Wednesday, May 09, 2012

#410. Avengers, Comics, Star Trek

The Avengers is a flawed meme of an experience, building on expectations film-goers have been formulating since Iron Man first suggested this was going to happen, a pop culture experience that presents something new yet expected, instant familiarity and comfort, and yes, an epic experience.

Marvel has to be considered a house of evil genius, tricking so many people into accepting a series of flawed movies with the constant promise of fulfillment later on (not one of the associated films satisfies a complete experience, and not just because they all hint toward something else).  If a film falls out of this sequence (and about half of the movies based on Marvel characters do), it is fairly quickly rejected based on the same qualities but without the associations that've made the Avengers sequence work.  Not a single one of these things has approached the transformative brilliance of Richard Donner's Superman or Christopher Nolan's The Dark Knight, and yet they're at the vanguard of the geek phenomenon that has successfully made superheroes a regular genre at the box office, in much the same way the X-Men films and Sam Raimi's geeky Spider-Man flicks have.

(The Amazing Spider-Man, it must be said, looks to be the first one to break with this tradition, and is the true rival of The Dark Knight Rises this summer.)

The Avengers only truly rouses at its climax, when the novelty of seeing all the heroes in action at the same time  finally trumps what any other film has so far accomplished, within or out superhero movies.  Never mind that it's not so different from League of Extraordinary Gentlemen (or that Watchmen is leagues superior).  A series of false notes and a lack of a central character makes most of the experience jarring, but then things finally start to click, and then the random aliens that serve as cannon fodder point toward Thanos, a truly worthy challenge, making even this cynical viewer once again hope for a payoff.

I won't talk about the actors.  Almost everyone focuses on the actors in this one, but there is no real standout, except maybe Mark Ruffalo (but I wouldn't be the first one to say that, either) and Tom Hiddleston (with little to do except preen this time).  This is really an example of the Joss Whedon model stretched to its limits.

So ends this fairly contrary opinion of the blockbuster.

(If you were amused by these films thoughts and/or what you read during A-to-Z, then maybe you should check out what I've written about other films here.)


At Comics Reader, I've got a good number of good stuff worth looking at that I hope to draw your attention to, starting with Long Tack Sam (the name alone should intrigue you), continuing on to Bottom of the Ninth (a comic book with motion), and also including Mike Mignola.  Finally, I have a regular update on the new comics I've been reading.

At Fan Companion, I've finished out my look at the sixth season of Star Trek: Voyager, including looks at standouts like "Good Shepherd," "Live Fast & Prosper," "Life Line," and "Fury," which may just be the best episode most fans only think they're supposed to hate.

At Sigild V, I've continued "Star Trek '12," with a rare departure from TV/film canon.  I'll be starting up Who Killed Iron Joe?, a twelve-part Space Corps story probably tomorrow.  This is the story that ties directly into my forthcoming book project Seven Thunders, the one I've been building toward writing since 1998.  May be worth checking out!

I've taken a brief break from Epistles from the New Fade, but I'm not quite halfway through the poem challenge yet, so of course I'm returning to it.


S. L. Hennessy said...

Wow, you're the first person I've talked to (or in this case read about) who didn't love it. Sorry you thought Avengers was a disappointment. I personally can't wait to see it again.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Tony, you make some good points. While I don't agree that it's a flawed movie it's not better than Superman or The Dark Knight. Ruffalo surprised me with how good an actor he is. Thanks for your review!

- Maurice Mitchell
The Geek Twins | Film Sketchr
@thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

Tony Laplume, Scouring Monk said...

It just surprises me that it's gotten such universal praise. That's not the reason I didn't love it, but it's especially uncommon in the age of the Internet to read even a reaction thread and not hear contrary opinions. These movies play it so safe, it's hard not to think of them as that little kid or that little puppy that's too cute to hate, and I think that's part of it, too. You either like them or you simply don't care about them. The Avengers is sort of an experience that you have to basically like, more than the other films i the sequence, because it doesn't take any huge risks and it offers some substantial rewards. Never mind that it isn't truly rousing, especially in the one gimmick it does try to embrace, the reward of seeing all of these characters in one movie.

Maurice Mitchell said...

Tony, I added this to our list of Avengers reviews. I think it's important to show both sides.
- Maurice Mitchell
The Geek Twins
@thegeektwins | @mauricem1972

Craig Edwards said...

No offense meant, but it's a little suspect that every comic book/superhero movie you mention as being better than The Avengers and the movies that led up to it is from DC - so I'm calling company bias shenanigans. Donner's Superman remains the greatest of these movies, and The Dark Knight - while entertaining - is not in its league either. Nonetheless, you write well, and I hope your experience with The Dark Knight Rises is everything you want it to be. Cheers.

Tony Laplume, Scouring Monk said...

I loved Ang Lee's Hulk, and I loved Daredevil, two Marvel movies that most fans don't love (to the point with the former that two actors have since been cast in that role; in the latter, a spinoff that would've included an appearance by Ben Affleck might've been the thing that made fans care, which is basically what a lot of people said at the time). I also like the X-Men movies, as well as Spider-Man 3, just not as much as I like Nolan's Batman films. And yes, to be totally transparent, my favorite superhero flick last summer was Green Lantern. Maybe I simply tend to go against the grain a little, or maybe I have a different set of qualities I'm looking for. Bottom line is, I at least represent, and certainly in the case of The Avengers, a necessary contrary opinion. I'm proud of the fact that when I do this, unlike how a lot of people tend to do it, I don't try to bury what I don't agree with. I don't say that it's the worst thing in the world.

MOCK! said...

It was the first superhero movie I paid for in the theater since the first X-Men....and the first I saw multiple times in the theater since Star Trek: First Contact. I loved it!


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