Thursday, 31 May 2012

Avengers (5 Stars)


It might surprise my readers to know that I don't often go to cinemas. Usually it's four to six times a year, but this is the first film I've seen on the big screen since I went to see "Paul" 12 months ago. There aren't many films that I consider worth the additional expense involved. It isn't just the high price of the film ticket. I also have to reckon in the price of the bus fare to the city centre. And the price of wine gums. Yes, wine gums. It's a ritual with me. When I go to the cinema I must have a packet of wine gums, preferably Bassett's. This time it had to be Haribo wine gums, the second best. I try to pick a time when the cinema is empty. Early in the day, and not in the first week. For "Avengers Assemble" I was successful, there were only three other people with me for the early afternoon show. I don't have a problem with crowds as such. It's the smell of popcorn. It makes me feel sick. I have to sit at a safe distance from anyone with popcorn. At least my wine gums don't smell.

But now to the film itself. By the time I'm writing this it's officially the third most successful film ever. The final box office figures have yet to be published, but it's unlikely it will overtake the other two, "Avatar" and "Titanic". There has been a long buildup to this film, starting with "Iron Man", then continuing with "Iron Man 2", "Thor" and "Captain America". Was it worth the wait? Does the film live up to its hype? I say yes.

Joss Whedon has done a great job, as far as the portrayal of the characters is concerned. Thor is closer to his personality in the comics books than he was in his own film. In the trailer Thor laughed in response to a quip from Tony Stark. In the film itself the quip is still there, but the laugh has been cut. Smart thinking. Thor is a serious character, it's all about battles and glory, he doesn't have a sense of humour. Captain America excels in this film, unlike in his solo film. He's the weakest of the Avengers, but he's a natural leader, as we see in the later fight scenes. The other Avengers don't hesitate to follow his orders. Unfortunately there's a scene where he carries a gun, again. Iron Man was already perfect in his solo films, and he remains so here. After the disappointing performance of Eric Bana in the first Hulk film I loved Edward Norton's performance in the sequel, but Mark Ruffalo is even better. Supposedly he's signed up to make six films as the Hulk, so we can finally expect some continuity.

I'm a bit disappointed with the new guy, Hawkeye. He seems much too tech savvy in the film. In the comics his background is as a circus performer. He should be more down to Earth. And what happened to his costume? His mask? The H on his head? His costume in the film is almost as bad as Halle Berry's Catwoman costume. The Black Widow's costume isn't very accurate either, but I'll let that pass since her costume in the comics varied greatly over the years.
I've heard some criticism that the Avengers spend half of the film fighting one another while the real bad guy, Loki, sits on the sidelines and gloats. This isn't incorrect. There were a lot of fights between the Avengers in the comics, starting in Avengers #16 with the new line-up (Captain America, Hawkeye, Quicksilver and the Scarlet Witch). Most of the fights were between Captain America and Hawkeye. The other fights in the film certainly don't seem out of character.

I'll refrain from writing about the film's plot, since my guest writer Kaylena has already promised a full review. Let me just end this post with a few words about Thanos, who appeared in the middle of the credits sequence. The words he speaks are cryptic, but easy to understand for anyone who knows writer Jim Starlin's epic stories from the 1970's and 1980's.
 
"Humans! They are not the cowering wretches we were promised. They stand. They are unruly, and therefore cannot be ruled. To challenge them is to court death".

I await the next films with trepidation. Thanos is the most powerful enemy ever faced by the Avengers, a tragic figure who could only be defeated because he was weakened by his love being spurned. But this is the reason I'm nervous. An all-powerful being who can do anything, such as killing 50% of the living creatures in the universe by snapping his fingers, works well in comics, but how will he be portrayed in films? Even Galactus, who is far weaker than Thanos, was hardly shown in the second Fantastic Four film. Let's wait and see. I might write a post about Thanos next month. Watch this space.

Click here to view the trailer.

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