Fanboy Ramblings: “The Avengers”

by Gordon Elgart on May 4, 2012

Hulk smashes in Marvel's The Avengers

This film is a Hulk Smash! (There, I said it. Now put it on a poster.)

For a well-thought-out, articulate, reasoned, educated review, I strongly suggest you click over to Jason LeRoy’s official review of The Avengers. For the ramblings of someone who’s read too many comics, seen too many comic movies at midnight, and overanalyzes every darn thing past the point of usefulness, read on.

Seeing movies at advance screenings is fun, but it can be a bit weird. There’s almost never any trailers, so the crowd goes from chatting with each other in a bright room (or being yelled at by sponsors throwing t-shirts) to “holy crap the movie’s beginning” really quickly. And that has a weird unsettling feeling, and you really want a movie to jump right in and start going. Unfortunately, this one doesn’t really bang-zoom out of the gate; rather, it gets really “plotty” in the beginning as it talks about the all-powerful MacGuffin that will be the focus of our time here.  Then this CGI-enhanced cube of light passes hands, and uh-oh, we’re going to have to put a team together.

It’s the getting-the-gang-back-together scenes that seem interminable. Every single character has to be dragged in; nobody wants to go. Tony Stark is too busy, Bruce Banner hates himself, Thor is stuck in Asgard, Hawkeye is being mind-controlled, Natasha is busy doing spy stuff, and Captain America is training in a boxing gym for some reason.

Loki is our bad guy here, and he’s played with evil glee by Tom Hiddleston, who must have gotten this part as the big baddie in this film because someone knew that he’d be an awesome villain. (He’s also on the cover of Avengers #1. See below.) And when he seems in control of things, he’s great. But we find out that someone else is pulling his strings a bit, and that affects the story. It somehow makes him seem less evil and more whiny.

Thor vs. Loki: a battle for all time, but one we don't get to see here.

I found it all so slow and ponderous until Thor and Iron Man meet each other for the first time, and it’s not exactly cordial. At this point, the movie says, “Aw yeah let’s do this.” Because next thing you know, the movie is finding a nice mix between blowing stuff up real good, witty banter, clever double-crosses, and nice character moments.

There’s also some awful character moments. I can’t stand Captain America in this movie because he’s so serious and patriotic all the time. That worked really well in the World War II setting of his own film, but here the anachronistic sensibilities just feel anachronistic, and at times he feels like the weak member of the team. While one member is fighting some giant monstrosity, he’s rescuing civilians from a bank. (Stupid civilians are often the weak link of any super hero movie.)

I hated Hawkeye here, too. Jeremy Renner with the blue eyes, looking so out of place. I thought his performance was the worst one in the whole movie. He’s not believable as an action star, at least not to me. Then again, it may have just been the role itself, which struck me as a character being forced onto a team he doesn’t belong on. Both he and Black Widow are now being treated as Avengers, when I clearly remember them as S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.  (And for that matter, Captain America is also a later addition to The Avengers.)

Do you see Hawkeye, Black Widow or Captain America in this picture? Where's the love for Ant Man?

This movie is awesome when it’s fun and, face it, kind of dumb. When it gets patriotic and “inspirational,” and tries to mean something, I wanted to barf on something. Just give me more banter and blowing stuff up, and I’m a happy guy.

There’s several ridiculously fun moments in this movie, and the majority of these go to Hulk, who is by far the most dynamic character in the action scenes. Oh, Hulk, how you deserve to have an awesome movie all to yourself. Hopefully Mark Ruffalo is signed up to do one of these, because he’s a kickass Bruce Banner, and gets nearly all the best lines.

I saw this in 3D, and while the 3D is completely unnecessary, it didn’t detract from my enjoyment of the movie. Hooray for this! But of course 3D makes things darker, and some of the interiors were hard to see. For example, I saw Jenny Agutter in the credits, and I couldn’t for the life of me remember who she played in the movie. She was one of talking heads of the council, apparently, but those scenes were so dark, who could tell?

Of course, it doesn’t matter what I say; this movie is the pure definition of critic-proof. Just the existence of it is so cool, it’s easy to look past its shortcomings, especially the first time around. (You probably enjoyed Spider-Man 3 at the time, too.) You’re all going to see it this weekend, and I’ll probably see it again, too. The slow beginning will be completely forgotten by the time you get to the amazingly fun second half. You’ll say “I can’t wait to see that again!”

Gordon Elgart

A music nerd who probably uses that term too much. I have a deep love for bombastic, quirky and dynamic music.

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