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Waterfall - Avengers Review

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Waterfall - Avengers Review

Monday, 21 May 2012 23:36

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          I want to preface this review with some information on my attitude leading up to this film. First off; I grew up a Marvel comics kid, but like most kids I got tired of the ridiculous direction that Marvel began taking their series (Spider-man’s a clone? Fuck you...) and essentially put comics down for about 15 years or so. I was reintroduced back in to comics by a good friend who recommended I read Green Lantern: Rebirth. From there I’ve been a DC guy and nothing Marvel has done has made me think about returning to their books. Because of that I have had a sort of sweet/sour taste in mouth regarding all things Marvel. I loved what their characters were, but no longer trusted the brand.

Second, I’ve seen all of the individual hero movies leading up to The Avengers and short of the Iron Man movies I haven’t been overly impressed. Captain America had it’s moments, but both The Incredible Hulk and Thor let me down pretty badly. Couple that with the fact that the task of bringing all of these major characters together and balancing their screen time and usage within the film seemed like an impossible task. Because of all these things I had pretty much resigned myself to skip The Avengers and save myself the headache.

Man am I glad I changed my mind and decided to watch this flick. It turns out that Marvel’s intent of giving each hero their own movie to handle origin and character development so that The Avengers could jump straight into the action worked. A lot of screenwriters would think they need to recap or include a lot of exposition, but Whedon seemed to not only have a lot of respect for the characters he was writing but also the audience. Whedon rarely holds your hand, instead expecting you to have all the background information you need to jump into the film based on the previous movies. Furthermore, what little exposition there is is never delivered out of character or as deliberate exposition; it is woven brilliantly into dialogue between characters so that it comes to you organically and even simultaneously building the delivering character’s personality. 

By utilizing what came before him Whedon jumps straight into the action and almost never lets up. The movie does take time to let the pot simmer instead of always boiling over the top, but even in those moments something awesome is always happening. Even something as seemingly non-awesome as Iron Man and Captain America doing engine repair is made absolutely fun to watch. It’s true that the heroes spend as much, maybe more, time fighting themselves as they do the bad guys, but there is tiered genius to this. First is that this satisfies so many of us comic nerds’ desires to pit our favorite heroes against each other to see who would win. Secondly it’s precisely the way the film’s villain, Loki, would battle a force like the Avengers - by manipulating them against each other!

I’d like like to wrap this up with what I was most impressed about this film; the characters. There is just so much to say about what was done with them that I feel like I need to touch on my impressions individually.

 

The Hulk

 

Hulk

I don't remember Hulk having chest hair, maybe Ruffalo is just that hairy...

 

I’m going to start with The Hulk because he impressed me the most. This is a character who has been drug through the mud twice in films in the last decade. First was the horrid Eric Bana interpretation which was good mostly only for it’s radical and pretty awesome editing, but unless you’re a film nerd like me you probably didn’t care. Next was Edward Norton’s atrocious character portrayal of Bruce Banner and boring CG action sequences. 

Now enter Ruffalo who completely revitalizes the character. Not only does he nail the Bruce Banner smarts, but also the constant knowledge and fear that at any moment he could become an uncontrollable rage machine. It’s not just in the lines he says or any over the top reactions, that fear and constantly being on edge is in every subtle moment he is on screen and it just radiates a deep understanding of the Jekyl and Hyde nature of the Banner/Hulk relationship. 

Thanks to the brilliance of motion capture even the CG hulk is performed by the outstanding Ruffalo and he nails this half too. The Hulk now moves with a natural fluidity, but which also emphasizes his mass and strength. When fighting Ruffalo rampages as a truly unstoppable beast and smashes and crushes in ways we would believe an entity who revels in destruction would - direct, immediate, and with brutal effect. 

Able to hold the screen equally with Robert Downey Jr. when he is Bruce Banner and able to go toe to toe with the demi-god Thor and the impressive physique of the casted Chris Hemsworth makes Ruffalo’s Hulk the perfect Avenger and truly had me leaving the theater anxious to see more of him. Since he has stated he’s signed a 6 movie deal as The Hulk I can’t wait to see what’s in store over the coming years.

 

 

Black Widow

 

I interviewed Ms. Johansson for this here in my sex dungeon.

 

I was told by a traveling gypsy that I would marry Scarlett Johansson and I was told by my mother that I should never doubt the word of a woman with a head scarf. So I live my life day by day with the knowledge that one day she will be mine... oh yes... she will be mine. 

That being the case, I was worried that her character would see the short end of the stick for this film. She was a secondary character in Iron Man 2 with only a few brief scenes of us seeing any potential as a hero and when you are sharing the screen and script with characters that are billionaire playboy philanthropists with super armor, a demigod, an unstoppable green juggernaut, and a super soldier who was frozen in ice for 70 years you wonder how a simple spy is going to hold their own. And while I’d say it’s true that Johansson does not get as much screen time as the other primary characters, Whedon never forgets that she’s a part of the team. In fact, Whedon has a very specific role in the Avengers for the Black Widow which plays to the comic book character’s strengths. Where most of The Avengers are built to dish out and take a lot of damage, none of them are very subtle. That’s where the Black Widow shines. Sure, she can take care of herself and we see that, but where she stands out in a team of people who can take care of themselves is in leveraging the one thing Johansson and her character have in common - being a great actress! Also being hot. They both have that too. 

 

Captain America

 

The Human Torch has a new uniform.

 

Captain America was a mixed bag for me as a movie prior to The Avengers. Chris Evans acted well with the script that was given to him, but the script didn’t seem to appropriately portray the Steve Rogers of the Golden Age of comics that the time period implied they were attempting to capture. A comic book movie as a period piece was nice and interesting and fit the character well, but there was a lot that was left to be desired in the film after the first hour or so. 

Much like The Hulk, Whedon completely fixes all this. This is the Steve Rogers that long time comic book readers know and love. He is traditional, he is good and clean and pure and he stands for something. Not in a completely boring way, but as a symbol that people can rally behind. He is the sole character throughout the film who is attempting to unite the heroes into a team, he is the only one without some additional agenda - he is simply a soldier doing his duty because the world needs him to. Does naiveté come with that? Of course, it’s inevitable and Whedon doesn’t forget it, but he focuses on the charm and the respect that someone of Rogers’ conviction comes with.

Captain America comes into the Avengers showing us what a true leader is and that a hero is more than just a guy who can kick a ton of ass. Also, like The Hulk, Whedon has made me excited for future Captain America movies. I only hope that the screenwriters and directors see how Whedon did the characters justice and take the reins from him and not go back to the drawing board.

 

Also... HE THROWS HIS FUCKING SHIELD!!! 

Iron Man

 

Between movies Tony Stark killed a Predator, apparently.

 

There’s not a lot to say about Iron Man. Robert Downey Jr. has been killing this role since day one. He doesn’t let down here. One thing that I think is worth mentioning is how RDJ has contributed above and beyond to the project. Originally Pepper Potts was not written into the movie. It was only through a lot of writing and discussing by RDJ that that changed. Even then Paltrow wasn’t interested in doing the Avengers until RDJ sat down and talked with her personally about the importance of the romantic relationship between Potts and Stark and how it drives the character to be the hero he has the potential to be. It’s that kind of dedication and understanding of your role that really marks a phenomenal actor. So I’d like to just tip my hat to Mr. Downey Jr. for the third time as Iron Man.

 

Thor

 

Missing a helm? Dude... that would totally screw up my hair...

 

Thor is another movie like Captain America was that fell apart after the first hour. You can’t have a movie start with viking gods slaughtering frost giants and end with your hero in jeans and a t-shirt and getting all mushy over some chick he just met. But luckily the Thor in Avengers is a bit better. Not really because Hemsworth acts any better, but because we don’t have the poorly paced script of his debut. Having a fully fleshed out Thor means we just get all the badass and much less of the mushy nonsense. That’s not to say that Thor does not show any humility or compassion, he does, but he does so appropriately and still with the bravado of an Asgaardian. Additionally we finally have a writer who writes Thor’s combat as we expect. Twirling hammers, throwing hammers, returning hammers, flying into people’s faces, and best of all - calling down bolts of lightning from the sky! This isn’t just fisticuffs in a cool suit, this is true God of Thunder combat. 

Whedon also did a great job at recognizing that both Thor and Iron Man are brash alpha male characters and pitting them against each other almost from the get go. This is just another of the little nuances that shows how well Whedon pieced the script and the characters together.

 

Hawkeye

 

I can save the world, but even I can not save a poorly written part.

 

If I have one real complaint... here it is. Hawkeye was my favorite Avenger growing up, so I’ll let you know that maybe my attitude towards his portrayal is biased. I’ve tried, however, to be as unbiased in my critique as possible. Jeremy Renner really didn’t have another movie with any significant screen time to hone his character and I’d like to chalk his performance up to that. I also have slap Whedon on the wrist for how he handled the character in the first half of the film. I don’t want to have any spoilers here, but I’ll say that the first 2 acts of the movie essentially remove Hawkeye as any real character. Because we never had any other movie to develop him, Whedon completely wasted his opportunity to use the Avengers to launch this character into greatness for subsequent films. 

In the third act Hawkeye shines in combat and Whedon writes him in very strategically in his role in the final confrontation, but he still exists as just an empty underdeveloped shell of character next to five other team mates who have quite a lot of depth for the audience to connect with. 

 

Loki

 

No, I mean... really rich after this film comes out.

 

Yes... I’m going to write about Loki. I know I said that The Hulk left the best impression on me, but I lied. Loki really stole the show for me. Another one of my big complaints about the Thor movie was that Loki was so terribly written. At least I know now that the problem was the script because Tom Hiddleston was absolutely amazing. Loki is a difficult character to act and to write. He can protect himself, but his true strength is in his charisma and intelligence and guile. Whedon remembered this and we see Loki always thinking one step ahead, using illusions, and generally manipulating the Avengers against each other instead of trying to hold his own against them - exactly as we would expect from the comic book character. Even when he’s not on screen Loki’s presence is felt by the audience as an aura of mischief and meddling in everything the Avengers do and say. And Hiddleston just sells every second on the screen. One moment he is playing the sly trickster, another the sympathetic underdog, and the next the cold hearted villain and in some cases he switches between them almost instantaneously, it’s beautiful to watch.

 

In closing I absolutely have to recommend this film, if this wasn't completely obvious from everything above. The movie isn't by any means perfect. I could touch on some pretty weak special effects blending in some scenes or student film level framing in a few quick flashes to those who have the eye to notice. But these blemishes are both few in number and pretty easy to miss entirely by the average audience member. Even if you do notice them, you're having so much fun that you just don't care.

Since I've been struggling to get this review written and on the website Avengers has crushed the world record for highest grossing film ever with 200+ million dollars in it's opening weekend. So odds are most of you have seen this already. If you haven't, I hope this provides your final push to get in the theater and see it as it's intended. If you have seen it, I hope you still found this review interesting to read. Heck, maybe after reading this you can go see it again with fresh eyes. Until next time, bottoms up.

Read 3241 times Last modified on Sunday, 24 February 2013 23:03

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