Last night I finally got to see the Avengers, my most hotly anticipated film since Conan. I enjoyed it. The action scenes and the special effects were outstanding–Academy Award outstanding. The acting was superb. The scriptwriters and director gave good lines and plenty of screen time to all the major characters. I suppose I should stop and give a well done bit of applause to all the members of the cast. Here’s a few of them as listed at IMDB.com.
I am not a Hollywood groupie, and I don’t keep track of movie stars in my daily life. I have seen Robert Downey and Gwynneth Paltrow enough in other films to recognize their names. I still remember the terrific performances turned in by Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Helmsworth as Thor, but if you had asked me last night before the film who played Cap and Thor in those movies, I couldn’t have told you. Of course everyone in America knows Samuel Jackson from lots of different films–he does the Nick Fury, leader of S.H.I.E.L.D. routine. However, I thought the actors were very good, even the ones in throwaway bit parts. Tom Hiddleston as Loki really carried the movie. Super heroes require super villains, and he was great, combining arrogance, cunning, and sheer mad egotism in a bravura performance. I think there is a tendency to overlook the bad guys in hero action films, but we members of the audience should give those actors more credit. Without them the heroes have no reason to exist, and nothing to emote against. Think about it. There was one real bad guy in the film–Loki. He took on Thor, Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Hawkeye, the Black Widow, and Nick Fury and gave them all they could handle. One vs. seven. I’m not giving away any secrets if I tell you they beat him in the end, but think of the odds. Hero stories are usually stacked the other way–more bad guys than good guys, and in a sense this was since Loki had an army of formidable aliens to back him up, but they were just extras. Loki, and for 2/3 of the movie, Hawkeye who had been mind-controlled by Loki, were the only real bad guys.
The plot can be summarized easily enough. Loki and his army of alien monsters decide to conquer the Earth. Loki’s main problem is in bringing his troops to Earth from their outer space/other dimesnional homeworld. Nick Fury and his agents of SHIELD, including the group he pulls together as the Avengers have to stop him. Lots of combat and property destruction ensue. Much of the conflict occurs on a personal level. Marvel characters are all people first, heroes second. They have their own motivations and lives, and often resent being forced to protect the world from one threat or another, but because they are good guys at heart–at least most of them are–they get over their greivances and cooperate to save the day. Take out all the character vs. character petty antagonisms and the movie is half as long.
I don’t know why the publicity departments for these films always choose the least interesting photos.
The movie really starts with the theft of the Tesseract (also known as the Cosmic Cube in the comics) from a SHIELD base somewhere. Loki takes on the whole base, beats it, and gets away with the maguffin. But it only gets interesting when we switch to the Black Widow, in her crimson underwear, tied to a chair, and being interrogated by an evil Russian general arms dealer. She gets a call from SHIELD saying they need her to “come in” and this leads to an escape featuring the most incredible display of chair fu ever filmed. Jackie Chan would be so proud. That’s the scene I want a picture of, not her in a black rubber suit pointing a pistol.
The two Chrisses. Blondes rule when it comes to street-fighting in New York.
Thor and Captain America, although no dummies, spend most of their time kicking butt and looking hunky. I suppose the beefcake is for the ladies in the audience, but there is a lot of barely concealed homoeroticism in superhero comics. These guys are just so damn pretty. I like it better when they’re kicking butt.
Nick Fury, Director of SHIELD, is a hands-on kind of guy. He does his own dirty jobs, and butt-kicking. Does he look like a mastermind to you? He doesn’t to me, but appearances can be deceiving. You can never trust a cyclops.
In the course of the film we learn that SHIELD is really run by a secret cabal who are utterly ruthless. I guess having it just be an arm of the United Nations or the U.S. government isn’t enough any more. We need conspiracies. And the government looks evil enough to the American public without the movies making it worse. Far better to have secret leaders who can’t be traced back to the Republicans or the Democrats or the Communists pulling the strings. Fury is shown to be a devious bastard, but still a man with heart who does his best to protect people.
Alpha-males never get along when they meet each other. Give them a common foe, and they can certainly cooperate, but social situations are just plain nasty.
Thor and Iron Man go head to head in combat about half way through the movie. I didn’t buy it. No matter how good Stark’s technology is, Thor’s hammer should have blasted through it like it was tissue paper. He’s a god. So, suspend your disbelief for this part and just enjoy the smashing and bashing.
Loki has the best costumes, the best lines, and the best smile in the movie.
Remember that building in the background from the Ghostbusters? When there’s someting bad in the neighborhood, who you gonna call? Bad doesn’t come much worse than Loki on a power trip.
Who ya gonna call? Iron Man, I guess. I like Iron Man–he’s witty, smart, courageous, lecherous, and rich–just like me. Heh. Well, I can match him in one of those characteristics, and it isn’t the rich one.
The movie ends in an epic battle scene. All of our Avenging heroes fight like heroes. Hulk and Thor do the heavy hitting. The rest take on the alien storm troopers who are quite bad enough to give any normal human being fits. This is the part of the movie I liked best. Bring it on! Take out one gigantic space dragon. Not bad. Here’s ten more of them. Now what are you gonna do, Hulk?
I liked the Avengers and give it 4 stars out of 5. **** If you like superheroes at all, don’t miss it.
One more thing: my personal rant–People are so hypercritical of the movies these days. The Avengers is an amazing achievement as a movie. Can you nitpick it? Yes you could. I’m not going to. Try to see the terrific acting, the great storyline, the amazing special effects (even if it was all done with computer animation), and skip over the implausibilities and impossibilities that glare out of the movie at you. It’s a comic book world, bearing a heavy resemblance to our world, but it isn’t our world. It’s a wilder place than our own universe, and wilder things happen. Accept them! Enjoy them!
Biggest surprise for me: Joss Whedon had his name all over the credits. Wow! He must be on top of the world right now. He is, imnsho, the best storyteller in Hollywood, perhaps in the world. Didn’t know he was a Marvel fan, but I stand in awe of his achievements.
If you have anything to say about the Avengers, the Ghostbusters, or Joss Whedon, please leave a comment.
I watched Green Lantern when it came out in June, and started to review it then. Somehow that review bogged down. I was going to spend a lot of time blasting the movie version of Sinestro, but there really wasn’t enough to blast. I remember being angered by the character in the film, but after a few hours the rage went away, and I didn’t have much to say. Thus, the review languished until today when I decided to finish it as my simple reactions to the movie. I don’t really do reviews–there are plenty of other places on the internet for straight reviews. I do reactions–the reactions of a life-long science fiction and comics fan, who would really like to see great superhero movies.
Green Lantern is probably my favorite DC superhero. As a science fiction fan, I always wanted to be able to transport myself all over the galaxy to alien planets–I always wanted to be able to do anything at all through sheer willpower. Green Lantern and Adam Strange were the ones that most appealed to me–both were adventurers whose mind was more important than their bodies. (not that they had bad bodies–I’d like to have either one’s physique). When the news came out that there would be a Green Lantern movie, I was pleased and excited. I went to see it on opening week. For the most part I liked it. I liked the special effects–the gorgeously detailed aliens–the weirdness of Oa, the beauty of Carol Ferris.
But, I have to admit that the story was shit. I attribute this to the fact that Hollywood simply can’t even try to produce a movie from the base material as originally written. My guess is that the people who don’t know beans about the original property nevertheless get to say how the end product should look. So, the script writers–if they are not at fault for warping and placing their own interpretations on things–wind up putting all sorts of crap into the movie because someone thinks the audience expects it. Example: Hal Jordan is a hotshot test pilot. Let’s also make him a clown and a bit of an asshole–the audience can identify with a guy like that. Well, originally Hal Jordan was neither clown nor asshole–though his writers at DC for the last 10 years or so have been working pretty hard on making an ass out of him. We don’t need that, or appreciate it, Hollywood. Give us back the real Hal Jordan–the excellent test pilot who was witouut fear.
Special effects don’t impress movie critics. Costume design, scenery, excellent acting by bit players–none of that means squat to the critics. But it impresses me. Green Lantern is an outer space fantasy, notable for its aliens. And the movie has great aliens taken from the Green Lantern comics. Take a look at Tomar Re, one of Hal Jordan’s best friends in the Green Lantern Corps. However, the one alien who is supposed to impress we movie-goers the most is Sinestro–a crimson-hued Errol Flynn clone. Sinestro was the greatest Green Lantern–the one guy whose approval really mattered. He doesn’t have a very high opinion of humans, and so he thinks Hal Jordan will be a washout as a Green Lantern. He’s almost right, but his very antagonism spurs Hal to greater efforts.
There is, of course, a big Bad in the movie. It is a gigantic chaotic cloud creature capable of destroying planets. The original Parallax in the Green Lantern comics was much more than that, but let’s keep things simple for movie-goers. Parallax is the essence of Fear itself. (Heh, sounds like a current Marvel mega-series.) It is more powerful than any Green Lantern, or even any team of Green Lanterns. Sinestro can’t handle it. Guess who does.
Why does a big chaotic cloud creature have a horrific humanoid head?
I’d like to see more Green Lantern movies–maybe put them up against a better enemy–say the Khunds or the Dominators. But, actually we don’t need any more of Hal Jordan or Sinestro. Let’s do G.L. as a chick movie featuring Arisia. I bet it would fly.
Arisia--how green was my universe!
Movies are typically rated by stars. On a 10 star system I’d give Green Lantern a 5. On a 4 star system it gets a 2. The movie is worth seeing for special effects, Carol Ferris, and a trip to Oa. You know, I bet it would be great for a MST3000 treatement. I do hope they carry on and make a Justice League movie with Green Lantern in it. If Marvel can do the Avengers, surely DC, owned by Warner Brothers, could do the Justice League.
If you have some comments about the Green Lantern movie, you could put them in below.
Sometimes I miss a movie that I ought to see. I missed this one on its first time around. The previews weren’t very good. I heard about it, but I didn’t go see it. Well, yesterday I got the chance to see it. Some friends invited me to go along and catch it at a discount theater. Discount theaters are good. I wish there were more of them. Movies cost too damn much nowadays. I don’t want to spend $7 to $10 to watch the latest movie. I miss a lot that I would have seen if the price were more reasonable. C’mon, Hollywood! Would you rather get $5 a shot from me four times a month, or $8 once a month. Yeah, I know, you want the $8 four times a month, but that isn’t going to happen. Not even three times a month. I may pay that price twice if you’re lucky. You’re losing money, Hollywood.
- Best train wreck sequence ever. This picture doesn’t do it justice, but was all I could find.
Super 8 is a Spielberg production–another tribute to the joys and pains of childhood–in this case I’d say, young adulthood. He warns you what the movie is when you see the bicycle flying across the moon as a production logo. That image came from the movie E.T. Well, guess what! This movie is E.T. redone–same plot, alien stranded on Earth who needs some help to go home. The help comes from children. Only this time it is a big powerful scary alien–not a cute little child alien. You don’t get to see it until the end of the movie, but here’s a good look at it.
This is one tough monster of an alien–big, fast, ruthless, and totally pissed off at a planet that has kept it prisoner for years. As the facts of the situation come to light, the viewer comes to share the alien’s viewpoint. Like E.T., it just wants to go home. Only, the government got this critter first, and they won’t let it leave.
Like all of Spielberg’s science fiction, Super 8 really isn’t about the alien. It’s about the kids who are trying to grow up. It’s about friendship, and first love, and family in crisis. It’s about understanding and the lack of understanding between parents and children. It’s about dreams and aspirations. Spielberg packs a lot of emotion into this film.
And the kid actors carry it off. I honest believe that kids are much better actors than adults. They live their roles and make them real in a way adults can never quite manage. I doubt if any of the kids in Super 8 will get best actor or best supporting actor for their roles here, but they were absolutely great.
So, go see the Super 8 if you can find it. Or get the video on CD. The train wreck on tv isn’t going to be quite as spectacular as the one on the big screen, but you do want to see it. You really do!
And there is a bonus. The kids in the movie are trying to make a movie on super 8 film–hence the title. At the end of the movie while the credits are running, you get to see the kids’ zombie movie–which contains a very nice tribute to George Romero within it. The kids movie deserves some award recognition too.
(I compose these reviews for Atroll spontaneously, and go looking on the internet for pictures from the film that I can use to illustrate my points. I have to say that the pictures generally available are lousy–dull, publicity shots staged by zombies with no idea what the best images in their films really are. The Super 8 publicity is gawdawful bad, imho. That means I couldn’t find on the web any of the scenes I really wanted to show from the film. Oh well, this is the best I could do.)
This one kid got to be the zombie in the move. He was great.