Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Marvel's The Avengers (2012)

True believers, I bring glad tidings! :)


I wasn't sure whether this movie would work, seeing that Robert Downey Jr's star is still cruising along the Ascension Drive, I was a bit afraid that The Avengers would revolve around him. Thankfully, the film keeps its eye on the word 'ensemble', and gives everyone their time to shine. Even Scarlett Johannson's Black Widow does her fair share as part of the team, and I'm really glad that she has purpose and is not just there to be eye candy, like in Iron Man 2.

[I always thought that making ScarJo a spy was just an excuse to get her in the movie. And into a black catsuit.]

This brings us to character development. Marvel Studios has a very good track record with this, as we can see from Iron Man, Thor, etc., and The Avengers takes the time to flesh out the possible conflicts between all these characters, from their own movies, meeting/working/coming together for the first time.

This is where the movie gets a bit draggy.

In setting up the foundation and formation of the Avengers, there's roughly an hour and a half's worth of in-fighting and quibbling, so much so that in the second half, you don't disagree when the big bad of the piece, Tom Hiddleston's Loki tells Downey, Jr.'s Tony Stark that they (the heroes) are too busy fighting each other to combat an invading alien army.

All these catfights (physical and verbal) were only alleviated by some action sequences in-between (either hero-on-hero, or hero-on-Loki), but barely. At one point, all the heroes were even put in a room to see how far and furious egos and mouths can fly. This entire bit was noticeably tedious the second time around (yes, I watched this movie twice!).

Other than inner conflict, the pacing is superb, and the movie starts with Loki arriving to Earth and causing a lot of property damage in his wake. Since we already know the cast from the previous movies (with the exception of newbie Mark Ruffalo, but then again, who doesn't know that he's playing Bruce Banner/the Hulk), little time was spared on introductions to the major characters.

Another highlight of the film is the screenplay. Iron Man has to be credited with some of the funniest dialogue and back-and-forths that even made us moviegoers forget that a comic book movie should have more action, and I'm glad this tradition (humour, not non-action) is carried onto The Avengers. There are just so many priceless quotable gems from this film that I could rave about, most of them from Robert Downey, Jr., because what would a movie be without good ol' RDJ sarcasm, eh?

I also noticed that Thor and Loki's speech pattern is a lot more... formal (still no 'verily's or 'thou's, but close) than they were in Thor, but maybe that's just me; I haven't seen Thor in a year.

[For some reason, HBO doesn't seem to want to air it :S]

One of the bright spots in the film is when they tone down the action (and the arguing!) and focus on regular one-on-one conversations/interactions between characters, may it be hero or villain. This is especially where the actors shine, and you can see how comfortable they all are in their roles, since most of them are playing the same character the second time around. Scenes to look out for are Stark/Banner, and Thor/Loki, when Thor first lands on Earth.

The second act is where the Avengers get their act (pun totally intended!) together, and where the action is kicked up a notch. The humour is also knocked out of the park from here on out, with a very, very, very unexpected character being a major source of that humour. You'll know what I mean when you watch the movie. We also get to see Chris Evan's Captain America organising the team and plan of attack, which is a fantastic nod to the comics since in canon, Cap'n is the leader of the Avengers.

CGI? Don't get me started. Huge explosions, huge set-pieces, it's all very grand and awesome. 'Nuff said.

This is one of the rare films that actually lives up to the hype generated, and unless you've... not been in touch with the world lately (is it me, or is 'living under a rock' cliched?), the hype is MASSIVE! Four years' worth of excitement building up to this moment, and it surprisingly delivers.

9/10. Three, fairly oft-used sentences, people: Best. Entertaining Movie. Ever.

[Yes, even with the in-fighting.]

P.S. Don't watch the 3D version, it really isn't much to shout about.