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The Avengers (2012) Movie Review

The Avengers (2012) Movie Review

TheDynamicUniverse Movie Review The Avengers

The Avengers have always felt like a motley grouping of superheroes. There was always the power-class problem. How do you find baddies that can be handled by an enhanced human (Captain America), a invincible berserker (The Hulk) and a god (Thor)? After that, you have the clashing of personalities and each characters own history and lore to consider. It’s a tough challenge for anyone to write a story that accounts for this much diversity among the characters. Writers Zak Penn and Joss Whedon (+screenplay) have done a remarkable job in adapting the comic book franchise, created by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby, into a blockbuster film. It’s a treat for both the older fans and younger audiences that might not be well versed in all things Avengers.

The film easily tackles all of the individual storylines and movies and gives enough head-nods to the previous events in each hero’s past to keep the continuity on point. Each hero is given ample screen time and shown doing what they do best. The two members without their own films are the Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). Each character is well developed and makes a solid addition to the core line up. In a nice touch, secondary characters are also given weight as SHIELD’s Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson) is surrounded by team of capable individuals.

The Plot surrounds Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth) outcast adopted-brother Loki (well acted by Tom Hiddleston) enlisting the help of an alien army in his bid to exact revenge and rule over earth. A team of earth’s mightiest heroes must answer the call to avenge despite their individual differences and motivations. This movie seems purposely written and paced with an awareness of other superhero movies and more importantly what has worked and what has not. We can dispense with some of the set up since you have seen their individual movies and should be up to speed on how we got here. The combat sequences are wonderfully choreographed and play to each characters strengths and exhibit great insight as to how they might interact if trained to do so. There’s a moment when Iron Man used Captain America’s shield to deflect his beam and take down several baddies at once. There are times when one character rushes in to save another at the last minute…and those scenes work because there are also moments when you expect help to arrive and it doesn’t and a hero is left to get themselves out of a jam.

The X factor

You can’t really do too much thinking about superhero teams without considering the X-Men. They represent another iconic assembling of superheroes and find themselves with a recent series reboot. The last outing X-Men: First Class (2011) really disappointed me with the climatic battle. It just wasn’t exciting. They teased us with the warheads being stopped by Magneto, but never gave us any real action sequences to Marvel at. I couldn’t help myself, sorry. The Avengers delivers quivers [ouch, I know]. You will get to see every combination and pairing of hero as teammates and as adversaries. This is a fanboy dream come true and it serves to show how formidable each Avenger is and shakes up the usually boring ‘heroes being recruited’ part of the film.

Action Acting

The script takes advantage of the actors and their onscreen alter-egos (meant both ways) and gives us great dialogue and lines to enjoy. It’s great to see each character interact and trade bards, display wit and take cheap shots at each other. This is one of those movies where the funny lines are actually funny and the audience literally applauded for many of the scenes. How often does that happen? This is what I would pretty much call a perfect superhero movie. It’s not weighted down by melodrama and doesn’t feel the need to prove its merit by tackling larger issues. It understands, it’s an action filled superhero movie and is content to be exactly that for its entire 143 minutes.

There’s a lot more to say about the Avengers. There’s the fine casting job of the new Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo). I think we have room for another Hulk movie. There’s the great CGI work for both the Hulk and all of SHIELD’s toys. There’s a similarity of the final battle sequence to The Transformers Dark of the Moon (2011) and there’s the promise of what this new franchise could bring in regard to sequels and spin-offs. We’ll end here and simply say; if you’re a reader of comic books, a fan of superhero movies, you need to run out and see The Avengers. I am not a movie critic, I am simply critiquing a movie.

Movie Review Haywire (2011) main: Gina Carano

Movie Review Haywire (2011) main: Gina Carano

Haywire Poster (2011) Starring Gina Carano

Wired for action, but not as haywire as it could have been.

Okay, okay I admit I did a bad thing by missing this movie when it was in theaters. I’ve watched Gina Carano in many Mixed Martial Arts events and always thought she would translate well in a movie as a kick-ass agent of destruction. We were teased by her cameo appearance in 2009’s B-classic Blood and Bone as a street fighter. Tell me when she gave Isaiah Bone (main: Michael Jai White) her number- you weren’t hoping she’d be seen again.

And so, when a trailer emerges that shows Gina Carano doing the CIA-MMA combat style, you have to get amped. The trailer also showed Michael Douglas so you felt that the good acting was going to be handled by an able veteran. Add Ewan McGregor and Antonio Banderas and you have a can’t-miss bundle. Well it has just arrived on rental and DVD so now I’m getting my chance to see Gina in action.

Plot Ploddings

 

At about the 36 minute mark I realized I had no idea what was going on, why and who any of the characters were. I had to check myself to see if I had checked out and stopped paying attention and missed some clues. No, it’s one of those movies where they leave it blurry and bring it into focus at the very end, which doesn’t quite make sense since the overall plot is as simple as it seemed in the trailer: super agent is double-crossed and sets out on a mission to find out why and at the same time – seek revenge. It doesn’t work to keep us in the dark about something we already knew walking in.

Cut to the chase

Let’s get to the action and choreography since that’s supposed to be the meat of this flick.  In true fanboy service, you will get to see Gina Carano as freelance agent Mallory Kane pull off several bread and butter MMA moves- including the triangle, Muay Thai leg kicks and the superman punch. The only problem is; all the best moments are pretty much shown in the trailers. The early scenes are well edited and frenetic enough to warrant the name haywire, but later they begin to feel like set ups. It’s as if the director looked at the clock and figured it was time for a mini-fight scene and placed the characters in, oh just enough peril to have a quick fight. By the time the climatic confrontation (Which you won’t know is going down until the credits roll) occurs you’ll be hoping you can see something different. Unfortunately the action plays out the same as the first fight and only the quick jump-cuts make the fight seem any different.

Sometimes it feels like I’ve slipped from watching an action movie to watching an action reel meant to prove Gina Carano is a great action-hero fit. We have long shots of her running (for almost no damn reason), which proves she can run and look cool [like James Bond] and we have her in several outfits showing off her curves. She is also allowed to play it sexy, aloof and cool in a few quiet moments. Her action-acting resume is accepted. In much the same style as Hanna (2011 main: Saoirse Ronan) there are several scenes set to music as if we are watching a music video. And that’s another bothersome point. It feels as if director Steven Soderbergh (Ocean’s Eleven, Traffic, Erin Brockovich and Solaris +) was more concerned with getting a cool shot and placing the camera in an interesting place than following any kind of logical course of action for our heroine to take. To his credit, he may be a saving factor because removing those cool camera angles might have left some scenes looking very boring and plain. I mean, she’s jumping over roof tops, but with no real sense of danger and no discernable reason to be doing so. She’s not exactly trapped and the pursuing baddies aren’t even sure where she is. So what’s she doing besides looking awesome?

In the end, I feel the whole is not equal to the sum of its parts. You have many underutilized, bankable actors, a great physical actress and a plot as simple as it gets. Sure there are scenes with creative camera work. Sure there are moments when MMA-lovers can cheer at the screen and call out the techniques being used, but overall this movie represents a first step in what I hope is the budding film career of Gina Carano. I can easily see her as a Bond villainess or arch nemesis in the next Charlie’s Angels. Although our heroine says early in the film that she doesn’t like loose ends, this movie leaves us with a lot of loose ends. Hopefully, action superstar Gina Carano gets a chance to tie them up in her next movie role. Worth renting, not owning. I’m not a movie critic; I’m simply critiquing a movie.