Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Awe-inspiring assemblage

No stranger to Marvel comic books and epic storytelling, director-writer Joss Whedon unleashes a grand yet still very accessible film that brings together a number of iconic superheroes and antiheroes. The much-anticipated comic book movie “The Avengers” can finally be seen in Philippine cinemas today (starting with midnight screenings at select cineplexes), over a week before the US release.

Running at two hours and a little over 20 minutes, “The Avengers” creatively elaborates on the shared universe introduced in key and extra post-credits scenes from previous Marvel offerings “Iron Man,” “Captain America,” "Hulk,” and “Thor.” 

Whedon cleverly connects those characters (played by Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo and Chris Hemsworth, respectively), and previously established SHIELD operatives Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Gathered into a formidable fighting force, the Avengers set out to foil a scheme co-organized by fallen Asgradian prince Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and some mysterious figures.

It’s characteristically witty. Whedon certainly knows how to play with an assortment of personalities, giving the hesitant teammates precious dynamics and enjoyable banter. Like the huge casts of his previous TV and comic book projects, the Avengers are still given ample space to breathe, each of them given moments to shine and to relate to other characters.

While it doesn’t have the pathos or poignancy of last year’s “X-Men: First Class,” it still has profundity; every character’s heroism or purpose is questioned and examined. It’s a simple adventure with complex characters, and they become a spirited team quite organically. “The Avengers” is a big action flick, too, impressing with its thunderous barrage of explosions and fisticuffs without losing its sense of humor. 

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