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Thursday, 10 May 2012

Stark Raving Mad: The Avengers Review (Part 2)

Aaaand we're back!

I mentioned high-pitched squealing noises in my previous review, and I have to say, I'm making them. This movie was not just good, it induced multiple awesomegasms. I realise that this sentiment has been echoing across the internet (and movie theatres)

What has been said before shall be said again:


There. You have been warned. Now shut the hell up and enjoy the ride.

It barely needs saying, but The Avengers is a delicious, whole-hearted, gleeful joyride into and through the heart of superhero movies. From the first shots of Samuel L. Jackson badassing his way through the role of Nick Fury to the action-packed, exploding space whale finale in New York, it's a loving tribute to the comics that goes above and beyond its origins.


Plot: The plot is pretty straightforward: Find the McGuffin Cube, fight over it with the bad guys, find McGuffin Cube again and prevent its use as a weapon to bring the armies of Gears of War aliens to shitstorm Earth. It's not exactly rocket science, unlike the delightful technobabble swapped by Stark and Banner's characters. There is a lot of shiny technology, 'I WANT ONE OF THOSE' moments, and all of the pretty stuff--even Scarlett Johannson's costume--is practical. Joss Whedon knew that we weren't going to see a Marvel movie for the plot, but he respects the audience's intelligence, and that's a nice change. Sure, there's lots of booming noises and pretty explosions, and the glorious special effects that $220 million can buy, but the really special thing about this movie is the character interaction.

The Special Sauce:And oh, the character interaction. My inner quote monster is tempted to copy/paste every beautiful line I can think of, but this is one of those times when that would be insufficient. With Tony Stark bouncing around, exuding as much charisma as only Robert Downey Jr. can bring, and several alpha males in the same room, you're bound to have a great mix. And, to their credit, not only do the actors play off each other well, the comedy feels genuine and spontaneous. It's a definite Whedon touch. I was never much of a Whedon fangirl, being lukewarm on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and, yes, Firefly, but when a film like this showcases such a deft touch of comedy, it's impossible not to melt. Avengers is a fantastic action movie, but like Iron Man, it is hilarious and may just be the funniest movie of the year. Small visual jokes, such as Tony Stark's Black Sabbath t-shirt, and fast-paced, off-the-cuff verbal wit make it a delectably quotable film.

The other (pardon the pun) marvel in this film is the way the alpha males fight and jockey for their positions. It makes sense that a bunch of super-powered larger-than-life dudes in the same room would start to compete, and Whedon takes this to its logical extremes. The scenes involving the various Avengers fighting each other literally (not figuratively) made my jaw drop in delight. Watching Tony Stark and Thor pummel each other, and Stark take the piss out of Steve Rogers, were some of the most delightful moments in the movie. Roger Ebert flippantly passed over the chest-pounding, testosterone-contest moments, but they really do establish that a team is built, not just assembled like a crew of Transformers toys in a Chinese factory.

Notable Characters:

Black Widow:There is a heavy emphasis on men in the movie--virtually all of the heroes are male, and with a comic book audience, it's impossible not to be aware that the majority of fans will be dudes. However, in spite of her Smurfette role within the group, Natasha Romanoff is a pretty solid addition. The fact that her Russian is terrible is forgiveable because her character is quietly complex. Johansson makes for a solid Black Widow who seems aware that she is not super-powered. She never tries to compete with the men on the same level, but she uses her presumed feminine weakness to emotionally manipulate him. Apart from the supernumerative shots of her Calliphygean butt, her costume is relatively practical--waterproof and skintight, and including full coverage of all parts, without even a stupid cleavage rip. She acts like a spy and remains committed to S.H.I.E.L.D. when others lose faith, and her romance(?) is given far less emphasis and airtime than the mentions of her history as a vicious assasin. In other words, they treat her like a man without making a fuss about it, and boy is it a pleasant change from every other hero film ever. I hope it continues, with more chicks in the cast, because it's a lot more fun to watch a film when the female lead isn't given as much of a boobs-centred special status.

Iron Man:Tony Stark is a scene-stealing delight every single moment he's on screen. Robert Downey Jr. manages to play desperate wit with savage humour and self-respect that some 'real' comedians could do well to learn from. He also ends up commanding respect from the uptight Captain America and smug Thor, which is no small task. Most touching moments centred around the way his love for Pepper Potts was subtly emphasized and his immediate attachment to Bruce Banner. Mark Ruffalo played a compassionate scientist perfectly and believably--it was hard to believe his name wasn't Steve and that he didn't work in a physics lab in real life. The way these two intelligent men struck up a buddy relationship was--I have no other word for this--adorable.I'm just going to leave this picture here now.

Sorry, no source for this awesomeness.

Faults:Technically, because I like to review things (even though I fuck with the formatting for newer releases, rather than being consistent as in 'Missed It' reviews--I do that to bother you) I am supposed to pick holes in them. And I'm having a hard time doing that with The Avengers, but it is possible. I'm relying heavily on Andrey for this, since the large group of attractive and charismatic geek friends that I saw this with were unable to come up with problems for it. Still, as was noted in the Thor review, Loki is a villain with very poorly defined motivations. Sure, he's fun to watch, but "I want to take over the world!...Vaguely!" is pretty blah. One isn't necessarily expecting Shakespearean complexity (I'm looking at you, Branaugh) but some complexity is nice. What we get is "Hey, I just got here, and I am crazy, but you're all ants and I'm conquering, maybe." I guess a poorly-defined "I want to rule the world!" villain is sort of refreshing after all the 'revenge/competition/he stole my idea and my girl' plots we're usually offered. Still, something deeper would have been appreciated. The alien Chitauri are also sort of lame, but hey, they have space whales, so it's okay.

Also, we're not going to talk about science, because trying to explain the science in Marvel comics movies makes the people with physics and chemistry degrees end up in the rooms with the padded walls and curiously restrictive white tuxes whilst making high-pitched buzzing noises. My aforementioned buddies agreed that a formidable drinking game could be constructed around every moment in which comics violate real-world science. Other than these nitpicks, and the usual whingeing about 3-D being all blurry and shit (I enjoyed it for this movie, actually), it's pretty hard to punch holes in such a wonderful, childishly awesome action movie. And with that, I'm going to end the review on plans to schedule in my next viewing, preferably with as many of my friends as possible.

Well, that's our show for today. Get your asses back here for more reviews, funny and insightful thoughts, and teasing information about my more formal writing. Yes, I know I keep promising it, and it's coming. We'll be back to destroying the future you know and love soon, but in the meantime, follow me on Twitter at SciFiMagpie. This is your SciFiMagpie, over and out!


  1. Whoa, that was weird! I came onto your blog when you'd posted up to Part 1 of your Avengers review. I left a couple of comments, played a computer game for about 15 minutes, then I came back on and you'd just posted Part 2.

    Anyway, I'll be sure to let you know once I've seen The Avengers myself.

    Also, do you know what day your grad is on yet?

  2. Thursday the 31st! :D I am quite excited about it. Also nervous. Enjoy the movie! I hope I won't have spoiled too much for you ^^

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