28 October 2011

All But One Avenger... In A Way.

Just saw Captain America: The First Avenger, technically the fourth feature-length outing for the captain, if you're keeping score and are up to date on your obscure/forgotten film trivia. I was never a big fan of the character; I only had one issue of the comic as a kid, and it ended on a cliffhanger with him being prepared for a gender-swap. I kind of always meant to pick back up on that, but eventually I stop and just ask myself, "Why?" I think he's just kind of uninteresting, the same way Superman can be. He's too powerful and just doesn't have that many flaws or inner conflicts.
However, I was willing to give the movie a chance for two reasons, first being that Joe Johnston has never made a bad movie and I just knew in my heart he would respect the source material. Second, it kind of reminded me of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, but done just a little better (or so the trailers made it seem).
When all was said and done, I really wanted to like this movie, and while I don't hate it, I just found myself almost completely underwhelmed. at first, I thought it was just from being in something of a bad mood, but after letting it all sink in for a bit, I figured out the problem. It has the same overall fundamental flaw that Iron Man 2 had, that it was so busy setting up the next story that it took almost no time to tell its own. In Iron Man 2, this was just annoying because the story that we were left with once the setup was removed wasn't really any good. It was full of holes and gaps in logic bookended by a few semi-interesting action sequences. With Captain America, the story it told wasn't bad, but it was very straightforward and simple, but told at such a breakneck pace there was no time to really take anything in. Normally, I don't think a movie feeling too short is a bad thing; if anything, it means the movie has done its job by making me want to stay immersed in that world long after the credits roll. Here, though, it just felt rushed. This movie clocks in at about 2 solid hours, but there was more than enough content here for at least 2 and a half, and I would never have gotten bored or tired of what I was looking at. In short, I felt like I got shortchanged in favor of a franchise.
Thor, meanwhile, is my favorite of the lot. Everyone seemed to compare it right away to the Flash Gordon film, but I kept thinking of Masters of the Universe, especially with the way that much of the story is set on earth. There's a lot to dislike about the film, namely the fact that the small New Mexico town looked far too much like a set (and I'm from there, so I can tell you no small town looks like that nice), but that's hardly a dealbreaker and it's almost ironic that we're more willing to forgive and accept the fantastic settings than the "real" ones. It was also cool to see Colm Feore as Laufey, king of the frost giants, who were surprisingly scary. Most people may know Mr. Feore as the leader of the Necromongers of Riddick infamy, but, to me, he'll always be Glenn Gould.
I have not seen the newest Hulk, and frankly, nothing really makes me want to. I'm one of those weirdos who actually really likes the Ang Lee Hulk film, and not just because of my present-since-childhood crush on Jennifer Connelly. I was really disappointed that one wasn't better received. Sure, the ending was a bit weak, and Nick Nolte's anti-military speech seemed way more out of place than it should have, but it had a lot of good points. It embraced its comic book origins and did justice to the pathos of the main character. The new one, however, is a dull retread starring Edward Norton, possibly my least favorite actor in cinema, certainly in my bottom 5, alongside John Malkovich. I just don't get his appeal; nearly all of his movies have him playing a dual-natured character, which he only just about manages to pull off. There's also his off-screen antics, like constantly re-writing and ad-libbing his own lines as well as inviting himself into the editing suite to give himself more scenes, leading Tony Kaye to attempt replacing his director credit with "Humpty Dumpty" on American History X. Ego is a word that gets thrown about haphazardly when it comes to actors, but Norton seems to be one of the few actors to whom the term "egotist" actually applies.
So, am I excited about The Avengers in 2012? Honestly, not really. I think it's being built up too much and Marvel Studios is obsessing far too much with making a franchise that it's selling its setup films short.
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