The Avengers: A Retrospective and Review

The Avengers: A Retrospective and Review

Spoilers ahead, so don’t read if you haven’t seen the movie and you still want to be surprised by everything. Without further ado...

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By Zarog - 5/5/2012
First of all, I saw it in 2D (as with all the previous movies) and will only be talking about it in the 2D perspective. It was Marvel’s best outing. A film that I thoroughly enjoyed, but I saw the same flaw in the Avengers that I have seen in every Marvel movie. They shortened it too much.

Retrospective:
In Iron Man we only got 7 minutes of Iron Monger. The last battle needed to be longer to give more screen time to the actual villain of the film. The Incredible Hulk had deleted scenes that added so much depth to the characters. Specifically the scene where Ross and Blonsky are talking about the super soldier program. Iron Man 2 lost track of the protagonist and the antagonist because they spent so much time setting up the Avengers. Thor had multiple deleted scenes that helped to further the relationship between Loki and Thor as well as explaining the characters of the Warriors Three. It also needed a longer scene with the Destroyer, because it appears that Marvel drastically underpowered the character. In Captain America, I felt like the reveal of Red Skull came too early. It felt rushed and anticlimactic as well as just seeming too early in the movie for Cap to meet his archenemy. Two other scenes annoyed me (“Dr. Zola, this will change the world.” -Knew the line was coming. And the scene with the woman “thanking” Cap. Again, knew it was coming, and was totally annoyed.), but overall the movie felt like the most complete film. I think a little more on the would-be Howling Commandos would have been nice.

Now, with this information in mind it kind of annoyed me right off the bat when I initially heard Whedon say that there was about 30 minutes of the film cut. I knew right then that Marvel was probably making the same mistake, but I was holding out on judgement the best I could because I’m a longtime fan of Whedon.

Review:
As I was watching the film I was thoroughly impressed with the visuals. ILM delivered, as usual, an incredible product. Weta VFX also deserves credit. Iron Man, Hulk, and the helicarrier were absolutely exceptional as well as what has been termed the Leviathans (the carrier ships of the Chitauri). The Chitauri looked good, the explosions were great, and the action sequences were choreographed in a way that we could actually tell what was going on. The helicarrier is probably my new favorite set piece ever to exist in a movie. They did an unbelievable job with it.

The script was good. The plot was fairly basic, but there were some really good one-liners. I loved what Whedon did with Loki, Black Widow, Tony, and Bruce Banner in particular. The script for each of these characters developed them further, whereas I felt there wasn’t a lot of character growth with any of the other characters. Loki’s conversation with Widow was probably the best example. The little moments between characters, and the development of Tony into someone willing to sacrifice himself were great and helped create a powerful narrative. I’m gonna miss Coulson. He was always kind of a fun character that they added. The plot is constantly advancing, but due to film cuts I think we lost out on some major character development moments, which is disappointing.

The acting was top notch. Hiddleston stole the show for me again. He’s very good, and Ruffalo’s dynamic with RDJ is great. Part of it was the script, but frankly I think the cast just had really good chemistry. Nobody over or under performs. Everyone does exactly as their character would, which is incredible when you think about the scope of the movie. Very pleased with this group of actors and what they brought to their roles.

Whedon was the mastermind behind everything on screen, and his love of the characters showed in the direction of the film. The action was filmed in a way that we could actually see what was going on. Each character had their moment, not just in the script, but in the way that they did things. Pulling together the action scenes while still creating the moments of drama in dialogue, was incredible task, but Whedon managed.

Props go to Whedon for writing/directing this massive undertaking; props to the Marvel Studios idea team that includes Kevin Feige at the head, they have done a MARVELous job pulling all this together; props to the cast for being great; huge props to the VFX teams for their work on this movie, absolutely breathtaking.

Now on to what wasn’t up to snuff. The biggest and most obvious has to be the exclusion of War Machine. Seriously, what the heck man? Maybe I missed it in the loud theater, but I don’t even remember a reference to Rhodey and it would make sense for War Machine to be part of this team. Could’ve had a great dynamic with Cap. Huge missed opportunity. Next is how Thor got back on Earth. Yes, there is an offhanded mention of Odin using power to conjure him to Earth, but it seemed very weak and not very well thought out. Speaking of Thor, I don’t care what they say there is no way Thor leaves without seeing Jane at least briefly. Super annoying. Brief, passing explanation, but barely covers it. The Chitauri act as a total MacGuffin and the explanation behind them is rather weak. Would’ve liked to see a little bit of the lore surrounding them rather than just Loki dealing with Thanos for the army of Chitauri warriors. I suppose it’s a good enough explanation, but I still would’ve liked to have seen more. Another gripe with the Chitauri was the fact that they all just stopped after the mothership was destroyed. It was never explained that there was a link with the mothership and the soldiers/ships it was sending out. Would’ve liked to see them continue to fight the ones that were still on the ground, or at least explain why the mothership was necessary for them to survive or for the machines to continue to work. Another question remains in the Red Skull, but it’s unknown what has happened to him, so that one is easily forgiven. Next up, what was the purpose of Maria Hill? She barely did anything in the film. Maybe they’re setting her up for the future, which would make sense since they killed off Coulson, but Hill just seemed a little out of place in the film to me. (Just heard Sam Jackson talking about the scene that they cut that explains why Hill is always at arm’s length. Makes more sense now, which is exactly why the scene should not have been cut.) Next, I hope I didn’t miss it, but I don’t remember at any point Cap saying the famous words, “Avengers Assemble!” Now, I know this is a minor gripe, but it just didn’t feel right without it. I’m hoping I just missed it, but I don’t remember this line being uttered by Cap. While we’re on Cap, I must say that without the helmet his suit looked fine, but it looked kinda goofy whenever he had the pull over on. Especially since it was cloth and didn’t really do anything, I think they need to work on the costume for the next movie. One last thing, how did Banner get to Manhattan on a moped? What was that about? I’m really hoping that there is a scene that explains it better on a director’s cut.

Overall this is a very good movie and I have never had as much fun at the theater as I did watching this movie. I think this comic book movie has done the best at capturing the essence of the source material. Not to say that TDK and Batman Begins weren’t great, but as far as capturing the essence of a comic book on screen, I don’t think any movie has done it as well as the Avengers. TDK and Batman Begins are great movies, that, to me, were not made to capture the essence of the comics, but to reinterpret the characters as Nolan’s own vision of them. Which is to say they were great movies, but did not capture the essence of Batman’s comics the way the Avengers captured the essence of the comics it was based off. Hopefully that makes sense.

Rating:
Visual Effects and Costuming- 9.5/10 (Cap’s suit with the pull over is just too goofy, otherwise this probably would’ve been a 10.)
Script- 7.5/10 (Really hoping for a director’s cut that brings this up.)
Direction- 8/10 (If the edit didn’t get such a low score, Whedon would’ve gotten a much higher mark.)
Acting- 10/10 (Everyone was absolutely perfect in their character.)
Film Edit- 6/10 (Just too many plot holes and not enough character development, and I would put that on the script, but after hearing about some of the scenes that have been cut, I have a feeling the majority of problems came from the editing room rather than the script.)
Overall- The film was supremely enjoyable, and for that reason it gets a great 8.5/10. Too many missed opportunities, and too few dialogue scenes hurt the film’s score.

Extra Category!
Ambition- 15/10 Seriously. This was probably the biggest undertaking in cinema to try to build a universe with vastly different characters and work them into a team up movie. I applaud Kevin Feige and everyone at Marvel Studios with the vision and the passion to see this through.

Am I wrong? Did I miss something in the movie? Sound off below and let me know.
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2 Comments
littlejigman - 5/5/2012, 12:45 PM
I share your hope that we get...MORE...with a director's cut. However. What we got was...brilliant. And knocking it down in script, directing, and edit is doing it a disservice. You could not have done better. I'm not sure who could have. You're right--this was a "massive undertaking." More ambitious that anything outside of maybe The Lord of the Rings. The expectations were huge--and Whedon delivered. You can nitpick...and you're right, the director's cut with added scenes will be great...but in the end, this was one of the (if not the best) examples of comic book translated to screen. My wife's one complaint was that it wasn't "quippy" enough (we're big Whedon fans--and Buffy and Firefly were both so dialog-driven that I can understand that expectation, but in the end, Whedon was faithful to the characters--quippy when it was right (Stark). The mix of expressional pathos and physical humor involving the Hulk was exactly how that character should be handled--and is clearly the blueprint for all future Hulk films. And the extra scene after the credits with Thanos gave me chills that I still haven't shaken. I only hope that they bring in Warlock or Captain Marvel along with Thanos.
Zarog - 5/5/2012, 1:07 PM
@littlejig I did love the movie, and yes, I was nitpicking. I may have gone a little low on the film edit score due to the previous knowledge that 30 minutes of film had been cut. I loved the movie, and as I said, it is the best representation of comic book movies because it captures the essence of comics so well. For that I applaud Whedon and Marvel Studios. Thanks for the commen!

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