Let’s get one thing straight – Scarlett Johansson is so smoldering in The Avengers, I was aghast. I mean can this woman get any sexier? And director Joss Whedon wisely places her in tight-fitting outfits and under perfect lighting and has her kick wall to wall ass as super assassin Black Widow. As ho-hum as some of the rest of this film was, for me, bottom line – Johansson and how Whedon utilized her assets were worth the price of admission. But enough of that…
Break out the extra-large, layered butter, heavily salted popcorn and enjoy this thing for whatever deviant or nostalgic or escapist reasons you so choose. Here’s the patented Schleicher Spin rundown:
- If I had one big problem with the film (apart from the bloated runtime and the fact that it took FOREVER to get going) it was that the main plot line was a lame rehash of the sibling rivalry between Thor and Loki that defined the absolute worst of these Avenger prequels. I prefer my superheros when they don’t really have super powers but are instead real people with outlandish gadgets and big psychological hangups (i.e. Bruce Wayne – or heck, Johansson’s Black Widow – or Tony Stark, though even with Stark there’s something magic about that material he uses to keep his heart beating, right?), so when the initial focus here was on some alien/Norse-demigods, I kinda lost any interest I would have had in the so-called characters. And then we were led to believe that The Avengers couldn’t become The Avengers until they had something to avenge – and that came in the form of some barely there character named Phil. I laughed at this (NO! PHIL! HANG IN THERE, BUDDY! PHIIIIIIIIL!) more so than many of the one-liners peppered throughout the script full of painfully bad dialogue.
- That big gripe aside – director Joss Whedon does a great job orchestrating the action and the special effects as well as controlling the big cast. He’s also smart enough to know the script is pretty dumb, so those one-liners are actually a relief and are relatively well delivered by the cast (especially Robert Downey Jr doing his normal schtick to good effect). There’s also a few sight gags (mostly involving the Hulk played surprisingly well by Mark Ruffalo) that worked great on the eager to please audience.
- The central set piece involving Loki’s breakout aboard a hella-cool flying aircraft carrier and the Hulk’s first rampage was especially well done. The closing set piece involving a clichéd destruction of NYC, on the other hand, had way too much going on and left me with a bit of fatigue, though I did think those giant mechanical flying fish wreckers were pretty creative.
- The rest of the supporting cast involved Samuel L. Jackson and Gwyneth Paltrow showing up for paychecks, but I am happy to report that Paltrow appears to be aging into a young Patricia Clarkson. It will be interesting to see where her career heads in ten years.
- There were two geek-friendly closing credit sequences – one (involving some silliness in outer space with characters I can only imagine were from the comic books) didn’t work – and the other (a continuation of a Downey Jr. joke about grabbing a bite to eat) worked really well – again reminding us not to take this nonsense too seriously but that it’s also okay to have some fun, too.
In the end, like so many of these comic book films, I have no emotional involvement in whether or not there’s a sequel, but I’d also be a bald-faced liar if I didn’t admit that some of this was very entertaining. I’m pretty sure everybody and their extended family has already paid to see this, so my ultimate opinion doesn’t matter much. Though if we’re keeping tabs, let’s just say the latest trailer for The Dark Knight Rises (apart from the aforementioned talents of Scarlett Johansson) was the best part of this movie-going experience.
But by all means, join the crowds, and in the name of Phil, see The Avengers.
Written by David H. Schleicher