Friday, May 11, 2012

At the Movies: The Avengers

My middle daughter asked me the other day: "Want to go see Avengers 3D for Mother's Day?" My response? "Yes, please!" We went on Wednesday afternoon. Good choice. Almost empty theater, no distracting kids or teenagers disrupting the movie. I rather like matinees. So what did I think?

Let me start by saying that I was looking forward to this movie. A lot. Way back when I was just a slip of a girl, I loved my comic books. Ok, so I was more of an X-Men girl than Avengers. My must-have comics were X-Men and Fantastic Four, but I read my share of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk, etc. (We won't talk about what happened to those comics. Those and the baseball cards... *sigh*) I have not been reading or collecting them for many, many years, but I do remember and these movie realizations, while not all stellar (oh, boy, can we say NOT to some?),  are reminders of my youth. Yes, I am a geek. And proud of it. So.....
Have I mentioned Joss Whedon is a genius? No? Let me correct that oversight right now: Joss Whedon is a genius. If not a genius, he is absolutely freakin' good at not-quite-but-almost-over-the-top fun. I was a fan of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse so I guess it's not a surprise that I liked Avengers, as well. Was it perfect? No. Did I care while sitting in the theater? Not one tiny bit.

The plot is a pretty standard superhero type story- bad guys trying to conquer and destroy. In this case, it's Loki and the Chitauri, a warring alien race. Loki is sent to retrieve the Tessaract, a source of limitless power that is in the hands of Shield. In exchange, the Chitauri promise Loki an army with which to conquer and subjugate Earth. Some of the background of this story is fairly directly spun from Thor, and while it is not necessary to have seen that movie prior to Avnegers, it might help understand some of the backstory. Although, anyone with a basic grounding in Norse mythology would get the major points, even without seeing Thor first. (Well, except the aliens, but we'll forgive.) Otherwise, even though most of the rest of the cast has had their solo movies, those are not crucial to this one. If you have a comics background, you know a lot of it, anyway, and if you don't, it won't get in the way of enjoying the film.

There is, of course, a lot of action. Many things get blown up, tossed about, knocked over, punched, kicked, and shot. And there lies one of the problems. Some of the scenes, action packed as they might be, did drag on perhaps a bit long. The final battle with Loki and Hulk absolutely makes up for all of them, however.

Whedon's hand is obvious in the humor in the film. There were as many chuckles as starts and jumps sprinkled throughout. Just one tiny sample:
Thor: Take care how you speak. Loki is of Asgaard and he is my  brother.
Black Widow: He's killed eighty people in three days.
Thor: He's adopted.
And that's just one. The one-liners and bantering dialogue is well-balanced with the action. You don't get tired of either.
The CGI is quite good, although I did think there were a few, but only a few, moments when it was a bit too apparent, compared to the majority of the time when it was more seamless. The Hulk, in particular, was impressive. All CGI, his face looked like Mark Ruffalo, and since they used Ruffalo's actions to pattern the Hulk after, the two characters felt like one. I do have one quibble with the Hulk, however, and it's writing, not CGI. At his first appearnace, he is portrayed as mindlessy raging and destructive, which leaves room for a nice, messy chase scene, but when he shows up for the final confrontation, he's directed and obviously thinking. Just a little disconnect that stuck out to me.

3D was very good, with only a few moments of popping off the screen, and those were well done.
I have to say the 3D was better than some films I've seen, as I have in the past not really been impressed with the 3D effects. But that is completely my issue- apparently, the fact that the vision in my right eye is so bad at this point makes it hard for me to see really subtle 3D, so don't take that as criticism. Actually, it was quite the opposite here- I thought the 3D was apparent through most of the film.

The movie was full of geeky goodness. Did I mention the flying, stealth aircraft carrier? Be still my heart.

Overall, I thoroughly enjoyed The Avengers. It had action, humor, and some pretty darn good biceps! An afternoon well spent. Thanks, Stephanie! Oh, and if I ever get the chance to swoop in and save the world, I am SO doing it while blasting heavy metal!!


Dan O. said...

Nice review Mary. I had such a great time with this flick and definitely think it's one of the best superhero flicks since Spider-Man 2. Hopefully, Whedon will return for the sequel and makes it even better than this. Best way to kick off the Summer!

Mary Alice Kropp said...

Agreed. A fun movie and one of the few I would payto see again!