Friday, June 8, 2012

I saw The Avengers yesterday. I should retitle this blog "The Movie Snob." I'd been resisting The Avengers, mostly because I've been continuously disappointed with Marvel comics' movies. I'm also reluctant to contribute to Hollywood's "more is more" mentality, where more explosions is equated to more money and all the finer subtleties of filming are ignored. So I'd skipped Iron Man 2, and Fantastic 4, and had only seen Thor and whatever else on DVD where I could read or play solitare on my laptop at the same time. But Kate Reid wanted to see The Avengers, and she was kindly helping me pick out glasses frames downtown, so I compromised my values and went to see another Marvel comics movie. I'm a rather inexpensive whore, as whores go.

The movie actually wasn't half-bad! Maybe because my expectations were in the gutter. Robert Downy Jr's endless quips were only a little annoying, same with Captain America's pouty earnestness and Thor's archaic way of speaking. Iron Man's archery still look silly, but you can see why everyone might choose to politely indulge his idiosycrasy.

I found myself appreciating how they stayed true to my childhood memories of the comic books. They show Captain America's shield magically absorbing the vibrations of Thor's attack, how Mjolnir can only be lifted by the righteous, and I was quite entertained when Bruce Banner walked into a scene wearing ill-fitting, unnaturally large pants (by coincidence in the story, but we all know it was in preparation for his pants-stretching transformation).

It turns out that if you throw enough 2.5D characters into a scene, you stop noticing their individual lack of dimension. Also if you squish enough layers into a premise, you stop noticing that there isn't really a narrative plot. Marvel pulled a lot of tricks with this one. The only thing they can't disguise is that this is a franchise movie and no permanent changes can be made to any of the characters. Captain America might get randomly bruised and cut, but none of those bullets are going to blow off a finger or hit an eye. The characters are invulnerable, and they know it. They are cartoonishly carefree when in supposed danger. The one somber part of the movie is when a minor soldier guy dies. And you know its the sad part, not because any actors pretend to be saddened, but really because the characters take a few minutes off from their usual quips. (Looking back now, I suppose I complained about this same thing a few entries ago regarding Burn Notice. I guess it's something that bothers me more than most viewers.)

Even the hook after the credits was entertaining. Possibly only because of my particular circumstances. I had to explain to Kate Reid whose face it was that we saw, and then she asked me if his line therefore had a double-meaning, and it was only then that I saw that it did have a double-meaning. Usually I hate waiting for post-credits hook scenes but I appreciated how that bit of cleverness snuck up on me after the fact.

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