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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

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


RE: SMASH!

Oh this film was the tits but does anyone else think the hulk looked a wee bit like rich hall at times? ... More

Posted by kmite at 00:49, 29 May 2012 | Report This Post


SMASH!

Funny, loud and pretty flawless movie! Here's my review of Avengers. Hope you like it :) Edit - no off-site links to advertise own blogs/sites etc. You're welcome to copy/paste your review here and/or include sig links to personal sites ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ARmy2510 at 14:55, 28 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Avengers Assemble

Not seen this mentioned elsewhere so thought I'd post a link here. Charlie Brooker's thoughts on Avengers Assemble - not a review as such, more a report about what it's like going to the cinema when you don't go to the cinema much these days, and you're a bit of a grumpy sod! And it's really quite funny: www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2012/may/20/marvel-ave ngers-assemble-3d-experience ... More

Posted by Discodez at 15:40, 21 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Avengers Assemble

L: NCC1701A L: GCH Saw this today and thought it was OK, more or less as I expected. Joss Whedon knows how to give characters their own space without slowing the momentum of the film. What I don't understand, however, is how it has taken 4 times as much as John Carter. It simply isn't 4 times better (in fact I believe they are on a par). Is it just about fanboys? Or is it Scarlett's arse? Well John Carter was so  boring and the Avengers was not. didn't think JC was bor... More

Posted by superdan at 10:29, 20 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Avengers Assemble

L: GCH Saw this today and thought it was OK, more or less as I expected. Joss Whedon knows how to give characters their own space without slowing the momentum of the film. What I don't understand, however, is how it has taken 4 times as much as John Carter. It simply isn't 4 times better (in fact I believe they are on a par). Is it just about fanboys? Or is it Scarlett's arse? sp; Well John Carter was so  boring and the Avengers was not.     ... More

Posted by NCC1701A at 09:51, 20 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Avengers Assemble

L: GCH Saw this today and thought it was OK, more or less as I expected. Joss Whedon knows how to give characters their own space without slowing the momentum of the film. What I don't understand, however, is how it has taken 4 times as much as John Carter. It simply isn't 4 times better (in fact I believe they are on a par). Is it just about fanboys? Or is it Scarlett's arse? There has been more build up, it is a more recognised franchise and the marketing has been handled in a su... More

Posted by sanchia at 11:52, 19 May 2012 | Report This Post


Excelsior ! ! !

the problem with any film you have been waiting a long time for is simple, was it worth waiting. I deliberately didn’t watch any trailers or read any reviews, so as I sat down with my 3d glasses on and waited, I braced myself to be disappointed. I wasn’t.... all hail Whedon, the best film I have seen in many a year, but now joss realises he has a problem he has to follow it ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by xxsteveo71xx at 01:41, 19 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Avengers Assemble

Saw this today and thought it was OK, more or less as I expected. Joss Whedon knows how to give characters their own space without slowing the momentum of the film. What I don't understand, however, is how it has taken 4 times as much as John Carter. It simply isn't 4 times better (in fact I believe they are on a par). Is it just about fanboys? Or is it Scarlett's arse? ... More

Posted by GCH at 22:42, 18 May 2012 | Report This Post


Hopefully Hollywood will have learnt their lesson from this and will use talented directors for big budget films which will result in less Daredevils and Wolverines and more Avengers and Dark Knights, genuinely classic cinema ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by wlucas at 21:23, 18 May 2012 | Report This Post


FOURTH VIEWING.....

Still enjoyed it……the strong archetypal characters and a witty script – and the big action set pieces just kept on coming toward the end. Chris Evans was an excellent Johnny Storm in the FF movies, but I have to confess that he makes an excellent Captain America as well. And just think what they could do with Chris Hemsworth in a Thor sequel now? SPOILER ALERT - With Thanos now in the picture, Marvel could really let rip and produce a big budget Lord of the Rings type fantasy s... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by ROTGUT at 15:22, 18 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: DOWNEYJR'S BEST FILM

L: BelfastBoy This is a quote from a product placement blog article elsewhere on this site: "US audiences are also treated to a much-rumoured second post-credit scene which shows the team enjoying the dish which, for Tony Stark's information, is slices of spiced chicken served with warm pitta and a variety of sauces." Is this true or a joke on the part of the writer? sp; To answer my own question:   www.hypable.com/2012/05/02/avengers-after-after-credits -... More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 13:20, 17 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: DOWNEYJR'S BEST FILM

This is a quote from a product placement blog article elsewhere on this site:   "US audiences are also treated to a much-rumoured second post-credit scene which shows the team enjoying the dish which, for Tony Stark's information, is slices of spiced chicken served with warm pitta and a variety of sauces."   Is this true or a joke on the part of the writer? ... More

Posted by BelfastBoy at 12:46, 17 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: DOWNEYJR'S BEST FILM

Saw it last night. Firstly I fucking HATED the 3D. I had been on the fence until last night and only went cos they weren't showing it in 2D. Past that, I thought each character was given ample time to strut their stuff. I liked the juxtaposition between Cap and Stark, the simialrty of Thor and Hulk etc...There were a few pacing problems for me but the last 30 mins is the reason that the cinema can be so much fun. Hulk steals the show, although Hawkeye was great (after being made ... More

Posted by Keyser Sozzled at 20:48, 16 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: DOWNEYJR'S BEST FILM

Saw it last night. Firstly I fucking HATED the 3D. I had been on the fence until last night and only went cos they weren't showing it in 2D. Past that, I thought each character was given ample time to strut their stuff. I liked the juxtaposition between Cap and Stark, the simialrty of Thor and Hulk etc...There were a few pacing problems for me but the last 30 mins is the reason that the cinema can be so much fun. Hulk steals the show, although Hawkeye was great (after being made ... More

Posted by Keyser Sozzled at 20:48, 16 May 2012 | Report This Post


DOWNEYJR'S BEST FILM

Brilliant superhero movie!!! ... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Ciaran McDaid at 00:39, 15 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Avengers Assemble

Damm double posting. Well seeing as I'm here The Hulk was amazing, finally someone nailed it perfect. ... More

Posted by blackduck at 13:26, 14 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Avengers Assemble

Awesome from beginning to end. There were so many things that could have gone wrong with this movie even if it had just turned out ok it would have been one hell of an achivement. No character felt short changed (well maybe Thor slightly but he does get one of the best lines on the movie) even characters we initally don't care about manage to hold thier own against the big names. the plot is fairly straight forward but it didn't need to be any smarter than it was, this was about gett... More

Posted by blackduck at 13:26, 14 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Avengers Assemble

L: Gillhead Empire awarded Superman Returns 5 stars – ok admittedly I am a sucker for Superman movies and nostalgia and probably would have given it 5! But only 4 stars for Avengers Assemble – are you completely out of your minds at Empire? Who the hell is vetting the quality and consistency of your movie reviews – the Warner Brothers board? I’m also huge fan of The Dark Knight, a justifiable 5 star rating in my opinion –so I really hope you apply some level of consistency when you award ... More

Posted by MonsterCat at 12:49, 14 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: WTF - why only 4 stars EMPIRE????????

L: Gillhead Empire awarded Superman Returns 5 stars – ok admittedly I am a sucker for Superman movies and nostalgia and probably would have given it 5! But only 4 stars for Avengers Assemble – are you completely out of your minds at Empire? Who the hell is vetting the quality and consistency of your movie reviews – the Warner Brothers board? I’m also huge fan of The Dark Knight, a justifiable 5 star rating in my opinion –ally hope you apply some level of consistency when you award the ... More

Posted by horribleives at 12:44, 14 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: Avengers Assemble

I saw it last week and I find it amazing. 4.5 stars out of 5. ... More

Posted by rksst228 at 11:13, 14 May 2012 | Report This Post


WTF - why only 4 stars EMPIRE????????

Empire awarded Superman Returns 5 stars – ok admittedly I am a sucker for Superman movies and nostalgia and probably would have given it 5! But only 4 stars for Avengers Assemble – are you completely out of your minds at Empire? Who the hell is vetting the quality and consistency of your movie reviews – the Warner Brothers board? I’m also huge fan of The Dark Knight, a justifiable 5 star rating in my opinion –so I really hope you apply some level of consistency when... More

Empire User Rating

Posted by Gillhead at 09:04, 14 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: A-MA-ZING.

Great fun from start to finish.   5/5 ... More

Posted by NCC1701A at 14:51, 13 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: A-MA-ZING.

It posted twice, sorry guys, service error my ass! ... More

Posted by white mage at 23:11, 12 May 2012 | Report This Post


RE: A-MA-ZING.

Great movie, well lives up to the hype and anticipation, superb acting all round from the cast, amazing special effects and the Hulk definatly stole the show ... More

Posted by white mage at 23:08, 12 May 2012 | Report This Post


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