Are You Planning To Step On Us?
May 2, 2012 § Leave a comment
What is it about watching a team come together that is so satisfying? It’s been done again and again in heist movies, secret agent movies, sports movies, Pokémon movies, and it never gets old. (Well, maybe the last one does.) The Avengers is Marvel Studios’ latest production of visual overstimulation, and I think Joss Whedon does a good job of giving the characters a balanced amount of screen time while keeping the film from toppling under the weight of superhero clichés.
As you should already know, Thor‘s jilted adopted brother Loki is leading an evil alien army to conquer Earth. The aliens, of course, are ugly creatures only one step above Power Rangers villains, and we get very little hint of their motive except that Earth is probably a more pleasant place to live than the dank, light-less planet from which they appear to come. I’m not saying that I wanted a half hour of heartfelt alien backstory, and fighting aliens is at least better than casting the Russians, Persians or Chinese as the enemy, but it almost seemed like another installment of the Transformers series.
Like most superhero movies, Avengers very briefly deals with some deeper moral issues. We’re asked if humans will kneel just because they’re ordered to do so by a guy with a stick that shoots energy balls (mostly yes, sometimes no), whether one should have guilt over the privilege of power (I could see Thor’s sparkling blue eyes trying and failing to come to a conclusion), what makes some people better than others (outside of having awesome superpowers, obviously), and most importantly, whether we as humans should respect or challenge our own limitations (in light of superpowered extraterrestrial forces). However, very few people watch this film to explore the relationship between freedom and power (myself included), so I won’t go any further with that.
I was afraid that Scarlet Johansson‘s Black Widow would be a mere pity character for those sorely feeling the lack of a main female character (I mean, what was the point of her being in Iron Man 2?). Thankfully, Johansson makes a pretty great action star. I wasn’t won over by her red bob, but I wouldn’t mind seeing a Black Widow feature film to get to the bottom of her Russian roots.
Speaking of the male-dominated cast, I found it kind of weird to watch certain male characters greet one another by pounding each other’s faces in. People say that there would be less wars if women ran the world, and this film certainly wasn’t an argument against that. Watching this kind of violent reactionary power play is about as productive as watching a circle jerk, if you’ll excuse the crude metaphor — only when everybody has expended all his energy can they settle down to talk and maybe try to get along.
On the more superficial side, I’d like to first point out the obvious, which is that Chris Evans has a flawless body — so perfect I could cry — and I fell in love with him even more after reading last year’s GQ piece about him. Chris Hemsworth is as devastatingly attractive as always, and the way he pulls off that long, silky blonde hair is still mind-boggling. I don’t find Tom Hiddleston to be my type, but he does have huge blue eyes that I could drown in when they’re not dementedly crazed, which they are for most of the film. I didn’t understand Loki’s seemingly random costume changes (why not stay in his more powerful form permanently?), though maybe it would help if I read the comic books (not going to happen). Newcomer Cobie Smulders, playing one of Nick Fury‘s head lackeys, has simply amazing facial bone structure. Just wow. People who watch HIMYM are no doubt familiar with her already, but I hope she gets more time on the big screen! Additionally, I found it quite interesting that the majority of S.H.I.E.L.D’s employees — that is, all the nerds in charge of communications and intelligence — are youthful, attractive and wear skin-tight bodysuits to highlight their youthful attractiveness. I tried to imagine what it would look like if any actual workplace had that as a work uniform, and it’s a terrible and hilarious vision.
I watched Avengers in 3D because I forgot to tell my friend who booked the tickets that I detest 3D (the only times it has been worth it were Avatar and Tangled), but the effect enhanced the experience instead of distracting from it, though I maintain that watching it in 2D would be just as fine and less headache-inducing afterward. Also, I think the theater we went to had some sort of special seats (there was an ad about it before the movie played, but I couldn’t really understand it) that kind of rumbled during certain explosive scenes (it wasn’t just the bass rumbling, I swear), which was neat. Overall, this was a solid blockbuster movie, and I only hope that it doesn’t go the way of Transformers and Pirates of the Caribbean in iteration after iteration until we start to pity ourselves for not being able to stop watching its crappy sequels.