Sunday, 3 March 2013

The Avengers

Lowdown: Earth’s superheroes unite to defend New York from an outwardly army’s invasion.
More money for special effects than the yearly budget of your average African nation. A long list of A list stars. An unprecedented plot that pits in a whole lot of famous superheroes to fight together on the same screen. What can one expect to get out of such rich raw ingredients? One can expect a great film that leads the revenue charts of its release year. But is that what yours truly saw?
As plots go, the excuse for spending hundreds of millions and for combining the whole Marvel parking lot of superheroes and whatevers on one reel is the arrival of one Loki, the evil step brother of Thor, from that godly universe of theirs and unto earth. Loki comes with a plot to rule the earth with the assistance of an army he will bring from an alternate universe of sorts. To get to that point he immediately embarks on an effort to open a portal between the worlds; in parallel, he strives to disable the only earthly force that can stand in his way – the Marvel superheroes. The latter won’t take things lying down. They unite to form The Avengers, and they will show Loki a thing or two on how to kick ass. Most of their demonstration comes over the destruction of an island called Manhattan, though.
So, what did I see in this film? Well, I saw a 1.85:1 aspect ratio presentation (abnormal for the genre) of much longer than two hours. It was filled with special effects. It was filled with characters I could not bring myself to care for (with one notable exception). It was filled with things that simply did not make sense. In other words, it was a film I felt totally indifferent for. It passed by me.
Allow me to elaborate. We are exposed to various superheroes, most of which we’ve seen in previous films. If, however, you expect to see anything along the lines of character development, look elsewhere. Of all the stars, only one – Robert Downey Jr. – seems to actually have fun with the role. Then again, he’s the only one that gets fun lines; the rest are just dull, acting by the motions. Bear in mind, we are talking here of the likes of Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Samuel L. Jackson, and  Gwyneth Paltrow. Being able to get nothing out of such resources is an achievement by its own right. A negative one.
Moving on to the things that don’t make sense. I will start by asking why our Avengers bother congregating over a flying aircraft carrier? What is wrong with an aircraft carrier that’s, lo and behold, sails the seas? The question is worth asking because much of the trouble our goodie heroes stumble upon has to do with said aircraft seeking to reunite with the earth at an unexpected rate.
Then there is the matter of The Hulk (Ruffalo). Initially we are told, quite explicitly, that his rage cannot be controlled; anything in his way will be trounced. We even receive a live demo. However, at the end, when dealing with baddies, our angry green hero is suddenly proving himself quite capable of directing his anger to its right target. To hell with consistency.
Sure, the special effects are nice. I would like to note, though, that I have seen New York digitally destroyed some twenty years ago. Been there, done that.
Best scene: It comes at the end of the credits. Our exhausted superheroes sit at a diner table to enjoy the food of the gods: shawarma.
Technical assessment: As far as picture and sound quality are concerned, The Avengers is right up there with the best of Blu-rays. Yes, it is of Avatar and Tron Legacy grade.
Overall: Much ado about nothing. I’m probably over harsh, but if this is what American cinema at its most powerful has to offer then nothing it is. 2 out of 5 stars.

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