Wednesday, 9 May 2012

The Avengers

Walter was in town this week so of course we sought out some obscure indie film to watch together and found something called The Avengers. It being opening week and free popcorn and pop night, we had the theatre largely to ourselves (well, us and a few hundred others). Estimates suggest that over one billion people will watch The Avengers in the first few weeks of its release. That is mind-blowing to consider. 
What, exactly, is so special about this film? The answer is a combination of two factors: brilliant marketing strategy, in which previous films hint at the upcoming Avengers, and an almost insatiable demand for superhero films (Batman and Spiderman are coming back again this summer and will no doubt also be huge blockbusters). I am working on a presentation aimed at analyzing that demand. To hear more, join me at the Wild Goose Festival in North Carolina from June 21-24 ( or at the Mennonite Church Canada Assembly in Vancouver from July 12-15. 
In the meantime, was The Avengers worth all the hype? You know the answer: Not a chance. The Avengers was written and directed by Joss Whedon, who now must have more than enough cash in his pocket to bring back Firefly (as he has long desired to do). Whedon is a clever writer, especially good at creating characters who draw out humorous comments from each other on a regular basis. When The Avengers highlights the differences between its superheroes and allows them to talk to each other, it is a very funny and entertaining film. Unfortunately, far too much of the film is mindless action, highlighting special effects while apparently giving fans what they want. Well, you must know by now what I think about mindless action (yawn). 
The plot (such as it is) involves aliens taking over the earth. Our Avengers are all that stands in their way. I found nothing original in the story (apart from the strange collection of superheroes and their interaction with each other) and so the action was almost meaningless to me (and was frequently inconsistent, as in the behaviour of the Hulk). That The Avengers is full of redemptive violence goes without saying, but since the violence is all aimed at “evil” aliens, no one will notice and it’s hard to take the violence too seriously (which does not mean you should take children to see it, as some did).
The acting was more than acceptable and the cinematography and score were strong. In many ways, The Avengers was a well-made film. Because of the witty character interaction, I will give it a solid ***. My mug is up, but don’t expect great things unless you love action.

1 comment:

  1. Is the Hulk's behavior really inconsistent? Or is the character simply developing over the course of the movie? For perhaps the first time, the Hulk meets something besides fear or hatred — in fact, he emerges into Hulk form on the streets of New York to find himself surrounded by actual allies, who are really quite thrilled that he is the Hulk. The experience would have been rather novel for a being who was previously treated only as a monster. This, then, might make sense of his increasingly ordered behavior through the course of the finale.