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    The Avengers (Movie Review)

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    Paeter
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    The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on May 5th 2012, 5:49 pm

    I'm a huge comic book fan and despite being a far greater DC comics fan, I've enjoyed following The Avengers in the Ultimate Marvel comics universe. Like millions of others, I became very excited when Nick Fury told Tony Stark about "The Avengers Initiative" in that first bonus scene at the end of the first Iron Man movie. But over the years I've learned not to get my hopes up for comic book movies. Despite many really good ones coming out in recent years, I've come to the conclusion that film is not the highest potential expression of the superhero genre. Comic books are, probably followed closely by animation. The limitations of live action productions always leave the most epic superheroes falling short of their true potential.

    And let's not forget Hollywood's ability to screw up a really good thing. Especially when it comes to superhero flicks that add more and more characters to their stories. The original Batman movie franchise, the Spider-man movies, X-men 3... they all suffered as they tried to add more and more characters into the mix, sacrificing character itself in exchange for more warm bodies getting screen time. So I went into The Avengers as a hopeful fan prepared to be let down by two hours of empty visual effects sequences.

    The basic story picks up more or less where the Thor movie left off. Loki still feels he has the right to rule and decides he wants to rule earth. The rest of the details aren't really important. Story doesn't seem to be a chief concern here. Instead, the story serves as a motive to bring together Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Captain America, Black Widow and Hawkeye, and watch them butt heads or work together, exploring the unusual and unique chemistry that results. In my opinion, this is what superhero team stories should be about. Every now and then a deep, complex story is nice, but the fun part of superhero teams is seeing these separate characters share a world, a room a conversation and a fight.

    This is where The Avengers shines brightest. The first part of the movie briefly re-introduces us to each of the main characters, wonderfully recapturing the feelings we had when we last saw them. Slowly, characters are paired up and eventually all are working together...eventually. Some great conflict happens before then, which also serves to bring out the differences, strengths and weaknesses of each character and their approach to problem-solving and life in general.

    Some of the best moments in this film are not due to CG explosions or crazy action, but surprising and clever moments of dialogue between characters or actions that they choose to take. (Two of the best feature the Hulk's actions. I won't spoil them. Believe me. You'll know them when you see them.)

    Every character gets a chance to shine on numerous occasions, and even the non-powered characters like Black Widow and Hawkeye turn out to bring very unique and useful talents to the party.
    Not all of these character moments worked perfectly. A few character choices or lines show up that are really just there to be clever or cool, but don't actually make sense for the characters to say or do in context. But on the whole the characterizations are excellent.

    The music is also character-driven, which I appreciated. A surge of emotion went through me at one point when Captain America leaped into fearless action, accompanied by the more traditional sounding and inspirational horns that were commonly heard in his own film.

    Despite the film's wonderful focus on character, it does assume you've seen all of the previous Marvel movies. Plot threads and character arcs from each hero's movies are picked up again without much exposition to help out. A potential down point for newcomers, but a reward for those who have invested in the previous films. And a storytelling philosophy I agree with.

    Of course all his talk about character shouldn't leave you with the impression that the action and visuals fell short. Although the movie does take time out for stretches of plot and character development, there is a ton of great action in this flick. In fact it may prove to be the most visually entertaining flick of the summer. At the end of the day, there were no pioneering moments in the visual presentation, but action was plentiful and as fantastic as you'd expect based on what we've seen before now. If you're looking to get that sci-fi action itch scratched, this movie will do a great job for you, and then some.

    I have to be a little critical of the sound mixing, which at some points made it difficult to here dialogue. Several times I missed lines following a laugh line, but that's more the audience's fault than the movies. But there were a number of other times when competing ambiance or music, combined with a quick and slightly less articulate delivery of a line, made it hard to decipher what was just said.

    Three moments in the movie come to mind that could potentially stimulate worthwhile thought about spiritual matters.

    At one point the villain, Loki, tells a crowd of people he's forced to kneel before him that they were "made to be ruled" and that freedom is a bad thing. In response, an old man stands to his feet in noble defiance. I would agree that being enslaved to another human (or even a super-powered alien) is wrong. But it would be throwing the baby out with the bathwater to fight against the idea that we were made to be ruled. Biblically speaking, we were. The difference is that God is the perfect ruler, and we will find far greater fulfillment in submission to him than we will by answering only to our own desires.

    Loki, Iron Man and Thor become involved in a conflict at one point, and before Captain America leaps into the fray, Black Widow warns him that he's out of his league and that Thor and Loki are like gods. Captain America responds by saying, "There's only one God, Ma'am. And I don't think he dresses like that." The added use of the word "ma'am" helps place Cap's sentiment in an earlier time, when Americans were culturally monotheistic, as opposed to the hybrid relativistic polytheism becoming more and more popular. I don't think this line is an indication that the captain is a Christian, necessarily. But it struck me as thought-provoking, given that anyone else saying "there's only one god" would likely be considered intolerant or closed-minded. By contrast, Cap's line seemed as though it was meant to showcase his bold a fearless confidence and sense of both truth and morality. He's being portrayed as a "man out of time", but this line wasn't played in a way that made him look antiquated. It made him more "solid" somehow. (And was also good for a little laugh at the expense of Thor's and Loki's costumes.)

    Finally, I seem to remember Loki taunting Black Widow for the sins of her past, mocking her for coming up with her own code of ethics that will allow her to downplay her past wrongs. This strikes me as another example in this movie of truth being placed in the mouth of the villain. Maybe Joss Whedon (writer and director) feels that though it's okay to come up with your own code of ethics, and that's why he put this rant against doing so in the villain's mouth. Or maybe he agrees with Loki here and is trying to make his story more morally complex by making the villains right about some things and the heroes wrong about some things. Whatever his motive, the idea was noticed. Although just barely.

    Which is really why I can't give this movie a good Relevance score. It had some interesting things to say, and presented them in compelling ways, but they were just small blips on the radar of this epic 2-hour and 20 minute movie. Nicely presented but quickly forgotten.

    The Avengers isn't the mind-blowing, revolutionary movie experience that some excited fans may tell you it is. But it's an extremely fun and exciting movie that you'll be kicking yourself if you don't see ASAP.

    Rated PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action throughout, and a mild drug reference.

    Quality: 9.5/10
    Relevance: 5.5/10


    For information about the scoring system used here, visit spiritblade.net/reviewscores

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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  DNArington on May 5th 2012, 10:01 pm

    Another point that stuck out to me was when Agent Colson told Loki that although he was uber' powerful and all, he wasn't going to win because he lacked morals. I found that statement interesting. I probably would have given Relevance a higher score myself, though I do agree the moments went by fairly quickly.

    Oh and Cap's line....best line of the movie!!...loved it!! lol!

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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on May 5th 2012, 10:14 pm

    P.S. Stay until the VERY END of the credits. There are TWO bonus scenes!


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Hackmodford on May 6th 2012, 9:28 pm

    What! TWO bonus scenes? Sad


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  tmorrill on May 6th 2012, 9:46 pm

    I can't wait to get back to the America and see it in an American theater!

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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Hackmodford on May 6th 2012, 9:59 pm

    I just looked it up on youtube. But I'm not sure if I could hear the sound. Where they silent in the scene?


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Rickster on May 6th 2012, 10:35 pm

    Hackmodford wrote:I just looked it up on youtube. But I'm not sure if I could hear the sound. Where they silent in the scene?

    Yeah yhere wasn't any talking during the final scene

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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Guest on May 8th 2012, 9:00 pm

    The trick with Loki's little chat with Scarlet...I mean Black Widow is a game that Joss Whedon sometimes plays with antagonistic characters. What Paeter describes is a bit above my head, however I don't think it has anything to do with what Whedon believes in. I get a very strong impression he uses this narrative trick to make antagonistic characters seem more interesting, give them more depth, give shadings of gray, and make them seem more dangerous when the protagonistic characters are rattled by whatever is being said.

    Paeter, are you pathologically addicted to putting in a DC comics loyalty disclaimer for every Marvel superhero comics based item you review? Wink

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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on May 9th 2012, 2:03 pm

    You are right, Kris. This is a characterization point for Loki. It says less about what Whedon believes, and far more about the nature of the character. All of Whedon's statements about society, the nature of faith, and humanity's inherently divine nature are made through an extremely subtle and complex plot. Paeter focused on the characters, and looked for truth to be placed in the mouth of the characters. Whedon seldom does this, and in the case of The Avengers especially, it is the actions of the characters that reveal the true content of the film.

    If you want to enjoy it as a beat-em-up film with some excellent character chemistry, you will have a great experience. If you want to examine the running subtext and commentary on the nature of humanity and divinity, you will find a whole different layer of meaning. Consider this:

    1. Every time Loki starts to really monologue, he gets beat up. Yes, it's a funny response to a genre trope. Now listen to his dialog and examine the rebuttal.
    2. When Loki and Thor appear, we are told they are like gods. Cap and Iron Man spend the rest of the film proving they are equals.
    3. Loki is painted as evil, and states fairly insincerely his desire to rule the world, but his actions are those of a petty child who only wants to hurt others. Compare this to the petulant child that is Tony Stark and the implications of his arc reactor.
    4. The film begins with an act of evil, and layers misdirection in every scene until the epilogue between the Chitauri Leader and /spoiler/ which puts the rest of the film in perspective and reveals the true purpose of the plot.


    I could go on. This story is complex enough and has a message important enough to the Christian to be dissected for hours on end, but delivers enough character connection and visual punch that it is not necessary to understand the movie in order to enjoy it. It has replaced both Fight Club and Sucker Punch as the most meaningful movie of all time on my list. On Paeter's scale of 1 - 10, I rate it:

    Quality - 10.0
    Relevance - 11.0


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on May 9th 2012, 11:48 pm

    mindspike wrote:It has replaced both Fight Club and Sucker Punch as the most meaningful movie of all time on my list. On Paeter's scale of 1 - 10, I rate it:

    Quality - 10.0
    Relevance - 11.0

    WOW! You found a lot in that movie that jumped out at you!

    None of those things came through for me, and since my Relevance score reflects my estimation of the probability of worthwhile conversation or thought(as opposed to just the presence of the content itself) I scored it low. For example, although not a sci-fi/fantasy/horror film, I would score "The Passion" with a Relevance of 10. Possibly "Luther" as well.

    Do you score it high in Relevance because you think chances are strong that viewers will think about the points you touched on, or is your score more a reflection of the presence and density of the relevant content itself?


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on May 9th 2012, 11:50 pm

    Desert Kris wrote:

    Paeter, are you pathologically addicted to putting in a DC comics loyalty disclaimer for every Marvel superhero comics based item you review? Wink

    mmmmmmaybe? I'll have to check my past Marvel movie reviews. Do I really do it that often?

    Embarassed


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Hackmodford on May 10th 2012, 9:42 am

    Yes... but I'm glad you do Smile


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  WhiteBoy on May 10th 2012, 9:53 am

    FWIW, because reviews are so subjective, I think it's good to frame your review so the listener knows where you're coming from.


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  mindspike on May 10th 2012, 10:08 am

    Paeter wrote:Do you score it high in Relevance because you think chances are strong that viewers will think about the points you touched on, or is your score more a reflection of the presence and density of the relevant content itself?

    Well, since the Relevance score reflects the probability of worthwhile conversation or contemplation arising from the movie experience, and since I couldn't stop talking about the layered text, subtext, and plot movement for three days after I saw the film, I guess it's more of a personal score related to how I view and enjoy movies. My wife and I went on about Whedon's theme of the godhood of humanity for an hour after the film, while my brother and another friend remarked that they didn't really follow what we were talking about, but that it was cool to see the characters and watch the action scenes. I think the possibility of worthwhile conversation arising from watching a film has more to do with the viewer than the movie, and how the viewer consumes entertainment.

    As church goers and the recipients of a statist education in America, we are conditioned to examine those things which are laid out before us. We attend lectures and listen to sermons and think about those things that are said. When we consume entertainment, we recognize the presence of "teachable moments" or "meaningful soliloquy" and fixate on points of dialog as contemplative of human nature or revelatory of truth. It is a valid way to examine things and the beginning of critical storytelling examination.

    The bottom line is that I've always considered your Relevance score to be a personal reflection of your movie watching experience. I agree with your comment about "Passion" and think it illustrates this point nicely. I remember overhearing one viewer leaving the film remark, "That was horrible what they did to that man. Want to get lunch?"


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Paeter on May 10th 2012, 1:52 pm

    WhiteBoy wrote:FWIW, because reviews are so subjective, I think it's good to frame your review so the listener knows where you're coming from.

    Yeah, that's usually my intent. Especially with superhero flicks, I think folks should know what my relationship with or knowledge of the source material is. Just didn't realize my DC loyalties stood out so often! Guess I just can't help letting my geek out!


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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  Guest on May 10th 2012, 2:40 pm

    Paeter wrote:
    Desert Kris wrote:

    Paeter, are you pathologically addicted to putting in a DC comics loyalty disclaimer for every Marvel superhero comics based item you review? Wink

    mmmmmmaybe? I'll have to check my past Marvel movie reviews. Do I really do it that often?

    Embarassed

    Ha Ha! Gotcha! Laughing

    Don't go to the trouble of reviewing your reviews. Your a busy man, so I've saved you the trouble.

    A random sampling of your recent reviews for Marvel comics related work suggests to me about 40%-50% of them include a DC loyalty declarative statement, 5-10% included gratuitous mention of DC without a declarative, and the rest just jump into it without any DC versus Marvel appraisals. Mind you, I didn't do it as straight math, just a tally in my head of about 6-7 Marvel comics based movies. Smile

    Eh, for what it's worth, although technically I've always favored the superheroes of the Marvel Universe, an appraisal of my comics reveals something surprising. I only have one TPB collection of Ultimate Spiderman, and Planet Hulk. By comparison, I have tons of TPB collections of Superman and Batman. The only thing that throws this computation off is my collection of the old classic Marvel G.I. Joe, Transformers and Star Wars reprints: though are technically Marvel, they don't really feel that way; those properties kind of transcend any single comic publishing company in my opinion.

    And now back to The Avengers movie. Nice to see it finally happen, I must say. And in the hands of a writer/producer whose work I've been following for quite a while.

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    Re: The Avengers (Movie Review)

    Post  tmorrill on May 18th 2012, 2:19 am

    I managed to go see Avengers without ANY preconcieved notions beyond superhoereos save the world. I hadn't seen Thor, and due to being in Korea I avoided any trailers for it. Heck, I didn't even know Jos Wheadon was directing it.

    I enjoyed the movie. I caught some of the deeper meaning in some of the stuff and other bits of it went over my head.

    Normally I'ma ble to pick out trhee or four favorite parts of movies, but this one it's so hard to do I'd just have to limit it to the entire last 45 minutes (including the second bonus scene) or so, and the Black Widow getting called in from her initial mission in Russia.

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