About Me

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Australian philosopher, literary critic, legal scholar, and professional writer. Based in Newcastle, NSW. My latest books are THE TYRANNY OF OPINION: CONFORMITY AND THE FUTURE OF LIBERALISM (2019); AT THE DAWN OF A GREAT TRANSITION: THE QUESTION OF RADICAL ENHANCEMENT (2021); and HOW WE BECAME POST-LIBERAL: THE RISE AND FALL OF TOLERATION (2024).

Friday, April 27, 2012

Avengers movie

I've just seen The Avengers, so let me say a few not-very-spoilerish things about it while it's fresh in my mind. First, it's a lot of fun - all the main characters are cast well, and their personalities, powers, and skills are displayed vividly. As a showcase for the movie versions of this particular Avengers roster (plus the various S.H.I.E.L.D agents led by Nick Fury, plus Loki as the villain), it's successful - probably worth seeing for this alone, at least if you're a fan of the characters. Robert Downey, Jr. (as Iron Man/Tony Stark), Samuel L. Jackson (as Nick Fury), and Tom Hiddleston (as Loki) are impressive, and I was especially pleased that Scarlett Johansson put in a more than creditable performance as The Black Widow - a character who might well have been overshadowed by the male superheroes but actually kicked butt throughout. The settings were magnificent, particularly the huge S.H.I.E.L.D. helicarrier, which is the location for the middle part of the action.

So, that's the good news.

But second ... well, I was a bit disappointed. Despite the great cast and high production values, and despite the engagement of Joss Whedon to direct the action and write the script, The Avengers falls a bit flat. We want to see big fights between the heroes and the villains, and between the heroes and each other ... but even for a superhero movie, much too much consisted of fighting, with buildings, military platforms, and whatever else being demolished spectacularly. Too little of it actually advanced the plot, and too little depth was given to the relationships (though Iron Man and Pepper Potts, played by Gwyneth Paltrow, were touching). Worse, the villains, other than Loki himself, who was shown as powerful and dangerous, scheming and mad, were incompetent to the point of absurdity - it seemed that they were just there to be smashed up by the heroes. Honestly, these guys (they all seemed coded as male) made the Star Wars Imperial Stormtroopers look like badass tactical geniuses.

At the end of the initial set of closing credits (don't bother staying for the full credits to roll to the end) there's a scene that suggests what villain we're going to be treated to in a future Avengers movie, and it will gladden many hearts.

All in all, though ... see this one if you're a fan of the characters, or just for the spectacle. Enjoy your Coke and popcorn. Otherwise, I wouldn't bother.

Loki pulled some clever tricks, and some dirty ones, and always seemed formidable (though he stuffs up big-time at one point that I won't say anything more about). Most of the time, however, the heroes never really seemed in any danger. Also, as with a lot of modern action movies, it could probably have been improved by being half an hour shorter - which could have been accomplished, I suspect, just by editing down the fight scenes.

Would I watch The Avengers again? Maybe, but only because I like some of these characters quite a lot - and, to repeat, they were well-presented, and with a pleasing balance among them. Apart from that, not so much.


Mathew Varidel said...

I saw it tonight as well :)

I really enjoyed it but I just spent the last 2 weeks doing assignments, so I suspect just having any night off would have left me happy.

Russell Blackford said...

Fair enough - and I hope it was clear that I enjoyed it, too. But a lot of my enjoyment came from the movies's take on the main characters (which I thought was great in all cases). The story - not so much, in the sense that, as I said, I never felt the good guys were in serious danger.

Kassul said...

I think I somewhat get where you're coming from with feeling like the main characters are all coated in invincible Plot Armor, but when reading a Hulk comic how often do you think to yourself - "This could be The Death of the Hulk!"

I suppose Marvel has shown a willingness to kill characters off before, but they often get better eh? :P I guess the art in such comics and movies is to make us forget what we know, that while Evil McEvilton might have some fancy new ray to attack Iron Man with, Tony'll come out on top in the end.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but I'm cautiously optimistic for it later this week. I'm not expecting High Cinema, but I think it should be fun.

Annette C. said...

I agree, a bit flat, but still better than the average Michael Bay flick ..

Steve Gardner said...

Just saw it. Fighting is intrinsically dull, it only works if you care about the characters. Here, Iron Man gets some good lines but Thor and Cap'n America are just very dull characters. Black Widow is never developed, neither is Hawk. Yawn.