Neil Fox on film: Marvel Avengers Assemble

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Marvel Avengers Assemble 3D

The thing that worries, scares and disappoints me the most about this film, apart from that horrid, awful, terrible title (just look at it!) is how visually inspired by Transformers and Michael Bay in general it is.

Joss Whedon is usually such a unique voice in culture, as his recent involvement in The Cabin In The Woods attests, so it’s a shame that visually and aurally this is so derivative.

It’s massive and loud and, sadly, lacking a lot of the fun you’d expect. It’s not a bad film throughout. The banter flows and the chemistry between Mark Ruffalo’s Hulk and Robert Downey Jr’s Iron Man is superb.

The story involves Loki, the villain from the Thor franchise, wreaking havoc on Earth and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) is tasked with putting together a team of franchise icons to save the day.

In the gang are the superbly realised Iron Man, Hulk and Captain America (Chris Evans), the badly realised Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and the utterly pointless Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who may work on the comic page but translate really badly and just look out of place in the whole thing, Black Widow in particular.

Some of the action is sublime, some obvious, and the same goes for every aspect of the film. It’s too big, in scale and ambition, to work. Like Spiderman 3 and Iron Man 2, there are too many big characters, none of whom are given enough time to come alive. The result is a fleetingly interesting blockbuster that could and should have been so much more, especially with the talent involved.

Being Elmo

Nothing is going up against Avengers locally. It’s a behemoth for sure, so it gives me a chance to mention a couple of titles playing further afield that are worth venturing out to see.

First up is this beautiful documentary about Kevin Clash, the man who makes Sesame Street’s Elmo one of the most beloved characters in the world.

This is a fantastic look behind the puppetry craft, a celebration of a vanishing, tactile art form that is full of warmth and joy. A perfect antidote to the rampant vacuous celluloid trash that abounds.

Damsels In Distress

All hail the return of Whit Stillman. The brilliant writer/director famed for his magical dialogue and caustic dissections of upper middle class America has been gone a while after The Last Days Of Disco was panned, unfairly.

His return shines a bright, intelligent light across current releases. Starring Greta Gerwig (Greenberg), it tells the story of a trio of girls at college who charge themselves with feminising their college environs by setting up a support group for female students, but their young hormones and insecurities threaten to derail their valiant motives.

Brilliantly written and performed and assuredly delivered, it’s a real joy to see Stillman’s work back where it belongs.