Time/place: Midnight showing at Foothill Towne Center with James, Katy, Jim, Edna, Jessica, Danny, Lisa, Mike, etc.
Hey, James! 🙂
After watching, and loving, The Incredible Hulk, none of the other Marvel movies have done anything to interest me at all. Captain America is very likable as a character, but all of the non-Hulk movies haven’t been good. Heck, in Thor I was more invested in, and rooting for, Loki – who was apparently supposed to be the villain. I’m not a very big fan of the writer/director Joss Whedon and the trailers for this movie did nothing to really interest me, so I was going in completely unsure of how it all might play out.
I was very pleasantly surprised :).
The Avengers is actually very good. Strike that, I can describe it better. The Avengers is very fun. It’s odd, being an origin story that involves characters whose origins we’ve already seen.. so it’s not QUITE an origin story. That comfortable familiarity with the characters from prior incarnations helps quite a bit, because the story still has to work on getting all of these characters together. This movie really is an ensemble piece, and though there are leaders in the group, everyone really is given equal time and focus. Even the characters who I didn’t really care for in their own movies, Thor and Iron Man, played better here, and I realized why – they were among their own kind. On more than one occasion, these characters smack each other around, but whether it’s from alien strength, radiation, or a mechanical suit.. they can all take and return what the others dish out. Conversely, when the purely human characters, like Hawkeye or Black Widow, do something really physical, they feel it.
One thing most folks will probably talk about actually leads to one of my few complaints – the humor. Now, this movie did what few movies do (make me laugh out loud – that due to Hulk and a “ragdoll” moment), so I’m not complaining about the actual humor, but Whedon packed the jokes in so tightly that, with the audience’s reaction, I missed the next bit of dialogue on more than one occasion. I actually prefer quick, smart comedy… but Joss was working on a huge theater-packing movie. He should’ve known better ;).
Really, though, that was my only complaint. The Avengers won’t be my top movie, or anything, because it failed to do the one thing that my favorite movies do (capture my heart), but it was very well done, and a heck of a lot of fun. Even that one, horrible thing that Joss Whedon likes to do with characters you love, out of the blue and for no reason (if you know what I’m talking about, you know what I’m talking about), is done in this movie… and while it may be sudden, it actually has a purpose. As the audience quietly reacted to the moment, I just shook my head and said, “Freaking Joss Whedon,” with a smile on my face. This echoes my captured-heart comment, though, because at no point did I really feel emotionally invested in any of these characters. Perhaps it’s because the movie was TOO funny or TOO “super”, but that element was never there for me. Heck, just the new trailer for The Dark Knight Rises that I saw for the first time here, did more to bring about a breathless, emotional reaction. I don’t think these movies are supposed to do that, though. That’s why The Incredible Hulk stands out to me, and why I cared about Captain America (even though I didn’t like his movie)… those experiences were more than just fun and cool. This movie, though, was plenty of both… and I’m okay with that :).
On the side of miscellaneous comments, I really loved the cinematography. As the city is getting destroyed in the midst of battle, and we keep cutting to civilians running and hiding, it all felt very grounded and real, and that was in large part to the fact that the color palette wasn’t bold and studio-perfect. Considering how much destruction there was, I actually would’ve rather seen a more visceral take on just how many freaking people must’ve died – but that would’ve made the scenes much more serious and less fun, so I get why it was avoided. Also, while there were definitely a few moments that seemed to enjoy Scarlett Johansson’s body in her tight bodysuit, there is one scene that made me (and a few other folks in the audience) laugh at its obviousness. Joss Whedon likes Scarlett’s butt, apparently :). Speaking of liking things, I know I’m not alone in enjoying the final after-credits moment, but it was very perfect.. and very Mark :).
The Avengers is something you probably don’t need me to tell you about for you to form an opinion about, but if you need any encouragement to give it a whirl, take it from the guy who hasn’t liked most of Marvel’s other current superhero movies. This really is a movie that breaks down into conversation between friends of “Remember that part?” – a list of moments, lines, shots, and even an actor cameo (at least, for me), that folks will be going back and forth about after they see it. While it may not hold the emotional gravitas of Batman’s current iteration, I don’t think it’s supposed to. Marvel has set up a universe of fun and spectacle at the far other end of the spectrum – and it makes for some very satisfying summer entertainment.
Grade: A (for Avengers)
P.S. – Stay tuned later for a new Avengers-related poll.