Friday, May 11, 2012

"Avengers" Review, No Spoilers

            I saw "The Avengers" a few days ago, and I loved it, what is more I still love it, I am looking back on it remembering scenes that were awesome, funny, exhilarating, or pathos inducing and wishing I were watching it again.  I have watched a good 8 episodes of the cartoon series (which is spectacular, go watch it on Netflix, I would say it is in many ways better than the "Justice League" cartoon from 10 years ago if for no other reason than the Avengers don't form for 7 episodes and an over arching plot is established in the first episode, basically it just has a more epic structure).  What I'm saying here is, I find myself saying over and over again, "AVENGERS ASSEMBLE" and picturing myself in the action alongside these characters helping to save the world.

This has so much fun in it.
             I am a huge comic book, and more specifically superhero fan.  My uncle John introduced them to me when I was a kid and grew up with the 90's X-Men and Spiderman cartoons alongside Batman and Superman, but the first comic book I ever bought was an issue of Thor, and I had a subscription to Captain America (comics I read so many times that they literally fell apart, something I really regret because I had the first appearance of the super villain, Superia who has become really important in the Avengers recently and the comic probably would have been valuable).  There is an underlying nostalgia in this movie that, to a degree colors my ability to evaluate it, but even when I turn that part of my brain off, I still love the movie.

            It might seem insane to say this, but the greatest strength of "The Avengers" is the structure.  It should go without saying that movies should have foreshadowing, effective pacing, character interactions, action beats, and awareness of plot elements, but many movies don't have those basic elements, and few movies can claim to do it as well as "The Avengers" do it here.  There is punctuation to scenes, small jokes, visuals, little elements that makes everything transition on a high note.  Like a comedian telling an effective joke, each seen has set up, the meat of why the scene exists, and then a mini pay off which makes an impression on you so that when they reference the scene later you can easily remember it.  This ties things together better.

            There is even good camera work.  There is a shot in which two characters, Bruce Banner (the Hulk) and Tony Stark (Iron Man) are talking as Bruce and Tony, and they are each explaining how neither of them asked to be a hero.  Bruce getting his powers through a lab accident while trying to recreate the Captain America program, and Tony having to build a mechanical heart for himself because terrorists used his conventional weapons against him.  Bruce and Tony's development mirror each other as Tony stops manufacturing weapons for use by anyone other than himself as Iron Man, and Bruce literally has to run from the military to keep them from using the Hulk as a weapon.  This conversation happens on either side of a clear glass screen, so that Tony's reflection on the glass overlays Bruce, and in the reverse shot Bruce's reflection overlay's Tony, the glass screen serves as a literal frame around each of them.

Seriously, these two have great chemistry on screen and do a lot to sell the movie.

            And what is the screen between Tony and Bruce?  It is a stylish computer monitor that is busy processing two different functions.  They are looking for the bad guy, Loki and they are hacking into SHIELD computers because they don't entirely trust who they are working for.  In others words, they are both weapon makers, hunting down a guy who would use weapons to inflict evil on the world, and while doing that they are making sure they are not going to just turn this weapon in to a group who would use it for evil, and they are doing this because both characters have been burned in the past.  This is a flawless visual metaphor.  It is a perfect scene in a movie, and in addition to all it tells you about the characters through their great dialogue, it also tells you huge amounts with just the visuals about how these two see each other.  And the movie is loaded with that type of scene.  Beautiful.

            For the sake of criticism here is my biggest complaint: Captain America's mask was not quite as cool as it was in his own movie "Captain America: The First Avenger".  That is it, and that is me at my most nit-picky.

Then again, he doesn't really wear it that much, and he doesn't need to.

            If you have not seen "The Avengers", go watch it.  The previous films are not required viewing to enjoy it, but it will add to your appreciation.  And if you have already seen it and liked it, I hope my analysis of that one particular scene between Tony and Bruce helped you to appreciate the movie on another level.

            I think I will end up seeing it again at a matinee.

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