Friday, May 4, 2012
Marvel's The Avengers
If you Google the word 'hype' it's entirely possible that this film will show up as your search result. In the history of film, I'm not sure if there's been another more hyped movie, or longer plan, or a bigger gamble. The enormous budget of this particular film aside (at $220M according to IMDB), there have been five massive budget films, spanning four years, leading up to it, featuring four iconic comic book characters: Iron Man, The Hulk, Captain America, and Thor, not to mention a few lesser known heroes like Hawkeye, the Black Widow, and Nick Fury, agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. This is undeniably epic. But does it live up to the hype? Well, kinda sorta but not really. But honestly would it even be possible for any film to live up to this much hype? If anyone could do it, I had faith in writer/director Joss Whedon, but unfortunately I don't think he completely came through.
As a general rule, I think if you're confused and overwhelmed in the first five minutes of a film it's a result of too much exposition and poor storytelling. Or perhaps I'm just slow. Or maybe the prequels weren't fresh in my memory banks. (What's this 'Tesseract' they keep rambling on about again?!?) But that's what happened to me here. And yet, not only did I catch up quickly, I surprisingly and disappointingly found the storyline way too simplistic. It's no spoiler to sum it up as follows: Bad guys steal powerful object. Good guys are recruited to get it back. Lots of fighting ensues. Don't hold your breath for any big surprises, because they don't come. And that's disappointing from a guy who brought such wonderful out-of-the-box writing to the best film of the year so far, 'Cabin in the Woods'. I expected more from Whedon.
AND YET ...
There's no denying that this film is so large scale and so epic, with so many exciting action sequences that you can't help but be amazed. And by successfully bringing together so many larger-than-life comic book heroes, with just the right camaraderie, and a consistent tone that seamlessly works for all of them, that you can't help but geek out at least a bit (if you're prone to that.) And best of all, they definitely nailed the comedy, with consistent funny one-liners (and not just by Robert Downey Jr.) and plenty of sight gags to keep a smile on your face throughout. And while I'm not generally one to cheer easily, there are more than a few moments I wanted to stand up and applaud. So, at the end of the day, after almost two and half hours, I left the theater feeling pretty good, despite its imperfections and lack of surprises. And ultimately that's good enough for me to easily recommend this movie to anyone who cares even the least about comic book films, and to give it a grade perhaps slightly better than it truly deserves. After all, more than a movie, this is an event. Assemble!