8 May 2012

Thoughts On: The Avengers

A lot of stuff is standing in between me and objectivity when it comes to this indie hit, The Avengers.  Even setting aside my inner child's tingly delight at seeing (most of) his favorite tight-pant-wearing friends up on the big screen,  I saw the film with a Friday Night Opening Crowd.  I saw Austin Powers with a Friday Night Opening Crowd and pronounced it one of the funniest movies I'd ever seen.  I saw it two years later on TBS and promptly pronounced myself brain-dead.  So let's keep that in mind.

But, hey, I also saw The Avengers with my wife--yes, a movie-loving wife, but still a wife: still a woman who washes my dirty socks and politely ignores my Internet browsing history.  And for her The Avengers is just the same as, say, Cowboys vs Aliens (and yet I married her willingly...).  So while I'm sitting there, fires of fan boy love sparking and threatening to rage, her very presence was unintentionally and haphazardly sloshing a fire bucket of grounded, middle-aged perspective around.

Love you, honey!

So maybe I am being close to objective when I say: homina, homina, homina...
Put directly: I want to see The Avengers again... in the theatre, no less.  And as curmudgeonly as I have grown, the prospect of going back to see a film in the theatre, paying another fifteen hard-earned bucks, would be about as appealing as the prospect of letting a hobo urinate on me, fee notwithstanding.  Still, The Avengers will be seen again.  Maybe a second time round the silliness of the story will settle in, and I'll wonder why the Hulk is a raging monster the first time he's on screen and a full team member the second time, but if there's a chance of feeling that good a second time, I'm in.

(Incidentally, the last picture I saw a second time in the theatre was The Phantom Menace, and it was neither fan boy love nor hate that prompted the revisit.  It was simply the intoxicating mix of nostalgia, John Williams, fake butter topping and light sabers).

So, yeah, there's a giddy, lifetime Marvel comics-loving little boy jumping up and down in my chest, but another reason I want to see The Avengers again is that it unwound in such a beautiful, almost surreal way.  Being a team superhero thingy--which is almost a new animal--it has little resembling the usual superhero film beats, at least until the last act of alien-thumping shenanigans.  Who'd've guessed it could be so refreshing to leave the "hero has a moment of doubt" moment behind, and the "love interest finds out the secret identity" bit, and "troubles with the police" second act horse hockey... and let things bounce off each other.   

"Everybody dance now!"  Duh, duh, duh-duh-DUH!

Sure, this is the same beast as Transformers 2 or Pirates Of The Caribbean 6, but it's just so much less cynical.  The seams where it was stitched together by the market-testing people are so much less apparent.  There's an actual, joyful release involved in all of it.

If you ask me how Joss Whedon did, I have to concede he did amazingly well.  Sure, he wrote the hell out of everybody, but who wouldn't expect that part of it?  What he deserves special cheerleader hugs for is doing the near impossible: confining the story for the sake of budget and time but not making anybody in the audience feel cheated in the slightest.  Even the best Marvel pictures to date have not been able to do that.  All of them except The Avengers have felt like somebody snapped the purse strings as the third act starts up.

And I can't tell you if the special effects were terrific or not cause I saw this thing with 3-D glasses on top of my, y'know, very smudgy regular glasses.  For all I know this film was acted with Muppets.

So would non-comic fans know what was going on or give a rat's ass?  I don't know.  That's why they have movies like The Help, isn't it?  I don't even care what most comic fans like.  Sometimes when you put their heads together for a rousing game of group-think you gets stuff that looks like the forthcoming Amazing Spider-man movie.  

I'll just count my blessings and wait for the downhill slope.

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