Sunday, April 29, 2012

So I guess we know who they're Avenging now - Avengers Film Review

So yeah, The Avengers is good.

It's better than all the other Marvel Film Universe productions that've been put out thus far, and doesn't have the same kind of major structural problems towards the third act, so that's nice. All the characters are well-drawn - not well developed, because that happens in their own films - but they're consistent with their previous portrayals - and I actually think I like Mark Ruffalo better than Edward Norton as The Hulk, so that was a pleasant surprise. And slimy little creep Loki makes for great fun as a villain that's not quite as great as he thinks he is, but is still legitimately dangerous enough to be a real threat without turning into a parody.

It's most definitely a Whedon film - enough of his narrative ticks are present that it really couldn't be anything else. I also approve of the Chekhov's swag that finally pays off in this film - so many little things from the other films end up being relevant, it makes you wonder how much was actually planned, and how much is just an example of being able to draw plot elements together in an effective way.

The writing's what you'd expect from Whedon - funny, quippy, with the occasional shocking swerve into gravitas (which is probably the main thing I like The Hulk for). This sort of dialogue is perfectly suitable for the universe, so even though there's a couple of lame lines, there's nothing that throws you completely out of the moment.

I also think there needs to be a S.H.I.E.L.D film - characters like Nick Fury and Natasha Romanov are demonstrably strong enough in this film that it really seems obvious that they could carry a narrative all by themselves - they've had all their development in other character's films, but dammit, they're cool, and I want to see more of them! There's also a slight psychological element, chiefly exemplified by Banner's emotional issues and Natasha's mind-game espionage gambits) - not as heavy as in Whedon's other stuff, but it's glanced at, and acknowledged, and the effort is appreciated.

Lots of action, of the super-hero variety - lots of back-and-forth, giving each character a chance so shine in their own way. Which is really what the whole thing's about, of course - the ensemble. And in that sense, the film's as good as could be possible, I think. There's also a lot of comic-book logic - that's the main issue that'll lock audiences out, I believe. You can either roll with the silly elements and the random pseudo-science, or you can't. If you can't, you miss out of things like The Hulk destroying a giant bio-mechanical space-ship with one punch, and I just think that's sad.

It won't blow you away, but it's rock solid, well written, well performed, and full of cool little details that pretty much make this the zenith of popcorn entertainment. If you want to give your inner child a treat, check The Avengers out.

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