Sunday, June 3, 2012

The Avengers

I figured by now, the dust on THE AVENGERS would have settled but it seems it is still the hot film to see this summer. (PROMETHEUS is not out yet) As of this post, it is still number two at the box office following MEN IN BLACK III. I have no idea why anyone would see that? I wasn’t really sure what to expect from this film having not seen any of the other movies that tie in to it. I am generally adverse to comic book films just because of the lack of continuity and terrible acting. Case in point: DAREDEVIL, GHOST RIDER, SPIDERMAN, SUPERMAN (new ones), TANK GIRL, and pretty much all the X-MEN films & spin-offs. Glitz & glam tend to be substituted for plot & acting. I realize the people who make these films are trying to appeal to a wider audience than the average comic book nerd. However, if you are going to rely on a comic book as the main source material, at least make an attempt to follow the storyline.
With that being said, I chose to lift my ban on comic book films because of one reason: Joss Whedon. I’m not going to go into how brilliant he (you can read previous posts for that). I will say that I was a die-hard Whedonite long before anyone was assembling anything; even long before he propelled Nathan Fillion into stardom. Let me just get this out of the way first; this film would have been shit if it were not for Joss Whedon. His directing, writing, and dialogue made this film the success that is has become.
I have since gone back to watch the previous films (so far IRON MAN, IRON MAN II, & THOR). They are all pretty mediocre with the exception of IRON MAN which is slightly above sub par. I respect Kenneth Branagh for tackling THOR; the mythological aspect of the story is right up his Shakespearean alley. However, the acting and script was once again menial.
Some things I liked about it: Mark Ruffalo. He may be the best Bruce Banner we’ve seen since Bill Bixby (RIP). I cannot say enough how captivating this role was. Then there’s Whedon’s famous dialogue. Who else would throw in a POINT BREAK reference besides Joss?
Whedon is so revered for his famous dialogue that at one point, it began to hinder him in the Buffy days. Critics kept saying, “Oh it’s just the dialogue that makes this show work.” To prove them all wrong, Whedon made an entire episode of Buffy with absolutely no dialog at the height of the series. To this day, “Hush” is one of the most popular & loved episodes of Buffy. For a film that is centered around narcissistic male superheroes, Whedon still managed to throw in his trademark strong female characters. Black Widow would be the obvious choice here, but I won’t get into that just yet. Then there’s Agent Robin Scherbatsky who has mastered the role of the strong female character. One of my favorite characters in the film (maybe in the Marvel Universe) is Pepper Potts. Tony Stark talks a big talk, but Pepper is the HBIC. She’s the one running the show while Tony is out being a capricious, billionaire, playboy, superhero.
Agent Phil Coulson is also a charming character who has finally been showcased in this franchise. Unfortunately, he meets an untimely demise. Clark Gregg is a truly delightful and underrated actor. You may remember his directing debut CHOKE (the Chuck Palahniuk adaptation). I got to go to an advanced screening of CHOKE when he did a Q&A for it. He's as amusing in person as he is on the big screen.
Some things I did not like: Scarlett Johansson. She might be one of the most one dimensional actresses of this time. Her sex appeal has taken her far, but that aloof damsel routine isn’t fooling anyone anymore (not even Ryan Reynolds). Speaking of Ryan Reynolds, his character Green Lantern finally came out, isn't it about time he did as well?
I've heard several complaints about RDJ and his excessive confabulations. If anyone is familiar with Tony Stark, you will remember that he is a pompous, self indulgent, egotistical, alcoholic. Also, he is a comic book character, which means he was intended to be over the top. These characters are not meant to be relatable; they are meant to be larger than life. I believe RDJ really makes this role his own, but keeps true the nature of Stark.
I do appreciate the fact that this franchise has renewed a love for comic books in a whole new generation. One of my favorite writers, Joe Hill (novels & comic books) often plays devil's advocate by suggesting various "geek fights." Recently, he asked the question, "What series is more influential? Harry Potter or the Marvel Universe?" Of course I chose Marvel. Comic books have influenced generations of people young & old for several decades. Whereas Harry Potter has influenced one generation of children and twenty something girls. Not only do comic books encourage reading, but also a passion for art, and a respect for good morals.
Samuel L Jackson is always entertaining as Nick Fury. Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye was boring and forgettable. Tom Hiddleston was wonderful as Loki. Also, come to find out, the character "The Other" was played by none other than Alexis Denisof. For those who don't know, Denisof played Wesley on Buffy and just so happens to be married to Willow in real life. I also found it interesting that they completely left out Dr. Henry Pym (Ant Man) & his wife, Janet Van Dyne (Wasp) who were apart of the original Avengers. This was probably due to a time issue since the film clocks in well over two hours. Much of the film also consists of back story.
Overall, THE AVENGERS is an enjoyable film, whether you are/are not well versed in the Marvel Universe.

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