Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Nitpickery: The Avengers

Hey y'all.  Guess what?  I actually saw a movie on the day it came out.  I never do that.  I'm usually that pretend to wait for the dollar theater but end up forgetting about it until it comes on Netflix sort of person.  And I'm a cheapskate.  But it was my birthday, so I wanted to go see a movie.

I had a really good birthday, actually.  I got free fancy tea, put in an application for a new job, and had one of those "baconator" sandwiches from Wendy's.  Yummers.  Oh wait, I forgot, I have leftover cake.  Be right back!


Okay, cake acquired.  Movie review time.

I had very low expectations for this movie.  As much as I like Jeremy Jahns, I was extremely skeptical of his positive review.  After all, he said the Iron Man movie was good, and quite frankly Iron Man was a waste of time.  It wasn't the worst movie in the world, but all the plotholes and misogyny got on my nerves.  As for the other Avenger movies, I haven't seen them.

Luckily you don't really need to see those background movies to enjoy this one.  So the plot goes, and no spoilers allowed, that Thor's brother Loki has come back to bring an army to Earth and conquer everybody.  The only people that can stop him are the various heroes of all the various movies.  Is the plot a cheap device to get all of the Avengers together?  Yes.  Do you care?  No.  Well, I do, but not by much.

I had to watch this with stupid 3D gimmickry.  The 2D was sold out.  Ugh.  Maybe it's because I'm already nearsighted and 3D means I have to wear two pairs of glasses at once, but the 3D just did not work.  I mean, I did see that one monster movie with the giant lady (I can't be bothered to remember the name.  It's not like it was a good movie) in 3D, and there it was much cleaner.  In this one, a lot of the things the camera wasn't focused on came out blurry, and I found myself removing the glasses to figure out what was going on.

But anyway, the heroes.  How did they work out?  Pretty good, for the most part.  Hulk was the best.  Normally I dislike the Hulk because he's a cheap rip off of Cuchulainn, but the actor really brought this guy to life.  His portrayal of Bruce Banner is remarkably deep, and even when he's not Hulk he seems to have Hulk hair.  You just get this very real sense of a desperate man, and sort of twitchy.  Very spot on.

Captain America is my favorite hero of the bunch, and he did have lots of good lines.  My main problem with him was that he wasn't given as much depth as I had hoped.  It's not at all a serious issue, but I'd like my onscreen prudes to be portrayed with a little more depth.  I don't like it when Hollywood makes them look like shallow jerks.  Cardboard people are not entertaining.  But of course, to be fair, Avengers does at least keep good ol' Cap from being a piece of cardboard, allowing him to be essentially the de facto leader of the group, as much as any one person can really lead a bunch of independent supers.  I like how Iron Man stepped aside and let him decide the strategy at one point.  It's shockingly humble for Mr. Stark.

I did see Iron Man, and because it was a hugely over-hyped "meh"-fest, I developed a strong dislike for Tony Stark.  I'm fine with Robert Downey Jr. but the character itself...*sigh*.   However, in this movie he was somewhat more sympathetic, and much funnier and grand than in his debut movie.  He's still an egotistical mo-fo, but that really brings in a lot of plot elements to the story that are actually very funny.  This might be a mild spoiler (well, not really), but there's a point at the end where he actually realizes that he's as self-centered as Loki.  Now that was funny.

However, Stark did something that irritated me.  He makes a comment at one point saying that he's "not a soldier", implying that there's something wrong with being one.  Excuse you, Mr. Stark, but soldiers have saved our lives more than you know, and they've been through a heck of a lot more than you, with no iron suits to protect them.  Why don't you come to a military town and say that to our faces?   Actually, I realize that's a choice the director or whoever made, because Hollywood has this thing about portraying people loyal to the country as either stupid or evil.  Or both.

Oh come on, I'm supposed to nitpick.  That's my job.  Er...well, not my job, but my enthusiastic hobby.  Don't look at me that way.

In any case, I think Downey Jr. did a better job here than in his own movie.  He actually made me curious to see Iron Man 2, which is something.  Actually, Iron Man also made a very bizarre choice, but that's not Downey's fault and it's also kind of a spoiler so I'll get to that later.  Thor also does something pretty stupid, though I will say his part was played well, if a bit underused.

I'll admit that I had no clue who Hawkeye and Black Widow were before watching this.  I expected Black Widow to be just another boring feminist stereotype, and well, she sort of was, but she's also sympathetic, and it seemed very human and female characteristic to have her want to get rid of her sketchy past.  She seems like a real person, and that's pretty cool.  It's just weird that she has no powers.  Or does she have something subtle and I missed it because I didn't see the movie she first appeared in?

Hawkeye?  Zero personality whatsoever.  I mean, he spends most of the movie being....oh, well, never mind.  In any case, he seems like a result of the Hollywood Personality Generator, meaning he has no quirks, sympathies, emotions, or anything relatively interesting about him at all (see: Avatar).  He's just kind of there.  He also seems to have no powers, except maybe good aim.  Poor dude.  Overshadowed by all the big personalities, with no room left for him.

Oh yeah, Thor.  I probably should say something about that guy.  He's cool, I guess, but unlike the others I feel like I've missed something about him by not watching his movie.  That's probably the result of Loki being the main bad guy and Thor's brother.  Still, Thor was pretty good.  No complaints for him, other than he has a pretty cheesy accent, and I'm sick of off-Brit accents in fantasies.  Seriously.  Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings...just think of a fantasy movie and there's probably somebody with a fake Brit accent in it.

As for the overall movie, it's actually pretty good.  I found myself catching a few little nitpicks, but overall I was actually able to put those aside and actually enjoy the movie.  There were a lot of funny one-liners, and everyone gets at least one, except for Stark, who of course gets a good deal more, being the Tony Snark he is.  There were times when characters just did stupid things, but if you're watching on the big screen, you can forgive it.  Yes, I'm tempted to think that watching this movie on a normal tv or something would lessen its entertainment value.

Overall, I'm willing to spare this movie a 7.5 out of ten, at least on the big screen.  It's a good, fun time, and you won't regret watching it, more than likely.

Oh wait, yeah, the best actor.  Ooh...sort of hard.  I'm going to give that to Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.  He does such a good job, and he feels a lot more real life than most of the actors onscreen.  He seems like he could be a dude you would meet in real life, except for that whole turning into a green monster thing.  The others seem just a bit caricature-ish.

Welcome to the spoiler zone.

Okay, so I had a few problems with this plot that I couldn't discuss without getting into spoilers.  The good thing about these errors is that they don't do too much to ruin your movie experience, except for repeat views, as you're not as impressed the second or third go-round by all the jokes and fighting.

First of all, there's a part where a battleship floating on the water starts to raise up into the air and become a massive flying fortress.  When it first pulls up out of the water, a lot of people are still standing on the top part where all the airplanes are being held.  These people are not being sheltered by anything.  They're out in the air, on the top of a soon-to-be plane.  Don't you think that maybe, just maybe, a boat belonging to a disciplined military force would make sure everyone was secure before lifting off?

While Dr. Banner is in the lab doing some sort of search for the energy of Loki's staff, I got a huge Star Trek feeling.  There was lots of technobabble, and the technology is ridiculously powerful.  Seriously, they're trying to search for energy on an entire planet?  I guess they could use satellites or something, but it still seems pretty Star Trek.

Next, there's a chain of dumb events throughout much of the center of the movie.  It starts out in Europe.

At one point, most of the Avengers are together and they capture Loki in Germany.  First of all, Loki is pretty darn easy to capture at this point, submitting ridiculously quietly.  Don't they ever question this?  And why aren't they investigating what Loki was doing in Germany?  Seriously, nobody looked into that?

And so next the Avengers put Loki on a transport plane to meet up with the aforementioned flying fortress thingermabie.  From out of nowhere, and for no reason, Thor enters the transport plane, attacks Iron Man, and snatches Loki away.  Buh...?  I didn't see your movie, Thor, but perhaps if you're trying to make a good impression on the local humans you may want to not remove a dangerous prisoner from custody.  Especially if the dude is your brother and it looks like you're freeing him.  Oh, so you're going to take the law into your own hands and try to convince Loki to be a good dude?  Hm,

And then Iron Man does the second most stupid thing in the entire movie.  He flies out of the plane, charges into Thor, and starts a fight with him, leaving a dangerous criminal alone in the woods to escape and cause more havoc.  I spent the entire fight wondering why they were giving Loki a pretty dang big chance to run off.  And why could Iron Man just talk to Thor and ask him why he snatched Loki, thus staying in the area and able to keep an eye on him.  Or maybe Thor could try to stop Iron Man from attacking him by using reason, explaining whatever legitimate reason he had for snatching Loki.  But no.  Not only does he fight Iron Man, but he never explains why he snatched Loki in the first place.

Captain America tries to stop the fight, and maybe he checked on Loki before he got there.  Maybe.  At least we hope he did.  In any case, Loki doesn't run and Thor decides that his"all too legitimate excuse" for snatching Loki really didn't matter that much anyway.  Lame plot convenience ahoy!

Wait...what?  Okay, Loki has a powerful staff, and you're going to keep it in the same place you keep Loki?   Why not keep it in a deep vault and Loki in some prison miles away?  Wow, maybe they should have let Thor take Loki.  That right there is the stupidest thing in the movie.  I mean, if Loki is a demi-god or whatever, maybe it's best to make things, y'know, harder for him.

Now that I've watched the movie, I noticed that Loki doesn't actually do anything useful to his allies wanting to conquer the earth after his capture.  I mean, he escapes later, but even if he hadn't escaped, the crony that he brainwashed would have been able to set up that machine and let loose the army of Loki's ally.  Huh, maybe if he didn't put the army summoning device in an extremely obvious place, it would have done good.

But it still manages to summon the army of aliens.  Wow.  Y'know, if you had an army waiting for a huge warp panel in space to open so that you could get through, maybe you wouldn't send in just a few dudes at once.  Maybe you send in troops like running water through a faucet.  And maybe, just maybe, you'd have an army big enough to actually defeat six people.  Yeah.

One nitpick really does mess up the entertainment factor of the movie, is that at one point Thor actually knocks Loki's powerful staff away from him, and then flies off.  Loki escapes, but he likewise seems uninterested in retrieving the staff.  From then until the end of the fight, I wonder why someone doesn't just pick up the staff and poke it into the alien summoning device.  And then finally, someone actually does it.  But no, it's not Thor.  You'd think the first thing he'd go for once beating up his bro is the staff.  Nope!  Instead he goes off to fight more aliens, letting more people die and more of New York get destroyed just because he doesn't have common sense (or common fantasy movie sense).

And one final nitpick.  When the control ship of the alien invaders gets set up the bomb, why do all the aliens just die?  That reminds me of the Star Wars prequels, and quite frankly that's never good.  Also, they're all living creatures, not robots.  Iron Man clearly establishes that the flying worm things are beast and not computer.  So how would destroying a ship affect them?  And if destroying the ship magically kills all the aliens, then why doesn't simply closing the portal to the other side of space not kill them?  They probably can't receive a signal from the ship without the portal shortening the distance for them.

Bah, that's enough.  Just watch the movie in the theater, and feel happy.  You likely won't feel the need for a repeat view anyway, unless it's again at a theater.

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