Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Review: "The Avengers"

I've said this before but there's something special about an opening weekend crowd.  It's not often that you can convince me to brave the seas of people on an opening weekend but with Joss Whedon at the helm of this one I was not hard to persuade.  So we set out, wallets in hand to the theatre for the 6:10 showing, only to be faced with having to hang about for a few hours for the 9:30 showing instead. I tweeted while we were in line that I was a little apprehensive about the film not living up to expectations but boy, was I wrong.

Those of you who have been reading this blog for awhile (or are personally acquainted with Matt or I) will already know that I'm a huge comic book nerd.  Suffice it to say I'm on the squee train when it comes to all things nerdy.  So it wasn't a huge surprise that within a few moments of the film's beginning I was totally hooked.  What WAS a surprise was that I wasn't the only one and that the film didn't careen immediately into smash and crash territory (though it did get there eventually).  With the amount that Marvel Studios had riding on this film (namely the total amount of what they spent on all the lead up films, plus this film's budget) it's a wonder they trusted Joss Whedon to take the helm but has it ever served them well (as of my writing this the film has made over $600M outside North America and over $207M in North America alone).

For those of you who are unaware Whedon hails from a family that is chock full of writers (both father and grandfather were television writers, his father most notable for working on The Golden Girls).  In fact, he and his two younger brothers are the third generation of writers in the Whedon family.  Now he may have gotten his start on the hit series Roseanne but it is with television ensemble shows like Buffy, Angel, Firefly (and to a certain extent Dollhouse) that he has made a name for himself.  With story arcs not only on his spinoff comics (Buffy, Angel and Firefly all had them) but also with a much celebrate run on Astonishing X-Men, Whedon certainly has the chops on paper to accomplish what many directors have failed to do with any of the comic book franchises: make the action about serving the story.

One of the difficult parts about working with an ensemble cast, especially one where each of the characters (well each of the superheros) have had their own film is that it becomes difficult to balance.  One character may get more screen-time than another, or maybe the director just doesn't get your favourite character and they become a bit of a caricature.  What made The Avengers so special was that the film is almost entirely focused on the characters and their story, their interplay and how that serves the events that are occurring.  The war with Loki is just a catalyst, the real story here is how this group of superhumans comes together and comes to an understanding.  I've been mulling it over in my head for a day or two now and I can comfortably say that there isn't any scene in the film that didn't, in some minor way, serve to enhance or move the story forward.

There is lots of action.  In fact, the graphics and dynamism of the final battle scene is some of the best work I've seen on film (and took a lot of people to do, which you will notice if you stay to watch the bonus scenes).  But the key here, and what keeps the film anchored and me interested, is that not only are we watching an epic battle of gigantic almost insurmountable proportions, but we genuinely care about the characters.  I can't remember the last time that I went to a film and was actually worried about the outcome.  Also, as a Whedon fan I know he likes to kill major characters.  And that little bit of crazy keeps me on my toes.

Bottom line: even if you're not a comic fan, if you like a good action film this is a GREAT action film and even at two hours and twenty minutes it flies by so fast you don't know what hit you.  It's great fun and a good story with a lot of fantastic performances.  Keep an eye out for Scarlett Johansson's Black Widow who manages to tear herself back from the brink of ridicule (Iron Man 2 is often said to have suffered terribly from her performance) and actually manages to be one of the best parts of the film.

My rating: 3.95 out of 4 because I don't believe in perfect scores.

I would also like to point out that my partner (the non-comic nerd, non-action film guy) was so impressed that I got a text message the next morning asking if I wanted to go see it again...we're soooo going again.

No comments:

Post a Comment