02 September 2012

The Avengers review

This was the summer blockbuster movie that I missed out on this year when it hit the cinema. Or rather I was very reluctant to go see it because it was in 3D and by the time I considered going it had been pulled from the theater's. People I knew were super excited about it, while I was on the fence considering the movies that had been released over the past few years in order to build up the knowledge about these characters.

I thought the first half of Captain America was amazing, the second half silly and plain boring to be honest. Never saw Thor because the concept wasn't interesting (and it looked goofy). I saw the first Iron Man movie and actually enjoyed it. Never saw any of the recent Hulk movies because they were torn to pieces by critics and I didn't have money to spend on trash.

So essentially I went into this movie with the knowledge of who each character was but not really having any of their "back story" movies in the back of my head. My friend Patrik said that I would hate it, because I am a film snob, that's not really true as I can enjoy stuff like The Rock, Con Air, Predators and other movies that are about the action and less about the story as well. What I can't stand are movies that fail to deliver what they promise or just end up being a half assed attempt (Battle Los Angeles), movies that are outright dumb and only after your money (Battleship) or movies that have a great premise and potential and just choose to waste it on really dated low brow political humor (Iron Sky).

So the Avengers, obviously, is more of a spectacle of costumed heroes kicking ass. It does not have Shawshank Redemption plot, the plot of this movie could probably fit on the back of a pack of matches. Doesn't mean it should suck, Rambo 4 was basically about shredding people to pieces with a .50 cal and I thought it was the best Rambo movie in the series (and action movie in a long while).

The problem with these kinds of movies in general, where you have a group of characters, is that some are very interesting and steal a lot of time, while others are dull fillers that just chime in with a clever comment every 25 minutes only to disappear into the background again. I think The Avengers, handle the ensemble thing quite well - with the exception for Jeremy Renner's character perhaps.

The action is also quite good BUT, it is seriously flawed if you are after something more than just harmless explosions. With the amount of shit blowing up, and probably thousands of people getting killed, the only blood you see in this movie is when Thor gets a nosebleed after getting punched in the face in a fight with Iron Man. There is ZERO sense of danger about anything going on, the shootouts, explosions, collapsing buildings, alien invaders etc.

And here is perhaps what became the biggest and most positive surprise of the movie for me, Scarlett Johansson’s character (Black Widow) and the performance of the actress herself came off a lot better than anyone elses. And I'm not talking about "performance" in the terms of lingering camera shots of Johansson’s ass. The scenes with her and the Hulk were really the only ones that I felt that someone could get killed or felt that the scenes conveyed a sense of danger.

And I don't necessarily need people getting torn limb from limb on screen to get my fix, but there really was an amazing lack of suspense in the action scenes. Everything was so easy. No one even broke a sweat in the final fight.

The pacing of the movie is also very weird, there are some really good scenes in the beginning when they are rounding up the "gang" of heroes - once again scenes with Black Widow and the Hulk are the best. Then pretty much nothing happens for what feels an hour, and suddenly you have this big battle that lasts something like 25 minutes. The main villain, Loki, just comes off as someone else’s bitch from the start. So you can't feel threatened by him, or take him seriously, he's clearly a puppet and his master plan is really bland. There is one scene between Loki and Iron Man when they try to intimidate each other talking about who's got who in his army - just doesn't work.There is another "oh so funny" scene with Loki and the Hulk where you just realize that no one cares anymore.

A much better scene, once again involving Black Widow, is shown earlier during the movie when she talks to Loki about his plan. There at least his character feels authentic and you can buy that he is the main villain of the movie and not some henchmen that gets pushed down an elevator shaft halfway through the second act.

It's a really mixed bag, the characters that are more low key, like Black Widow and the Hulk are a lot more interesting and are given better material to work with than the poster boys of this movie - Iron Man, Captain America and Thor. If the action had been a tad more serious and shown some consequence (not going to count the red-shirt agent  getting killed and the lame "motivation" he supposedly provided) it would have been a better movie. Now it just comes off as a PG-13 kids superhero movie, that to me is neither bad enough to be crap nor good enough to be great.

With all the bits of Black Widow's back story and the way the character was presented and worked in the Avengers, I'm actually looking forward to seeing the Black Widow movie more than the Avengers 2.

7/10. It's OK, but compared to more serious superhero movies like X-men, X-men first class, The Crow, Watchmen or Nolan's Batman movies this movie is lacking concern for the main characters, sense of real danger in the action, and a good main villain.

3 comments:

  1. Overall, the movie was entertaining. There was some funny slapstick moments like Hulk slapping around Loki like a rag doll and when the Hulk punched Thor after he tells him thanks. Very Hulk like...

    Most of the past Hulk movies have been meh....good or bad I watched them...slowly they have been getting better but this movie I think captured the comic Hulk best.

    Thor was a sleeper movie, we went in expecting campy and goofy. Oddly it was well done, had a good amount of comedy and setup the Avengers movie well.

    Iron man never has disappointed and my buddy and I love RD Jr....

    as for Cap, the movie was good, but was the same ole story with a black Nick Fury. That part bothered both of us when we talked about the movie later. Marvel shifting Fury to a black guy was just dumb to change a brand after all these years so they could give a movie role to Jackson. Sadly WW2 in a historical fact was still racist vs black people still among Americans (duh, it was well before MLK, the millino mile march and so forth that really gave them equel rights).

    The ending to the Avengers setting up the next villain was very cool (don't want to spoil this for those that have not seen it).

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  2. I though X-men if anything felt worse than this. It had its good bits but so much just didn't make sense. This movie at least has the excuse of being rated for a younger audience. With that in mind I think this is one of the better superhero movies out there, looking on it as an ensemble action film.

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  3. I have to agree though about Loki, he had a 'silly' scene one too many times. They establish he's dangerous by having him smash SHIELD up at the start of the movie and even overpowering Cpt. America just to have any worthiness destroyed in that scene with the Hulk.

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