Synopsis: When the Tesseract, a cube of pure energy with the power to destroy the Earth, is stolen by the nefarious God of Mischief, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), S.H.I.E.L.D. leader Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) embarks on a daring recruitment effort spanning the globe to assemble a team of the world’s most powerful superheroes to get it back.
Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) are brought together to stop Loki. But unfortunately, it’ll take more than just assembling them to save the world from the brink of destruction. First they’ll have to learn to work together as a team, despite their individual struggles-like Captain America learning to adjust to life in the 21st century after being frozen for 70 years, Thor’s internal conflict about going up against his evil brother, Loki, and Bruce Banner, who is trying to keep his raging alter ego under control.
Based on the Marvel Comics characters.
The Avengers 8.0
Joss Whedon did it!!! After many false starts, he finally got the massive success he’s long deserved. Oh, sure, he’s had quite a fair amount of success with the ‘Buffy the Vampire Slayer’ TV series, but everything else has had marginal results at best (I mean, even ‘Firefly’ got cancelled after one season!). Let’s face it: most of what he’s done has been popular with geeks more so than with the masses. He’s a cult favourite, yes, and he has die-hard fans, but he’s finally achieved something that guarantees future success (at least, in the short-term… Hollywood being what it is ).
I don’t even think that it’s all due to The Avengers (the characters, I mean). After all, how many “guaranteed” properties have the big studios completely messed up over the years? More than you can count, that how many. And that’s just in the area of superhero films: surely we can all agree that Catwoman, Daredevil, Elektra, The Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider, Green Lantern, Hulk, The Punisher, Spawn, Supergirl, Wolverine, and Wonder Woman (the jaw-droppingly horrid pilot of the last couple of years! ) could and should have been MUCH better. Heck, even Batman, Spiderman, Superman and The X-Men have had their troubles over the years. It doesn’t seem like a sure-fire recipe for success when studios are involved.
And yet Whedon managed to write AND direct this explosive superhero epic successfully. And it’s no small feat, in my estimation: ‘The Avengers’ is of such a magnitude that many directors would have lost control of the production, and possibly delivered an incoherent if not incompetent mess. While the film is hardly perfection itself, Whedon has put together an extravaganza that is super entertaining on many, many levels.
But I’m sure you already know that: everyone and their mother has seen this film. Twice. And if you haven’t, it’s ’cause you couldn’t give a hoot about ‘The Avengers’ and you’re likely not even bothering to read this blurb. (Heh… nobody’s perfect. )
Given that everybody seems to love the picture, my impression is that it’s kind of meaningless for me to extol its virtues just like everyone else does/did. So, instead, I think I will focus on the elements that left me unsatisfied or nagged at me somewhat. Someone’s got to try to strike a balance.
Firstly, there’s the cast.
While The Avengers are an amazing collection of superheroes (arguably not as terrific as the Justice League of America, what with Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman but that’s neither here nor there), the characters can only stand for themselves if they are inhabited by strong actors.
‘The Avengers’, unfortunately, is filled with less-than-stellar performances. It’s not to say that the actors are horrible – it’s just that these superheroes should have leapt off the page, and yet many were comatose or so lifeless as to be almost irrelevant. Thankfully, there are some saving graces.
Let’s take a look at the key players, in alphabetical order:
Agent Coulson: Clark Gregg was excellent as Coulson; he’s instantly likeable and gave the character credibility. Online, some people were raving like lunatics about Coulson, as though he were the cat’s meow. He’s very good, but not that good.
Black Widow: Scarlett Johanson looked like she overdosed on Novocaine. I think that this is her natural state of being, but it’s taken a turn for the worse here and it annoyed me. She also seemed to be on standby emotionally.
Captain America: Chris Evans was good, but not nearly as commanding as in his solo outing. He was like white bread most of the time (which, I suppose, is fitting given the character ). Only a couple of times did his intensity, his natural leadership abilities and commanding presence show up. The rest of the time, he was a paperweight, just sitting about like a flaccid jockstrap (which ARE effective as paperweights, I should note!). And the new Captain America suit? Shite. Complete shite. He looks like he should be shot out of a canon.
Nick Fury: Samuel L Jackson delivered an excellent performance (it’s not a given with him, unfortunately…), but I really didn’t like the character. I was always bored by Nick Fury when I was a kid, and ignored him, so I have no idea how true Jackson is to the character. But it seems to me that he wasn’t a creepy “good” guy.
Hawkeye: Jeremy Renner was decent, but bland. Why this guy is being groomed as the next big action star escapes me. I couldn’t have cared less about his Hawkeye. And his costume? Meh. I know that a mask would have hidden our “star”, but that’s no excuse for him to get a generic-looking suit.
The Hulk: I’m no great fan of Mark Ruffalo; he’s usually sluggish and somewhat inarticulate. But I found him half-decent here, if easily interchangeable. Of course, it doesn’t really matter, because he plays Bruce Banner: it’s the Hulk that people care about – and he’s CGI-ed. So how was The Hulk? He had some of the best moments in the picture. I was sceptical about it when reports came in, but I enthusiastically concur.
Iron Man: While I like Robert Downey jr, I can’t say that I like his Tony Stark; I just don’t see him as a genius playboy type. I didn’t even think that ‘Iron Man’ was that great, in fact. But, surprisingly enough, I thought that Downey jr was actually the best of the whole bunch: he was arrogant enough, smart enough, funny enough and had enough balls to be convincing. I suspect that Downey jr. must have had a clause in his contract for him to get all the good one-liners, because almost no one else got laughs. I loved that he wore a Black Sabbath t-shirt for a good chunk of the film. Nice nod.
Loki: Tom Hiddleston was quite good, overall. He could have been a little slimier, but I don’t actually remember the comic book version enough for me to have a real opinion. Anyway, he’s quite believable, all things considered. He’s no Red Skull, however: Hugo Weaving knocked it right out of the park.
Pepper Potts: Gwyneth Paltrow didn’t annoy me. ’nuff said.
Thor: Woah… now here’s the weakest link of them all. I was never a fan of Thor comics, being too rooted in fantasy for my taste, but I remember Thor enough to think that he should be a man’s man. Unfortunately, Chris Hemsworth is what I’d like to call a non-actor: he’s there, he knows his lines, but he has NO presence whatsoever – he’s like an articulated wax figure. Thor should be rugged, macho, have an intense, forceful presence – he is a God, after all. In lieu of any such qualities, this Thor is tall. That’s it. Okay, okay… he also has a (pseudo) beard and he shaves his arms (or waxes them. I’m not sure which technique an Asgardian God would prefer ). When I look at him, he looks like a wimpy, milquetoast Thor. And he’s got this bloody awful accent that doesn’t even match Loki’s – who is supposed to be his brother. !@#$ Don’t even get me started. I’m not even attached to the Thor character, and yet I can’t help but hate this incarnation because he’s so poor.
All in all, it isn’t exactly superb casting. It’s okay casting. It wouldn’t hobble the picture, but it’s not appealing like an ensemble cast such as the Ocean’s films has, for instance.
That’s the cast. Then there are the issues I have with the plot:
1. If Loki was able to use the Tesseract (its original name, “Cosmic Cube”, sounds less confusing, don’t you find?) from the onset to open a portal to Earth, and that The Other already had an invading army on standby, why didn’t they just invade at the very beginning? Why did they waste so much time and allowed Earth’s heroes to prepare for the attack?
Now, before someone claims that Loki needed Selvig’s scientific knowledge to open the portal, my only response is: How was he able to use it in the first place, then? Luck? Not really. He obviously knew how to use the Tesserac’s power enough to open a portal for himself AND enslave people with it.
Either this was not considered in the writing or Loki, The Other and the Chitauri are the worst strategists ever; allowing Earth’s mightiest to team up by giving them plenty of warnings and time was dumb to the Nth degree. Okay, I’ll concede that I might be missing some element(s) key to my understanding, but I don’t get how this makes any sense at all.
And why didn’t The Other retrieve the Tesseract himself anyway? It looked like such an easy task for Loki to pull off, so why didn’t The Other (lame name, b-t-w! ) cut out the middle man and do it him/her/itself? Putting a megalomaniacal psycho on the job pretty much ensures different results than those wished. You might as well send the Hulk out to sell Girl Guide cookies while you’re at it.
2. Why would Nick Fury bring Loki back to the Helicarrier, which is basically his team’s command centre, anyway? Why would anyone bring their lethal enemy into the heart of their operations? They didn’t bring Osama Bin laden down to the Pentagon, did they? They killed him! And if they hadn’t killed him, they would have brought him to Guantanamo (or some other such ungodly place ).
No, bringing Loki on board is about as moronic as having the villain boast about his plans to the captured hero at the end of a movie, instead of just killing him off. I still can’t believe that anyone (including the writer) thought that it was a smart move. I mean, really? Heck, come to think of it, why would this prison be on the Helicarrier anyway? Why WOULD they construct it there? It’s not just the principle of the matter – even the practical side of it is dumb.
After all, how is it that this prison, if triggered, would supposedly propel Loki into Earth’s core (what was it that Nick Fury said? 300,000 miles underground? ), where he could never return? Now, if the prison was rooted to the earth, perhaps underground, it would make some sense. But, if they’re in mid-flight, with no actual entry point to the Earth’s crust, how is this supposed to work exactly? Was Nick Fury lying to Loki or was he just plain stupid? The fact that this prison actually could be ejected (as evidenced later on), with no real purpose other than getting rid of a prisoner, suggests either. Or both.
3. The ending is not only a total cop-out, but it’s a sad rip-off of ‘The Phantom Menace’ (or whatever film the Star Wars prequel ripped off). While this is flattering to George Lucas because someone actually emulated his $h!tty film, it says very little of the filmmakers’ good taste and ability to see through that kind of mentally-challenged BS.
Seriously! How any times do we need to see people break things in order to make them work before filmmakers realize how patently dumb that is? Shooting a lock opens a door even less than destroying a mother ship incapacitates all the enemy soldiers (ex: ‘The Phantom Menace’ or ‘Independence Day’). It just doesn’t work that way unless the inventors/designers are utter morons.
Think about it: wouldn’t shooting a lock break it and, thus, leave the door locked AND jammed? Wouldn’t destroying the mother ship leave massive amounts of uncontrolled, rampaging enemy soldiers in its wake? Sure, they’d be directionless and, thus, easier to defeat individually, but they would cause serious damage in the meantime – by being headless and more prone to random, unrestrained attacks.
The ending is a total cop-out because there is no other way that the filmmakers could think of to get The Avengers out of the mess they were in. They were overwhelmed by the onslaught; there were far more of the Chitauri than there were of them (thankfully, like Stormtroopers, the Chitauri apparently can’t aim ). There is NO way that The Avengers would have won the battle if not for this improvised plan to destroy the mother ship. Improvised. Not planned, and completely based on luck. My heroes!
-Speaking of the ending… how is it that, now stuck in space, Iron Man falls back through the portal? Was there some sort of gravitational pull out in space? Really? Good thing there was, ’cause we’d have lost our hero. I mean Thor wouldn’t have been able to come to his rescue, would he? Similarly, Nick Fury wouldn’t have had some plan hidden in his weasily head for such emergencies! Le sigh…
-Why is it that guns hardly ever have to be reloaded in these movies? Black Widow must have had an endless supply of ammunition hidden on her extremely tight suit. Or else we didn’t see her cherry-pick her targets during the battle, leaving the others to do most of the work. And Hawkeye never runs out of arrows. How is this even possible? His quill doesn’t even look that full, and yet he never runs out!
-How is it that Cap’s shield repulses kinetic energy instead of absorbing it? Since it’s made of vibranium, I expected it to absorb the blow of Thor’s attack instead repulsing it. But I guess it wouldn’t have looked as cool on-screen (because ransacking a forest is cool! ), so they messed around with the basic function of the comic book legend’s key weaponry. Based on some of the reactions in the cinema, I wasn’t alone to notice this “minor” detail.
Speaking of ransacking forests, I read an article that claimed that the property damage in the end sequence of ‘The Avengers’ would total approximately 160 billion dollars!!! No one ever bats an eye at property damage or the impact it has on the public in these action flicks, so I”m glad that someone else bothered with it enough to tally the costs and point it out. 160 billion!!! That’s a lot of cheeseburgers! Mmmmm…. cheeseburgers.
I could likely go on and on about the nonsense in this film, but I’ll leave it at this for now. I’ve found other sites that cover other areas of the film, including details I had not even thought of. Do seek them out. To be fair, though, despite its innumerable issues, ‘The Avengers’ doesn’t stoop so low as to insult the intelligence of its audience wholesale. Unlike many of its superhero peers, it remains enjoyable because the trade-offs are substantial.
Like ‘The Dark Knight’, ‘The Avengers’ is an entertaining, exciting -but flawed- motion picture (although ‘The Dark Knight’ has a larger amount of imperfections, it grips you more). It’s near-unrelentless action-action-action, but it offers it with enough intelligence and wit as to make its almost two and half hours runtime dissipate. It’s no real wonder that this hulk of a film was a monster success story on all over the world: after all, everyone can speak SMASH!