Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB. USA, 2012. Marvel Studios, Paramount Pictures. Story by Zak Penn, Joss Whedon, Screenplay by Joss Whedon. Cinematography by Seamus McGarvey. Produced by Kevin Feige. Music by Alan Silvestri. Production Design by James Chinlund. Costume Design by Alexandra Byrne. Film Editing by Jeffrey Ford, Lisa Lassek. Academy Awards 2012. Phoenix Film Critics Awards 2012.
Imagine the cinematic version of a cereal multi-pak and you have this combination of superhero films that puts some of Marvel’s most popular moneymakers together in an effort to, what else, save the world. The dull plot has Thor’s villain Loki (Tom Hiddleston) descend to our modest earth in the hopes of taking it over with a nuclear device (yes, they hired Joss Whedon as writer and director and he could barely come up with something better than the basest plot from a James Bond film). In an effort to prevent this from happening, the powers that be (mostly in the form of Clark Gregg) put together the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), The Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth, the worst performer of the bunch) among others and set them upon the bad guy. What looks like billions of dollars have been poured into special effects and sets and the money shows up on screen: the film is a dazzling collection of state-of-the-art wizardry helped along by an endlessly appealing cast who all bounce off each other with exceptional ease, but the script lets them down most of the way. Carefully plotted, to a dully contrived extent, the dialogue is rife with unimaginative puns and Whedon barely develops any of the characters, or their relationships, anywhere beyond where they were in their own solo films. What he did so exceptionally well on his popular television shows, using youthful insecurities as fodder for staples of the genres he was working in, is not in evidence here and neither the writing nor direction bear the stamp of his personality under the weight of studio spending. It’s a fan convention of a movie, with lovers of these characters and their previous incarnations bound to have a great time, but for all its heft it leaves one cold. That said, it provides enough entertainment to pass the time, particularly good at indulging in creative action sequences that avoid any self-important attempts to be meaningful or real (though despite that I’d still really like to know how, in the final act, you can destroy that much of New York City in the name of saving it without incurring any civilian casualties).