Friday, May 4, 2012

The Avengers: bite-size spoiler-free reviews and general ramblings

I've seen "The Avengers" and it was awesome!
Since I haven't really seen any of the Marvel films apart from "Iron Man" 1 & 2, I've decided to also watch "Captain America" and "Thor" before actually going to the movies. Thought I'd share some thoughts while my memories are still fresh.

First mini-review: Captain America
I wanted to see that film in the cinema last summer, but I was a bit too late. I remember seeing the trailers and I knew they've came up with some kind of an interesting back story for a very cheesy hero. I was looking forward to see how they've done it.
I really liked the film. It's basically a nicely-done somewhat humorous WWII drama with a twist. Very slightly, it's reminded me of "The Dirty Dozen" (which I happen to really like!). I loved how convincing the atmosphere was in the film. Also I found the humour fantastic - it was PG, but in a classy way, which was a very pleasant surprise.
As for the Captain himself - I think they've done a great job of giving some depth to a character, who didn't seem to have too much potential. I really like him actually - he's an old-fashioned idealistic soldier. And from what I can tell, he rides a Harley in the later film (why yes, I do think that choppers are purely awesome!) 
One thing that did stick out to me was the red skull. I thought it closely resembled plasticine. But hey, I do like plasticine animation! I was happy enough to go with it, though some viewers might think it doesn't really go with the rest of the film visually and looks cheap.
All in all, a good film. Should be a treat to fans of American war film (unless you really like taking everything seriously). I recommend it!

Second mini-review: Thor
I've enjoed "Captain America" more than Thor, but it's still a fun film. It's more of a comedy than anything else, despite its serious moments, and I like how willing the creators were to show the characters making themselves look stupid. Thor's friends reminded me of the Asterix & Obelisk movies and I mean that in a good way. I've really enjoyed some genuinely warm friendship moments we got to see. 
I liked what a smug show-off Thor was. I also like Loki. Mostly because he isn't just a cowboy in a black hat who's obviously evil from the start. I found myself wondering whether he was actually trying to do the right thing, did he want admiration, is he actually evil or just insane? You will form a more solid opinion on him by the end, but there's still the question of his plans and motives left.
I wouldn't call it a must-see film, though it's good fun. In other words, I'm not gonna try and convince you that it's a pure masterpiece, you've never seen anything like it and you haven't lived till you've seen it. But it's a good idea to watch it if you're planning to see "The Avengers".

A slightly more in-depth review: The Avengers
Let's start this one with my usual rating breakdown:

Overall rating:
Expectations exceeded? They were indeed! I had reason to believe it would be a good movie, but I was seriously blown away regardless
Disappointed? one scene. just one scene.
Writing: Clever, funny, dynamic.
Acting: Fantastic! One of he strong points of this movie. The actors carry their roles exceptionally well! (apart from that one scene anyway...) 
Action/Drama/Humour:  Yes, I've put three categories in one. Mainly because there's a great deal going on for each of these and the film switches between the three rapidly. There quite literally isn't a dull moment. And the best part is, it works! It's serious enough to make the characters believable, but not enough to make he whole thing boring. I loved the fact hat the heroes aren't trying to be "serious" or show how much they're suffering from a tragic past. They're just, simply put, being awesome. They're aware of the silliness that comes with the superhero role and they fully embrace it, which is just beautiful to watch. The "Hulk smash" part made me very happy. Also the humour is absolutely amazing. It's one of the very few films that have made me physically laugh out loud quite a few times. Not a single joke made me cringe. I was amazed at how funny a film can be without showing any sign of bad taste or lowbrow humour. Another thing I've noticed - it's awesome how a film with so many explosions does not seem tacky (watch and learn Michael Bay! ...On second thought, no. Just make yourself useful - go die in a fire).
Worth watching: No prizes for guessing!

So this movie is a hands-down instant favourite. I suppose now's the time to mention that scene I didn't like that made me take half a star away from the film. Well... I'm Russian...
And that Black Widow interrogation scene... Well... I found that absolutely painful to watch. Or, to be more precise, to listen to. The old guy spoke like a senile farmer from Ukraine, the rest just sounded like white trash of the post-soviet variety who had half of their teeth missing. The dialogue sounded like it was translated using Google. I mean come on! There was also a huge billboard outside the building full of Cyrillic letters, yet there wasn't a single vowel there! The whole thing would sound something like "Szhsthszhft". I mean I'm alight with Hollywood making clumsy attempts at depicting us Russians, but they've done ten times better decades ago! In fact, I thought this sort of thing was in the past, after I've seen how well the Russian soldiers were played in the recent "Indiana Jones" movie, as well as the Russian characters in "Max Payne", and the Russian-speaking gypsies in "Drag Me to Hell".  And it's not like real Russians are difficult to get hold of. I wish they would have just gotten some voice actors to dub the damn thing! After the amount of effort they've put into accurately depicting a Russian ex-con in Iron Man 2, this just seems like they were honestly trying to do a terrible job!

The general ramblings:
I've always considered myself a DC fan, but now I've noticed that I'm definitely drifting towards the Marvel side of things.
I suppose I couldn't have seriously considered myself a fan of neither since I grew up without comic books. There was literally nothing available in my area. And by the time I got the internet ( I must have been 16 then or something like that) I completely forgot they existed since years before that I've discovered the wonderful world of animation.
The reason I've seen myself as a DC fan was the fact that I loved "Batman: The Animated Series". A few years later I got the "Fox Kids" channel and I saw some Spiderman catoons, as well as "Hulk" and "The X-Men". I couldn't get into them. I think that in all of them, there was a lot more serious drama than in the Batman cartoon. There were long-running plot lines so I had a lot of continuity to catch up with, which was difficult to do with the episodes often being shown at random so I've decided I didn't care that much. Also, Spiderman, who seemed to be the face of Marvel, was just too bright and colourful to me. Mostly because those colours rarely have anything to do with spiders and I didn't get the idea of a character more "serious" than Batman dressing up in bright spandex, especially if he works at night. I no longer feel that way though. I was kind of interested in the Hulk series, but it was rarely on when I was home, so I didn't really bother with it.
So when the Spiderman movies started coming out, I really didn't care. I haven't seen a single one and I haven't really been told hat I've missed out. As for the Hulk movies, I believe I've caught each on TV late at night. I was tired and they seemed slow-paced. Of course, I fell asleep watching them and didn't really feel the need to look them up.
Then in 2006 a new "Fantastic Four" animated series came out and I really liked it. I've even decided to watch the live action movie after that. Which is a decision I've bitterly regretted.
So just when I've stopped expecting anything good from Marvel, the "Iron Man" movies came out and I liked them both. Now I've also watched the movies I've reviewed today and it seems I really like the creative direction Marvel has recently taken! I hope they aren't gonna stop producing such awesome things and I'm very willing to give the Mavel universe another try.

P.S. The art used in the post is by these guys

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