Avengers Assemble (3D)

Posted on May 3, 2012. Filed under: Movies to see before you die, Reviews | Tags: , , , , , , , , , , , |

This has taken me a couple of days to sit down and write for two reasons: 1) revision sucks. 2) I needed to calm down a bit so that the whole review wasn’t just the word “awesome” in 72 pt font.

We all know I’m a Marvel geek. And that I’ve been looking forward to this film pretty much since the dawn of time. I first wrote about it back in 2010 when it was just a glint in a studio execs eye, but since then we’ve had a pretty much relentless build up in Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America.

Despite my undying love for Stan Lee and all that springs from his page, I did start to lose the faith a bit as the much awaited climax drew closer. Captain America suffered with a slightly ploddy script, (although it’s not a bad film and benefits from a second watch) and although I seem to anger everyone I know when I say this, I found Thor undeveloped and was a bit skeptical about the central role Loki had to play in the final film.

I needn’t have worried. Not even the 3D could put me off this film. In fact, it was a rare case of non gimmicky use that wasn’t too distracting (or maybe I’m getting tolerant in my old age).  Avengers is simply a brilliant bit of comic book fantasy that gets everything just right.  As I’d hoped, mixing the characters together allowed the shortcomings of some to be made up by others. Thor didn’t seem so two dimensional when they played his fish out of water against Captain America’s child of the wrong time.  And the budding bromance between Tony Stark and Bruce Banner was a thing of beauty.

There were so many fantastic geek out moments (I was about one “glaiven” short of a full Professor Frink).  Joss Whedon plays to his strengths and delivers just what the fans want to see. The big montage of all our heroes “suiting up” for their first proper battle scored a whole load of nerd points.  As did each new moment of our collection of demigods, suped up mortals, ginormous green rage monsters and billionaire genius playboy philanthropists meeting for the first time. The crossing over of characters, themes and even tech from the individual movies is really well handled, managing to amalgamate the work of several different writers and directors in an impressively seamless way.

Alongside the big four, we also have some important supporting characters. Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) has been given ever increasing amounts of screen time with each new movie, and his dry wit and dead pan demeanour have turned him in to one of my favourite characters. Samuel L Jackson finally got to make it out of the stingers too and get some real work, making a suitably shifty Nick Fury.  In Iron Man 2, I found Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) little more than some black PVC doing an inexplicable amount of lunging, but she found some depth in Avengers and became not only an interesting character but one who could hold her own against the more developed favourites. Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye also managed to fit in nicely, without falling in to the X Men pit of too many heroes. The chemistry between him and Black Widow was well cultivated and  understated enough that it set up for future inevitable plotlines without shoving it down your throat.

The story is everything you want, fast paced, full of action and equipped with witty one liners to keep things moving. It’s about as close as I think anyone has come to making a film that watches like reading a comic book feels. The final showdown is just fantastic, and I loved the way we swung through the action to focus on different characters and individual battles. It’s kind of like a cross between the sentinels fight in Matrix Revs and Pelennor fields from ROTK. Which is just as cool as it sounds. And has someone who has (shamefully) still not actually seen any of the Hulk films, it was pretty fantastic to see the big guy up on screen doing what he does best.

Even if you’re not a Marvel geek you need to see this film. You just do.  It’s definitely one of the big events of the cinematic year, and Whedon has turned out a proper Blockbuster which has just about everything you could want in a movie. And Robert Downey Jr. 😉

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I don’t actually want to write this review…..

Posted on November 14, 2011. Filed under: Reviews | Tags: , , , , , |

Those of you unfortunate enough to read this blog on a  regular basis will know that I have been a failure of a so-called Marvel geek and taken far too long to see Thor. I finally got around to it last night.  I hadn’t originally planned to write a review seeing as most of you got over it way back in Summer when it came out. Unfortunately though, I find myself compelled to say some things. (There will be **SPOILERS** throughout as I’m pretty sure you’ve all seen this movie by now)

I never thought I’d find myself writing this, but I didn’t love Thor.

I’m a firm believer in the second time theory, and I’m hoping that watching it again when I’m not so tired (double weekend on duty with St John) will change my opinion, but for a film I had been looking forward to for so long and heard so many great things about, I couldn’t help but be disappointed.

For me, Thor basically fell into the same trap as Daredevil for feeling underdeveloped. None of the characters seemed to really have much depth or motive to what they were doing, and much as I wanted to I couldn’t find myself getting behind any of them that much.  Even Loki, a character I couldn’t wait to see on the big screen didn’t really live up to my expectations.  If you’re going to use the Daddy Issue plot device, you’ve got to give us something to work with, but from what I could see there really wasn’t much for Loki to be complaining about, and the fact hat he said he never wanted to be King  just made his role in the plot even more confusing. I never really got what he was trying to achieve, especially as he was letting the frost giants in all along. I know he’s supposed to be all “mischievous” but selling out your whole world to the monsters from another dimension just for the craic doesn’t really seem to make sense.

As for Thor, yes Chris Hemsworth has pretty hair, but other than that there wasn’t much too him.  The whole point of Thor (brought to my attention by the awesome and far more knowledgeable about these things Jackie) is that unlike other superheroes, he starts out super and loses his power, so instead of having to learn to deal with his strength, he has to learn humility.  Yes, this happens in the movie, but it all seemed a bit too….well, easy.  One little moment of selflessness (and all in the name of a pretty girl) and suddenly all his sins are forgiven.

Speaking of pretty ladies, I’m a big fan of Natalie Portman, and she does well with what she has in the film, but the relationship between her character and Thor just felt forced to me. I don’t know about you, but I don’t tend to fall head over heels for a guy with questionable mental status who I’ve known for about 48 hours. They just didn’t  have any believable chemistry.

Not wanting to keep listing things I didn’t like, but the script felt clunky in places too. I know that some of the lines were cheesy in a deliberate way, but some of the lines that were supposed to be funny fell a bit flat. Maybe that’s a consequence of watching it by myself, I don’t know.

I don’t want to sound massively negative; I definitely didn’t hate the film. I thought the score was great, and the design of Asgard really was beautiful, especially the disco dancefloor bridge. I’ve got to get me one of those.

It’s the age-old problem of a hyped up movie not living up to high expectations. The only thing I’m a little bit worried about is having had a similarly mediocre reaction to Captain America, The Avengers might not be the cinematic event I want it to be. But then Avengers will have one thing these two films didn’t: Iron Man.

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