For me, personally, seeing a movie like The Avengers is terrifying. For starters, it’s a comic book movie, which, in my book, doesn’t mean a whole hell of a lot. Secondly, because The Avengers was released weeks ago abroad, a sizable amount of positive hype accompanied the film into domestic theaters. Basically, it can be very difficult to fully enjoy a film that everyone else appears to be in awe of. Especially when that film is spawned from a genre I couldn’t care less about.
In short, I walked into The Avengers rolling my eyes and shaking my head, but walking out, I found myself internally repeating something Brian Cox’s Robert McKee tells Nicolas Cage’s Charlie Kaufman in Adaptation: “You can have flaws, problems, but wow them in the end, and you’ve got a hit.” That’s goddamn right.
But let’s back up. I haven’t enjoyed a single Avengers-related film yet. Both Hulk movies (especially the latter one starring Edward Norton) had too many faults to argue their case, Iron Man is okay, but made nearly forgettable by its lame sequel, and Thor was as wildly uneven as Capitan America. I don’t hate any of these movies, per se, but I could just as easily live without them. And if I don’t like them individualized, then how the hell was I going to be able to put up with them all together? Hell if I know, but I did.
I’m not even going to describe the plot of The Avengers, because what the hell is the point? Something about Thor’s weak-ass adopted brother flying onto Earth to possess some crystal that allows him to open a portal to his world. Once that portal is open, various flying beasts can enter Earth and take it over. Or something. It’s not that I didn’t pay attention, it’s that these comic book plots are so remarkably convoluted, that I get completely lost in the vernacular. Plot isn’t important here, action is, and for an action film, The Avengers sure does have a lot of talking. (Honestly, do the creators really think the targeted demographic for these films can attain all of the scientific, science fiction psychobabble that the characters spit out?)
It feels like an eternity before Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremey Renner) buckle down and start avenging. Because mostly, The Avengers is a film about superheroes talking about how they’re going to kick ass, without actually kicking much ass.
All of the circle-jerk expository dialogue (finally) leads up to no-holds-barred slugfest in which the Avengers take on the alien beings in uptown Manhattan, destroying practically half on The Big Apple. The sequence is long and thrilling and pure fanboy bliss. Hell, it even manages to provoke a handful of genuine laughs from the audience (all of which, it should be noted, are at the hands of Hulk). I loved every minute of the final action scene, but at nearly two and a half hours, I just wish the film wouldn’t have taken so long to get there.
I should end the review there, on a positive note, but I have two bones to pick that I need some honest clarification on.
One: how are the Avengers able to speak with one another when they are blocks apart during the final battle? Iron Man dishes out orders from his suit while flying high in the sky, orders that are verbally received by all of the other Avengers on the ground. But how? They aren’t wearing ear pieces. They don’t have phones. This, I simply do not understand.
Two: How does the Hulk go from an uncontrolled monster in one scene (who nearly kills Black Widow for no other reason than because she is in close physical proximity to him), to a calm, understanding Avenger who warmly takes orders in the next scene? I thought the whole point was that when Bruce Banner becomes Hulk, he cannot control his actions (every character with a speaking role in the film mentions this at least once). So how can he go from bad to good just like that?
Aside from these distractions, Joss Whedon’s film is one I can proudly recommend. I have no need to watch it again, and come Labor Day, you can bet I’ll be calling Prometheus or The Dark Knight Rises the best blockbuster of the summer, but for now, The Avengers will do just fine. B