Friday, May 18, 2012

An Avenged Review

I just saw the movie I've been waiting 4 years to see: The Avengers.  Ever since that after-credits scene with Nick Fury in Iron Man back in 2008, I've been looking forward to, dreaming about, and questioning the wisdom of the making of this film.

In short, I loved it.

YET!  I have my complaints.  Though they are few, I thought they justified my writing a review about them.

---Thar be spoilers ahead, ye be warned!---

First of all, I was very disappointed in the music.  I know, I know.  It's a dumb thing to complain about right?


Freaking Joss Whedon chose Alan Silvestri to provide the musical score.  Freaking Alan Silvestri.  He who composes music for flops like The Mummy Returns is NOT he who should compose music for an epic action adventure blockbuster like The Avengers.  (Though I'm not saying I don't appreciate a dose of corny Mummy sequels now and then.)

A film's musical score is a vital part of its composition.  Think about the last time you watched The Lord of the Rings.  I'll bet you either thought or said, "Oh, I love this music."  Or Star Wars.  Or Titanic.  Or Star Trek.  Or Sherlock Holmes.  All have very strong musical scores that support the story telling process and help us sync our emotions with the scene.

The Avengers score only made me think, "When am I gonna hear something catchy?"

My other complaint involves the latter part of the film, and Loki's role in particular.  In short, it was a bit anti-climatic.

Loki did very little as far as stopping the Avengers went.  All he really did in the end was have his butt handed to him by the Hulk.  (Which was, by the way, one of the funniest moments of the entire film.)

In addition, I was a little disappointed in Loki's 'humanity'.  The reason I dig him so much is because of those rare moments where his good side shows.  He had next to none in The Avengers.

In interviews, Tom Hiddleston repeatedly said Loki would make us question his motivations throughout the movie.  There were extremely brief moments like when Loki got chummy with Black Widow or when Thor asked him to help stop the attack, but both instances quickly ended and Loki just turned out to be a turd.

In both the comics and Norse mythology, Loki is constantly switching sides.  Currently, in the Journey Into Mystery series, Loki is good.  He's recently returned from the grave after giving his life to save the Avengers, and ultimately Earth, during a battle that was whirling out of control because of him.

It was for that reason I thought the ending of The Avengers would result from Loki turning on the Chitauri and fighting with the Avengers.  It would have been more true to his character.

But in the end, Loki wasn't even the biggest threat, and neither were the Chitauri.  The nuke was.

In fact, it only served to support Loki's argument for taking over the world, "The humans slaughter each other in droves [in the fight for freedom]."

And only two Avengers were involved in dealing with the nuke--Iron Man and the Hulk.

Not that I'm complaining that Tony saved the day.  I loved it.  Especially since the Douche Bag--erm, I mean--Captain America had earlier accused Tony of being Iron Man for purely selfish reasons.

But I am complaining that the biggest threat was something that was introduced in the plot literally 5 minutes before it was dealt with.

Moving on.

I loved the scene where Iron Man and Thor are fighting in the woods, but what was the point of Thor being able to charge up Tony's suit?  Or of Thor making a small explosion by slamming his hammer against Cap's shield?  I assumed it would come into play later in the film, perhaps if Tony's suit was running low on power or to resurrect him from his brief space venture.  But neither the charge up nor the small explosion were used later in the film.

Something else that confuses me involves this scene.  Loki watches the fight from where he's perched on the mountain above.  After Cap comes along and breaks it up, the very next scene shows Loki in cuffs being lead through the helicarrier.

What the heck happened in between?

Did Loki hop down the mountain and present his wrists with an Ace Ventura-esque, "Shall we go to jail?"

We may have to wait for the deleted scenes for this to be cleared up, folks.

And one more thing that I would have changed about this scene!  When Tony asks Thor, "Doth mother know you weareth her drapes?"  I wanted to add, "Why hast thou forsaken thine wing-ed helmet?"

Why, oh why, does Thor not wear his helmet?

Perhaps it's because he hardly wore it during his title movie, Thor, but I would have really liked to see him in his full getup like everyone else was.

And more regarding Thor, I was expecting more of a conundrum such as, "Loki is my little brother, but he's taking over the world, but I love him, but he's the enemy, etc..."  But there was next to none.  I understand that in an ensemble movie you have to spend only a certain amount of time on each character's inner demons but it would have been nice for Thor to stop at least once and say something like, "I can't, he's my brother!"

And lastly, I was bummed out by Coleson's death.  Even though I think it was a very appropriate and poignant moment (it brings the Avengers together, after all), I'm still sad we won't be seeing Coleson anymore.  Loki, you little stinker.

Now, time for praises!
*Cue hallelujah chorus*

First off, I loved pretty much any scene with Tony in it (surprise surprise).  But I especially enjoyed all the moments he poked fun at the other characters, particularly with his many nicknames for Thor and Loki (i.e. Point Break, Reindeer Games, etc.) and how he constantly jabs at Captain America's age.

I couldn't be happier with how Tony's character was handled.  I was afraid this movie might have been more like Iron Man 'n Friends rather than The Avengers, but I'm happy to report that my fears were never realized.  In fact, one of my favorite scenes involved Tony sharing the moment with another character.

Loki and Tony's confrontation sent me straight to cloud nine.  Why?  Because my two favorite Marvel characters of all time were finally on screen together being portrayed brilliantly by the two best actors for the job.

Hollywood gods, we thank thee for this blessing.

And speaking of Hollywood blessings, I was very impressed with Mark Ruffalo.  I actually liked Bruce Banner for once.  It's not that I've ever disliked him, it just wasn't until I found myself liking Ruffalo's Banner that I realized how dull Edward Norton and Eric Bana were.

I especially liked how Banner was able to turn on the Hulk like a light switch at the end because it's harmonious with the last scene of 2008's The Incredible Hulk where Edward Norton is meditating and his eyes turn green.  Continuity!  Yay!

And as for the rest of the Avengers, I was very happy with how they were handled.  Hawkeye and Black Widow were given some much-deserved character development, and Captain America was far less douchy/useless than he usually is.

Nick Fury was also surprisingly cool.  I'll be honest, folks, whenever I see that Sam Jackson is gonna be in a film I roll my eyes and think 'oh go away'.  Instead, he turned out to be both relevant and entertaining.

Also, Coleson's mancrush on Captain America was priceless.

It also explained why Coleson recognized Cap's shield in Tony's workshop in Iron Man 2.  Continuity!  Yay!

Pepper's role was also handled very well.  Her character has undergone a huge transition since the end of Iron Man 2, mainly involving her stress levels.  She's not the CEO of Stark Industries anymore, or even Tony's personal assistant.  She's simply his girlfriend.  After I got over the initial shock of seeing her wearing casual clothes, I inwardly applauded the writers.

All in all the cast was excellent and I wouldn't have changed anything about it.

Remember my previous post about my anticipations/predictions for The Avengers way back in October?  I said I would be conflicted because of my love of the Avengers as well as Loki.  Thankfully, this didn't come to pass.  In fact, there were moments where I felt like the audience was supposed to be rooting for Loki, or at least feeling sorry for him.

The filmmakers did a great job conveying Loki's vulnerability, especially in his haggard appearance right after he arrives on Earth.  To quote the little stinker himself, "The humans think us immortal.  Shall we test that?"  Loki and Thor may be over 2000 years old, but they're still subject to age and injury and ultimately death.

I'm anxious to see what the next solo films are going to be like.  For instance, will Iron Man 3 include any other Avengers aside from Tony?  Will Thor 2 depict Loki's punishment that Nick Fury alluded to?  I kind of hope not, actually.  If it's mythologically accurate, Loki is in for one hell of a timeout.

(Did anyone notice the subtle nod to the Norse myth wherein Loki's mouth is sewn shut?)

In summary, I was incredibly satisfied with the care this film was made with.  The dialogue had me laughing out loud, the battles had me transfixed, and the story was a successful adaptation from the original comics.

If you haven't seen it, figure out what's wrong with your life and get to a theater.

And remember to stay for shawarma.

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