TGW Review: The Avengers

NON-SPOILERY

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.

The Basics

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.

The Good

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.

3D

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.

Sam Jackson

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.

The Not-So-Good

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.

The Ugly

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.

The Bottom-Line

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’m taking a victory lap here because this movie went exactly as I predicted over a year ago: Exceptionally well (and for the same reasons I stated).

(Image via Wikipedia)

2 thoughts on “TGW Review: The Avengers

  1. I didn’t think I would like this movie but was pleasantly surprised. I do agree, though, that they should have explored the “freedom is subjugation” theme some more. So what was the alien movie cliche? I don’t think I noticed it.

    1. At this point damn near everyone’s seen the movie… So here it goes.

      ***Spoiler Alert***
      *
      *
      *
      Blowing up the mothership kills/ shuts-down all of the invaders.

      It isn’t a big problem.

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