweth you weareth her drapes?

L: DONOVAN KURTWOOD Cool movie but not as good John Carter, Battleship or Dredd! he vast majority of the film going public disagree DK.Still Taylor Kitsch will be glad to know he's got at least one big fan out there! ... More

Posted by Cool Breeze at 13:55, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Doth your mother knoweth you weareth her drapes?

Cool movie but not as good John Carter, Battleship or Dredd! ... More

Posted by DONOVAN KURTWOOD at 13:51, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


Doth your mother knoweth you weareth her drapes?

Simply put, i loved it. It was funny all the way through particularly when the Hulk was unleashed. The action was pure brilliance, even if the baddies were lame, and didn't dissapoint. The only problem i found was that Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johansson and Colbie Smulders weren't used as much as i would have liked. Besides that, it was fantastic, my second favourite film of this year so far, behind only The Dark Knight Rises. I am looking forward to Marvel Phase 2. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Alex Doran at 01:20, 19 September 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Blu Ray and DVD changes and rip off

Now this is one film i wish i had of gave it a chance and seen on the biggest screen i could have,for i now regret not listening to a certain mate.But now i've seen it on Blu-Ray it will be top of this weeks must buy films,for Joss Whedon has put Marvel on top of the fun summer blockbuster comic film,in fact with such style and energy it will be hard to top this one.At two hours 23 minutes,it charges along at breakneck speed,yet still builds a great plot among all the awesome CGI,but ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by evil bill at 19:03, 18 September 2012 | Report This Post


Blu Ray and DVD changes and rip off

Is everyone aware of the Blu Ray DVD rip off and movie edit that has affected the UK release?? Sounds pretty annoying: Coulson's death has been toned down and crucial extras (commentary and docs) are missing on the UK release: http://www.sfx.co.uk/2012/09/17/blog-the-avengers-blu-r ay-debacle/ ... More

Posted by fiercehairdo at 21:17, 17 September 2012 | Report This Post


movie that didn't realy live up to hype but it had its moments. Fairly boring at the begginning as its mostly talking rather than the wanted action. The film only got exiting in the last twenty minutes and even that wasn't great. I don't realy need to do much of a reveiw on this so i'm going straight to my numbers. I give this movie a 2. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by silence1 at 13:18, 15 June 2012 | Report This Post


movie that didn't realy live up to hype but it had its moments. Fairly boring at the begginning as its mostly talking rather than the wanted action. The film only got exiting in the last twenty minutes and even that wasn't great. I don't realy need to do much of a reveiw on this so i'm going straight to my numbers. I give this movie a 2. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by silence1 at 13:18, 15 June 2012 | Report This Post


the avengers

omg i can believe how perfect this movie was.acting,script,special effects everything in fact worked.and at last they got the hulk spot on.as someone who has colloected and read comics for 35 years i know how good this is.all the charactors are so well acted ,the banter and inter play perfect. ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by andy peat at 17:47, 09 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: SMASH!

Sorry for the repetitve posts - the forum seems to be playing up today. ... More

Posted by scary_ice at 01:16, 07 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: SMASH!

Doubles... ... More

Posted by scary_ice at 01:16, 07 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: SMASH!

I just want to say remember when people (including me) were saying the Tranformers movies were crap and Bay couldn't direct traffic and then other people would say - IT'S A BLOCKBUSTER WHAT DO YOU WANT? IT'S GOT EXPLOSIONS HASN'T IT? Well, THIS is what I want - a funny, exciting, action -packed movie with great characters that you give a shit about. Thanks Joss. ... More

Posted by scary_ice at 01:16, 07 June 2012 | Report This Post


RE: SMASH!

L: kmite Oh this film was the tits but does anyone else think the hulk looked a wee bit like rich hall at times? fter he's had a few, maybe... ... More

Posted by chris kilby at 02:03, 06 June 2012 | Report This Post


Puny God

Gotta say, this movie was very good. Having pretty much been raised with a wide view of literature and comic books, my expectations of Avengers was high... And boy I was not disappointed. Every single character was well fleshed, the entwining stories from previous films actually worked together and there was no one main character. Every single one had a chance to shine and give in their two pence of screen time. The characters had life and flesh, and witty one-liners that can only be truly f... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by AbidorSimpson at 22:28, 01 June 2012 | Report This Post


Avengers is epic in which ever way you look at it...

Hugely enjoyable and thrilling megahit blockbuster from Marvel. You couldnt help but praise the writers being successful in bringing the characters together in such an entertaining way without feeling bloated. You may wish for the heros, who had their own movies, to be given more time but such feelings are...well inevitable but you would hardly complain as these few moments are handled fine. With Avengers its simply a joy to watch all these great actors and characters interact with each other.... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by trainedasninja at 13:38, 01 June 2012 | Report This Post


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