Film Review: The Avengers (2012)

The Avengers

Genre: Action

Cast: Robert Downey Jr. (Iron Man), Scarlett Johansson (Black Widow), Jeremy Renner (Hawkeye), Chris Evans (Capt. America), Chris Hemsworth (Thor), Mark Ruffalo (The Hulk), Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury), Tom Hiddlestone (Loki)

Director: Joss Whedon

Writers: Joss Whedon, Zak Penn

Despite the incredibly entertaining and talented cast at its disposal, The Avengers failed to create more than a bombastic spectacle for the senses, one that is as messy, loud, chaotic and corny as they come.

When I first began to think of the review for this film one word kept popping up in my head: unnecessary. From the battleship with “wings”, to the Hulk-proof cage, and the suicidal tendencies of Robert Downey’s Iron Man; The Avengers always opts for more, never for less. In its grandest moment the film depicts a mega battle that stretches the entire area of New York City where throngs of aliens “disembark” from another dimension with no other goal than to immediately attack and destroy the human race. The scale of the scene is so huge there’s no telling where one character is in relation to the other, throwing all concerns for accuracy and continuity out the window.

If these are the kind of films that are required to keep audiences focused nowadays my question is: where does it stop? How big and loud do films have to get from now on to keep us interested? When does the ever-larger approach to blockbusters end? According to Hollywood studios, the only formula to make a box-office splash is to “invest” an incredible amount of money into a production that provides pure entertainment, the same kind you might get playing a video game or riding a roller coaster (unless your film is Twilight and you don’t even need actors). When one compares The Avengers to, for example, The Tree of Life or 2001: Space Odyssey, one is baffled by how so much talent and money can accomplish so much less than the two I just mentioned.

What is ironic is that despite the huge production budget, The Avengers could not throw enough dough to secure the services of Edward Norton and Natalie Portman. The former was replaced by Mark Ruffalo, and the latter almost entirely ignored despite Chris Hemsworth‘s Thor outstanding presence. What bothers me is that while we were asked to buy into the third actor playing the Hulk in less than a decade, every other familiar hero did not suffer the same faith. What is it about The Hulk that it’s impossible for any actor to play twice? These are inconsistencies that are bothersome and that show how no obstacle on Earth could have put a stop to the release of The Avengers.

Then there is the overcomplexity of certain elements of the film. Why oh why do the group of superheroes need to gather in a huge battleship that also turns into the hugest aircraft ever put on film that wasn’t built by Aliens. Does this serve the story? Or is it just to satisfy the “coolness factor” that so many blockbusters seem to seek for? The answer may be found in that the ship proves to be a menace to the people it tried to protect, turning out to be a lot more susceptible (and pointless) in the air than on water. As I said before, Hollywood studios believe bigger, louder and unnecessary draws audiences.

This is not to say that The Avengers is an awful film, not at all. In fact, it has sufficient humor to make for a lighthearted movie experience that should be taken strictly for what it is: pure entertainment. What is worrisome is how The Avengers epitomizes an unsettling trend in Hollywood which indicates studios are more likely to throw in more money at ideas that have been tried many times, rather than explore new ones that might be as successful and less expensive to make. The better question is why do we keep buying into iteration upon iteration of the same tired superheroes when there are hundreds of beautiful films waiting on the desks of reluctant studio executives that cannot seem to spare a dime in anything that does not come attached with a Marvel/DC Comics stamp.

Rating: 3 / 5 (pure entertainment, nothing more, nothing less)

The Avengers 2

Random thoughts:

– If the battleship is supposed to be more secure and camouflaged, how does Hawkeye infiltrate so easily putting everyone on-board at risk?

– The design of the Aliens invading Earth left much to be desired. Weren’t they supposed to be an unbeatable army? Even “petty” humans kicked their asses.

– Can Robert Downey Jr. stop being sarcastic? Ever?

– Highlight of the film: whenever the Hulk took a scene by storm

Next in the Blog of Big Ideas:

Hitchcock Marathon 1

11 thoughts on “Film Review: The Avengers (2012)

  1. Exactly. Pure entertainment nothing more nothing less. With an ensemble cast such as this (this meaning superheroes) I’m not expecting a deep riveting film. I want to see lots of action and enjoy their interactions with one another. I feel you should already know about the characters backstory when coming to watch the film. It’s their personal stories (the actual movies Thor, captain America, Iron Man) where i expect more attention to detail and a stellar plot. You are in fact explaining how they came to be. In that regard I feel the movie industry has improved in making these kinds of movies less corny. To me the first hulk film was terrible. Should i even dare to mention dare devil? But in recent years I’ve found myself looking forward to seeing a hero on screen rather than cringing (although green lantern made me do more than cringe). Besides isn’t a movie suppose to be entertaining? By the way Downey’s sarcasm made the film for me.

    P.S. I do agree that the movie industry could do with less iterations and sequels

    1. You’re right about the increase in quality in superhero films even though there are several exceptions.

      Most films are definitely meant to be entertaining for the simple reason they are supposed to bring crowds to the theatre that help support how expensive it is to make a movie. However, Im a believer that film, much like painting or architecture is an art form. The medium is full of possibilities. It can make us dance, laugh, cry, and even inspire us or change our perceptions on certain things. If film can be so rewarding, then why are we hostage to convention and mind-numbing entertainment? Like Sean Penn once said rather crudely in The Actor’s Studio: “If I want to be entertained I’d grab an Eight Ball, two hookers, some booze and a motel room”. Film making is an art form. If you are giving me an action movie, then make it original or unexpected or with captivating stories or at least the suggestion of an idea.

  2. While I share your thoughts and concerns on Hollywood’s never ending search and production of mindless action films to be pumped out every summer, Avengers to me, is one of the better ones. Yes, it’s loud and brash and there’s a lot of action to it. But it’s a fun ride. The characters are all well balanced, despite there being an awful lot of them. Ensemble cast films are hard to do. Avengers did a good job. The dialog is cracking. It’s witty, quick, sharp and exactly what I expected from Zak Penn and Joss Whedon. I thoroughly enjoyed the film.

    On the Helicarrier – it’s from the comics so you’ll have to take it up with them on why it was necessary. That moment when it takes off – one of my favourite in the entire film. For once, in the entire film, the score really lends support to the scene. Was not impressed with it otherwise.

    1. I figured the helicarrier was from the comics, which leads me to believe there are just some things, stories or elements of a story that should not be brought onto the big screen because they just look silly instead of cool.

  3. I agree that this film is purely for entertainment. Perhaps, it was for the boys who love the comics and the avid fans. I did love the comedy and I love Bruce Banner portrayed in the film. But it doesn’t stay in mind, so yeah the movie was just for entertainment for me.

  4. I agree with you on a lot of this. I enjoyed The Avengers well enough, but I can’t help but feel the well is about to be tapped dry with all of these superhero films. We are starting to get to the point where a good chunk of them are subpar at best (Captain America, Green Lantern, etc.), and it’s going to start to reflect at the box office. Sometimes it’s nice to just sit back and watch mindless fluff, but it’s also incredibly easy to get burnt out on it.

  5. ouch. I can’t roll wit ya on this one. ha. perhaps I’m biased. but there was so much to enjoy in this film. I’m not saying that it gets a pass for the questions you have…wait…yes I am, it’s a comicbook movie. some belief-suspension required. 😀

    I loved it completely. but I understand where you’re coming from.

    1. I’ve really liked some superhero films before this one because I find merits in them despite their shortcomings. Believe or not, I have nothing against the sub-genre, my criticism is mostly on this film in particular and how mind numbing it is.

  6. Aside from Nolan’s Batman trilogy, I’m a little weary of all these superhero comic book adaptations. I quite liked a few of the jokes, but I didn’t even finish The Avengers!
    I’d rather 50 small independent films got made, than another Avengers movie costing 1/4 billion $, but a lot of people go to see superhero blockbusters, so there is a legitimate demand.
    It seems Joss Whedon is approaching blockbusters in the way Steven Soderbergh did, in that by making the studio money with Avengers, he next does a smaller personal film Much Ado About Nothing.

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