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Avengers Assemble (AF)

10/10

Stars: Robert Downey Jr, Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L Jackson, Jeremy Renner, Gwyneth Paltrow, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Clark Gregg, Powers Boothe, Jenny Agutter, Stan Lee. Voices: Paul Bettany, Lou Ferrigno

Director: Joss Whedon

OK, I admit it. I went to see Avengers Assemble hoping to find fault. And why was that? Surely not a very commendable attitude for a reviewer?

And the reason for this disgracefully surly approach? Simple.

I paid to see the film, an action designed to earn me the derision of those fellow critics for whom the concept of paying to see a movie would be total anathema. Fortunately I have an excuse for my callow betrayal of all ethical critical criteria. I have been unwell and so missed all the free screenings.

That explained, I can now say I signally failed to dislike Whedonís ingenious action-replete saga of the band of Marvel superhuman heroes brought together by S.H.I.E.L.D.ís Jackson to save the Earth from villainous god Hiddleston whose brother Thor, again athletically played by Hemsworth, is one of the Marvel gang who finally bury their differences and save Mankind from Hiddleston and his invading metal army.

It turned out to be terrific entertainment and very well worth paying for. Indeed, I would pay to see it again and I canít think of any higher praise.

Whedon and Pennís screenplay rarely relaxes and cleverly combines genuinely thrilling and inventive action sequences with entertaining acid comic one-liners which arise naturally from character and situation rather than being imposed, sitcom style, on the storyline. Key performances emerge with credit from the welter of impressive special effects. Even Johansson, whose hair and figure have always struck me as better than her acting, does well (with invaluable help from her stunt doubles). And itís to the credit of all concerned that nobody is upstaged by magnificent movie magic.

If you like your superheroes, including the Incredible Hulk (Ruffalo splendid before and after muscle-raising rage outbreaks) and Captain America (Evans), served up hot, steaming and in fine fettle, Avengers Assemble definitely delivers.

And even if celluloid superheroes arenít usually to your taste, I still recommend this as a splendid genre piece that easily extends well beyond genre parameters and does it really well.

Alan Frank

USA 2012. UK Distributor: Paramount. Colour.
142 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 12A.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 0, Violence/Horror 2, Drugs 0, Swearing 0.

Review date: 28 Apr 2012