Francesca Rudkin

Francesca Rudkin is an entertainment reviewer for NZ Herald.

Movie review: The Avengers (+trailer)

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Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. in a scene from The Avengers.  Photo / Supplied
Mark Ruffalo and Robert Downey Jr. in a scene from The Avengers. Photo / Supplied

There's a lot of ego - super, alter and otherwise - in this comic book adaptation of the Marvel series The Avengers, which sees the formation of a superhero supergroup to save the world from a vengeful god.

There's also a lot of action and humorous ribbing between these Marvel-ites, who've been brought together by Nick Fury (Jackson), director of international peace keeping organisation S.H.I.E.L.D.

Tony Stark, aka Iron Man (Downey jnr), might have been told in Iron Man 2 he wasn't a suitable candidate for The Avengers, but when Norse God Thor's adopted brother Loki (Hiddleston) hits town threatening to conquer Earth with his alien army the entry criteria is loosened somewhat.

Joining Iron Man on this mission is Captain America ( Evans), Thor (Hemsworth), and the Incredible Hulk, with Mark Ruffalo taking over from Edward Norton as the angry green guy. They're assisted by S.H.I.E.L.D agents Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and Hawkeye (Jeremey Renner).

We've seen superhero collectives before in X-Men and Fantastic Four. But what makes this group unique is they're all from different franchises, different eras and even different planets.

The challenge for director Joss Whedon is to make these superheroes fit together, and they do. It seems perfectly normal to have a chiselled god, "a genius, billionaire, playboy philanthropist" as Iron Man describes himself, and a throwback to the 40s sitting around a boardroom table together.

The setting looks most similar to the Iron Man films, mixed in with sci-fi and futuristic military machinery, and Whedon plays on the superheroes' differences and competitiveness to drive the comedy.

Much of the hard work has already been done for Whedon: with each superhero having already headlined their own film, he doesn't need to waste time introducing their talents and quirks. But if you don't know who they are, the basics are explained. Mostly though he charges straight into the action and fun as we watch these loners try to work together.

And with so much testosterone flying around there's always something going on in this surprisingly snappy 142 minutes - be it Tony Stark trying to provoke Hulk, , Thor and Iron Man going up against each other, or Hulk raging at, well, everyone in his path.

It's not made clear why Loki has come to earth, and it's not until the final showdown that the team mentality and the blow-you-away action really kicks in, but then The Avengers isn't just a battle to save Manhattan, it's a battle of personalities, and it's great fun watching these superheroes slay each other with their witty one-liners.

Fast-paced, funny, thrilling and well-crafted, it's easy to forgive Whedon the odd blemish - he's made a film that will keep the comic book fans and newcomers to the franchise happy.

Stars: 4/5
Cast: Robert Downey jnr, Samuel L. Jackson, Tom Hiddleston
Director: Joss Whedon
Running time: 142 mins
Rating: M (violence)
Verdict: A witty, wicked smorgasbord of superheroes at their best.

Watch the trailer for The Avengers:

-TimeOut

- NZ Herald

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