Review: The Avengers

Just got back from seeing The Avengers (or Avengers Assemble, to those outside of North America), and I think my take on the film is as follows:

After the Blu-Ray DVD version is released, some 15 year old kid using Apple iMovie is going to use it to produce an amazingly cool 80 minute long Avengers movie that’s going to blow everyone away. Until that day, we’re stuck with is a lumbering 142 minute long workprint (rough draft) of a film that seems to be more about ego (giving all the actors equal screen time) and spectacle (lots of epic FX shots and sequences) than telling an actual story.

It has some great sequences, some good humour, and some pretty good acting, but my god are those sequences spaced out by unncessarily long passages that do little to actually advance the plot (what there is of it). If it was only put under the editing knife of someone who didn’t care about anything but making it an effective story, then I think it could be turned into something awesome, but as it is- meh.

As a side note, it also totally confirmed my estimation that Chris Evans (Captain America) doesn’t have anywhere near enough presence or charisma to carry his role. I wouldn’t follow this Cap into a game of paintball, much less a full-scale war.

Robert Downey Jr. was Tony Stark (or is that the other way around?) and rocked as usual.

Chris Helmsworth was so-so, same with Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye.

The two surprises of the film were Scarlett Johansen, who actually did have presence and style, and the (new) Hulk Mark Ruaffalo, who actually did a great job in the role. (In fact, the Hulk was probably the best character in the film. Maybe because we never had to see him brood or look angsty?) They may finally have a Bruce Banner who can carry a film or three.

In the end, I give it 6/10. Didn’t suck, but wasn’t especially good either.



6 thoughts on “Review: The Avengers

  1. I was thinkin’ on this ‘cos despite how many folks I know who’ve been losing fluids huge for this film, I’m not really interested in seeing it. There seems to be a sort of undercurrent with the last crop of superhero films wherein they’re written with the assumption that you already think the characters are awesome, and as such; there really isn’t any effort put into convincing you of it. Going back to the Batman article: they assume that the audience has already accepted that Bats is the world’s greatest detective, so they waste no time having him do anything detectivey to demonstrate the idea.

    It’s an odd observation, since they always lavish (languish?) a great deal of movie time on the characters’ origins…. over and over and over…. which would imply that they don’t think you have any clue who these characters are.

    I’ve noticed a similar trend in most films for a while…. since Titanic…. that they TELL you stuff without convincing you of it. Kinda how every chick flick has a sad point not because you truly care about anyone in the film, but because this is the point in the script where it ALWAYS gets sad. Or how action heroes can shrug off machine gun fire and cause heaps of property damage without any detrimental effects (like accidental death or fucking up insurance rates) because the hero always does that. Story via rote.

    Don C.

    • Don,

      I think they tend to lavsih attention on aspects of the characters- like say Batman training with ninjas, or his emotional issues. They tend to ignore the more basic aspects of the characters which they leave to the audience to guess at or assume the audience already knows. In this case, they did spend whole movies on each of the characters, so you would have thought they’d have just leapt right into the story, but instead it meanders around for so long you forget what the wafer-thin plot is supposed to be.

      Sadly, I would agree with you in general. Movies are becoming more and more formulaic at the higher end (the more money spent on the film, the more likely it is to be rote formula) and they tend to skip the core character or buildup elements and assume the audience just knows where they go after seeing these stories for so damn long. I think there has always been a formula element to movies, probably starting a year or two after the medium was invented, but with time it’s gotten worse instead of better.

      Actually, I know the exact formula they’re using, I have a book called Save the Cat which literally puts it on paper for writers to use. Score one for Film School. Sigh.

  2. >They tend to ignore the more basic aspects of the characters which they leave to the audience

    Well…. I think part of that comes from characters being pretty 2D to begin with…. especially superheroes, so there’s not a lot of things you can play off of. Most characters have a schtick or two, and that’s it. Adding more, or resolving old ones, or having a character that grows changes the dynamic; and with a perpetual character you CAN’T do that. Marketing will get cheesed.

    Don C.

  3. I guess I’m glad I’m not jaded.
    I love superhero films.
    And I loved the Avengers. I just got back. I’d flip that six over and give it a 9.
    Captain America was just the right tenor. Hulk had a decent part, though I could have done without him. I liked what they did with Hawkeye and the others.

    I weep for the generation.
    25 years ago, a visual feast with this level of involvement in a movie wouldn’t have been impossible. Did you guys not even SEE the Captain America TV movie then? Or how about the Korman’s Fantastic Four?
    I did…. we truly live in the Golden Age of Superhero movies. Revel in it.
    It’s like everyone complaining about the Green Lantern movie.
    What the hell did everyone expect? It’s Green Lantern… IT was fun. It was an action flick. And it worked.
    Same here with the Avengers.
    You have some fun dialogue.
    You have a threat none of them could take care of individually.
    You have a means to get individuals working together as a team.
    You have a part for them all to shine.
    Bingo. Magic.
    Make mine Marvel again 🙂

  4. >I guess I’m glad I’m not jaded.


    >I love superhero films.

    I think one of the reasons I don’t get all excited about stuff like this is ‘cos I was never a big superhero fan. A lot of superheroisms rub me the wrong way. (Like how you can destroy half a city and there are no civilian casualties….)

    >25 years ago, a visual feast with this level of involvement in a movie wouldn’t have been impossible.

    I think that’s another catch for me, too. I’m not big on effects or presentation with a film. For me, if a film has super-awesome effects my response is “Neat! Looks great.” But then I got two hours of film to sit through. (Same reason bad effects don’t throw me.) I like ideas; show me something I’ve never seen before, or a new take on things. That’s what I like. Superhero movies are all really familiar: I know these characters, I know these stories, I know what’s going to happen.

    …but that was a problem I had with the comics too. “GASP! Batman’s back is broken! Does that mean Bruce Wayne will never be Batman again? EEEK! Jean Grey died! Oh no! Galactus! Will he destroy the Earth for real, this time?”

    I think we all know the answers. But then, my formative comic years were colourized by easy access to books from Britain, France and Japan. (Judge Dredd was a comedy, and still wracked up more consequence than any Marvel comic.)

    >Did you guys not even SEE the Captain America TV movie then?

    Big McHugelarge!

    >It’s like everyone complaining about the Green Lantern movie. What the hell did everyone expect? It’s Green Lantern…

    That one got me too. It’s not a great movie, but it isn’t any stupider than any of the other superhero films that folks loved.

    Don C.

  5. I guess the moral of the story for me in the comment above is, some people don’t like superheroes.
    I love all kinds of movies. And that doesn’t mean I don’t discriminate. It means I learn as much from bad movies as I do good.
    The Avengers was not a bad movie in any way shape or form.
    It wasn’t Shakespeare. But it never pretended to be.

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