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100th Post Battle Royale: The Avengers Refresher Course


Before we begin, a couple of things. For the UK readers and others from places where The Avengers has been released, I’m jealous. Also, I’d love to hear your yay or nay to the film without too much being given away. It comes out in less than a week so I figured I’d help refresh the memories of anyone who hasn’t had the opportunity to see it yet.

Second, I am not a comic book reader, so these opinions are based on the films alone. If there are discrepancies between the films and comics, let me know in the comments. Lastly, the grades are given with regards to other superhero films and not necessarily as films overall (though that is taken into account to some degree).

Thanks so much for reading and all the support. It’s been fun writing and hearing everyone’s opinions. I hope you keep reading and spreading the word!! So here we go, the 3rd Battle Royale:

IRON MAN

Grade:

Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is a genius, weapons manufacturing prodigy who is captured and decides to change his career path by creating the Iron Man suit and promoting peace through explosions – kind of. I am the weird type of person who actually likes Gwyneth Paltrow and her turn as Pepper Potts, Stark’s assistant, only solidifies that judgment. She and Downey have an excellent chemistry that makes both characters that much better. The effects are excellent from the suit to Stark’s technologically advanced house. One of the biggest positives for me was the intricate detail of the suit and how we actually get to see the transformation of the suit. It’s a nice change from the likes of Transformers who moved the camera senselessly to prevent you from seeing any potential errors in the movement of the CGI.

The only complaint I have with the first Iron Man is the inability to choose a solid villain, which leads to a longer movie than necessary. They could have stayed with Raza (Faran Tahir) and played off the wars in the Middle East, but they get rid of that in a somewhat slapdash manner and move on to Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges), who is similarly thrown aside. The movie stays on Stark becoming Iron Man and ignores the villain aspect. Luckily, in the end that becomes only a minor quibble on an otherwise highly entertaining film.

Trailer here

IRON MAN 2

Grade:

We’ve moved on from the origin story and are moving towards some substance. Stark has embraced his role as Iron Man and is battling against the government to retain the right to hold the suit as private property. As he is explaining that the technology is still decades away, Ivan Vanko (Mickey Rourke) creates a similar suit and begins his turn as Stark’s rival.

As far as sequels go, I found Iron Man 2 to be really well done. We get a deeper insight into Stark’s past and present with more information about his father’s work and how his palladium core is simultaneously keeping him alive and killing him. I would be remiss if I didn’t give a giant “Молодец Микки!” to Rourke for doing very well with his Russian lines, and in general considering he is a great villain. Sam Rockwell joins as his typical deceitful jackass, or Justin Hammer in this case. We also get an upgrade with Don Cheadle replacing Terrence Howard. Lastly we get an introduction to Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) as a semi-preview for The Avengers.

All in all, there is not a whole lot to say about the film. The privatization of world peace is an intriguing concept that makes you wonder about the realistic possibility. A small complaint would be the differences in camera work for the action scenes causing a jerkier visual and more confusion when it is somewhat unnecessary. Overall, a solid sequel to a solid film.

Trailer here

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE FIRST AVENGER

Grade:

Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) is a puny patriot who wants to fight for his country in WWII. Since he is repeatedly turned down for his size and health risks, he signs up for an experimental super soldier program and becomes Captain America as he goes from propaganda icon to actual soldier.

Everything about Captain America screams war propaganda film. From the corny, patriotic lines to the triumphant music constantly blaring in the background, we are inundated with imagery of American excellence during such a troubling time. Combine that with Hugo Weaving’s mutant offspring of Hellboy and Voldemort, Johann Schmidt/Red Skull, we are given a glimpse of what is considered good and evil.

Since they had to make Evans look like the diminutive Rogers, there was a mix of his body and special effects that was well done, but not without its flaws. There were sizing issues when he was next to other characters, particularly Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell). We also have to wait a significant amount of time for him to do anything heroic other than express his desire to be a soldier and fight for his country*. Even when he does begin fighting, the film moves into montages of his efforts except two pivotal scenes.

Captain America ends up being a film that could have worked as a few episodes for The Avengers if it had been a series. The most interesting parts were the advanced tech in the forties, his ragtag Inglourious Basterds style troop and his welcome into modern-day America. I am very curious to see if The Avengers touches on his assimilation into “the future”, or if it is glossed over as “already happened.”

*This was the only attempt in any of the films to try to express what makes someone a hero.

Trailer here

THE INCREDIBLE HULK

Grade:

Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is infected by gamma rays from an experiment gone wrong. As a result, when his heart rate exceeds a certain point, he transforms into a giant green monster with incredible power. The government, particularly General Ross (William Hurt) and Emil Blonsky – later Abomination- (Tim Roth), is trying to extract Banner’s blood and create their own super soldiers.

Some consider The Incredible Hulk to be a sequel to the 2003 abomination Hulk, but I tend to think otherwise. This version is not an origin story, but there are elements in the opening credits montage that give you enough of the story to understand the premise. Edward Norton is an excellent Bruce Banner. He shows the frustration and burden that is placed on him by this thing lurking inside him. There is special emphasis placed on the idea that Banner wants to rid the world of the potential to breed more Hulks, which turns into an internal and external conflict.

The film gets all of the references out-of-the-way with the music, previous actors and the pants issue all making appearances in the first half of the film. Along the same vein, most plot points of the film – apart from “avoid the military” – are abandoned quickly after their introduction. Ty Burrell provides a separate love interest for Betty Ross (the ever-worried and out of breath Liv Tyler), but once Bruce reappears, he is completely forgotten about by the film and Betty. There are also unexplained occurrences like how Blonsky is able to retain his speech capabilities as Abomination upon the first transformation, but Banner is still stuck to abbreviated comic terms when in the Hulk state.

All in all, The Incredible Hulk is still streets ahead of the Bana version, but the Hulk story is equally far behind other comic stories in film. Norton does the best he can with limited potential and barely makes the film worthwhile. I will say that Incredible Hulk has my favorite final scene and Avengers preview out of the bunch. I’m skeptical of Ruffalo taking over, but we’ll see.

Trailer here

THOR

Grade:

Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is the heir to the throne of Asgard until he is exiled for his arrogance and immaturity. He ends up on Earth to learn humility with help from Jane Foster (Natalie Portman), Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and Darcy (Kat Dennings). Back home, Odin (Anthony Hopkins) is sick and Thor’s trickster brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) begins his plan to take over as king of Asgard.

First and foremost, Thor has the innate problem of containing the most complex story due to all of the Norse mythology, so the idea of a film adaptation was already a daunting task. With the efficient introduction/explanation, Thor quickly gives you all of the necessary information and moves into the main event. Hemsworth seems to revel in his role as a demi-god as much as Downey enjoyed being the center of the world’s attention in Iron Man. The first image of him in the helmet invoked memories of Adventures in Babysitting, but after that, it is all fantasy and superheroes.

Hiddleston is an excellent, treacherous, conniving villain and I’m excited to see what he comes up with for The Avengers. Thor provides us with an extremely brief introduction to Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), who I’m also curious about for the group. Ultimately, for Thor, we have Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba as a supporting cast of people who can do no wrong. Dennings provides the comedic relief in combination with Thor’s arrogant antics once he is on Earth, and we get a fun film.

Thor truly fails in only one regard that I can’t really fault them for, but I hope they rectify it in sequels. The film plays with discussing Thor’s group of warrior friends in Asgard, but ultimately their stories fall by the wayside. Another aspect I was worried about, but turns into a success is the representation of his power. With the Frost Giant fight and the Destroyer sequence, we get a good idea of how powerful Thor is with Mjolnir (the hammer).

We get a “god” accepting his mortality and becoming everything he was meant to be. Thor ends up just being a very fun film to watch – even more fun when you notice the giant slant in the scenery due to the height disparity between Hemsworth and Portman.

Trailer here

So thank you for sticking with me through this long post! I am looking forward to watching The Avengers and seeing if they can contain so many personalities into one small film, but for now I’m taking the weekend off. See you all again on Monday! Have a great weekend!

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  1. nice recap, just to make u jealous i have seen it and its good, avengers is marvels dark night moment 🙂 check out my review http://timsfilmreviews.wordpress.com/2012/04/28/marvels-the-avengers-2012/

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