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Film Friday: 'Avengers' movie succeeds despite shortcomings

News From Bree

Apr 26 2012, 8:52pm

Post #1 of 7 (790 views)
Film Friday: 'Avengers' movie succeeds despite shortcomings Can't Post

Joss Whedon gets group dynamics. He knows how to play characters and personalities off one another for maximum drama and humor because he understands his protagonists. One minute he has audiences laughing at situations or dialog that both draws from and adds to his characters (rather than handing over jokes that demonstrate how clever the writer is) and moments later he pushes crowds close to tears with indelible moments, also based on the people in the story.

The Avengers movie plays to his strengths with its array of gods, monsters and playboys. Among the menagerie, he even manages to make acceptable characters out of Scarlet Johansen’s Black Widow, making her much more than the token hot woman in leather. With Whedon’s gift at female characters, perhaps this group could use a Wasp or a Scarlet Witch down the road. Or maybe a She-Hulk.

Even without the director’s guiding hand, Marvel Studios has delivered on the seemingly impossible. In a comic book, unrestraint by budgets, its easy to throw characters together and create an all-star team. But to take blockbuster franchise films and stir them all together where budgets and egos can get it the way, is something of a miracle. But Whedon takes the thrilling premise and delivers charm and dimensional characters with conflict and big battles. The talent seems to have bought in, doubtless helped by knowing the plan from the beginning, and the ultimate superhero teams comes alive.

But for a movie with such ambition and such success on many levels, it is mystifying that some of the details were completely overlooked. The opening sequence is of such B-movie quality that it takes several minutes to let go of it and feel assured that the film isn’t going to be a nightmare of cheese.

The alien-race villains are one-note-evil conspiring with Loki (Tom Hiddleston), god of mischief and brother to one of our heroes Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to invade earth. Why? Because he wants to and because he wants more power and because he gets a glowing staff and especially just because. The alien sound like they bought their voices at K-Mart in the villain department and their costumes are such generic Hollywood creatures that it is jarring against the rest of the film. (While I am picking on design, Captain America’s new outfit is also terrible — a disaster.)

There is the tall order of making characters like bow-and-arrow specialist Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow and even super soldier Captain America seem relevant next to characters seemingly out of their league such as Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man and Mark Ruffallo’s Hulk. This works to some degree but not without a sense that tasks were invented to keep some characters busy.

It also boggles the mind that top scientists can develop clean power and flying battleships but poor Steve Rodgers must constantly re-hang his punching bags because nobody can make him a chain that doesn’t break during workouts. This works nicely as a parallel for the film. Top minds put together a dynamic group of super-powered protagonists and then populate the battlefield with life-size cutouts waiting to be pushed over. How does this happen? And despite every effort, there just really isn’t any sense that anything the lower-tier fighters do is of any use at all in the final showdown, even against the cardboard.

The obligatory climactic conflict has problems as well but the theme is the same: The aliens aren’t a realized enough threat to feel like more than punching bags for Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. The charm and character are enough to save the day for the film, but it’s a pity the day needed saving at all. (And, the trailer took too many of the best visuals.)

On the plus side, just like comic book Hulk stories, the character works best as a co-star or a guest and this Hulk movie, free from the burden of holding up the story as a mindless brute, is better than the previous titular ones. Edward Norton would have been a nice touch of continuity though.

All the best moments of the film are heroic character interactions and there is enough great stuff here that the weaknesses will be and should be overlooked by a lot of viewers. It still seems a miracle that a movie like this exists at all for a comic company that divided its menagerie among studios.

Some will point out that the alien aspect of the show was a set up for the reveal at the end of the initial cast credits and while the grin displayed there brought one to my face as well, it isn’t nearly enough of an excuse. Accidentally viewed in 3D, this is a conversion that negatively impacts the viewing experience by making it dingy and less vibrant. Be sure to view it without glasses if possible.


Apr 27 2012, 2:34pm

Post #2 of 7 (603 views)
you bring up a problem I have with most of these movies [In reply to] Can't Post

"Rule the world"? Seriously, that's the villain's goal? Actually it makes far more sense in this case, when the villain actually is a demigod and might be up to the job (after all his stepdad does just that). But when it's a human, usually their one power is brilliance, and you'd think a smart guy would be able to look at history and see what happens to every single dictator or conquerer who used force to get power.

I thought the Lex Luthor of the first Chris Reeve Superman film was entirely believable. He intended to wreak a specific amount of havoc 1. because he could and every boy likes blowing things up, and 2. it would garner him billions so he could do whatever else he wanted. But he had no interest in ruling people.

Revenge, on the other hand, is an entirely believable motive for a villain, and of course Loki would go after Thor's girlfriend's world. Did they not play that up?

There's a picture of Joss directing Chris Hemsworth in full Thor getup, and Chris is saying "The hammer is my what?" Dr. Horrible fans everywhere are ROFL.

The way we imagine our lives is the way we are going to go on living our lives.

- James Hillman, Healing Fiction

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NARF and member of Deplorable Cultus since 1967

(This post was edited by Annael on Apr 27 2012, 2:35pm)

The Shire

Apr 28 2012, 2:12am

Post #3 of 7 (567 views)
Like you said... [In reply to] Can't Post

Ruling the world makes perfect sense in this case. It's not like Loki just wants to take over the world because he's some evil guy with big ambitions or something like that. He wants to rule earth because he's jealous of Thor getting his own kingdom and thinks earth and our weakling race of humans is an easy place to subjugate and call his own.


Apr 28 2012, 12:57pm

Post #4 of 7 (613 views)
Tom Hiddleston [In reply to] Can't Post

who plays Loki, said about Loki's goal "He's like any of the villains in human history you know. It all comes down to the lack of self-esteem." and I think that works in this scenario. I don't understand why human characters would ever want to rule the world - that's just so vague, and there'd be a lot of work involved!

Kelly of Water's Edge

Apr 28 2012, 2:34pm

Post #5 of 7 (555 views)
What I thought was interesting about the Thor movie [In reply to] Can't Post

was that it started off with Loki being at least half right. Thor as he was at the beginning of the movie wasn't fit to rule an anthill. As the movie progressed the situation completely flipped, with Loki loosing it after his discovery that he wasn't a biological Asgardian and Thor growing into someone who became worthy of leadership through his interaction with humans. The tragedy, of course, is that Loki didn't see the change in Thor or hear his family trying to get through to him that they loved him and it made no difference to them that he was adopted.

Grey Havens

Apr 30 2012, 9:47pm

Post #6 of 7 (561 views)
the "Amy Nicholson Effect" - comments gone wild [In reply to] Can't Post

Amy Nicholson (editor of Boxoffice magazine) published an Avengers review giving it 3 of 5 stars, mostly because it could have done so much more. She listed a number of positive points. When Rotten Tomatoes picked it up, they translated the 60% as 'Rotten' -- and Amy has been vilified in hundreds of comments, many by people who can't have seen the movie yet.

Now her review may have missed the boat (I am not a professional critic, nor have I seen the film). What is making this story newsworthy is the intensity, misogyny, and virulence of the responses. People have hoped that she dies in a fire or kills herself; they have accused her of sleeping her way into her job (she *is* the boss), trolling for hits, accepting money from RT or DC Comics, being all sorts of four-letter and five-letter words based on her sex, etc.

News articles from the Philippine Sun to the UK Guardian have criticized the criticism. Amy was at CinemaCon when the controversy broke and has elected (wisely IMHO) to avoid reading the RT comments. The one I find most hurtful claims that her daddy bought her degree, when in fact he died young and she had to put herself through school (two BAs and an MA). She's a National Merit Scholar, is a member of LAFCA, has been a critic for 10 yrs, votes for Academy Awards, and in many other ways has good credentials.

I hope and trust that anyone in the TORn family knows how to play fair and to criticize another's work or opinion without making personal attacks. Thanks for listening.


"I shall not wholly fail if anything can still grow fair in days to come."

Sr. Staff

May 1 2012, 11:18am

Post #7 of 7 (600 views)
Really interesting [In reply to] Can't Post

I wonder why people feel such a need to have somebody agree with them. Who cares if a critic liked it? It will make a lot of money and generate sequels.

I did enjoy the film a lot but there was plenty of content to criticize. Fans are going to miss the flaws because of the joys that are there, but attacking a reviewer on a personal level because of her opinion is deplorable.

Thanks for informing.

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