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Wednesday, 9 May 2012

Still Thor About It: The Avengers Reviews (Part 1)

Hello hello!

There comes a time when one must bite the bullet and see a movie whether or not it's good for the sake of reviewing. Even if watching it is agonizingly boring, or even painful, there are things that as reviewers, we have a duty to talk about. Captain America and yes, Thor, were movies that fit into this category. The Avengers, however, was not. Before I get to the high-pitched squealing noises that are going to accompany the review for The Avengers, though, I feel duty-bound to yell at Marvel for a few minutes regarding the shameful fuckery that was Thor and the somewhat decent Captain America movie. Also,


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

So: Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. The reason I'm even making this a menage a' trois is that in order to understand and enjoy what the fuck was going on in the Avengers movie, I deemed it necessary to force these two down my throat the night before. Since Andrey liked both Hulk movies, and since both of us loved the Iron Man movies, those were no-brainers. Robert Downey Jr.'s charisma and wit as Stark were so enjoyable that nothing more can be said about him in the role, and Edward Norton played a sensitive, intelligent, haunted Hulk to perfection. Sure, all four movies had some very ridiculous moments, but the Hulk movies were nicely dark and atmospheric and the Iron Man movies were funny, enthusiastic, and got the updated atmosphere across nicely.

Oh, how I wish I could say the same for Thor. At the risk of getting crucified by the fangirls drooling over the admittedly luscious Chris Hemsworth, this movie sucked. I'm always down for a B-movie, don't get me wrong. I have a review of Wrath of the Titans that will be up soon. Give me gloriously goofy overacting, give me crazy effects, and I am one happy little bird. However, Thor just...failed. Roger Ebert, in spite of his relentless geek-spearing, has already gutted this one pretty nicely, but I'm going to have to add my voice to the small crowd of people proclaiming that it just sucked.

Source.Thanks, Wiki, this summarizes the movie nicely.

The forced romance with Natalie Portman's character was about as natural as my "Kissing Simba and Nala" toys in childhood, and a lot less adorable. Hemsworth is a surprisingly boring Thor, playing a boorish and dully adaptable thug who under-hulks The Hulk. Odin is fine, sure, but it's Anthony Hopkins; and even then, he seems pretty bored. Loki is a lot more interesting than Thor, which unfortunately isn't saying much. His motivation as a villain is basically the adolescent rebellion of an adopted child. I'm not even going to mention what happened to mythology in this film, because it will give me an anyeurism, but suffice to say that the great Edith Hamilton's Mythology was probably not a reference guide. That's a big problem, because the Norse gods had a sense of grandeur that derived from a very dark and not-happy history. Putting Thor in a silly, brightly-coloured movie means you need to either overdo the darkness or find a good way to compensate for its disappearance, and that just doesn't happen here. And without the darkness, you have a hero that is just impossible to care about.Thor has nothing to lose annd his origins aren't very interesting, and when you take those away, you lose the propellants of superhero movies.

This isn't a veggie burger when you're expecting a double-patty bacon cheeseburger--it's more like two buns with some ketchup and lettuce. The scariest and saddest thing about this piece of drek was that it was directed by Kenneth Branaugh, the gentleman who does a most bitchin' job with Shakespeare and is usually a good director. What went wrong, Kenneth? What went wrong? the script-writing was obviously hurried to save some resources for the Avengers, but there is neither the grandeur and conviction I was hoping for nor the balls-out full-bore goofiness that would also have been acceptable. It's closer to the latter than the former, but the note just doesn't work. A little more comedy would have fixed this movie up nicely, but unfortunately, there were no lols to be had. What can I say? Son, I am disappoint.

Source.And it is, in fact, an origin story. Imagine that.

Now that you've probably flipped a table, let's give Captain America: The First Avenger a run-down. This film was much better--deliciously goofy 'scary' Nazis, Hugo Weaving as a villain (that's a bonus in itself), a nicely sepia'd atmosphere, and a suggestion of humanity and personality to the other Big Blue Boy Scout, Captain America. The lack of fulfilment with the female candy character and a faint suggestion that she was actually capable of doing her job well were nice elements. The hint of loss and sweet banality that their relationship brought to the movie made her time on-screen a million times more tolerable than every teeth-gritting moment with Natalie Portman's 'astrophysicist' in Thor. Also, there's something about the way he said, "I had a date" that really haunted me. You can tell he cared about that date.

The biggest weakness in the film is its uneven pacing. For some reason, it seems to speed up, then slow down, then speed up again. Possibly the late-night, post-Thor timing was to blame, but the middle of this movie is hard to sit through and drags like a Libyan bottom-trawler's nets. The awkward 'is the movie done?' feeling that comes after the first act was also confusing; I suspect there were some director's cuts that messed up the flow. Finally, I'm going to complain that Bucky is kind of a crappy friend. He picks on Steve Rogers, which is sort of fine, but you don't really get the sense of support. If anything, Tony Stark's father is more supportive, and a real scene-stealer.

Still, I was expecting a bland, hyper-American patriotism sandwich. Shockingly, it wasn't anything like that--if anything, the patriotism was underplayed. The metaphors got heavy-handed, but for a superhero movie it wasn't too bad. The biggest strength is that the actor, Chris Evans, did a really fine job as Captain America. Steve Rogers is a skinny geek with a tough heart, and even after being juiced up, he never really loses that scrappy soldier vibe. He's got a certain earnest goodness that was surprisingly refreshing. Given that he ends up in a block of ice at the end (and beginning) of the movie, we're not going to get a Captain America 2, but I for one would be willing to watch him walk around the 21st century world for a bit and adjust to it. The magnificent Alan Moore gave us an inside look at what the world is like for vigilantes and superheroes in The Watchmen,and it's almost a shame that we'll never get to see a Watchmen style realistic treatment for the Captain.

That concludes the first part of our program...stay tuned for a review of The Avengers in the second half! The SciFiMagpie will be back after these messages.


  1. I'm surprised to hear that you didn't like Thor. I thought it was fantastic, and definitely one of the best superhero movies I've ever seen. Heck, I even liked it better than Iron Man. Captain America was pretty good too.

    Anyway, I haven't seen The Avengers yet, but my brother (a big superhero fan) thought it was amazing, even better than The Dark Knight, so I'm somewhat anxious to see it now. But he told me he doesn't think I'll like it much. =P

    1. Posting an update to an over-three-years-old comment of mine. :P

      In hindsight, I take back what I said about liking Thor better than Iron Man. Iron Man (the first one, at least) is definitely the better movie. Captain America as well. Both Thor movies wore off on me somewhat. I still like them, but not as much as I used to.

  2. Also, as it turns out, we are in fact getting a Captain America 2:


  3. Oooh! I am now excited! I have no idea how they will pull it off, but hey, a sequel is a sequel. I do think that if you can handle all the loud effects, you'll really enjoy The Avengers. It's a bit James Bond, and I know that's your area of expertise!

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