60 Second Movie Review: The Avengers (2012)
May 25, 2012 6 Comments
When I came out from seeing Joss Whedon’s The Cabin in the Woods a few weeks back, the theater lobby looked like it’d been hit by Occupy. Groups of kids all around, sitting on the floor in expectation, phones out. Turns out that The Avengers was premiering at midnight. I determined to be back as soon as the lines died down…
…which turned out to be last night.
I collected some comics when I was a teenager, but I was a DC guy and never really got into Marvel, although somewhere in my parents’ house are some Todd MacFarlane Spiderman comics that are probably worth a shiny nickel or two. The long term consequences are that I had no idea who some of these characters were. I saw the first Iron Man movie and also Thor, and sure I could recognize Captain America, but I wasn’t certain at first that it’s a superpower for Scarlett Johansson to wear tight leather clothes or for Samuel L. Jackson to wear an eye patch. Then again, that is kind of how I imagine both of them, even when they’re not in The Avengers. So good job casting, folks.
And good job, Joss Whedon, for making a film that outsiders could enjoy. Sure, I realize that their iconic nature makes them easy to accept, but it can’t be easy to mix all those ingredients without it turning to mush. Major superhero films can be about waiting for the big fight scene to start, and Whedon’s script and direction made sure that there was plenty of tension and interest as the characters got introduced.
My major plot critique would be that there isn’t one–or at least not an easily graspable through line. There’s Thor’s brother Loki, who’s evil, and some weird aliens whose names I never understaood and they are angry at Earth for some reason, and then there’s Eye-patch Jackson trying to round up the Avengers and take them up in the air on a flying aircraft carrier, presumably so that there’s a self-contained staging ground for lots of fights and lots of stuff to go wrong. But you know what? I didn’t really care. Each individual scene had enough motivation and patented Whedon banter to keep me going to the next scene.
It’s not a big deal, but I also didn’t buy the Senator at the close who railed against the Avengers for the damage done to the city. As long as we’re in fantasy-world, I’d argue that in the wake of the alien terrorist invasion, private companies will make tons of money building up the so-called security industry and the Republican President will invade a planet which had nothing to do with this actual attack. (At the urging of his vice-president who will make money off of the war, of course.)
If I had read the comic books, I might understand who the bureaucrats are who constantly Skype with Nick Fury. I’m totally impressed with how perfectly in frame they keep during these calls. Whenever I Skype, my cat thinks I’m talking to her, and jumps into the call.
I think there’s a consensus that Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is excellent and I agree. He gives Banner the appropriate dose of sad intelligence, and they do a great job of staging an initial fake-out of him turning green. Then, when he finally does, they don’t drag it out, which is even better. My favorite Whedon-esque dry humor was Captain America’s instructions to the Hulk.
CAPTAIN AMERICA: Hulk — smash.
Just how did they get the Hulk to cooperate in the final scenes? I gather that Banner can go into a semi-controlled rage? That would definitely allow for more plot variation.
The more I think about it, the more I feel that (beyond Whedon) this was a superhero film that succeeded on casting and character. They also managed to make Captain America’s conformity helpful and endearing, and of course Robert Downey Jr. is charm encapsulated. Yeah, it’s not a movie I’m likely to remember in much detail come a year from now, but it was a very satisfying superhero action film, and those are harder to come by than one might expect.
It’s a Wormstache: Loki and why he bothers me
Graphic Policy: Movie Review – The Avengers
The Opinioness of the World: Should We Apply the Bechdel Test to ‘The Avengers’ (Or Any Film For That Matter)? Yes, and Here’s Why