The Avengers (a.k.a Marvel's Avengers Assemble) (2012) Directed by Joss Whedon

I've an itch that I've slowly scratched and now it's positively spreading. Over a period of time, I've been gathering together a fine graphic novel collection. It's very small, but succulent. I used to be an avid comic collector before I moved to Finland, but lack of availability of certain titles that I was interested in meant that I stopped collecting all together. I left a vast collection of comics in the UK – literally thousands and some rare fare – but those (expensive) collections have disappeared. It's a long story. Marvel was always hard for me to get into (I liked British titles like Action & 2000AD and the DC staples), though the late 1970's British Hulk title (the short lived Hulk Comic) was immense (and, If I recall, featured future Alan Moore collaborator David Lloyd on the really cool Night Raven). So Hulk has always been a bit of a special character for me, at least by association. The 1970's TV series was influential when I was young, but the recent movies have been poor. Iron Man I've enjoyed on the big screen (haven't seen the Thor or Captain America films). So The Avengers  always was of interest, especially since the talented Joss Whedon was involved and reviews have been mostly great.

Night Raven by David Lloyd
It's with this back-story that The Avengers was a partial disappointment. It takes an age to get going, cribbing the Magnificent 7/ Seven Samurai route of introducing The Avengers. This story has been  so overused in the movies and it was a shame for Whedon to start on such well trodden avenues.
Eventually, we get the Avengers together and the film starts to gel and ignite and build a fine momentum of intensity. For at least an hour The Avengers  stands up to the reputation, but just as you think you've latched onto a growing winner, the film descends into computer-game-epic-battle-mode, with characters, plot, emotion and any semblance of anything interesting going on disappearing. To cap all this, Whedon has not forgotten his TV past, because some of  The Avengers  looks cheap and like it's made for TV. Amongst some impressive scenarios we get flat looking scenes and camera work that brings no atmosphere. So Joss, replace the cinematographer and set designer for the next one, right?

Johansson as Black Widow
Robert Downey Jr is his usual consistent self as Tony Stark/ Iron Man. Scarlett Johansson copes well as Black Widow whilst Hulk is given the right amount of everything by the great Mark Ruffalo. Elsewhere you have to look harder with Chris Hemsworth (Thor) and Chris Evans (Captain America) being the dullest superheroes ever. But stealing all before him is Tom Hiddleston as Thor's evil brother Loki, he lights up the screen and is suitably British to play the dastardly villain. As the first of what's sure to be a long franchise,  The Avengers was adequate with some fine moments. I hope that Joss Whedon keeps the humour coming for the next part but also brings some editing skills and a better visual aesthetic. I'm a sucker for this kind of movie, so I'm sure repeated viewings will open it up, but this really should have been better.

I've been active with movies this week: I watched The Avengers with Nick, soloed through Rachel Getting Married and yesterday I went to see 12 Years A Slave all by myself in the cinema.
I'm not sure how Rachel Getting Married relates to the other two, but 12 Years A Slave and The Avengers deal with same shitty human behaviour. They deal with the human ability to dehumanize other human beings and then treat them with nothing but violence and unkindness of all sorts. So the inability to see oneself in the Other, that's the issue. (Why are we so good at shutting down feelings of compassion and sympathy?) Slavery, as 12 Years A Slave portrays it, is history (if not very distant), but actually it continues today (as marked by director Steve McQueen in his acceptance speech at the Oscars). It just happens in different countries now or when it takes place in the same locations, it is more hidden – but it is there. With just human trafficking and the use of sweatshop-like conditions for workers all over the world, we are much deeper in practices of slavery now. Our reasoning is different, but it doesn't make it any more right.

The Avengers is a fairytale, or future-tale take on the issue of othering. It is also a revitalization of the childlike wish that there are good forces much more powerful than us people, forces that will save us from nuclear disasters and complete and utter doom. The superheroes. I often have a problem with the superheroes, because with them comes a certain amount of incredible simplicity. Believing in these superpowers kind of dangerously gives us a free pass. Why should we be caring and responsible and decent and courageous if we can always rely on someone higher cleaning up after us anyway?
But for obvious reasons in my own personal life story, right now is a good moment for me and superheroes. It's nice to watch a bunch of kick-ass heroes fix the world and make everything ok –because I need to believe that it will be ok. I need the magic right now.

The Avengers is of course a mega-blockbuster with a huge cast of beautiful people. Robert Downey Junior is witty and fun here, Scarlett Johansson is pretty ok, my favourite guy Mark Ruffalo is disappointingly boring as Hulk, while Tom Hiddleston is great as the bad guy. I remember that this was Gwyneth Paltrow's return to movies after having kids and becoming a huge blogger success – what a horrible role and execution. (And while we are on her, aren't you already waiting to find out who she will be dating or marrying next after Chris Martin? I am.) So a predictable blast, but I had fun this time around. Don't expect me to ever sit through it again though.


Popular Posts