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Movie Review – The Avengers

I’ve actually been sitting and delaying my writing a review for The Avengers for almost a day, having seen it in 3D at midnight on opening night.  It’s because I was torn.  So much of the movie I really enjoyed, then what I didn’t…. I really didn’t.  And it took me a while to figure out why.  I went to the show with someone who knows comics, but doesn’t know the ins and outs of the Avengers universe.  She knows the characters, but not specific details, so being able to discuss it with her has been interesting and helped me figure out my issues with the film.

The movie is uneven to me.  Some great action parts are followed with slow scenes that drag on.  There’s awkward pauses and lines that sound like horrible B movie material.  Special effects at times have the same result.  The parts of the movie that work, work really well, and the rest, feel like a Joss Whedon television show.  And there’s the rub and what my issue is… I’m not a Whedon fan.  I didn’t enjoy Buffy, Angel, Firefly or Serenity.  And his rather small scale of the past at times shows in a big budget film like this.

The first quarter of the movie, up until they’re all on the S.H.I.E.L.D. Helicarier is rubbish.  The acting is bad, the lines laughable, and pacing completely off.  Scenes make no sense and things aren’t explained (we’ll get back to that).  It’s not until Thor’s arrival the movie takes off and then everyone’s “A” game begins to show.  It takes Loki (a brilliant scene chewing Tom Hiddleston) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) to get everyone else to step up a bit.

But, I come back to the plot which have holes that giant mechanical space worms could fit through and questions that aren’t addressed at all.  Here’s a few:

What happened to Loki at the end of Thor?

How did Thor arrive since the Bifrost bridge was destroyed?

Who the hell are Loki’s army and why do they give a shit about Earth?

What is the way too many numerous plans that Nick Fury references as if we’re supposed to know them?

Who is the Council and why do they have a say in anything?  And why is a “world council” all white?

The highlights of the movie are Tom Hiddleston as Loki and the Hulk (not Ruffalo, but the CGI beast).  Both steal the show.  This is really the definition of a summer popcorn movie.  Go in without notions, turn your brain off and watch things blow up and ignore the plot holes and lack of explanation of anything.  But, even attempting to do that, I still wondered at times “What would Michael Bay do?”  And the fact I did that got me to pause.  Whedon is talented, but his lack of experience on this scale shows.

Direction:  As explained above, this was the Joss Whedon show.  There’s a pop culture zing at times and some great interaction, but it all seemed a bit too cutesy.  This was The Avengers done Buffy.  The tone was much more “comic booky” than the previous films.  There were some great moments, even in the quieter times.  Lines zinged along and punchy dialogue that’d make Kevin Smith’s head spin.  Whedon though falls in the action part.  The end battle uses shaky cam way too much, when a steadier shot would do.  Special effects look like a Roger Corman Fantastic Four movie.  This wasn’t the quality we’ve seen from those previously at the helm.  Grade: 6

Acting: Hiddleston steals the show chewing every scene but not coming off as a goof.  He’s excellent as Loki, much as he was in his previous appearance in the role.  Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark/Iron Man is at his arrogant best.  Chris Evans does quite well as Steve Rogers/Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor continues the quality he showed off in his own movie.  It was a CGI Hulk though that got the crowd going and I expect to see his own movie again in a few year’s time.  The rest of the cast did their job not adding anything, but also not taking away from the enjoyment.  Grade: 7

Plot: Holes the size of that giant thing at the end.  So much not addressed, so many questions not answered.  There’s just issues and issues here.  Turn your brain off for this one.  Grade: 5

Overall:  The movie really sums up the issues many perceive of comics.  It’s popcorn entertainment for kids that doesn’t challenge the mind.  There’s also another issue that’s a problem for comics.  This was one part of a multi-part story started in Iron Man, Hulk, Captain America and Thor.  Much is left unanswered and not explained expecting you to have seen those movies.  I get asked by my friends where to start to read comics, and often I’m left not sure of the answer.  To me, this movie has a similar problem.  Can you see it by itself?  Sure.  Is it coherent if you do?  Not really.  Marvel attempted to do something impressive with this movie by having a shared movie universe.  But, in this execution, they fell a bit short.  The movie is fun and enjoyable and definitely for the big screen where the giant explosions will get you to stop thinking for just a tiny bit.  Overall Grade: 7

14 comments

  • The last three ‘plot holes’ you list aren’t plot holes.

  • 1. Loki was saved by the chitauri when he fell off the bridge on the thor movie. This was addressed in the avengers movie.

    2. Odin used something called “the dark matter” to send thor to earth. Loki touched on this. I wouldn’t be surprised if this dark matter has something to do with one of the infinity gems in the infinity gauntlet. Thanos will be in avengers 2, as seen in the mid credits. And the gauntlet is currently in the possession of odin (rewatch the thor movie, you’ll see the gauntlet in odin’s room.)

    3. Loki’s army are the chitauri. Again, this was said in the movie. In the beginning, and touched upon by thor as well. Loki was promised the aid of the chitauri army in exchange for the cosmic cube.

    4. Phase 2; the avengers initiative..

    5. Need not be explained who they are, and it would be dumb otherwise. SHIELD is a shadowy organization as it is, and whedon let us audiences inside it. To shine some light to the council above SHIELD would take away the mystery of super secret organizations altogether.

    • While they named his army their motivation as to why they want to conquer earth is thin. Where their world lies and in relation to Asgard and earth was also left open. Are they part of the realms like described in Thor? Loki says a throwaway line about spending energy to get Thor to earth but that goes against the concept Thor was cut off from earth at the end of Thor. The council matters in that I need to care why they are giving orders and why I should care Fury is ignoring them. Your mentioning of the Infinity Gauntlet backs my statement the movie failed to explain everything and you needed to reference previous movies.

    • And they mention phase 2 and phase 7… what are phases 3 to 6?

  • Well, we only need to look at the potter series for unexplained “plot holes”. Remember that the avengers is slated to be a series. There are lots of unanswered questions in any single potter movie, but in the end, they were all nicely wrapped up ( dunno bout the movies, stopped watching after goblet of fire, but in the books all questions were resolved.) why is snape so angry at harry? Why does dumbledore, against all logic, trust snape? How come harry keeps on defeating voldemort at the end of every book but he still keeps on coming back?

    the chitauri homeworld, as the other realms, could be explained in the succeeding movies, especially in thor 2 as there are reports on this as of now.

    The bifrost bridge was destroyed, yes. But as i said, and this is only conjecture, odin may have used the gauntlet to send back thor to earth. The infinity gauntlet in the marvel universe has 5 gems that control reality, space, time, power and soul. It has god-like powers, almost magical/divine in nature, in fact. Rebuilding the bifrost bridge, or just merely wishing that thor be back to earth, is a piece of cake of a task by using the gauntlet. Thanos as its wielder makes magneto look like a baby. Again, if my theory is correct, this will be one of the plots in avengers 2/ thor 2.

    As to the council, well, this council could have created SHIELD. It would be a logical assumption, considering that fury is taking orders from them. Fury ignoring them is fury being fury.

    anyway, you’re right. I had the advantage of seeing the heroes’ individual movies prior to avengers, plus i have 20 years of marvel comics background. I can understand how a casual movie goer will have lots of questions unanswered. In the cinema, when they showed thanos, i think i was the only one who geeked out and got the “courting Death”reference.

    • On second thought, i wouldn’t be off by referencing previous movies because this is actually what the critics are raving about, that marvel has done what they thought way back in 2008 was impossible: to make individual movies of the heroes that is somehow interconnected with each other and will culminate to the avengers of 2012. The avengers initiative was first introduced in iron man. The tessaract was present in both the captain america and thor movies. And now, its the cause of the problem in the avengers. Do you need to have watched the previous movies to enjoy avengers? No. Would it be an advantage if you had? Yes.

      Again, as to the council. I mean, this how its done in the government, right? You pick a handful of people from congress, they create a council, and then this council in return creates an organization or a project. The council oversees, approves the budget, makes decisions, etc..

      • But groups like that can’t launch a nuclear attack on a US city. That was a plot issue. I like the set up, don’t get me wrong. But, part of the excellence of the ending of Thor was his being stranded and away from Jane. That crumbles in this movie with no decent explanation.

    • And I dislike the Potter series as well for those reasons. My problem can be summed up like this:

      The Chitauri want to Tessaract because why? What are they going to do with it? That’s never answered, so their motivation to attack is thin and the threat not very engaging. And I think the Council is important, as again, they provide motivation for Fury’s actions and amps up the tension.

      Overall, I think for someone who hasn’t seen the previous films, and especially does not know Marvel history, like we do, the movie fails on numerous levels.

  • And, it isn’t the chitauri who wants to conquer earth. It’s loki. The chitauri leader actually said something to loki to the effect that the humans are beneath the chitauri, and laughed at loki’s remark of “grandeur of conquering the earth”. The chitauri offered aid to loki by lending him their army in exchange for the tessaract. It’s what the chitauri wanted. Earth just happenned to be in the way.

  • I’ve already left a message like this on a sister site… I’m probably a bit late in the game, since everybody else before me has already everything there is to be said about this film, but I just wanted to add my voice to the chorus of people who found the Avengers deliciously entertaining!
    Yes, of course, your brain should be left outside the theatre to full enjoy it, but hey, if you go and watch something called the Avengers you shouldn’t really expect an arty French movie!!! This is what an action film should be! Here’s my 2 cent review: http://wp.me/19wJ2

  • The movie is not supposed to answer everything. That is why you only get a glimpse of Thanos. They want to string you along. So you like watching future movies as you see the continuity continually stringing along.

    Brett, to answer your statement of “Why they want to conquer Earth,” The chitauri don’t want earth. I’ll explain.

    Thor is cut off from earth when the bifrost is destroyed, in that if he goes via dark matter, he may not be able to get back to Asgard. So he is cut off, because as second in line to Asgard, he can’t risk making a one way trip. Knowing that Loki is on Earth with the Tessaract, gives him his ticket home so he can use the “Dark Matter” to get to earth. Thor says he wants the tessaract in Asgard right before the engine goes out on the Helicarrier

    So why is the Earth attacked at all? The Chitauri are following the orders of Thanos, who wants the infinity Gauntlet. Loki can help Thanos get this, but knows he can’t very well lead an invasion on Asgard, that would be too hard. He likely wants to do what he did in the first movie; work from the inside. Loki knowing that an attack on Earth will bring Thor, wants to be captured so he can get back to Asgard and allow Thanos to get the Gauntlet (Avengers 2 or Thor 2 or some future movie).

    • But your response even backs up my opinion. You’re assuming things that might play out in future movies. Go back to the previous films, all stand on their own. Plot, motivation, characters. They also tied into something greater. Avengers doesn’t do that at all, and fails in the motivation and plot on it’s own.