Monday, December 09, 2013

The Avengers

            And so, I finally get around to reviewing The Avengers. [For my reviews of all the movies leading into The Avengers, see: Iron Man, Iron Man 2, Captain America, Thor, and The Incredible Hulk (I think The Incredible Hulk is still in continuity, right?)]

            Like a lot of people, before this movie came out I was pessimistic about how well it would manage to successfully juggle all the balls that it needed to keep in the air.  And, like a lot of people, I was pleasantly surprised to see that the movie pulled it off.
            The AVclub puts it very well:

Since making an Avengers movie requires lining up so many moving pieces in an orderly row, it’s something of an accomplishment that The Avengers even exists. But beyond that logistical nightmare is the double agenda the film has to serve, advancing the stories of the individual characters as begun in previous films while telling a coherent, self-contained story. Factor in another wave of Marvel movies and an inevitable sequel, and that agenda gets even more complicated. All of which raises the question: Is there room for any movie within this Avengers movie?  Decidedly, yes. Written and directed by Buffy The Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon, The Avengers is big but graceful, carefully balancing small character moments with action scenes that stretch from the New York pavement to the sky and beyond.

            Other than that, I don’t have a lot to say.  It worked well as a streamlined story, and worked well as an action flick.

            I do, however, have a few notes:
* I’m about 18 months late in writing up this review, but I originally saw this movie in the theaters, in the 3D release.  The theatrical release of this film loses one point for being in unnecessary 3D. 
            (Since 3D has historically always come in fades—being popular for a few years, and then disappearing again for a couple decades—I’ll be very glad when this current fade ends.  I’m getting sick of paying inflated ticket prices for 3D glasses that have someone else’s fingerprints all over them, and that keep sliding down my nose, and that give me a headache.  If the movie has some sort of reason for being in 3D, like specific shots designed to take advantage of the 3D technology, I’ll forgive it.  But if it’s just blatantly in 3D for no reason at all other than to charge higher ticket prices at the theater, then I’m not happy.)

* I originally saw this movie in the theater with a group of friends.  One of them, a girl, wasn’t a big fan of extended action sequences, but before the movie started she said hopefully: “I’ve heard this movie is alright actually.  People say it’s really more of a comedy movie than anything else, with just some action thrown in.”
            After the movie finished, I said to her, “Well, that movie was actually the reverse of what you predicted, wasn’t it?  It was just one long action sequence, with occasionally a joke thrown in.”
            She nodded, with a tired look on her face.

            As for me, I like action movies.  So if a movie is just non-stop action (as this one pretty much was) it’s no problem for me.  But let the viewer be warned ahead of time.
            (I couldn’t logically explain to anyone why I like action movies.  I can’t even logically explain it to myself.  There must just be something embedded in the male psyche that loves watching other people fight.  So I’ll save the pseudo-psychology for another blog post.  All I can say for now is that whatever the attraction is, it’s not unique to me, or even to my generation.  The history of world literature is based off of a fascination with violence.)

*All that being said—boy, that huge fight at the end was really cool!

* Mark Ruffalo  did an excellent job as the Hulk, but I’m disappointed Edward Norton wasn’t brought back for the role.  Partly because of continuity reasons—it would have tied The Hulk much tightly into the Marvel cinematic universe if they would have used the same actor for the role.
            And, partly I’m disappointed just because I’m a huge Ed Norton fan.  For my money, he’s one of the best actors around.  Think how cool it would have been to have Ed Norton playing against Robert Downey Jr. and the rest of the cast in those airship scenes.
            Of course, I understand that in real life, when you’re juggling a huge franchise like this, actors are going to drop out or become unavailable for some reason or another, so to a certain extent replacing actors will become inevitable.
            But that’s not what happened here.  Edward Norton wanted to come back for this role, but the studio rejected him because apparently he was difficult to work with. 
            In my opinion, that was a big mistake.

* As a long time comic book fan, I think its really cool that they’re finally trying to transpose the inter-connected world of comic books into the medium of film.  It will be interesting to see how the franchise develops in the future.

Link of the Day
De-Americanizing the World
and Women at risk as Brunei introduces stoning


Darrell Reimer said...

My reaction was closer to that of your girl friend's. I waited to see the movie at home, which helped me "like" it more than I might have had I devoted travel and extra $$ for the 3D business. Had I done that, I probably would have tilted toward disgust.

Marvel really bollixes the whole 3D thing, don't they? I took a daughter and boyfriend to Captain America, and those slightly tinted glasses helped me catch a few ZZZs at the midway mark. It takes someone pretty extraordinary to make engaging use of 3D, I think. Usually the best directors can only muster a single minute or two that makes effective use of the technology (Disney's Frozen is typical -- saw it in 2D, which was just as well). Cuaron's Gravity is one of the very rare exceptions to this rule. For the most part, I'd rather watch a movie without the burden of those stupid glasses.

Joel said...

Agreed. I am very hopeful that in 5 years time or so 3D will have completely faded out again.