Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers

A man can dream can't he?

I got to be very honest here....the thought of doing an Avengers movie let alone a Joss Whedon helmed one scared the piss out of me. While I don't just outright hate the man I do not mindlessly fall in love with every property he touches either. I like some things he has done, Firefly for example, but not because it was genius or life altering or some other over enthusiastic uber fanboy response. I generally like things that are fun.

Fun, however, is purely subjective to the person going through an experience. I know people who think drinking until blackout drunk on the weekend is 'fun'. I'd call that alcoholism but that is just my opinion. So with that extreme example I want to point out that a person's form of fun varies for the individual.

Interestingly enough I've seen some film reviews that gave this movie a fair review saying it was good but not 'the BEST SUPARHEROEZ MOOVEE EVARR!!!'. And then those same reviewers were flogged about the head and shoulders by rabid packs of bullying fanboys/girls who believe that if their opinion isn't yours then you are wrong.

I say all that in preparation of being flogged. And when the hell did the geeks become the bullies???

The Avengers is by all accounts what should could have been the pinnacle of the super hero genre films. A grand sweeping epic that puts a large group of defined heroes up against unbelievable odds only to have them triumph in the end through sheer guile, determination, creativity and brute strength. What I felt we got was a rather vanilla superhero movie that doesn't take anything to 'the next level' or improves on the genre. That is actually ok by my book because what this movie does is it entertained me for the 2+ hours I sat in the theater and I got my monies worth out of it. Basically I had a fun time.

Cause 'The Avengers' movie is very similar to a bag of Cheetos.


Full of cheesy goodness, loaded with empty calories but worth the price on the bag and you like eating them. In the interest of fairness let's go over the parts that left me cold and then move on to what I enjoyed.
I will post spoilers ahead. Consider yourself warned. 

The Bad

This movie is boring as hell for a good chunk of it. While littered with some funny one liners here and there for a superhero movie, especially a super team movie, there wasn't a hell of a lot of action in this flick (until the last 30 minutes or so). Basically what I'm saying that this movie is kind of bloated with some excessive dialogue that would have been better if the director/writer (you Joss....I'm talking to you...) would have shown it rather than tell. Movie is a visual media and when it comes to comic book flicks I want more action.

I also found Cobie Smulders to be out of place in the movie as Maria Hill.

I mean she looks the part and quite frankly I thought she would do very well with the role. However she seems like a fish out of water for almost every scene she was in. Hill keeps flip flopping between a doe eyed/confused rookie and a badass SHIELD super spy (and heir to Nick Fury's job BTW). I don't know if Cobie was just overwhelmed by the sheer potential scope of this movie or it was weak writing and directing. Maria Hill was a lost character and she shouldn't have ever been.

I also felt there was just a tad bit too much comedy in this movie. I felt it the sheer amount of it was to make sure this movie would appeal to audiences of all ages/gender and thus make it more financially safe for the movie studio to green light. This irritated me a bit because I felt this helped strip out what could have been a more action packed romp. And those movies are sometimes dubbed 'guy movies' and thus don't appeal to a larger demographic most of the time. So yeah I said it....The Avengers felt too 'safe' for me and the excess comedy really made that shine. However that is not the most irritating thing I found in this movie. No...this runs deeper.

THIS! This was the most irritating part of this entire movie. The death of Agent Phil Coulson. Sure people will argue that his death was needed to rally the team in the third act to fight Loki and his intergalactic army. Others will say with hope that it was probably a Life Decoy (robot that looks & acts like person to take his place in dangerous situations). No this was a case of not just BAD writing but a deeper problem which has become a Joss Whedon trope. Joss has an almost sadistic need to needlessly kill a loved character for NO DAMN GOOD REASON. People have noticed but say this makes the man unpredictable? I don't think so....

This is rule #1 Fanboys and Fangirls. Remember this.

The part that floored me about that entire scene and its aftermath is that with Coulson's unwarranted death Joss managed to nerf Nick Fury's character even more so. Tony Stark's mantra since Iron Man 2 has been 'DO NOT TRUST NICK FURY'. So it is not out of the scope of Fury's character (being that he is a SPY, INFORMATION AND RESOURCE MONGER as well as A NOTORIOUS PRICK WHO WILL SAY OR DO ANYTHING TO GET THE JOB DONE) to LIE to the team that their friend and ally perished by Loki's hand all the while Coulson is alive in critical condition. It is still the emotional push they needed but it also keeps Fury's character intact as a master of misinformation and manipulation. Yes that made me angry, how can you tell? Again....thanks for doing what you've always done there Joss! Way to break the mould buddy!

The Good

I felt the principal cast hit their beats very well. All were represented well for the core cast (Cap, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor) and neither of them out shined overwhelmed the rest of the cast. And I'm glad this happened because this is something I willingly admit that Joss Whedon is great at: building a cast of unique main characters and not letting one outdo the others. His groups of protagonists usually shine and with the cast he had to work with they positively glowed. And with the completely bombastic Tony Stark (Downey Jr.) in the cast they could have all been overshadowed by the charisma in his small toe but Joss managed to balance that well.

Don't worry Tony. Iron Man 3 is coming up soon and you don't have to share again.

I also liked how colorful this movie was. It was big and bright and vibrant for a majority of the flick and felt like some of the older four color comics from back in the day. Except Captain America's costume. It looked too smurfy blue. This movie wasn't visually muted like some films that shoot constantly with a colored filter over the lens. Its a nice change to the norm.

And the action in the third act of the movie? Well that was freaking great and there should have been MORE of that in the flick. I would have paid to watch 2 1/2 hours of just that much action. The thing that sealed that action sequence for me was that The Avengers started to act more like The Avengers. This was the payoff and it worked well for me.

Oh and did I mention that Hawkeye is in the movie? No? Well he is and Jeremy Renner is great has Clint. I am an unabashed Hawkeye fan and he made me proud.

So to sum up I liked the movie but I didn't love it. It is a flawed movie, technically it was a cluster fuck at points, but somehow managed to work in the end. So I recommend it. Go see it. Take a date to it. Heck if you have kids that have watched Iron Man or Thor or Captain America....take them too! They will REALLY love it! So go have some fun with another Marvel movie. It doesn't reinvent the wheel but it doesn't flatten the tire either.