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Peter Rogers's Blog
Artist-in-Residence at Chez Firth

Monday (5/7/12) 6:57pm - ... wherein Peter posts a Weekly Media Update.

Movies:  The Avengers
TV:  <none>
Books:  <none>

The Avengers
This is Joss Whedon's microbudgeted independent film about a half-dozen marginalized figures who, despite living on the fringes of society, form a private security startup that meets with some success.

Okay, the short answers:  yes, I liked it; no, I didn't like it as much as you did.

Honestly, I find my own opinions of the movie kind of suspect.  I was coming into this show off of a pretty consistently crappy weekend, I had a faint sinus headache, I hadn't eaten in far too long (scarfing down a milkshake helped), and I showed up late to the theater.  So I wasn't in the best mood as I sat down to watch the film.

And the other factor to consider is that I don't really have any history with these characters.  Of the setup movies for The Avengers, I've seen Iron Man, and I suppose I've seen the curious, Ang Lee take on The Hulk, if that counts.  And I don't have any background with the Marvel-comics universe.  So when I see all these characters -- well, hell, I have no idea who the Black Widow is.  And I had to look up Jeremy Renner's character's name just now (aha -- "Hawkeye" -- got it).  So I didn't come into this film with any feelings of recognition, except with Tony Stark.

Loki never interested me much as a villain, just because he felt like more of the same:  ah yes, yet another delusional megalomaniac.  Taking over the world.  Got it.  Ooh, and he's got a horn-hat!  Fancy.  His Big Evil Plan was typical for comic-book stuff:  way too detailed, counting on way too many people doing exactly what they needed to, and way too many things going right.  And again, I have no history with that character (never saw Thor), so I didn't care much about the family issues he talked about.

So I sort of flipped in and out of being engaged with the movie.  On an intellectual level, I respected the plot mechanics that got the various Avengers getting in brawling fistfights with each other.  I could watch the CGI fly around and ask myself, "Which *would* prevail:  the giant hammer or the magical shield?"  Of the central cast, I felt like Mark Ruffalo was the only one acting on Robert Downey, Jr.'s level -- Banner and Stark felt, to me, like a couple of nuanced, lived-in people that were kind of wandering around among more simple, stripped-down, and unengaging archetypes.

But the overall story felt solid, once it labored its way through re-introducing all of its characters.  Okay, now they're all bickering with each other.  Okay, now they're forming a team.  Okay, now there's the big act-three epic battle through New York City.  And the epic battle was fun.  It was nice to watch action scenes where I could tell where people were and what they were doing.  The CGI felt like it had weight and detail, and it seemed to occupy the same space as (what I presume was) the live-action footage.

But mainly I liked the movie for its humor.  It's rather amazing to watch an action movie where the jokes are actually funny -- generally, action movies are designed for international markets, and usually the only jokes that translate internationally involve fat men falling down while farting.  But Joss is still resolutely Joss, dropping references from Lord of the Rings to The Wizard of Oz and expecting us-the-viewers to keep the hell up.  And the jokes -- and the amusing character moments -- kept tugging me back into the movie, if I found myself glazing over a bit at the explosions.

But I reiterate, I saw The Avengers under bad circumstances.  And I fully recognize that both critics and audiences love this film, so maybe I'll catch in on video sometime later and like it better.  But, as with Iron Man, I have the lurking suspicion that I'm seeing this superhero genre done about as well as it *can* be done, and that apothesis still can't quite win me over.

For next time:  I'm re-watching the first couple of seasons of Avatar:  The Last Airbender as a run-up to finally watching the third.  Also, I've continued listening to A Clash of Kings on audiobook.


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