Monday, May 21, 2012

Can I Be the First to Say 'Meh'? The Avengers (Joss Whedon, 2012)

Now, we all know I am no huge comic book fan, and to be honest The Avengers never gave me pointy nipples. None of the characters ever appealed to me, and frankly all Marvel teams bore me to tears with their cut-and-paste drama. Those facts aside, The Avengers is not really that great.

If you are sensitive to spoilers, turn back now.

Just to be safe, adding some space with Scarlett Johansson's boobs...

Are you gone yet? No? Good, let us continue.

First I will say it is by no means an un-fun film. There is some cool stuff going on and it is rather exciting. Highpoints:
  • The way The Hulk is a bit of a Kaiju monster was nice. They didn't overdo the "Hulk Smash" shit that everyone does to death. There was some Hulk comedy, but thankfully they reined it in. Watching The Hulk thrash Loki like rag doll was both amazingly funny and amazingly horrifying; a combination I can get behind. Aside from that, Mark Ruffalo (Shutter Island, Zodiac) as Bruce Banner was the least "tropey" performance of the film.
  • I am glad they had the balls to demolish New York. I love Manhattan, but since 2002 it seems everyone wants to treat NYC with kid gloves. Lets face it, if you are a Marvel-based terror from outer space, what city are you going after? It has to be New York, and you have to do your best to fuck shit up. Kudos for getting out collective balls out of our purses.
  • Loki, as portrayed again by Tom Hiddleston (War Horse), was delightfully menacing and manic. When he was chewing out Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and called her a "mewling quim" Theresa and I both let out a "holy fuck!"
  • Sam Jackson as John Shaft as Nick Fury. He's not the greatest part of the film, and phones it in a bit, but lets face it, Nick Fury is a bit of a Blaxploitation spy anyway. Jackson putting some Shaft in him works. Speaking of which, why were we all in an uproar about a black Spider-Man but not a black Nick Fury? I digress...
Sadly, that is the bulk of the good. Much of the rest is fan-service and comic book masturbatory fantasy. Iron Man fights Thor, Black Widow fights Hawkeye, Black Widow "fights" The Hulk, Tony Stark and Captain America don't like each other, Thor is not a big fan of anyone. Banner slowly gets ready for the money shot we all are trying to time our own ejaculation to. When it finally arrives, it is rather a mix of good and bad. It is the classic werewolf reveal with Banner fighting the beast, though we already know that he can change instantaneously into The Hulk... but you have to do the reveal, don't you. Also, I am sure he was fighting it for a reason... namely not spoiling the films major hotness. Oh, and destroying the flying aircraft carrier.

We spend half the film dealing with the obligatory "I don't like you, you're a freak/goodie-two-shoes/offworlder/pain-in-the-ass," back and forth. There were some really misspent weepy moments too. When Loki is threatening the crowd in Germany and the old man stands up to him that could have been great. It so rang of Superman II when the people of Metropolis think that General Zod (Terence Stamp, The Phantom Menace, et al) has killed Superman. Sadly, Captain America cock-blocks the proceedings before the tough old man can inspire his fellows to get off their knees.

I guess the biggest problem is that while the film was enjoyable to watch, I still do not give a shit about any of these characters. All the character interaction was snark without substance until they finally come together as a team, and then it is too much, too soon. The portion of the film that should have cemented them as a team really only involved Iron Man and Captain America.

So, if you have not seen it and have read this far... Watch it if you want. It is fun and it is exciting. It is not, however, the greatest super hero film ever.


Thomas Pluck said...

I think it's one of the best MARVEL films, because their characters mostly suck. Iron Man was great fun, because of RDJ; Spider-Man 1 was great because Raimi had fun with it; but most of their characters have very little depth. They have faux depth.
And as much as I liked the Hulk & Ruffalo, the character does not work if he can control it. Period. He's a sparkly sunlight vampire if he can turn it on and off. it would've been better if he'd killed Coulson or someone we cared about. Otherwise he's just an overgrown toddler throwing tantrums when the plot demands it.

Darius Whiteplume said...

I did not think of the Coulson angle like that. I mean, we really are supposed to hate The Hulk a bit. Banner certain does, traditionally. Of course, you can't trust Marvel to do anything serious when there are toys to be sold.

I agree that the bottom line with The Hulk is Banner fighting him. That is what made the television show, no matter how campy it could get, a real classic. Sure, The Hulk has his enemies like The Leader, but The Hulk's real enemy is Bruce Banner.

Another missed bit: when they were all standing around arguing, and Banner picks up the staff, I assumed that to be good old fashioned "your anger feeds me" magic, but it was executed in such a way that I cannot guarantee it was Whedon's intent.

Grundy said...

During the war in New York scenes, it seemed like they were doing their best to find relevant stuff for the less-powered, non-flying heroes to do, but just couldn't.

I kinda liked the fan-service.

Anthony Simeone said...

@Darius: yeah, I was wondering what was going on with Loki's staff sitting in the room while they were arguing. It seemed like they were trying to make it seem like the staff was "infecting" them with anger, in order to divide the group. At one point, I think Tony Stark or at least one of the male characters was seen rubbing his forehead and I was like "yep, the staff is doing something funky to them," but that was never confirmed by the film. Oh well...

Darius Whiteplume said...

@Grundy - Agreed. Like someone said "hey, do you know how much we are paying Scarlett? Find her something to do!'" :-) I am not a hater of fan-service. I love Star Trek VII, which is near 100% fan service, and a lot of my favorite anime comes that way. It just seemed so much of it was "we have to have Iron Man and Thor fight, we just can't say who'd win."

@Drance - I was thinking the same thing, and remember that forehead rub (but also forget who it was). I am sure that was what was going on, as apparently Loki was able to see what was going on elsewhere and obviously your bad-ass-magic weapon is going to have a telepathic connection to you. They either went too subtle with it for the tone of the film, did not realize they were doing something of that nature (hard to believe), or the explanation wound up on the cutting room floor. Might have added greatly to Loki's menace if the average viewer knew what he was capable of. Sewing seeds of discord is classic villain stuff!

dfordoom said...

Can I say "Meh" to Joss Whedon's entire career?

Darius Whiteplume said...

You certainly can here. I try not to judge. ;-)

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