June 7, 2012

Saw The Avengers. It was okay. [Review Time]

If you haven't seen The Avengers yet, you must be completely immune to hype. Give yourself a pat on the shoulder.

But to be fair, it is entertaining and worth the watch, especially if you're interested in witnessing a curious film trend I've been noticing lately that's pretty much formula for The Avengers. The trend is this: the beginning is smart, suspenseful, and witty, with a somewhat interesting story. For the end, you can just turn your brain right off. And people love it.

We start out with characters who have interesting backstories to divulge, some weighty threats and the hilarious jokes you knew would be there the second you found out this would be directed and written by Joss Whedon. Tony Stark (Robert Downy Jr.) absolutely rapid-fires the hilarity, as expected, and Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow) is a comedic accomplice. Who quickly vanishes from the story. The Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) hints at some dark secrets and it's not clear whether Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) is a help or a big looming threat of letting loose and tearing everyone to pieces. Actually, if you've ever seen a movie before, it is pretty clear. Captain America (Chris Evans) had some potential because he's from WWII era, but was used mostly for jokes at the expense of his anachronisms; he was frozen for half of the past century so he doesn't really get modern cultural references, technology, etc. I can't stand Thor and I cannot believe what a joke his solo film looked like from the trailer, nor that Natalie Portman would get herself mixed up in that mess, but maybe that's just me. But the other Avengers are interesting and well-written. For the first half of the movie.
What bothered many critics wasn't even a concern to me. In a search for something to be nit-picky about, lots of critics have complained that there was too much in-fighting between the heroes, who were clearly being manipulated to turn against one another by evil-mastermind Loki. However, this didn't take up much screen-time and was done in a well-written and believable way. I thought what they were bickering about was kind of reasonable. I would be pissed off too if my boss lied to me about developing nuclear weapons of mass destruction.

I was led to believe that half of the movie would be the Avengers fighting each other (and when you say fighting with relation to Super Heroes, you think actual, physical fighting). Nope, it was just one scene of some very reasonable banter.
Okay there is one fight scene between Thor and Iron Man that went on a little while, and I personally can't even keep my eyes open during action scenes with no dialogue, but I felt like it was justified and when you think about it, people want to see Thor go up against Iron Man. Again, not incredibly problematic.

They were right about the enemy not having a very good, strong, reasonable or deep motivation for taking over Earth. This is another reason why I think we were given leave to turn our brains off after half of the movie. At the beginning, it looks like Loki might be a worthy and complex opponent. He has some qualms with the American belief in freedom. Kinda seemed like he was going somewhere with that. But he didn't, which makes it seem like a gimicky attempt to make this bad guy stand out from Sauron or Darth Vader, which, while one-dimensional, were good villains because they stood for something metaphorical i.e. the dark side of humanity or the Germans in WWII. Loki's just evil for the sake of being evil. But you've already heard that.
Is that the smile of a Super Villain?
The real problem in this movie is that after all that time spent writing up interesting characters and weighty plot points that delve into issues like a possible limitless energy source and the dangers of nuclear war, actually managing to cover new territory on that front, and making a formidable enemy that should require something brilliantly clever to defeat, we get a really long extended fight scene, fixes that aren't believable and border on plotholes, a complete undermining of the big bad guy's abilities, not to mention some predictability. Oh boy, where do I start?
The screenplay must have ended after The Avengers got to Manhattan. I'm gonna guess 2/3 into the screentime. From there on out, it's mostly one-liners. Yawn. I liked the flying things that made me cringe when they flew into the beautiful New York architecture that is now, in that fictional world, gone forever. I didn't like the all-brawns and no brains approach.

There will be spoilers from here on in.
Okay, so, in what world is the audience supposed to believe that this council that oversees saving the world from alien invasions and putting together superhero squads would be willing to NUKE Manhattan under any circumstances whatsoever? I'd believe the superhero part first. Much more reasonable. But if that doesn't bother you, and you think it makes sense to cut off the infected limb, then fine. But answer me this. They have the nukes. It was incredibly brilliant of Iron Man to take said nukes and put them on the enemy ship outside the portal. I know Tony Stark is supposed to be a genius and all, but there's no one else who thought that would be a better idea than blowing up NEW YORK CITY? Sorry, kind of angry. I visited there last February. Don't be nuking it; I plan on going back.

They also completely trivialized Loki in the end. Maybe he deserves it, because as stated, he was kind of a lame and pathetic villain, and he really should have taken Thor's offer and helped to stop the invasion, but really? His final defeat was a joke. Literally. We probably should have been given a better final boss, one that takes more than a few Hulk smashes followed by a Whedon one-liner to take down for the count.
And don't get me started on the Hulk. I loved when Bruce Banner turned around and said, "My secret is, I'm always angry." Love it. Such a good, genius way of using a classic character in (I think) a new way. So brilliant. But, unfortunately, it became unnecessarily inconsistent. On the Helicarrier when the Hulk is unleashed, he is completely indiscriminate about who he comes after. That's the danger.  He's smashing up Black Widow and Loki's guys indiscriminately. But in the final fight scene, he doesn't go after any of the other Avengers in his rage. He might give Thor one good smack but then he goes and saves Tony Stark. Explain that one to me. I thought maybe the heroes would get out of his way so that he'd just have a free reign tearing everyone to pieces and most everyone is an enemy, but now he ignores pretty Scarlett Johansson and is focused on the invading army.
So you might say that the second time, he chose to Hulk out so he would have control. Then why didn't he choose to Hulk out the first time? If he can control whom he goes after, why didn't he take control?

It seems to me there is no reasonable explanation for his inconsistencies. It just wasn't well thought out. And I mean, saving Tony Stark. Don't they have anyone else who can fly up and save him? Eh, maybe not.
Anyways it seems like by the end of this, I'm giving it a bad review. I don't mean to. It was enjoyable and funny and entertaining. I just find the flaws more interesting than raving about what a fine action film this is. It's no Dark Night. It's not even Batman Begins. And hey, maybe I missed something. Unlike some people, I only saw it once. Be sure to let me know in a comment if I'm dead out wrong.


  1. Was a fun pulp movie. That's about all I see it as, popcorn flick, not fantastic, but solid.