Movie Review: "The Avengers" (2012) (SPOILERS)
Saw The Avengerslast night. The movie absolutely rocked. Here's my review telling you why:
The best part of this movie is Joss Whedon's script. It's so well-done that the movie functions just as well as a comedy as a superhero film without being unintentionally funny (the danger with this kind of thing) at all. The funniest part is when Loki tries to browbeat the Hulk into submission and the Hulk absolutely destroys him. The entire audience in the theater I saw it in broke out in cheers, laughter, and applause. There are also a lot of other hilarious lines, to the point I can't list or remember all of them. Here's a selection:
*When Nick Fury chats with the imprisoned Loki and in response to Loki rambling about ultimate power, basically shuts him down and tells him to call when "ultimate power" wants a magazine or something.
*When Tony Stark refers to Hawkeye as "Legolas."
*The Black Widow Natasha Romanoff's reaction to being ordered to recruit Banner. Bozhe moi, which is Russian for "Oh my God." I thought it was a bit more obscene, but either way it works.
*Loki's comment upon seeing the lightning that he's not fond of what (or who) happens next.
*Thor defending Loki against the other Avengers and when they reveal just how many people he's killed, Thor admits he's adopted.
*Iron Man's "Shakespeare in the Park" line to Thor, especially the part about wearing drapes.
On a related note, the chat between Loki and the Black Widow reveals just how much of a total monster Loki has become since his sympathetic depiction in Thor. He gets really psychotically, spitting-on-the-glass enraged, calls the Black Widow a "mewling quim" (according to TVTropes, "quim" is synonymous for a word that begins with "c" and rhymes with "bunt") and the way it came off to me (especially the "intimately" part), he was threatening to have mind-controlled Hawkeye rape and torture her to death, then free his mind long enough for him to realize what he's done and then kill him. Damn it, he needs to die.
The movie also has some nice shout-outs to the earlier films, including a reference to Stark Enterprises no longer making weapons. The impression I had from the first Iron Man is that Stark was shutting down the weapons line temporarily due to Stark weapons ending up in the wrong hands, but given how Stark makes references to being the leader in green energy, maybe he had the company totally reorient. Meanwhile, Captain America discovers lots of loot from the HYDRA villains of the Captain America movie.
I liked Captain America's old-fashioned values, including belief in self-sacrifice, his politeness (referring to Romanoff as "ma'am"), and his line to her about how there's only one God and He doesn't dress like the Asgardians do. In many films, the depiction of someone with a pre-counterculture value system serves as an excuse to show that this value system is wrong. In this one, however, Captain America serves as a good example to the point of inspiring greater self-sacrifice on the part of Iron Man and becoming the de facto leader of the Avengers.
I also like how they elaborated on the Black Widow, including giving her a back-story and some character moments during the confrontation with Loki. A lesser film would have made her just eye candy, the token female character, or (most insultingly) a damsel in distress, but this was just so much better. And as TVTropes points out, in one scene, she outsmarts the God of Lies.
Only a few problems I can think of with the movie, and they're pretty minor.
Firstly, the Chitauri should have really seen the end of The Phantom Menace. Never make it so that if your command ship gets blown up, your entire army shuts down. Not only did the aliens' flying cyborg monster things drop dead, but so did their individual soldiers. With the portal closed they were doomed anyway, but this is a major flaw on the aliens' part. In real life, if an aircraft carrier were destroyed, did all the aircraft shut down and all of the sailors die?
The TVTropes article suggests the aliens didn't trust Loki with command of an army, but did they trust him so much they were willing to risk an entire army of their own people dying in the event of treachery? If the aliens had some kind of "in the event of treachery" plan, something like Order 66 from Star Wars (in which the clones turn on their Jedi commanders and kill them) would have been better.
Secondly, when Banner first turns into the Hulk the first time, he's totally out of control and destructive much like one expects the Hulk to be. However, when he deliberately transforms to defend New York from the aliens, he seems to be in total control, with the exception of smacking Thor upside the head after a particular fight. The end of the second Hulk film depicts Banner deliberately inducing the transformation in to the Hulk and grinning as he does so, which implies he's gained some control over it. However, if the cause of him being uncontrollably destructive the first time is Loki's staff rather than the nature of him being the Hulk, this could be shown onscreen. Say, cutting between Banner "hulking out" and the mini-tesseract in Loki's staff pulsating while ominous music plays.
Thirdly, I didn't like the anti-weapon/technological theme about the tesseract. When Captain America reveals to the team that SHIELD is manufacturing weapons based on HYDRA's tesseract research, most of the Avengers get all moralistic and whiny about using the tesseract to make weapons even though Fury stands his ground on why this is a good idea. As he pointed out, a minor alien invasion leveled a small town in Thor and as we later learn, there are other hostile alien races out there. After the Chitauri invasion, we see Fury telling the World Security Council (the UN?) that he put the tesseract safely out of human reach and we see Loki and Thor taking it back to Asgard. I would think that after seeing an alien invasion trash Manhattan, the team would a bit more accepting of the need to arm up.
(Although to be fair, the main reason said invasion happened is because Loki offered the tesseract to the Chitauri in exchange for them helping him take over Earth. Maybe some kind of mixed message where they return the tesseract to Asgard--since it's technically theirs anyway--but insist on the need for the derived gear? After all, it wasn't the tesseract that caused the events of Thor.)
Probably the best movie I've seen this year. 10 out of 10. This is the first time I've given this great a review. There's a good chance I'll see this one again and I'll definitely get the DVD.
By the way, in addition to the "stinger" depicting Thanos, apparently the U.S. version features another post-credits stinger depicting everyone getting shwarma. I missed that one.