Monday, March 9, 2015

The Avengers (2012) review

    I'm going to reveal something which may remove a substantial portion of my geek credibility: this movie wasn't the be-end-all-of-everything for me. I like it, don't me wrong. I'm even able to rewatch it and be entertained but this review is going to include some criticisms.

    To me, The Avengers came off as a sugar cookie. It was very sweet, I'm glad I ate it, and I  think it had zero nutritional value. If you're the kind of person who says, "but C.T. Phipps, you magnificent bastard, it's just supposed to be entertaining fluff!" then have at it.

    Avengers is like candy for the brain of a Marvel fan who wants to see his favorite heroes punch things while being funny and in-character. It manages to recapture a lot of the thrill from you were a child reading about heroes hitting things with hammers or shields. That, alone is worth an eight out of eight.

    But I don't think of it as the best superhero movie ever.

Now, if only it had Spiderman.
    In some respects, I think the Avengers is a good example of what Justice League: War was a horrific failure at. Specifically, it managed to tell a delightful story which successfully captures the personalities of each character while weaving them together seamlessly.

    It's a great achievement they managed to get a half-dozen movies done to introduce the cast before teaming up, so this is a movie where we know everyone in the way not possible with the movie. Even so, they managed to successfully "introduce" Hawkeye, the Black Widow, and the Incredible Hulk in a way which was more effective than the movies which had done so beforehand.

    More on that later.

    In a weird way, if I'm going to compliment anything about the Avengers movie, it's going to be the portrayal of the Incredible Hulk by Mark Ruffalo. I've mentioned in other posts I had serious issues with the previous Hulk movies. It's not that they were bad, it's just they always missed the mark in portraying the duality. The previous movies acted like Bruce Banner was correct that the Hulk was a dreadful curse when, on a basic level, he should be wrong. The Hulk isn't a curse but a gift. It's just not a gift to Bruce Banner but humanity. Here, we understand why it's a very good thing when Hulk rampages.

    Because some people need smashing.

One of the funniest scenes in the movie. Also, for strictly shallow reasons, she's still a knockout.
    The Black Widow's portrayal also deserves credit as her portrayal as the pseudo-Bethany Cabe (+1 Iron Man point if you get the reference) in Iron Man 2 didn't really have any high points other than spellbinding heterosexual male and homosexual women with Ms. Johansen's beauty. Also, one kickass fight scene lasting a few minutes. Here, we get a sense of her character both in motivation, her special ability (specifically, to get villains to monologue), and her discomfort being a normal human being faced against beings like the Hulk.

    Hawkeye? Okay, he just looks cool.

    The conflict between Iron Man and Captain America forms the basis for much of the movie's dramatic plot, existing primarily from the two individuals not knowing each other very well. It rubbed me the wrong way because Captain America accusing Tony Stark of not being willing to sacrifice himself is silly to anyone who knows he was ready to bankrupt himself to save lives. Likewise, anyone with even a cursory knowledge of the Captain knows his strength comes from his heart rather than the Super Soldier serum.

    It's funny to watch, though.

    Thor doesn't get much to do other than hit things, at least with his fellow teammates. There's a couple of nice moments where we see he wants to redeem his brother but, sadly, Luke Skywalker he is not. Loki's portrayal, by contrast, is a nuanced performance of a man who has been either tortured or brainwashed into complete evil. His use as the Avenger's first villain is a nice nod to the comics and Tom Hiddleston plays the hell out of an otherwise stock role.

The best Hulk ever!
    The Chitauri? Well, they're zombies. At least, in the context of existing solely for the purposes of being punched in the face. I'm sorry we didn't see them surrender at the end rather than what actually happened to them, though. I think that would have been a more superheroic end to the movie, personally, and invoke less plotholes.

    The Avengers special effects, humor, and action are all good. There's even a couple of moving moments like Bruce Banner meeting with a stranger and the lone man willing to stand up to Loki's "the evils of free will" speech. The movie is, however, about there being a bad thing threatening the world and the Avengers punching it. This is a contrast to Iron Man and Captain America: The Winter Soldier. It's even against Thor, which was built on some very strong family dramas and had the evils of genocide even when supported by society.

    Here? It's just fun and that's not bad.


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