THRILLVILLE: Will "the Thrill" Viharo's weird, wild world of Pulp Fiction, B Movies, & the Lounge Lizard Lifestyle.

Sunday, May 6, 2012

Thrillville reviews: "The Avengers"

Thrillville has thrived for over fifteen years by networking and promoting relatively obscure, underground movies, music and books (particularly those written by moi), so for me to spend precious (but free) blog space "reviewing" The Avengers, a movie that is already well on its way to becoming one of the biggest blockbusters of all time, seems like a waste of my time and energy, as well as yours. And it is, sort of, so I'll cut right to the chase:
I'm not here to add a single penny to Marvel's massive coffers.  I already made my donations to this "cause" at the box office. I'm speaking out simply as a fan who has waited for this movie most of my life. Scratch that. I dreamed of a movie like this for most of my life, but never thought it would happen. There were just too many clashing egos involved, and I don't mean Captain America (Chris Evans/Johnny Storm), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr., duh), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, the best Bruce Banner since Bill Bixby), or even superhero enabler/S.H.I.E.L.D's badass boss Nick Fury (Samuel Jackson - who still comes off a lot more like Shaft than the '50s pulp style, cigar-chomping white guy I grew up with, but hey - it's Samuel Jackson). Oh yea, Black Widow and Hawkeye too. What's that? Some of you (like my beautiful, patient wife, Monica Tiki Goddess) didn't even realize that Scarlett Johannson and Jeremy Renner were playing superheroes, too? Don't worry, that's not your fault.

The Avengers I grew up with, and never thought I'd see on the big screen, only maybe a crappy TV movie someday...
Therein lies my single beef, and it's not restricted to The Avengers, which is one of the greatest comic book  adaptations ever, right behind The Dark Knight and right up there with Watchmen and Sin City. It's the same constant complaint I've had about most comic book adaptations since the classic 1960s television series Batman, still by far the purest translation of comics to screen in film history, because they weren't ashamed or embarrassed by the source material - they embraced it! Everyone knows how awesome Joss Whedon's witty, fast-paced, thoughtful, action-packed instant classic is, so I really don't need to add my tiny voice to the critical chorus of universal praise. It's better than anyone could've reasonably expected. But not better than it could have been. I give it a 9 out of a 10. Here are a few nitpicky reasons why:

Where the hell was Hawkeye's mask? Who gives a damn if it's purple with a 'H' in the middle of his face - Captain America's mask is blue with an 'A' on the forehead! So what? It's a comic book character, for Chrissake! Why was "Clint Barton" only referred to as "Hawkeye" once during the entire movie (and you'll have to listen hard for it; it's in the heat of battle.) And "Natasha Romanoff" is only referred to as "Black Widow" once - in a subtitle. Superheroes do not have mundane names like "Barton" and "Natasha." Not in the world being referenced, anyway. This was obviously a wrongheaded concession to whatever chickenshit creative entities deemed that calling Hawkeye and Black Widow by their rightful names was too, I don't know...unrealistic? In a movie populated by gods, monsters and aliens? They could've just referred to their original - and established - comic book monikers as their operative, undercover "code names" - repeatedly - and I would've settled for that. But nooooo. That would've crossing some invisible bullshit line. The same line that the makers of Iron Man 2 refused to cross by not outright naming Mickey Rourke's villain "Whiplash." Or Scarlett "The Black Widow," for that matter.

They look so much cooler with their masks on. Sorry, pretty boys.
As for the casting and costuming, it was mostly very satisfying, except: why didn't Captain America's stripes go all the way around his waist? From the back it looks like he's wearing pajamas. It's still a vast improvement over the makeshift outfit he wore in last year's introductory flick, which was otherwise stellar. And of course, halfway through the climactic battle sequence of The Avengers, Cap gets his mask torn off so we can all gaze upon Steve Rogers' - make that Chris Evans' - pretty boy face for the rest of the movie. Foul! And Thor, dude - where's your god damn winged helmet! You only wore it at the very beginning of your excellent debut movie, and not at all this time. Did you leave it back in Asgard? Don't tell me it looks "too silly" - you're a comic book version of a Norse god, for Chrissake! No one gives a shit about your long pretty locks of hair, Chris Hemsworth! Well, I don't. Sigh. But hell - the shield and hammer were both very present, and very active. So I'll reluctantly overlook these aesthetic demerits. Hulk and Iron Man were damn near perfectly realized, as they were in their previous cinematic incarnations, so no gripes there, either.
Lookin' good, as long as Cap doesn't turn around, and Thor  finds his helmet,
and someone makes "Hawkeye" (cough) a purple mask, but otherwise...right on!
Now: onto The Amazing Spiderman, which I'm really looking forward to, despite the fact it's a pointless "reboot," since The Lizard is my favorite Spidey villain; and The Dark Knight Rises, which may match or even surpass the first two installments in Chris Nolan's epic neo-noir trilogy. But Andrew Garfield's Spidey costume looks far less faithful than Tobey Maguire's. Meantime, Christopher Bale, a great Batman, still dresses (while on the job) like he made his costume out of the Batmobile's used tires, and Bane is missing his trademark lucha mask, traded in for some kind of crazy serial killer heavy breathing apparatus, and a fur-lined coat. 


Long live Adam West. Cheers.