Remember in Rocky IV when they had Apollo Creed doing that five minute dancing entrance while James Brown sang that patriotic song? And then Apollo was destroyed by Drago in a really brutal way, eventually dying in the ring? Remember Rocky being pained and then spending ages doing push-ups so he could fight Communism?
The Avengers is Rocky IV.
If you want spoilers, go someplace else. I’m tired of the ‘woe is me’ attitude to spoilers, given that most of the time you have to look for them which negates your position AND you shouldn’t be reading reviews/watching trailers if you’re THAT hyped for a film. Because if you’re going to see it, why bother getting that immersed in the hype machine, ya know? It’s bound to lead to disappointment when you realise the entire film is in the trailers.
Not that I’m saying it’s the case with The Avengers…
Anyway, back to the laboured point I was making.
The Rocky series is amazing at times and stupid at times, but has an odd charm to it. Rocky IV hops between awesome moments and ridiculous moments, while keeping the characters consistent and the stakes clear. Rocky losing his friends makes him angry which plays in Drago’s favour when it comes to an unsanctioned fight. The story essentially becomes ‘can Rocky win without going to the dark side?’ It’s showing that boxing is a sport, not a gladiator fight.
Which leads us into The Avengers…
THE MAGICAL RIVER DANCING MIDGET!!!
… which is the most ridiculously overblown, targeted at fanboys, monstrously stupid action film of all time in both good and bad ways.
I’m a fan of action movies. Con Air, The Rock, Die Hard, even so called ‘terrible’ movies such as Cobra and Once Upon A Time In Mexico have their own charm. The problem with The Avengers is that it’s the first flat-out action movie from Marvel Studios, and as such they’ve broken the one rule you don’t break in an action movie.
YOU DON’T MAKE IT 2.5 HRS LONG.
THE JUDAS KISS
The Avengers is too long. People have debated that, and other points, with me. The problem is they only debate my points with ‘but it’s so awesome.’ There’s nothing wrong with thinking a movie is awesome, but it’s not a statement that stands up beyond personal opinion. I thought Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was awesome, yet it’s not really enough to win a debate on artistic merit.
It’s too long and, paradoxically, there’s entire parts where NOTHING HAPPENS.
I’m sure you know those sorts of parts in movies. They’ll have characters talking for ages, or invent a contrived crisis for them to solve, and just generally throw more screen time into a movie that’s already got a minimal focus. This film drags when it should be utilising a tight structure that means nothing is left hanging in the air.
Compare it to Machete, for example. Or even The Expendables. Now, granted, in those films you can say too much was happening – but at the same time, they made sure that it all tied back round. The Avengers, hilariously, has more overwrought action (especially in the last hour) than either of those movies, choosing ‘fan boy-pleasing’ moments in the exact same cynical way that Star Wars Episode 3: Rise of the Sith did. It’s not organic writing or directing, it’s mainstream ‘how much can we blow up’ nonsense.
And I love nonsense. But it doesn’t work after FIVE FILMS with a tight focus on character.
Sure, Iron Man 2 had too much character and at times Thor had too much action – but at the same time, they worked at keeping the plots as tight as possible and ensuring a human element prevailed. The fear with The Avengers was that it’d become a sprawling mess, and that’s exactly what it has wound up as.
Yes, it’s a fun mess.
The Avengers has scenes so brilliant it makes your toes curl. And some sterling action. The only snag is that it has no-one to root for, no lead character who anchors the film. Logically that SHOULD be Captain America stepping into a leadership role, but the film half-does this the same way it half-does all the other stuff. It seems so intent on connecting the dots (while still missing some big ones) of what Marvel Studios wants, that it forgets to exist as a tightly plotted film in it’s own right.
Ya know, maybe The Avengers isn’t Rocky IV after all.
It’s the Lost S1 finale. The pay-off to excellent character work that becomes a muddled, yet infrequently entertaining, mess of a checklist that ticks off every character doing something while not really having an underlined theme, or a particularly good bad guy. We live in a world where Machete AND The Expendables have better bad guys than The Avengers.
How is that POSSIBLE?
So yeah… I’d never say The Avengers is awful. When it works, it works. It just runs for 2.5 hrs on a 1.45 hr engine, and blows itself out too soon.