For those that don’t know what Halo Syndrome (HS) is, I ask that you please refer to my Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim review here:
I probably should have written this review a couple weeks ago with my reviews for Cabin in the Woods, Lockout, and The Pirates: Band of Misfits coming before it, but alas, I have not been in a particularly bloggy mood lately and I have chosen to post this one first, because it is more topical at the moment.
So anyway, The Avengers!
I have to admit, I was very skeptical about this film. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t think it would be bad, especially once I heard that Joss Whedon wrote and directed it. But it had been hyped up so much and so well in the years leading up to its release with teasers at the end of all of the Marvel superhero movies that had come previously. I knew that it couldn’t possibly live up to the expectations that the masses had built in their squirmy, human brains. There was no way that it could be as good as everybody thought it would be. But on the bright side, with all of the excellent actors (and Scarlett Johanssen) playing excellent characters under an excellent writer/director, just maybe it could come close.
Now, I’m not really into comics, and if I tried to get into them (and part of me wants to), I wouldn’t know where to start, but I know it wouldn’t be with The Avengers. It’d be with The X-Men. Or maybe Spider-Man because Venom is my favorite comic book character ever. But that’s besides the point. The point is, I went into this movie, and all previous Marvel movies, without too much prior knowledge of the various mythologies behind these characters. But (with the exception of Thor and Hawkeye), I at least knew the basic backstories. But in a sense, that’s good. It allowed me to enjoy the movies for what they were instead of noticing discrepancies in the mythology. And that was the case here.
Now, I had seen all of the previous Marvel superhero movies prior to seeing The Avengers. And I enjoyed all of them. They were done exceptionally well. From my less-than-expert standpoint on these heroes, it certainly seemed that they did almost everything right. The action, the drama, the humor, the effects, the acting (mostly): all great. And I’ll address each of these in turn.
The Action: It was intense, it was cinematic, it was creative, and best of all, I can’t remember any shaky-cam bullshit that has become so prevalent in movies lately. I could actually see what was happening! I knew what was going on! It’s a really sad day when actually being able to see and understand what’s happening during a movie’s action sequences is a refreshing turn of events! That shouldn’t be a problem! Anyway, another thing that made me immensely happy was the fact that there was no blatant product placement throughout the whole movie, at least not to my memory, unless you count Tony Stark/Iron Man referencing shawarma. And that blows my mind. It’s a welcome change to Michael Bay’s focusing on a Mountain Dew sign whilst giant robots are fighting just ten feet to the left or making the Ninja Turtles eat spaghetti because Chef Boyardee wants to be featured. No, The Avengers focused on the awesome action instead of making the cameramen do gymnastics around various corporate tie-ins. And that’s refreshing.
The Drama: I’m going to try and avoid a spoiler here, but fuck you Joss Whedon! You fucking did it again! People that have seen the movie know exactly what I mean here. And I don’t really blame him. Honestly, it was a good move and it raised the drama considerably and made me care so much more.
The Humor: I don’t know why, but I’m still surprised by how much humor is injected into these movies. They’re all very funny. And not like the Mega Man cartoon (1994-1995) is funny. Genuinely humorous. And The Avengers is no exception. I laughed out loud more than once. And that’s weird, because the movie is not a comedy. But still, it strikes an effective balance of action, drama, and comedy, which is not an easy thing to do at all.
The Effects: Though not perfect, they were still a spectacle. I will say that there were at least a couple times where the CG kind of stood out, but it was never really glaring or unforgivable. That’s really all I can say.
The Acting: I love Robert Downey Jr. And honestly, no one else could play Tony Stark/Iron Man. Chrises Evans and Hemsworth are both very good at their jobs, playing Captain America/Steve Rogers and Thor/Thor respectively. I was skeptical about their choice to cast Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner/Hulk instead of keeping Edward Norton, and I still kind of wish they had, if not just for consistency. The movie would not have been any worse. But I don’t think it would have been any better either. Ruffalo did a pretty exceptional job. I was also surprised by how much I really enjoyed the character of Clint Barton/Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner. Tom Hiddleston’s performance as Loki was again, spot-on. I still think casting Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury was kind of an odd choice. I’m not really complaining. The role was entertaining enough and well-acted. But for those that don’t know, this is what Nick Fury looked like when he was created:
Now, I may be misinformed here, but someone once told me that Nick Fury in the comics has changed in more recent years. But I find it odd that they would use a recent incarnation of Fury when this movie is about the formation of The Avengers. And that’s what Fury looked like when that actually happened in the comics (though maybe not exactly like that. I don’t know which comic that’s from or when it was published). But that’s more of a nitpick than anything. Like I said, Mr. Jackson delivers a solid performance, and the movie isn’t any worse because of it.
But here’s where I have to take away a point for acting. Natasha Romanoff/Black Widow played by Scarlett Johanssen. Be warned, there is an angry rant a-brewin’ here. So, if you don’t wish to hear my unpleasant thoughts about this casting choice, please skip the following paragraph.
I cannot fucking stand this woman in any role that she’s ever been in. And somehow, she keeps finding her way into our superhero movies! The Spirit (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), and now this. And you know what? She is always terrible! Ms. Johanssen’s approach to acting seems to be ‘speak in the same tone of voice, no matter the situation, and no matter what language I’m speaking’. Listening to her speak Russian in this film is a fucking joke. Which sucks, because she’s playing a fucking Russian! Who speaks in a monotone American accent! Quality casting choice there. And when I spoke to my brother about this, his response was, “She’s fucking hot. So, who cares?”. Fuck that shit! You know something? There are attractive actresses out there that can, you know, act! A woman shouldn’t get a role in a movie such as this that actually has integrity just because guys like to jerk off to the thought of her naked. If you needed an attractive redhead with some talent (and might actually care about the character), why not Felicia Day? She’s good-looking, talented, and has some serious nerd cred. Sure, she may not be as naturally seductive-looking as Johanssen, but put on the right makeup, and it’d be pretty damn close. Maybe it’s not the best choice, but it’s certainly a better one! If we don’t need a natural redhead, which we obviously don’t, because Scarlett most certainly isn’t a redhead, there are plenty of really good-looking actresses that know how to act! Kate Winslet (would have been weird, but awesome), Anne Hathaway (would have just been awesome), Uma Thurman, heck, Keira Knightley personally bugs the shit out of me, but even I can admit she’s attractive and at least has an iota of talent and would have been an acceptable alternative. Fuck, even Jessica Alba, whom I hate, would have been preferable. And it pisses me off now, because Scarlett has already played the role of Black Widow twice now. It’s at a point where they’re not going to change it in any future films, and that fucking sucks. Damn it, you guys replaced the Hulk. Why couldn’t you replace Black Widow?
Okay. I feel better now that I’ve gotten that tirade out of the way.
I think my favorite aspect about The Avengers is none of the above. It’s actually something rather small. I truly love the fact that none of the Avengers got gypped on screentime. The movie spends an almost equal amount of time with each of them. They each had their individual actions scenes, their own drama, their own comedic moments. And that’s cool. It’s not an easy thing to give six or seven main characters equal attention. The only one of them that may have been slightly snubbed was Hawkeye, which is unfortunate, because I really liked him.
So, besides Scarlett Johanssen ruining nearly every scene she’s in, was there anything wrong with the movie? Well, sort of.
The story itself is nothing really original. I can’t really blame it. It’s near impossible to make a superhero movie that doesn’t follow a basic formula story-wise. You know it. Villain(s) wants to take over and/or destroy the world/city using his powers/army/superweapon, so our hero(es) must use all of their skills to stop him/her/them. But to offset the basic nature of the story, the dynamics between each of the characters are built very well. I love seeing these people interact and grow. So, while the story itself may not be anything spectacular, it’s the story/character development that puts this film ahead.
Also, I was kind of disappointed that War Machine didn’t make an appearance. Yeah, I get why he didn’t. But he wasn’t in Iron Man 2 for very long, which was sad. Plus, I love Don Cheadle and would have loved to see him in there.
So, my verdict on Marvel’s The Avengers is, besides Black Widow, everything was done incredibly well. It actually came very close to living up to the ridiculous hype that it was receiving. It was a great movie that I can recommend to anyone that doesn’t hate superheroes.