REVIEW: The Avengers

15 10 2012

There are two kinds of people in this world: those that prefer “The Dark Knight” and Christopher Nolan, and those that “The Avengers” and Joss Whedon. I count myself absolutely and unapologetically in the first camp.

I’m not saying it’s impossible to like both; indeed, I did enjoy “The Avengers.” That point might be lost in this review since I will be attacking the ideology of filmmaking that produces movies like it, but Whedon recaptures the fun spirit that has been lost in Marvel films since Jon Favreau’s original “Iron Man” in 2008.

He doesn’t provide nearly enough justification for the wasting of four hours of my life on “Thor” and “Captain America,” but then again, I’m not the target audience. Just the sight of those figures will undoubtedly bring joy to many fans; I need a little bit more of a reason to care. I need to know why a purely expository story for “The Avengers” with little drama of its own is worth my time and money.

Whedon definitely embraces the inherent childishness of the comic books and places that as the center of the film; Nolan merely uses the familiar characters of renowned series as a facade to explore important social and cultural issues. There’s no discussion of serious issues in “The Avengers,” unless you count how New York would recover from the $160 billion of damage done to the city in the movie’s bloated climax.

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REVIEW: Thor

2 06 2011

In 2002’s incredibly self-aware “Urinetown: The Musical,” the characters Officer Lockstock and Little Sally discuss things that can kill a show.  They first discuss titles, which can often sour first impressions of the show.  But the one thing that they can agree on is that nothing kills a show like too much exposition.  No one wants to be bogged down in details to set up the story; Americans are impatient, and they just want to get straight to the rising action.

The same goes for cinema.  Unless your name is Christopher Nolan and your movie is so intricate that it needs a manual, exposition is something that no moviegoer wants to sit through for extended periods of time.  It’s a necessary evil at times, but most filmmakers have gotten clever enough to knock it out in no time at all, some even by the time the opening credits are over.

“Thor,” however, is exposition taken to excess.  In fact, I’d even submit that the entire movie is just exposition for the upcoming Avengers movie.  The script adheres to none of the basic storytelling conventions, instead choosing to through information and explosions at us.  The former is to prepare us for the ultimate marketing event that will be “The Avengers;” the latter, to keep us mildly entertained so maybe we won’t realize their attempt to cash in on an extended exposition.

If you think I’m kidding, the plot can essentially be boiled down to this: Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is exiled from Asgard to Earth by his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins) for being a little too violent, and as Odin ails, Thor’s evil brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) ascends to the throne and does evil and selfish things.  While on Earth, Thor finds Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), a scientist studying the cosmos, and eventually gets his trademark hammer about halfway through the movie.  Thor is soon visited by friends from Asgard who are disillusioned with Loki, and a small-scale battle ensues as Loki then tries to destroy Thor and eliminate his opposition.

There’s just nothing going on that’s special in “Thor.”  Nothing merits two hours of my time or $10 from my wallet.  It’s a stagnant, slow-moving superhero movie that doesn’t deserve to be called “super.”  Heck, not even some good quality Natalie Portman gazing made it worthwhile.  It’s just a dull starter to the summer that really makes you scared for the onslaught still left to come.

I’m sure that some people will think me hypocritical for berating the lack of storytelling formula in “Thor” while decrying other movies that follow their genre’s basic outline rigidly.  But it’s not that “Thor” lacks formula; rather, it’s that “Thor” lacks substance.  It’s like Kenneth Branagh decided to adapt the film not from the comics, but from the character’s Wikipedia page.  While information may be power, it certainly isn’t entertainment.  C /