Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Review of The Avengers

"Why, yes, there are seven of us."
So, I finally saw The Avengers on Sunday. Yes, I was a little late.

To be honest, I went in half-expecting this to be over-hyped by every fanboy across the land. I know that Joss Whedon was good with ensemble casts.  And I half expected the film to be a matter of "Here's Robert Downey Jr. and Sam Jackson making snarky remarks with Agent Coulson, Scarlett Johansson will be standing in for Buffy, and there'll be a few other guys."

Then, on the other hand, there was the New York Times review, which can be summed up as follows: "WAAAAAHHHH, this movie was forced upon us by evil Disney executives! This is movie making by corporate fiat!  We hate Summer Movies! And superheroes! And children! And anyone who sees this film is stupid...."

Obviously, I didn't think much about what the Times had to say.

Then I saw the movie.

Damn that was AWESOME.

That's the short version. The longer version .... well, let's go over a few things.

THE PLOT: Loki has gone through some changes since Thor. By the end of the film, he was definitely a little unstable. Here, there's no question. Marbles are missing from the bag. He's struck a deal with an interstellar bad guy, and he has an army on loan from ... someone to be revealed later. He comes to Earth with a philosophy that's heavy on the nihilism, and a plan that's heavy on manipulation (but it's Loki, that's his job). The owner of the army wants the Cosmic Cube (the glowing toy from Captain America: The First Avenger), and with it, they're going to have a little party, just Loki, the evil overlord in the background, and about seven million of his closest, heavily-armed friends.  There's only one thing standing in the way, and that's seven people with some nice costumes, and cool toys.

Everyone gets screen time in this. This is not Iron Man's movie, or Thor's, or Captain America's, or anyone else -- this is about a team. A slightly dysfunctional, occasionally self-destructive, team.  Ignore any review that insists that someone got more screentime than anyone else, or that Captain America, or whatever their favorite character is, got short-changed. Those people are whiny fan-boys/girls who probably can't shut up for five minutes during the movie.

"Enjoy the view. I'm going to hurt you in a minute."
Also ignore anyone who makes a big deal about the back end of Black Widow. While Scarlett Johansson has nice features all around, it wasn't shoved at the audience ... even in her low-cut little black dress, she spends more time kicking ass than showing off her's.

At the end of the day, this film worked. It is an ensemble where everyone's strengths came to the fore. When the shooting starts, Captain America leaps into the fray, giving orders about the deployment of forces, while at the same time fending off seven-foot aliens who are trying to kill him. Thor and the Hulk are heavy hitters. Iron Man is air cavalry, and Hawkeye makes for a spotter. Yes, Hawkeye has screen time in this one. And he is also awesome.

Relatively new member to the franchise is Mark Ruffalo, playing Dr. Bruce Banner. Now, those of you who might be weeping for Ed Norton will stop about three minutes into Ruffalo's performance.  He gets some of the better lines in the movie, and so does the Hulk. Yes, the Hulk was done well.

"I make this look good."
And then there's Loki, who's mightiest ability is the power to piss off everyone he comes in contact with. Much like the last major villain on Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Loki's mind games don't quite work as expected. Tom Hiddleston seems to have studied Loki, and gives the impression that Loki is quite insane, possibly knows it, but is going to enjoy himself anyway. Not to mention that he can get away with making horns look cool.

And, oh, yes, everyone takes a shot at Loki, even the super-powerless, like Black Widow and Hawkeye, get some nice shots in.

Not to mention we also have the cast of the Nick Fury movie already set and raring to go. You'll understand when you see the film.

And the one-liners. You will have to see the movie at least twice. Yes, twice. The second time will be for all the lines you missed on the first viewing.

Some of the better lines?

Captain America: "There's only one God, ma'am, and he doesn't dress like [Loki]"

Agent Coulson: "We make this gun to fight the Destroyer [from Thor]. I don't even know what it does. Let's find out." [He didn't even have to say "Do you feel lucky?"]

Tony Stark to Hawkeye: "Clinch up, Legolas."

Captain America to Hulk. "Hulk .... Smash."

Bruce Banner: "Wanna know my secret? I'm always angry."

And Loki might have the best line in the movie, though it's very contextual, and very spoilery, so I won't.

Oh, and I should probably mention the forty minutes of nonstop blowing up New York's Park Avenue and trashing Grand Central Station. That was fun, too.

How good is this movie? I heard that Joss Whedon had to cut 40 minutes from the theatrical release.  I want to see the full, three hour version.  That's how much I liked it.

Be well.

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