Monday, April 30, 2012

The Avengers


A sparkling blue cube of energy, the highly-unstable Tesseract, as far as S.H.I.E.L.D. is concerned, could be a source of limitless power that could translate to ultra-high-tech weaponry. It comes with an excess baggage though, as it also serves as Loki’s pawn to wage a war against the Earth. Are we really prepared for yet another Hollywood alien invasion? No pressure. Enter the Avengers, an odd mix of humans and a demigod with specific skill sets enough for them to be regarded as a legit defense force. As useless human beings watch from the side lines and the police do what they do best, which is arrive late (not that it actually matters), these Marvel superheroes thrash each other with indestructible shields and hammers with unpronounceable nicknames. They also exchange playful banter of sitcom proportions and have their respective turns for the obligatory hotshot camera pose, whether it be by group or for a full body solo. Say whatever you want about them, this movie is simply an awesome two hours or so of jaw-dropping special effects, hilarious quips, and some awkwardly entertaining bromance here and there. This is, without a doubt, the summer Hollywood movie to beat.

Joss Whedon should definitely direct the sequel, if ever there would be one. Who am I kidding? Of course there will be one. You do not call it a cash cow if you are not milking it. We would not mind either, as long as it is as good as this one. This film succeeds as an ensemble flick in that not one character is underutilized. Each and every one of them is kept busy attending to whatever it is that needs to be done, whether it be settling a personal grudge against one another, or working together as a group to send back those extra-terrestrial orcs to wherever it is that they came from. Whedon makes sure that his project would not fall for that blunder which most big screen adaptations from the same genre have fallen into, which is to tweak the definition of team-work into a mix of convenient plot twists and visual effects while disregarding the story and character development altogether.

Gwyneth Paltrow appears in two lovey-dovey sequences while Natalie Portman lends a digital photo. It would have been nice to see a senile and bed-ridden Peggy too, if only to give her and the Captain some closure, but such subplots simply have no room here. The individual franchises are responsible for those plot developments. As far as this movie is concerned, it is an ensemble flick and if there is that one thing that has to be given utmost importance, it would be none other than group dynamics. So no, let us leave all the mush for the individual sequels.

The Avengers is cooler than X-Men because it has the advantage of presenting the characters in their respective movies first before lumping them all together in one reel. This helps a lot in establishing rapport between hero and audience. Regardless which of them you see onscreen, you automatically recall their previous appearances and back stories in their own movie adaptations that you no longer have to spend time thinking about their motivations as a character. It is supplied to you ab initio, provided that you have already seen their movies prior to this.

For those who have been living under a rock for the last decade or so, meaning those who have not seen any Marvel movie before, you would probably be lost because the story is presented in a way assuming that you already have an idea of what is going on. In fact, there are a lot of plot elements derived from the previous movies which is why it is recommended that you watch them again, just in case you have already forgotten some of the important plot points. Still, it remains a visual feast regardless if you have no idea who these freaks are. Aside from the credibly rendered special effects, the choreographed fight scenes are plain awesome to watch, specially those of ScarJo. Since she does not defy gravity or anything, her movements seem so fluid and natural that even if she lacks superpowers, you just could not help but gaze in awe thanks to all the acrobatics that she does here. Girl can square off with Angelina Jolie anytime.

The dialogues! I have not seen any of the Iron Man movies but listening to Stark’s verbal diarrhea of quotable funny one-liners here just makes me want to. However, the comedy is not confined to his character. In fact, all of them, whether it be through their gestures or occasional witty retorts, have their own moments of glory in the comedy department. My favorite is Thor’s He’s adopted remark. HAHAHA. Nordic god has sense of humor buried underneath all the Shakespearean monologues after all.

What about the overall feel? They say that Iron Man is magnificently techie while Thor leans more on the otherworldly but still fathomable side of the spectrum. How do those elements mix then? Well, the setting is on Earth, and once again we see aliens descending from above in an effort to subjugate us, as if we have not had enough since Independence Day. A lot of scenes are reminiscent of any of the three Transformers movies because of the Earth destruction theme, collapsing buildings, explosions, and what have you. What you would enjoy though is, again, the group effort. These heroes have different personalities and seeing them work their issues out and move as one despite the clashes in personality will always merit an appreciative sigh of contentment from the audience.

Are you going to enjoy this movie? Hell yeah. The reviews are overwhelmingly positive and having seen the film first hand, I could say that it is not all hype. Whedon just set the bar higher for superhero movies. Here is to hoping that all of those which follow would at least reach that bar. And a Hulk movie for Ruffalo too, please. He really deserves one.

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