Commentary by Matthew Schuchman
Four years and five previous films in the making, The Avengers has finally arrived. There’s no question that enthusiasts will adore and applaud the Joss Whedon scripted/directed super-hero bonanza. Certainly entertaining, the entire experience still feels a little shaky at times for the comic book novice.
While the world is suffering from its usual foibles and political debates, everything is pretty normal on Earth. That is until Loki, the brother of Thor sticks his thin, Michael Fassbender-ish face into things. Under the guise that he will be allowed to rule over an army of extraterrestrial warriors once the Earth is conquered, Loki heads to our planet to obtain an item called, “The Tesseract”. A small cube of pure energy that was at the center of the Captain America movie, The Tesseract can be used to open a wormhole, allowing a massive army to storm into our world. While the heads of state want S.H.I.E.L.D. operator Nick Fury to put a plan codenamed “Phase Two” into effect to stop Loki, Fury has other ideas. If he can convince the members of his planned Avengers Initiative to assemble, he’s positive they can stop Loki and save the Earth.
It’s fairly impressive how this story was able to incorporate bits and pieces from all the previous films into one large festering ball of comic book glory. While anyone who has missed one or two of the original entries (or all of them for that matter) won’t be completely lost, those who were in from step one will be treated with small hints and teases that blast out from all directions. With so much story development made in those other films, they have more time to joke around and play a game called, “what cool things can I make this character do that the audience has never seen before.” Though, for a film that laid its groundwork in the past, it’s still bogged down by ass numbing lengths of story development that are unnecessary.
Just like the Whedon scripted, The Cabin in the Woods, The Avengers is one long bicker-fest that helps build up to one raucously entertaining finale. The opening two thirds of the film are just another excuse to bathe fans in the opportunity to watch their favorite characters fight each other, while it eats up screen time and allows for one-liners. By the time the entire team is steeped in a childish episode of, “let’s throw each other under the bus,” my patience was starting to wear thin.
It’s seems pointless to focus on the tiniest insignificant holes, as their circumstances have nothing to do with the entire outcome or why people go to see a movie about The Avengers — but I am. When Loki took to terrorizing 500 or so Germans, I had to wonder, “Why does he suspect they all speak English?” Then of course, Bruce Banner loses control and turns into the Hulk, attacking his friends and teammates because he can’t control the beast. Yet, when it’s time for everyone to be friends and fight the final battle, he’s in control and recognizes his companions. I know the character has a cognitive presence in his comic book origins, but the execution and explanation in the film itself, is non-existent.
I know this is a case where I’m getting too critical for the product at hand. If nothing else, The Avengers finally brings to life what we all want from characters like the Hulk. The dichotomy of comic book heroes is great, as it’s what their stories are truly about; but deep down we don’t want to see Bruce Banner fight his inner demon while being chased by military outfits and his crying girlfriend! We want to see the Hulk smash! No one can deny the pure joy of watching him jump around and decimating other worldly creatures–it will bring out the kid in everyone.
There are very few movies that are flawless. The Dark Knight (which is seen by many as the king of comic book films) has its issues too. However, The Dark Knight is the kind of film that draws you in completely, so much so that biggest holes don’t appear until you’ve had multiple viewings. The Avengers’ patchwork is exposed from start to finish, but overcomes most of it with a balls to the wall ending. Comic book fans and those holding onto their midnight tickets are in for a five ‘stache adventure–but for those like me, you’re just in for a good romp at the movies.
Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 ‘Staches
Editor’s Note: Matthew Schuchman reviews movies at a fascinating website called Movie Reviews From Gene Shalit’s Moustache. Visit them on the web at http://www.shalitsstache.com today and tell ‘em The Hourly Planet sent ya!