Genre: Comic Book Action
Watched: May 22, 2012
Summary: Very good, but not perfect
Normally I take Marvel super hero movies with a grain of salt, but considering the buzz around Avengers and the fact that it was written and directed by Joss Whedon (creator of my favorite show of all time, Buffy) I was fairly excited.[youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=E9cuGZJ9DP0]
The setup is band of superhero misfits vs alien invasion (more on that later). Marvel has spent no small effort establishing the players: 2 Ironman movies, Thor, The Hulk, Captain America, etc. That’s all well and good, and I’m reminded slightly of the 80s “Secret Wars” stunt in the actual comics. To this vast array of characters we add Black Widow, Hawkeye, and Nick Fury (all of whom seem to have super strength and speed without any particular specified reason). Then we throw in some really weird aliens invading from another dimension/planet.
The attack is lead by heavy of heavies, Loki, reprising his role from the way stranger Thor. I wrote extensively about this movie before, and the Avengers villains descend from this bizarre mythology of Norse gods as aliens. This includes, but is not limited too, all sorts of undefined powers, immortality, lightning calling hammers of infinite weight, mind control staffs, cubes of limitless energy, beams of plasma used to drill worm holes in the universe, and much much more. And that doesn’t cover the earth based oddities. Super strength serums, invincible flying robot suits, and a flying aircraft carrier!
The strength of Jos’ writing transcends this recipe for disaster and makes an ultimately very watchable film. It’s often even very funny, full of action, and exciting. It’s not, however, a masterpiece. Given the crazy cast, the film tries its best to give each a bit of time a and story. This is ultimately most successful with Ironman, the Hulk, and Black Widow. Still, there just isn’t that much time, particularly given the rapacious demand for long and involved action scenes.
The villains are a bit weak. Loki is kind of fun, but he spends a lot of time preening and just waiting around. The mysterious skeletal-bio-mechanical hordes are just that, hordes. They exist to maraud and then to die.
The last third of the film is one long monster battle for New York with aliens drooling through a hole in the sky and the entire team of Avengers fending them off. For a while, this is pretty cool, but it does go on far too long. I don’t know whose fault this trend is — Transformers perhaps? — but it’s become standard for big action movies to have these monster (haha) final battles. In Harry Potter 7.5, it’s almost two hours long! Unfortunately, they have the side effect of stealing way too much screen time away from character development.
Effects wise, this movie is loaded with CGI. Probably almost every shot. It’s often quite good, but there is no focus on realism. This is comic book to the hilt, in every way, with all the look and feel, firing on all cylinders, expertly executed. It delivers, but there is no real jeopardy or pathos, and no totally unique feel (say in the vein of Sin City or Hell Boy). It feels like Thor or Ironman. In fact it’s about exactly on par with Ironman (the first film, the second sucked) quality wise.
On one hand, I’m relieved to have seen a comic book film with actual story and characters. On the other, I feel Jos could do better creating his own world. Maybe the success of this film will give him more leeway to try.