Thursday, May 10. 2012
Apologies to the small number of people who know I saw this last weekend and have been waiting to read this. Hopefully not with baited breath! Between a really bad migraine and trying to unpack some of the more arcane innards of MySQL database table names it's taken a while to finish this!
Before starting on the review proper, I feel I ought to remind you I'm not really a fan of super-hero movies. I have also not seen many of the prequels - not Captain America, neither of the Iron Man movies, not The Hulk, although I have seen Thor. As a child I never read Avengers comics either, so I'm pretty sure there's all kinds of geeky in references I haven't caught. In fact, I suspect if you're not familiar with the characters, Thor (despite being a rather poor movie) might be the only one you really need to see to understand some of the background to this. Or, save yourself a couple of hours and read the Wikipedia article.
All that said this movie was fun. It's very lightweight - eye fluff rather than eye candy perhaps, candy would imply some substance to it - but in the tradition of some other fun romps (The Mummy, I'm looking at you) there's just enough story to keep it moving along and there are many nicely structured scenes with the characters interacting with each other, many of which I'm sure will make the hard-core fans squeal with joy (one I caught and smiled at was The Hulk being unable to pick up Mjolnir after Thor had thrown it).
Loki was menacing and manipulative as an enemy - he had a much better script to work with than in Thor and revelled in being smart and bad. He was backed up by a CGI-heavy army, but they looked wonderfully menacing and dangerous and provided a plausible (well, plausible within the structure of the story) threat to cause the formation of the Avengers, hence the title and the lack of an exclamation mark - it's not an order, it's a description of the outcome. He also got away with calling The Black Widow a "mewling quim" - a phrase that I assume most American audiences don't understand although judging from the reaction in the auditorium a lot of British people still do. There has been an outcry that I've more recently become aware of stronger reaction about Joss Whedon being proud of being able to use this phrase. I assumed he wanted to archaically insult the female character - it fit with the comments about Thor and Loki talking like they're doing Shakespeare in the park for example - but I'm less sure now I know he's proud of it.
Each of the characters in the ensemble gets their moment or five in the spotlight. It's certainly enough to let the casual watcher like me understand the character's powers, have some idea of their limits and motives as well. There are some nicely shot scenes of them interacting as well, both positively and negatively. Familial bickering seems like a good description - although I'm not sure you could really describe the scrap between Thor and Hulk as bickering as they would have done hundreds of millions of dollars damage if it was real. And that, to a large extent, is the secret of the success of this film. It's got a lot of core star characters (even if fewer big star actors, although quite a few of those supplemented by a number of rising stars) and they're given enough screen time and enough interest and interaction to interest you in them without it feeling forced, slow or uncomfortable. But then Joss Whedon spent a lot of time helming Buffy and dealing with large casts where character was important and time in each episode was even tighter so I guess we shouldn't be surprised he managed it here and managed it well.
Overall definitely fun. An entertaining summer blockbuster movie, although coming out to frost warnings and a freezing night not really summer weather for it! If you're in the mood for a romp though, a couple of hours well worth investing unless the furore about antiquated swear words directed at female characters puts you off.
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