Marvel Phase One Franchise Review
Part One Review of all the Marvel Phase One Movies. Iron Man I & II, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers.
This is a joint review of Iron Man 1 & II, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers.
Warning: The Lord of the Rings will be referenced a lot!
This review won’t be chronological and will be more of an overall review.
I write this as a fan of the Marvel Independent Studios movies, but there is always room for improvement.
When Samuel Jackson, with eye patch, stepped out of the shadows and uttered the words “Avengers Initiative” I was frantic with excitement, my brother and Dad sat either side of me in the cinema with confused looks on their faces.
“Do you know what this means!” I kept saying in the car on the way home.
But did I know what it meant?
I had a vague idea of the existence of The Avengers and as soon as I arrived home I sought them out. It was a pretty cool idea, a bunch of heroes with different powers and back stories together fighting a force too great for them individually.
But would it look right if Thor stood beside Iron Man? Which the mixture be too sour?
This brings me to my first gripe with the franchise.
The most guilty of this is the Kenneth Branagh Directed film Thor.
For me it feels like a wasted opportunity. We have decades worth of source material in the comics to work with, and many times more in terms of the Viking aesthetic.
I had hoped for something along the lines of Beowulf, admittedly the film is forgettable, mostly due to the motion capture technology not quite being up to scratch by the time of release. But there was a clear look to the film that made it unique and interesting. The best feature about Beowulf was that it felt like we were seeing a glimpse into that world. The people and culture felt real.
This did not carry over into Thor.
Despite it’s budget Thor manages to create dull and unimaginative set pieces. I’m sure the efforts gone by the team of film makers who brought Asgard onto the big screen was more than just slapdash visual effects work, but that was what it feels like when I watch it.
We get the obligatory sweeping shots that open up the world, but there is no real substance behind it. It’s reminiscent of those old medieval movies where it almost feels like a stage because the sets are that obvious.
No sooner do we have the sweeping shots of the city are we straight into the throne room, bypassing any of the city streets and it’s people.
Take one of my favourite films for instance The Lord of the Rings. In the Fellowship of the Ring we open with a bang, just like in Thor, with a big narrated back story designed to get the audience to hunker down and pay attention. Then we are in the Shire witnessing something wholly simple, a birthday party with laughter and music and are protagonists shown in a situation in which they are comfortable.
Other than a short scene with a young Loki and Thor we are given next to nothing of their two-dimensional culture.
Chris Hemsworth does as best he can with the roll he was given. For me the part should have been given to someone a little older, and someone who could play a Norse God convincingly. Who? Hell if I know but the Thor we have looks like such a pretty boy I’m constantly reminded I’m watching a film. Look at the man’s hair! Messy but or-so-perfectly styled for a photo shoot opportunity. (Not that I have anything against Chris Hemsworth as of yet, I thought he did a decent job in The Cabin in the Woods.)
Loki, played by British newcomer Tom Hiddleston, shines in the film and by far is the best thing about it. I’ve lost count of the number of girls I’ve seen in their Loki costumes at Comic-Cons.
Thor was a very disappointing film in terms of the direction of the action. That’s how you can tell the men from the boys with film directors, if they can direct action well then everything else is easy. The action in Thor was so stilted and boring I couldn’t believe it. Take the fight on the rainbow bridge for instance, you expect me to believe that the God of Thunder is just going to stand still when he fights?
There should be rain, thunder and lighting as he soars through the sky fighting a whole hoard of winged beasts. Imagine a scaled down Dragonball Z fight, or something similar to the Matrix Resolution fight between Neo and Agent Smith - it could have been, for lack of a better word, Epic.
The only interesting shot I can remember in the film is when Thor is in the Frost Realm, he soar up into the sky and the camera is just able to follow his immense speed as he does so.
How about the battle between the Destroyer? That could have been directed with such finesse, I wanted to see Thor go toe-to-toe with it, striking the steel giant with his hammer in a bloody fight to the death. Instead we get a tornado thing followed by thunder in a dull confrontation that seems to only fulfil it’s plot demands.
The Incredible Hulk on the other hand manages to pull off the action sequences very well. The whole fight between the Hulk and the Abomination at the end is phenomenally awesome, it’s just a shame it takes the entire movie to get there.
The whole film is built around the last twenty minutes of fighting resolution, it honestly feels like they came up with the ending first and worked backwards to figure out the plot points to get there. There’s nothing particularly wrong with this, the film is a solid 7/10, but it’s nothing special due to the fact that it spends so much time and effort trying to pull together then ending, losing the entire movie in the process. Think of an Edger Wright movie, Hot Fuzz for instance, the whole film is a detective story which finishes in a bloody, and funny, shoot out at the end of the film. However Edger Wright realizes getting to that point without losing the audience’s attention is crucial. Thus whilst we get to the end we are constantly given minute-by-minute gags and plot elements that make the whole experience of the film as a whole a lot better.
The last portion of the Incredible Hulk is the best, but getting there takes way too long. The audience never really feels like they went on this great journey because it feels like Banner getting from one place to another so we can see the Hulk again.
PART TWO WILL BE UP SOON
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