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28 April 2012 @ 01:47 pm
Film Review: The Avengers  
Thanks to a friend who has mad connections, I got to see an advanced screening of this movie.

My review is probably more characterization-related spoilers than plot spoilers, although I do reference a couple of scenes.

Joss Whedon who directed this certainly had his work cut out for him. Avengers is already a movie prone toward being unwieldy thanks to the sheer number of characters. Added to that, he had to juggle in the lingering plots and sensibilities of various earlier films that starred each Avenger member. With all that in mind, I thought he did a pretty good job. The movie definitely has plotting issues and things that seem incongruous but that's expected when you cram 6 superheroes into one measly screen.

As predicted, characterizations sort of took a backseat on this one. But in someways, so did the plot. If I really thought about it, the plot of Avengers is easily distilled down to one sentence: Loki tries to take over the earth. That's about it. And yet it takes two hours for them to play this out and not because Loki's plan for domination is that intricate. You simply need two hours to give everyone enough time to talk and fight. Given that Loki's not exactly a powerhouse physically and is more than matched in a fight against Thor, it seemed a little over the top to have so many people needed to bring him down. Yes, he had the alien army but even there I thought easily Captain America and Hawkeye were superfluous given most of the heavy lifting was done by Ironman and the Hulk. And half the time the Avengers aren't even fighting Loki but each other which ultimately felt like an excuse to justify why we had so many people running around.

But back to characterizations. Well, the film tried for some character development with the reunion of Thor and Loki. I was a little dismayed that for the sake of the movie, the writers distilled down Loki's motivations. Given that the film Thor invested so much into making Loki a multi-dimensional villain whose every fiendish act was a desperate bid to feel like he belonged somewhere and was loved, Avengers relegated him back to your average man-child villain who wants power for power's sake and has several megalomaniacal speeches explaining this. I also found myself being ridiculously frustrated at just how bad Thor and Loki are at communicating with each other. During all of their exchanges, I felt like if ONLY one of them would just shift a little in how he was explaining himself, the other would stop being so reactionary. It often felt like they kept being out of sync with each other. When Thor was trying a softer touch, Loki was bent on smashing things and vice versa. There was one moment when Thor pleaded to Loki to just come home that I had a small flicker of hope that things could be salvaged before it all went back to hell.

I think each character got at least one scene where they were allotted some amount of character insight and depending on the actor, you either really bought it or got bored. Mark Ruffalo was probably the most successful of the Avengers team in utilizing each of his scenes. He did a nice portrayal of a man who looks so mild-mannered at first glance but upon a few more glances you can clearly see the anger and bitterness he feels every minute over his situation.

And then there was the comedy. Whedon always had a talent for comedy and it gets a chance to shine here or there, even if at times it felt nearly slapstick. But I was right in my earlier assessment that nothing in this movie matches the hilarity of Tony Stark calling Thor "Point Break" and Loki "Reindeer Games." Although a close second is Steve Rogers happily stating he got the Wizard of Oz reference that completely confused Thor. And there was also the moment of Loki shouting at the Germans in English. It wasn't intended for comedy but when Loki ordered the citizens of Germany to kneel, I kept giggling at the idea that no one was doing it immediately because half of them couldn't understand what he was saying.

Overall, Avengers was pretty entertaining with all its special effects and stuff exploding. It also left a couple of plot lines open for the inevitable Avengers sequel as well as set up the plot for what I'm guessing is going to be the premise of Thor 2.
katarzi on April 28th, 2012 10:36 pm (UTC)
I think Bruce and Natasha probably got the most in terms of new character development, but seeing as they are introducing a new Hulk (essentially, even if they claim this is supposed to be Norton!Hulk) and Natasha got very little development in IM2, I am more than okay with that. Also, Tony Stark and Joss Whedon are a combo that work excellently together (seriously - there are so many little throwaway lines that come off funny but really say so much about Tony, and that is how I like my Tony, so I am pleased). I think if anyone was really shafted in terms of character it was probably Steve...he kind of comes off as a bit of a douche because you don't get much more than the occasional "wow this is new" scene to justify that he's basically got severe culture shock and probably PTSD. So I'm hoping he gets a CA sequel that is nice and slow and takes its time with Steve's issues...reaaaally hoping, but probably doubting.

(Also regarding that Germany scene: there are so many implications there! The fact that Germany is where they first deploy defrosted!Steve, the old man who refused to kneel and all the lovely connotations there. It's probably one of my favourites in terms of things left unsaid, next to Tony's throwaway "You're the guy my dad was obsessed with?".)
formerly lifeinsomniacjoonscribble on April 30th, 2012 02:47 am (UTC)
Is there going to be a Captain America sequel? I felt like the first one existed more or less to solely set Rogers up for The Avengers.