Tuesday, April 7, 2015

The Avengers ★★★

Image result for The Avengers film posters

    It seemed like only yesterday when superheroes were yet to be fashioned in the medium of film; and yet, here is a picture that not only features several of these personas, but it relishes in the mere fact that this "teaming up" of individuals is actually plausible. I could only imagine how Stan Lee felt when it was realized that these heroes were going to be lifted from the pages of his beloved comic books and onto the silver screen. This old-fashioned notion has now become a reality.

    But let's face it, "The Avengers" is simply that. It is undoubtedly the truest of the comic book films to the actual medium itself, as its rudimentary plot and simplistic characterizations lend the opportunity for fast-paced action and events. There are tawdry one-liners and little doubt as to what is going to take place, yet the artistic semblance of truth never wavers in its attempt to ensnare the audience.

    The plot, in its most primitive design, essentially focuses on a small power source, named the Tesseract, and its potential to do--what else--destroy the Earth. A bad guy from another dimension, Loki, (who basically takes the form of a middle-man as he has more prominent employers) transcends time and space to retrieve this object, as he is promised the remains of the planet after an alien invasion destroys its inhabitants. (This not only sounds questionable, but it would seem that Loki is getting the business end of the deal.)

    We are then introduced to our protagonists, whether begrudgingly or not, through one-dimensional executions of character; for example, we know that Nick Fury is a man of a strict disposition, if for no other reason than for his demeanor and his rugged eye patch. Additionally, we learn through other characters' reactions that Captain America is a symbol of freedom and a legend amongst men, that Bruce Banner is highly sought for his expertise in gamma radiation (not to mention for his keen ability to smash anything in sight when trouble stirs), and that Thor is a God indulging in a common case of sibling rivalry.

Image result for The Avengers 2012 film stills

     Iron Man easily obtains his egoist type traits by way of his charisma and humor, and the two lackeys of the group, Black Widow and Hawk-eye, are introduced through a short monologue, as their personalities obviously have not had enough screen time to be conveyed properly. This inevitable assemblage leads to a half-hour free-for-all, in which each superhero earns his or her own slow-motion action scene.

    One would think that a conflict of such a devastating force would be sufficient enough, however, as the tensions within the group rise (due to the rather large egos and certainly heightened levels of testosterone), they become utilized in an effort to produce more fighting and to produce situations that would only seem conceivable in the mind of every eight-year-old boy who has ever picked up a comic book. I must admit, that I've always wondered what would happen when two unstoppable forces, such as The Hulk and Thor, suddenly become pitted against one another.

    Yet, despite this good-natured comic book ambience, two complications seem to arise. Although Loki claims to be "burdened with glorious purpose," he is quite dull in character, and when it comes to formidability, he crumbles within a few moments. Not only does this hamper the film in its capacity to provide interesting characters, but it quite frankly makes things a little too easy for our heroes. Secondly, this picture obviously relies on its ensemble cast to succeed, however, Tony Stark is the only persona of interest. Captain America seems as if he has not quite shaken his icy past, considering his emotionless manner, and everyone else is so fixated on their own issues that they become unable, or unwilling for that matter, to contribute much conviction.

    To say that special effects hardly impress me would be an understatement, as it has become quite evident over the years of cinema history that any film with an over exertion of computer graphic imaging surely lacks in other areas of filmmaking that can be deemed essential. Nevertheless, it is not the quality of special effects that "The Avengers" excels in (just about anyone can create realistic images with today's technology), but it is the integration of said ingredients into the film that becomes quite splendid. Whether it is the construction of The Hulk, the stylish suits of Iron Man or the reflection mapping of a camouflaged aircraft, there never seems to be that moment of disbelief. Sure, there are several unflattering scenes that express a sense of forgery, most notably an instance in which Captain America dangles from an aircraft, although these are far and few between.

    There is no secret as to what "The Avengers" direly needs, and that would be a hint of humanness. As Iron Man becomes an integral portion of the climax, in which he ultimately risks his life for humanity, he stops to call his beau in a tense moment of uncertainty. Of course, it is the right judgement on behalf of the script, yet the woman never answers and the opportunity to divulge into that emotion becomes lost, much like the film itself as it ignores this aspect of its heroes. We understand that they are "super-human," but they are still human, regardless of whether or not they have an impeccable aim with a bow or transform into big green monsters when irritated. (Except, of course, for the character of Thor, who is immortal.)

    You know, it's funny. One individual, shortly after the viewing and as he made his way to the nearest exit, put forth the opinion that "The Avengers" is nothing short of a regurgitation of previous exploits, and that its formulaic approach is so tiresome that its success is a reflection of just how dishonorable the film industry has become. It would seem that audiences have become so accustomed to bad pictures that this film has coaxed us into believing it is grand when it is anything but.

    Although I would never refute the notion that the film industry has become a shadow of its former self, with regard to the twenty-first century, one must never forget that when critiquing a film, genre must be accounted for. "The Avengers" is an action picture and it surely does not pretend to be anything else. Even if the intention to mindlessly entertain becomes worrisome at times, that is the motivating force here. When judging a film for worth, these fundamental differences must be noted--otherwise, we will be comparing "The Avengers" to "Casablanca."

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