Avengers (MCU)

AVENGERS ASSEMBLE (aka MARVEL'S THE AVENGERS) (12)
D: Joss Whedon
Paramount/Marvel (Kevin Fiege)
USA 🇺🇸 2012
137 mins

Adventure/Science Fiction/Fantasy

W: Joss Whedon [based on characters from Marvel's comic book series]
DP: Seamus McGarvey
Ed: Jeffrey Ford & Lisa Lassek
Mus: Alan Silvestri
Pd: James Chinlund
Cos: Alexandra Byrne

Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanov/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Tom Hiddlestone (Loki), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)

It's like the party of the year, and everyone's been invited.
What writer/director Joss Whedon has done here is blended all the elements of what makes a great summer blockbuster successful without compromising characters, a good story or shitting over the fans of the original franchises- it was a tough ask too, considering this movie contained characters from several.
All the action set pieces were a marvel to behold without distracting with gratuitous, dizzying pyrotechnics, flashy camera movements and relentless editing.
This movie works as an apex to all the recent Marvel movies (Iron Man, Captain America, The Incredible Hulk, Thor) but can also be appreciated as a standalone movie, with the four superheroes joining an allegiance to defeat the otherworldly army of the mischievious, power-hungry Loki (it helps if you've seen Thor or are familiar with the comic book characters, but it's not wholly essential).
Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth and others all return to reprise their roles from the previous films, but it was a real catch casting Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk. He nailed the character perfectly and without doubt delivers the most faithful portrayal of the character on the big screen thus far. It's also good to see a realistic CGI Hulk following the rather disappointing incarnations in the previous films.
A sequel was inevitable, and rightly so, the superhero subgenre, especially of Marvel characters is hot property for Hollywood, and for all the right reasons. Not to be mixed up with 1998's The Avengers!
8/10

Avengers Assemble
Avengers Assemble
Did You Know:
Robert Downey, Jr. kept food hidden all over the lab set, and apparently nobody could find where it was, so they just let him continue doing it. In the movie, that's his actual food he's offering, and when he was eating, it wasn't scripted, he was just hungry.

Award Wins & Nominations:


MILSTEAD MOVIE AWARDS:

Wins: 1 (Best Visual Effects)

Nominations: 4 (Best Picture; Best Production Design; Best Sound; Best Sound Effects Editing)


OSCARS:

Wins: none

Nominations: 1 (Best Visual Effects)


BAFTAS

Wins: none

Nominations: 1 (Best Visual Effects)


OTHER WINS:

Saturn Awards (Best Science Fiction Film, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Best Special Effects); Annie Awards (Best Animated Effects); Golden Schmoes (Best Special Effects, Best Action Scene, Most Memorable Scene, Best T&A); Hollywood Film Awards (Best Visual Effects); Hollywood Post Alliance (Outstanding Compositing); Hugo Awards (Best Dramatic Presentation); IGN Awards (Best Movie, Best Director, Best Comic Book Movie, Best Blu-Ray); INOCA (Best Visual Effects); Internet Film Critics (Best Action Film); MTV Movie Awards (Best Movie, Best Villain, Best Fight); People's Choice Awards (Best Superhero); SFX Awards (Best Film, Best Director); Teen Choice Awards (Choice Summer Movie: Action/Adventure, Choice Summer Movie Star - Male);  Visual Effects Society (Outstanding Created Environment, Outstanding Models); World Stunt Awards (Best Fight, Best High Work, Hardest Hit)


AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON (12)

D: Joss Whedon

Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)

USA 🇺🇸 2015

141 mins


Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure


W: Joss Whedon [based on characters from Marvel's comic book series]

DP: Ben Davis

Ed: Jeffrey Ford & Lisa Lassek

Mus: Brian Tyler & Danny Elfman

PD: Charles Wood

Cos: Alexandra Byrne


Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark/Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanov/Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton / Hawkeye), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes/War Machine), Aaron Taylor-Johnson (Pietro Maximoff/Quicksilver), Elizabeth Olson (Wanda Maximoff/Scarlet Witch), Paul Bettany (voice of J.A.R.V.I.S./Vision), James Spader (Ultron), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury)


The Superman IV of the Marvel films.                  

Actually, that's not at all fair, the production values, visual effects and action set pieces are every bit as good as previous films from the Marvel universe, it's just the story that's complete hodgepodge.

As with the previous films, it's absolutely imperative that all previous films are watched in chronological order as they all follow off one another. 

The story sees Tony Stark, in a cross between playing God and fighting his own demons, toy with something he doesn't understand in order to put a powerful force field around the Earth to protect it from events in the first film from happening again. Things go wrong and Stark's own software becomes corrupted, resulting in a team of metal soldiers bringing about the threat of apocalypse.

It's best not to think about the story, which is a complete mishmash of nonsense, and focus merely on the string of action set pieces, put together with state-of-the-art computer effects and timely choreography.

Unlike the 2012 film, this does try to cram in far too much information and way too many characters. It feels like a house party where everyone is vying for attention, but all you really want to do is have a few beers in the kitchen. 

The Avengers films really need to be a main event in the Marvel series of films, but this still feels much like a sideshow, preparing things for the next in the series rather than being a standalone movie of its own.

6/10


Avengers: Age of Ultron
Avengers: Age of Ultron
Did You Know:
Scarlett Johansson was pregnant during filming, so many of her scenes were scheduled early in filming before she began to show. To help hide her pregnancy later in filming, three stunt doubles were hired. This caused a lot of confusion amongst the other actors since, according to them, all of the stunt women looked very similar to Johansson. Chris Evans stated that it got to the point where he would say hello and start a conversation with one of them only to realize midway that the person he was talking to wasn't Johansson. Ultimately, some scenes used CGI to hide Johansson's belly.

Award Wins & Nominations:


MILSTEAD MOVIE AWARDS:

Wins: none

Nominations: 1 (Best Sound)


OSCARS:

Wins: none

Nominations: none


BAFTAS

Wins: none

Nominations: none


OTHER WINS:

Saturn Awards (Best Costume Design); Annie Awards (Outstanding Animated Effects); Teen Choice Awards (Choice Scene Stealer)


AVENGERS: INFINITY WAR (12)

D: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)

USA 🇺🇸 2018

149 mins


Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure


W: Christopher Marcus & Stephen McFeely [based on characters from Marvel's comic book series]

DP: Trent Opaloch

Ed: Jeffrey Ford & Matthew Schmidt

Mus: Alan Silvestri

PD: Charles Wood

Cos: Judianna Makovsky


Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner / Hulk), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow), Benedict Cumberbatch (Doctor Strange), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes / War Machine), Tom Holland (Peter Parker / Spider-Man), Chadwick Boseman (T'Challa / Black Panther), Paul Bettany (Vision), Elizabeth Olsen (Wanda Maximoff / Scarlet Witch), Josh Brolin (Thanos), Chris Pratt (Peter Quill / Star Lord), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Vin Diesel (Groot), Dave Bautista (Drax), Zoe Saldana (Gamora)


**SPOILER WARNINGS**

Celebrating the 10 year anniversary of the Marvel Cinematic Universe comes this 19th film since 2008's Iron Man set the franchise on its money-spinning way, amassing a gargantuan cast of characters for this comic book adventure. 

The story picks up from the strands from many of the films which precludes it, particularly the first two Avengers movies, the two Guardians Of The Galaxy films and the third Thor movie, but it would be incredibly beneficial to have seen all 18 Marvel movies leading up to this one, so you know exactly where the story is.  It probably would be accessible to watch this as a standalone film, but I wouldn't recommend it.

Directors Anthony & Joe Russo do an excellent job amassing the cast, just as they did with Captain America: Civil War, and though the film has a trio of main storylines, it's not difficult to follow.

The plot concerns our superheroes trying to prevent bad guy Thanos from claiming all six infinity stones, which he plans to place in his weaponised gauntlet to become the most powerful being in the universe, a nefarious plan which will culminate in the demise of half the population of all planets.

The action begins straight away, with Thanos attacking the refugees of Asgard to claim the Space Stone, hidden inside the Tesseract which Loki smuggled away before his home planet's destruction. 

The Avengers then amass, even collaborating with the Guardians of The Galaxy to prevent Thanos from claiming the remaining stones, which will allow him to control time, souls and minds, as well the universe in its entirety.

For fans of superhero movies and the MCU in particular, this will be everything they want and more, and even if you're not a huge fan of comic-book movies this is still an amazing show, with state of the art visual effects which deserve to be seen on the big screen (the bigger the better, and preferably in 3D).

There are a few plotholes if you look deep enough, some of the major characters are relegated to mere comic-relief and some of the humour doesn't quite marry up with some of the bleaker moments. The cliffhanger ending also seems like a cynical trap to ensure that the audience return for the next film (released in 2019), but this is every bit worth the price of an admission ticket and is the definitive popcorn event movie of 2018's summer, proved by the financial return over its opening weekend, where it broke all records.

I'd say 75% of this movie is the best superhero movie ever, but the closing scene does leave you high and dry & makes you feel like you've just witness a two & a half hour trailer for the next Avengers film.

8/10


Avengers: Infinity War
Avengers: Infinity War
Did You Know:
Tom Holland was not allowed to read the script for this movie, since he revealed too many secrets for Spider-Man: Homecoming (qv). Mark Ruffalo has also admitted that he was given a fake script, so he wouldn't reveal anything in promotional interviews prior to filming.

Award Wins & Nominations:


MILSTEAD MOVIE AWARDS:

Wins: 1 (Best Visual Effects)

Nominations: 4 (Best Picture; Best Director; Best Film Editing; Best Sound)


OSCARS:

Wins: none

Nominations: 1 (Best Visual Effects)


BAFTAS

Wins: none

Nominations: 1 (Best Visual Effects)


OTHER WINS:

Austin Film Critics (Best Motion Capture Performance); ACCA (Best Visual Effects, Best Stunt Ensemble); Denver Film Critics (Best Visual Effects); Gold Derby Awards (Best Visual Effects); Golden Schmoes (Best Movie, Best Sci-Fi Movie, Best Director, Best Supporting Actor, Coolest Character of the Year, Best Line, Scene of the Year, Best Special Effects, Best Poster, Best Trailer, Best DVD/Blu-Ray); Hollywood Film Awards (Best Visual Effects); Hollywood Post Alliance (Best Visual Effects); Kids Choice Awards (Best Film); Los Angeles Online Critics (Best Visual Effects, Best Animated / Visual Effects Performance); Nevada Film Critics (Best Visual Effects); OFTA (Best Visual Effects); St Louis Film Critics (Best Visual Effects); Teen Choice Awards (Choice Movie - Action, Choice Actor - Action, Choice Actress - Action); Visual Effects Society (Outstanding Visual Effects, Outstanding Animated Character, Outstanding Effects Simulations, Outstanding Compositing); Washington DC Film Critics (Best Motion Capture Performance)


AVENGERS: ENDGAME (12)

D: Anthony Russo & Joe Russo

Disney/Marvel (Kevin Feige)

USA 🇺🇸 2019

181 mins


Science Fiction/Fantasy/Adventure


W: Christopher Markus & Stephen McFeely [based on characters from Marvel's comic book series]

DP: Trent Opaloch

Ed: Jeffrey Ford & Matthew Schmidt

Mus: Alan Silvestri

PD: Charles Wood & John Plas

Cos: Judianna Makovsky


Robert Downey, Jr. (Tony Stark / Iron Man), Chris Evans (Steve Rogers / Captain America), Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner / Hulk), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Scarlett Johansson (Natasha Romanoff / Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Clint Barton / Hawkeye), Don Cheadle (James Rhodes / War Machine), Paul Rudd (Scott Lang / Ant-Man), Bradley Cooper (Rocket), Karen Gillan (Nebula), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Brie Larson (Carol Danvers / Captain Marvel), Josh Brolin (Thanos)


***SPOILER WARNING***

The fourth Avengers movie and 22nd in the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a close to many various story threads which have developed since Iron Man first came to cinema screens in 2008.

It goes without saying that it's of the utmost importance to have seen the vast majority of the films which preceded it, particularly the previous Avengers chapter (Infinity War), since the events in this film follow on directly from it.

It's a film which simply cannot be critiqued without spoilers, not just for the film itself, but for other films in the Marvel series, so if you haven't seen this (or others), go treat yourself to many hours of viewing and then come back...

As previously mentioned, Endgame begins where Infinity War ends, with Thanos having executed his plan to halve the entire population of the universe, including many characters from the MCU, leaving Tony Stark & Nebula stranded in space as the other superheroes who survived reflect upon their failures to prevent the demise of the world.

As hinted in the post-credit scene of the previous film, Captain Marvel arrives to join the ensemble to exact their revenge. 

The story then jumps ahead to five years later, and the survivors are still coming to terms with the loss and picking up the pieces, Steve Rogers holding support groups for those who lost a love one, while Tony Stark has settled down with Pepper Potts to be a family man.

However, Ant-Man reemerges from his quantum realm prison (from the end of Ant-Man & The Wasp) to the horror of what's happened, tracks down the remaining Avengers and explains that while five years have passed for them, only five hours have passed for him, setting in motion a time-travel plan which only really works if you don't think about it too much. The Avengers then assemble to carry out a "time heist", where they plan to capture each of the Infinity Stones prior to Thanos obtaining them, bringing them into their present and undoing 'the snap' without causing a time-travel paradox.

This time travel plot device allows the main characters to return to locations and battles from previous films, revisiting characters who have since passed and providing a nostalgic element to fit in with the fan service which this film provides in abundance, setting up a final stand with Thanos which is probably the finest battle ever to come to a head in a superhero movie.

The film clocks in at just over 3 hours, but there isn't a single scene to be cut or narrative to be tightened, as it ties up several loose ends and provides closure for some of the bigger characters from the 22 MCU movies up to this point. It's more than fair to say that this is very much for the fans, and unless you've invested time in watching all the previous movies, you're not going to feel very rewarded from this one.

As someone who enjoyed the majority of the previous films, I think this was a great way to close the saga, but with the production rights under Disney's remit, it's obviously going to keep going until it's not longer profitable. Personally, I think you can only have so much of a good thing.

There are a couple of plot holes or story threads left quite not explained, but these won't really bother you if you don't let them, while Thor & Hulk have pretty much been relegated to comic relief parts as Iron Man & Captain America take the steering wheel. Again, it's not that bothersome since they are arguably the biggest characters in the franchise (they're certainly the two who kicked the whole thing off).

Overall, the film does a great job juggling so many characters and storylines, as well as getting the balance of humour and action just about right, as well as bringing new characters into the fold but not at the expense of the original members.

I suppose the biggest question is: where does it go from here? Personally, I think this is where it should have all ended. I guess, ultimately, time will tell.

8/10


Avengers: Endgame
Avengers: Endgame
Did You Know:
Robert Downey Jr. was the only cast member who was entrusted with the entire film's script. 
This was to prevent any story leaks to the press, which had inadvertently happened with Infinity War.