Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Fully Assembled

The Avengers(2012)
 Directed by Joss Whedon
The Avenger's, Joss Whedon's adaptation of the comic book series that began in 1963, is so far, the best action film of the year, and my favorite super-hero film in years. 
Unlike The Dark Knight Rises, which became increasingly portentous until all of the excitement and iconic energy of its characters was lost, The Avenger's begins in energy and movement, and ends that way.
This is Marvel comics' Mt. Rushmore, and though its five film tie ins in the making, but still manages to feel like its own film.
 It is not necessary to have seen both Iron Man films, The Incredible Hulk, Thor, and Captain America to understand The Avengers.
Those films are not so much prequels as bonus features,  thin connective membranes to create what is now called the Marvel cinematic universe. 
The plot follows exiled Norse god of mischief Loki, in his attempts to conquer earth on behalf on an alien race he now works for, leaving Nick Fury head of S.H.I.E.L.D, a super-C.I.A. organization, with no choice but to organize a team of the world's most unique heroes. 
Over the course of the film the heroes discover that S.H.I.E.L.D. and the US government are not as innocent as they seem. 
Born of military panic, The Avengers find themselves between rampant institutional corruption and approaching alien apocalypse, both of which no single super-human could defeat on his own. 
The majority of the film resembles the monster mash at the end of Cabin in The Woods but extended for almost two and a half hours at a break neck pace that comes closer to the fluid hyperactivity of super hero comics (as opposed to like the visual density of the page, and its ability to warp time with all that slow-motion in Watchmen) than any film so far, not just in its depictions off action but in its delirious pacing and logic (despite the pains taking 5 films worth of origins). 
I think allot of people are expecting a more talky TV style Whedon, but the last few years he's also been writing comics like Astonishing X-Men and Buffy The Vampire Slayer (which picks up where the show left off).
This film owes as much to his time working with these types of stories on paper as it does his skills in adapting and adapting well in multiple mediums (taking to his own TV shows and turning them into films, making TV shows out of other peoples films etc.)
This is not the best script that Joss Whedon has ever attached his name too, but this is a summer blockbuster first and foremost; a seasonal carnival of impossible, colorful things moving very fast or post-Matrix very fast and then sporadically extremely slow.  
It's been too long there has been a superhero film that is not embarrassed about being a super-hero film, where bright, bold, primary colors are allowed front and center in all there garish iconic glory.
 Chris Nolan's Batman had to abandon his life's work to be able to comfortably enjoy normal human moment, like eating dinner with Catwoman, at The Dark Knight Rises' end, The Avengers (in an Easter egg, infinitely superior The Grey's muddled epilogue), can comfortably and self-effacingly enjoy a group shawarma without it being the end of their identity. 
There is a mature comfort here among supernatural beings who are comfortable with themselves, who aren't caught in perpetual angst and personality crisis, that gets to the heart of what's so refreshing about a film like this, its impenetrable flatness
Personal issues and empty character flaws, designed to simulate human multi-dimensionality in, the usual origin bullshit, are only explored in one intentionally brief scene of squabbling. 
 The eventual ape like tool brandishing, recalling, maybe just for me I'll admit, "2001: A Space Odyssey" opening scene, that's puts in perspective the pettiness of individual problems aloud to dominate so many mundane dramas and their desperate sci-fi and action imitators
Struggling between personal constituencies be they 80 year old world war 2 vets, Norse thunder god on family business, Russian assassin defectors, brain-washed archers, rampaging bi-polar monster scientists, or arms dealing wunderkinds in robot suits when the inter-dimensional portals open differences are transcended. 
 The Avengers unlike the previous generations of monster movie mash-ups, emphasizes, some might call simplistic virtues of cooperation and co-dependence, that even over the course of three films the X-Men series could never get together (excluding the prequel.).
The Avenger's moves past its cinematic genre's deadlock, between style and substance, melding down the two completely. 
I know the comparison is getting repetitive, even for me, but compared to The Dark Knight Rises' depictions of blind mob rule and rigid face punching of its finale to the fluid living splash pages in many of Whedon's gliding single takes through multiple interconnected multi-varied battle sequences (both of which include mass battles and impending nuclear holocaust) . 
Like Brad Bird last year with the surprisingly engaging Mission ImpossibleGhost Protocol, but even more endearing because the spectacle and hyperbole is too massive to ignore, like fireworks display, and laser show featuring live Evil Knieval in his prime; propulsive, hypnotic, and satisfying.