Just to make it clear, this is not a review. If you want a review of The Avengers, I suggest you visit my friends John Boggs or Jessica Powers. Both have written much better reviews than I could have. Plus, I think reviews are boring.
No. I want to waste part of your day with an observation I had about all these stupid super-hero movies the studios are cranking out. Rachel already wrote about such nonsense here, but my blog posts are cooler so I’m gonna write my own.
Paint by Numbers Blah-fests
When the very first film was screened, a shot of a train arriving at a platform, people fled the theater in terror thinking the train was about to crash through the wall. It was a surprise to see a train coming at them out of nowhere. Once they understood the film, they no longer were surprised.
Filmmakers then started editing multiple shots together to show a train robbery. They used special effects to take us to the moon. Every time the audience was surprised, but quickly learned the tricks.
Here we are in 2012. Our summer blockbuster films use super sophisticated computers that make anything possible on screen. But that’s kind of the problem. Idiots like Michael Bay keep making Transformer movies that only feature fancier and fancier special effects. We’ve seen it all at this point and it’s no longer surprising.
As a filmmaker, I spend pretty much every waking moment thinking about how films are put together. I’ve read more books on the subject than what should have been written. It’s pretty darn hard to catch me off guard, and that’s been my big gripe with most summer blockbusters; they’re paint by numbers blah-fests.
Captain America, while fun (and more enjoyable the second time around), was predictable. “This is the part where the underdog hero volunteers.” “This is the part where the girl catches the hero in a compromising situation with another woman.” “This is the part where the hero says ‘it’s not what you think!” “This is the part where Tommy Lee says something curmudgeon-ish.” Yawn.
The Avengers, as best I can describe, was like riding a monster roller-coaster for the first time. Every corner and drop us a surprise. That’s the word I keep coming back to, surprise. The plot’s twists and turns, the ways the characters manipulated each other, the way my expectations as an educated movie-goer were constantly played with. I never really thought about the mechanics because the filmmakers weren’t trying to wow me with spectacle, they were using tools to tell a story…even if it was a bit of a chick flick.
Officially a Self-loathing Joss Whedon Fan
Joss Whedon fans bug the crap out of me. Buffy the Vampire Slayer? Really? Are we still in middle school? I’m sure I’ll like Firefly if I ever get around to watching it, but if it was so great, why was is cancelled after one season? Serenity was cool and all, but I still don’t know if I can forgive it for ripping off Galaxy Quest’s climatic space fight.
All that aside, The Avengers made me a believer. Whedon’s passion and love for the characters leapt from the screen like the Hulk and smashed my face in. His sense of humor made me hungry for shoarma. But, probably most importantly, his expertise as a filmmaker made me forget for six hours (or however long that movie was) that I really really had to pee.
Even after the second viewing I was still jumping out of my seat cheering for Phil and laughing at the silly Hulk. I guess maybe that’s the thing with Whedon: his characters. You absolutely love them. He makes you love them. He stealthily crafts them in ways too subtle to backtrack and unveil. I want more of them. I want Thanos.
So. There you go. Blah blah blah Avengers blah blah blah. And here’s the preview: