You know those movies that show all of the best scenes and funniest lines in the trailer? The Avengers is nothing like that.
The Avengers is a funny, action-packed, cohesive love letter to the super hero genre. It also manages to convey a serious sense of danger and urgency, without becoming overwhelmingly dark.
Captain America, Black Widow, Hawkeye, Iron Man, and Thor must overcome their vast differences and team up to stop Loki and his invading army from conquering the world.
With five years of teasing from Marvel Studios; a huge cast of A-list talent; a collection of characters who shouldn’t be in the same room; and a story too big to tell in a movie, the opportunities for this film to suck were numerous. Fortunately, Joss Whedon & co were up to the challenge.
Badass Moments All Around!
Every single character has many moments to shine. With a cast this big, it would be easy to push many characters into the scenery. That didn’t happen. I’m hard-pressed to pick a favorite moment because there were so many great moments.
Bringing the Funny
In typical Whedon fashion, this movie is just as humorous as it is intense. In that way it reminds me of my True Lies (one of my all-time favorite action flicks).
Fun with Clichés
One of Whedon’s talents that runs throughout everything he’s ever done is his manipulation of clichés. He is a master of taking what the viewer expects, and then suddenly turning it on its side. Where lesser writers will fallback on “classic” story elements, Whedon works like a magician and always keeps you guessing. That’s one of the things that made Cabin in the Woods (2012) so exceptional.
Nothing is Wasted & Everything is Earned
This story is tight! There’s no fat on it. Every line either establishes a character, or pushes the story forward. Even the post-credit scene is a call-back joke to an earlier line that seemed like an irrelevant throwaway line.
I strongly dislike 3D, but I didn’t mind the 3D in The Avengers. For the most part it added depth like a diorama, instead of flying at the audience like a pop-up book. With the exception of one brief moment, I was cool with the 3D.
Mr. Jackson is not known for subtlety. In The Avengers his performance in remarkably understated, and I thought it was exceptional. I’m not sure who made that decision, but whomever made that call deserves a cookie. If I’m remembering correctly, his most badass moment is devoid of dialog (or pretty close to it).
Suspension of Disbelief
The best praise I can give any super hero story (comic, or movie), is that my suspension of disbelief went unbroken throughout. Will that be the case after multiple viewing? I’m not sure. But while I was watching The Avengers, I was completely invested in the story, and it never made me question the narrative.
As much as I loved The Avengers, I do have some minor gripes.
One Big Cliché
I don’t want to give anything away, but there is one big alien movie cliché that Whedon used to wrap up the film, and I found it slightly disappointing… But I also understood why it needed to be that way. I still wish it wasn’t.
3D Serpent Thingie
There was one moment in the third act where the 3D disrupted my viewing experience. That giant metal flying serpent thingie from the trailer flies into the screen (kind of over the camera), and my eyes/ brain were not ok with that at all.
Further Exploring the Idea of Freedom
Early in the film, Loki talks a bit about humans and freedom. It’s a concept that Whedon plays with a lot. In The Avengers, he starts to dig into this idea, but never really does anything with it, other than expand on Loki’s motivation. I think it was a missed opportunity to add extra meaning to the overall story.
Nothing serious to report here…
I Want More!
The DVD is going to have something like 30 minutes of extra footage, and I can’t wait for it.
If you haven’t seen it yet, just go. This is what mainstream comic heroics look like at their very best.
There are two credits scenes.
The mid-credits scene sets up the next film (if you’re interested in who that character is, click here). You have to stay to see this as it explains something that happens in the beginning of the movie.
The post-credits scene isn’t necessary to see, but it is both very funny, and delightfully Whedonesque.
Lastly, if you liked the humor and storytelling in The Avengers, you really ought to watch some of Whedon’s early work. Buffy, Angel, Firefly, Dr. Horrible & Dollhouse are exceptional shows that are smart, moving, funny, and very entertaining.
I can’t believe I’ve been doing this for three years (999 posts)! To celebrate, I skimmed through my archive for the first time in three years, and it brought back a lot of memories.
Join me on a brief and mildly narcissistic trip through some of my favorite blogging memories:
- Arguably my best post, at least from an academic perspective is Wonder Woman: The Super Secret & Kinky Origin of a Feminist Icon. Derived from a portion my undergraduate thesis, this post has been cited in a few academic papers, and according to my web analytics has been frequently referenced on some BDSM discussion boards. I am after-all here to educate and entertain.
- My most popular single day post dates back to April Fool’s Day 2010. I collaborated with a mystery designer to introduce the world to the iProbe; it’s still my favorite post.
- In one of TGW’s stranger episodes, guitar legend Peter Frampton stopped by to comment on a post after I berated him for a very disrespectful performance at The Stone Pony.
- When I first started The Geek Whisperer, I wanted to define the difference between geeks & nerds… But I found the task painfully difficult and subsequently spent two and a half years pondering the question before I wrote Geek vs. Nerd vs. Dork.
- And last but not least, I was (and still am) cited in a Wikipedia article on Firefly/ Serenity; my favorite scifi universe.
Never forget to practice safe computing.
Of the many cancellation atrocities committed by Fox, the termination of Arrested Development is one of the worst (next to Firefly).
After nearly six years off the air, the Bluth family is returning with new television episodes and a movie, with their very specific brand of uncomfortable humor. In doing so Arrested Development will join the ever-growing list of excellent shows that Fox prematurely cancelled, only to bring them back in some form. That list includes:
- Family Guy
“Series star Will Arnett seconded Hurwitz’s pledge on his Twitter feed, @arnettwill, while, er, standing next to co-star Jason Bateman: ‘I’m peeing with @batemanjason at the moment … and we can confirm that we are going to make new AD eps and a movie.’”
Maybe one day we will see new episodes of The Tick, Dollhouse, Human Target & Terminator the Sarah Connor Chronicles… But I’m not going to hold my breath.
At the moment, Fox isn’t confirming the resurrection of Arrested Development. If this doesn’t happen, I will be pissed.
The Firefly/ Serenity Verse is so beloved, yet it is only composed of 14 television episodes, a movie, and a few comics. Most of the science fantasy properties that have a massive and loyal following like Firefly are made up of dozens of episodes, movies, books, comics, video games and toys.
No, us browcoats are clearly drew the short straw. That’s why I get really excited when I discover even the smallest crumb of Firefly lore.
Somehow I had no idea that Joss Whedon created a single issue web comic for Dark Horse Comics to publish on their MySpace page.
The story is titled The Other Half. It’s scripted by Jim Krueger, drawn by Will Conrad, and it is up on Dark Horse’s MySpace page for free; no login required.
The Other Half is a short action sequence featuring Mal, Zoe, Jayne, Simon, and River escaping a mess of Reavers after you guessed it, a job didn’t go as planned.
The script is tight and the art is energetic. The story feels like the final act of a full episode, like you just started watching after the last commercial break.
It’s not particularly deep, moving or funny, but it does inch the plot of the mythology forward just a tiny bit in its final pages.
If you love Firefly, it’s a steal $0.00 and well-worth five minutes of your time.
The Other Half (MySpace) (I can’t remember the last time I was on MySpace)
I just learned that someone cited me in a Wikipedia entry about Serenity/ Firefly comics. More specifically, my review of the recent graphic novel, Serenity: Shepherd’s Tale.
The passage I’m cited in reads:
Reviews of The Sheperd’s Tale were mixed. Sean Kleefield praised the storytelling, both its content and structuring, but reiterates previous comments that the comics are hard to comprehend without knowing the television series. However, he opines that this may be a calculated decision to target the most likely market for the comic. David Spira of The Geek Whisperer echoed Kleefield’s comments on the story while also praising the book’s artwork, but felt the comic’s release as an expensive hardcover was not justified by the content, and agreed that Book’s tale was “completely meaningless unless you are a Browncoat”. The reviewer for Daemon’s Books found the recurring flashback structure confusing, and complained that the attitude of the Alliance towards Book in the episode “Safe” no longer made sense. The goodtobeageek reviewer, Jessa Phillips, felt that the flashback structure was overused, and agrees with Spira’s comment on the value for money, but highly praises Chris Samnee’s artwork. (Wikipedia)
I have no clue who wrote the entry, but I’m honored to be cited among a number of great reviewers.
This made my day. Hopefully no one edits it out for a while.
At the close of the Firefly series, there were two unanswered questions that drove viewers batty:
- What’s the deal with River’s genius/ craziness/ aptitude for slaughtering people?
- What’s Shepherd Book’s deal? What kind of holy-man can fight, shoot, and get priority medical attention from the Alliance?
The movie Serenity answered the questions about River, and tied a nice bow on the series.
The new graphic novel, Serenity: The Shepherd’s Tale take you on a journey through Book’s past.
The script is tight, the art is expressive, and the characters are on-point.
The story was plotted by Firefly creator Joss Whedon, and the script was written by his brother Zack. Zack nailed the characters. Each of the original crew members have a few lines of dialoge (except for Inara).
Chris Samnee’s art is excellent for this story. I can’t imagine his style working for any other Serenity story, but in this instance it’s spot-on.
Book’s tale is compelling, entertaining, and carefully answers all of the questions the series raised without being too on-the-nose.
The Not So Good
It’s short. Really really short for the $15.00 cover price. I took my time reading and taking-in the art, and it was still a quick read.
This story is completely meaningless unless you are a Browncoat. If you don’t know what a Browncoat is, you aren’t one.
If you love the Verse, this is story is well worth reading.
Support your local comic shop, or be lazy and order from Amazon.