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Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Cody's Film Review: The Avengers

I grew up reading comic books and have always had a love / hate relationship with their film counterparts. I deem a comic book film a success if it gives me the same feeling and excitement that the book does. I don't care if the filmmaker veers away from the original book content as long as it is a creative alternative. I understand it's impossible to adapt a 400 issue series with forty plus years of history into a two hour film, but that doesn't excuse the existence of Ben Affleck's Daredevil. I wasn't super excited about this film, mainly because the films leading up to The Avengers were dull. The Bana Hulk was too psychological and boring, and even though I enjoyed the Norton Hulk more I still don't have the desire to watch it multiple times. Captain America was forgettable and the second Iron Man was just terrible. I never saw Thor, and the only film I really enjoyed was the first Iron Man. Iron Man worked for me because it gave me that feeling a good comic book has, great characters, dialogue, and captivating story. Everybody hates comic books full of action and splash pages, sure we want to see great art, but the story and characters are what keeps a reader buying the book. The worse part of Iron Man is the final battle scene, there is nothing you haven't seen before and it's a dim ending to an exciting origin story. The first two X-Men and Spiderman films are the only other Marvel Comic productions that have captured this feeling I got when I saw Iron Man, and now I add The Avengers to this list. I was worried about how good an Avengers film would be because the only time I've seen a team film done right was the first two X-men films and at times X-men 1st Class, but they both had competent directors. The Avengers is good for two reasons Joss Whedon and The Hulk. Whedon has proven himself a talented film director/screenwriter with Firefly and Serenity and comic book writer with his Astonishing X-men series and he is what makes this boat float. He conveys the comic book feel along with intensive action and most important interlaces the two correctly. The Avengers has a nice mix of action, then lets you breath with scenes of character and story development, and then hits you with more action. A majority of superhero films spend too much time on one or the other, and because of this approach they become forgettable. The other bright spot of this film was Whedon knew how to utilize the Hulk. The Hulk, like the Punisher, is only great in spurts, and is a better secondary character than a main one. A whole series, or film, becomes repetitive and there is only so much you can do with the character. The reason the Hulk makes this film for me is because he is the only loose cannon. You know what your getting from Iron Man, Cap, Thor and the rest, the Hulk is the only wild card. Not only does the Hulk deliver, but so does Mark Ruffalo's Bruce Banner. Ruffalo takes out the self loathing Bana/Norton Banner and brings back the intelligent and at times comic Bill Bixby Banner. The chemistry between the two best characters of the film Ruffalo and Downey Jr. is fantastic, I have to believe it's still left over from Zodiac, and I would watch a movie of them two just working in a lab. Tom Hiddleston, Chris Evens and Chris Hemsworth are the only other stand outs in the cast. I thought Renner, Jackson, and Scarlett do a fine job, but really don't bring much to the table.  SPOILER The main problem I had with the film was the event that brings them all together was rather weak. The death of Agent Coulson would be hardly the reason a bunch of superheroes would unite against evil. I liked the guy and all, but it was really drawn out and I doubt anyone besides Iron Man knew who the hell he was. I thought the SFX were fantastic, the mix of CGI and real objects and backgrounds is the proper use of computer technology. The improper use of CGI, and stories aimed at 12 year olds, has been my main deterrent with Hollywood Blockbusters in recent years. I am not impressed with stunts and action scenes that are 90% done in a computer. Hat's off to Joss Whedon for knowing how to put together a superhero team Iron Man's your leader, Cap is your field commander, Hulk and Thor are your muscle and the rest is window dressing that's the comic book way. 4 out of 5 Stars