Want to know how good the new Avengers Assembly film is? Our man Gavin Miller was at the press launch and gives his verdict on the superhero blockbuster of the year...
Gavin caught up with Robert Downey Jr (Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Tom Hiddleston (Loki), Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Cobie Smulders (Agent Hill) and producer Kevin Feige at the Avengers Assemble press conference at the world-famous Claridge’s Hotel in London . . .
I can’t deny it was a ‘fanboy’ dream.
Being brought up on Star Wars and comic-books, I managed to hob-nob with the stars of Marvel’s latest blockbuster at the Avengers Assemble press conference.
If having seen the film a week before release in the West End wasn’t enough, getting a prime spot at the conference moderated by TV and radio presenter Edith Bowman made sure I met all of the film superheroes in one fell swoop.
Even though two other stars of the film who couldn’t attend – Chris Evans (Captain America) and Samuel L Jackson (Nick Fury) – I’d met them at the Fantastic Four 2 and Jackie Brown conferences previously, giving me a 100 per cent tick list on the Avengers Assemble cast.
I’d done plenty of press conferences before but this was far the largest – boasting 170 journalists from around the world – having reporters from Switzerland and Israel either side of me, to magnify the size of Disney’s superhero ensemble.
Whether it was Downey Jr being the epitome of cool, Johansson a picture of elegance or Hemsworth and Renner providing some comedic quips this proved they were all on the same page when it came to this groundbreaking franchise.
It was left to Mark Ruffalo – who starred as my favourite superhero of all-time in The Hulk – to provided the perfect parting shot as he explained how he came the first person to star as both Bruce Banner and the big green monster via motion-capture and computer-generated special effects.
Fantastic stuff indeed . . . and one I’ll never forget.
I definitely entered this one with a touch of trepidation.
With so many superheroes to cater for – how an earth were they going to appease everyone?
Fortunately my fears were allayed as acclaimed director Joss Whedon (the man behind the likes of Alias and Firefly) has done a top-notch job in providing an epic – if a little flawed – summer blockbuster.
The film is pretty much a game of two halves, the first two-thirds is a decent three-star movie providing the difficult origin story of how The Avengers meet up via Nick Fury’s SHIELD – but it’s the action-packed last half an hour or so that turns into a five-star finale that makes the film.
The set up sees Loki snag the invaluable energy source the ‘Tesseract’ cosmic cube from earth-defending organisation SHIELD – which already boasts Black Widow and Hawkeye – leading to Fury trying to piece together an ensemble of superheroes including Iron Man, Captain America, Thor and The Hulk.
After a slow-paced first part – which could leave non-fans slightly underwhelmed – interspersed with in-fighting and back story, it really does shine as soon as the Hulk is unleashed and he arguably steals the show.
The film gets a bit messy when Loki’s army invades from the outer reaches of space as he aims to conquer the world, but Whedon does well to gel it together with some great action set-pieces and comedy touches to keep it the right side of chaotic – and provides a thoroughly enjoyable thick slice of entertainment.
Downey Jr is exuberantly impressive once again, Ruffalo is the best Bruce Banner yet, and everyone else does what is expected (notching roughly equal screen time) – with arguably Brit actor Hiddleston being the acting pick.
But whatever your reservations, when it comes down to it this is a fan’s dream and there’s nothing like watching Cap’s shield whizz across screen, Thor’s hammer wield lightning and Hawkeye provide pinpoint accuracy with bow and arrow.
As for The Hulk, it looks like Marvel has finally got it right, and in the words of Captain America as he delivers The Avengers team speech: “Hulk . . . smash!”
Just as Whedon has pretty much smashed it with this impressive – though not quite amazing – first Avengers effort. 4/5 Gavin Miller