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The Avengers

For nearly 50 years ‘The Avengers’ has been a mainstay for Marvel Comics.  Home of heroes such as Spider-Man and The Hulk the self-proclaimed ‘House of Ideas’ has effectively used this flag-ship title to promote its roster of white knights.  With some finding cinematic success it was a given they’d be grouped together for a heroic mash-up.  That it succeeds is a testament to the longevity of their creator Stan Lee’s vision as their original comic strip panels spectacularly come to life.

 

Wanting a band of super-heroes to protect earth, SHIELD agent Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) creates a lethal team. Consisting of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jnr), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and others, their abilities are soon needed.  When evil God Loki (Tom Hiddleston) reveals a plot to destroy the world, earth’s mightiest heroes assemble to defeat any potential threats to a world they’ve sworn to protect.

 

Whoever had the good sense of hiring Joss Whedon to direct ‘The Avengers’ deserves praise.  Knowing how to create good fantasy as his various productions such as ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ shows, his imaginative abilities are well utilised.  It’s not his handling of the action which impresses – although it’s suitably amazing – it’s his good story sense.  How he manages to bring together such iconic characters and allow each to have their own ‘moment’ is ‘The Avengers’ main asset.

 

In some ways the characters of Thor, Captain American and The Hulk are much better defined in a group setting than their solo outings.  Much of this is due to an excellent script but also the performers who seem more confident in knowing how to play their roles.  They are ably assisted by some stunning CGI although Whedon is careful to balance the necessary character development with the awesome effects.  It’s a fun ride which doesn’t waste a second delivering an eyeful of astounding delights.

 

‘The Avengers’ is a highly entertaining superhero movie showing how good the genre can be.  Stan Lee should feel proud his creations have been well realised and happy knowing they will endure like many of his other virtuous hand-drawn champions.

 

Rating out of 10:  8

The Lucky One

Nicholas Sparks’ romance novels have provided many smiles for Hollywood’s executives.  Crafting love-lorn tales featuring handsome gentlemen and winsome damsels his output has provided plenty of profitable cinematic fodder.  ‘The Lucky One’ is the same as previous works such as ‘The Notebook’ and ‘Dear John’ – the latter sharing many similarities.  Fans of the Mills and Boon-like traumas will no doubt enjoy proceedings even if its story is less than scintillating.

 

Returning from a tour of duty in Iraq, US Marine Logan (Zac Efron) begins a personal mission.  Surviving war-time with the aid of a photo of a woman he doesn’t know, he aims to track her down.  Learning her name is Beth (Taylor Schilling), he gains a job on her family farm in order to be close to her.  Eventually developing a romance, their lives take unexpected turns with the trail towards continual bliss a rocky one.

 

One would have expected more from ‘The Lucky One’ given Scott Hicks’ involvement.  Having directed ‘Shine’ among others, it was hoped his newest venture had more of their emotionally perceptive style.  Sadly it doesn’t as despite the occasional glimpse of his own flair, Hicks seems trapped by the very formulaic screenplay.  Predictable and filled with increasingly preposterous situations it does his reputation no favours.

 

Unfortunately the performers aren’t great with their lack of range highlighting the story’s plot-holes.  Although a ‘marque-name’ Efron’s believability as a traumatised soldier is minimal.  His chemistry with Schilling is non-existent thereby ruining any chance of investing in their characters.  They fail to project a sense of urgency or drive with only the scenery becoming the film’s best aspect.  Their surrounds are wonderfully photographed with a serene lushness and it’s a pity this eye for quality wasn’t given to the script.

 

‘The Lucky One’ is a banal entry in the romance stakes made all the more disappointing by the talent involved.  Neither passionate nor romantically enthralling it earns its place in the ‘movie mediocrity’ Hall of Fame with ease.

 

Rating out of 10:  2