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Saturday
Sep012012

Live Blog: Your In-Flight Movie "The Avengers"

The following was written on the flight from New York City to Utah last week as I left on my vacation (and awesome people took over). When I returned home I discovered that The Avengers was reopening on a ton of cinemas for one week only -- Happy Labor Day Weekend -- so I ought not to have strained my neck.

Somewhere in flyover country...

my craned neck view of "The Avengers"

I can't decide which screen to look at. The first one is right in my face (ouch my neck), the other too far from me for its pocket-square size. And another so far it's like looking across the row at someone's cel phone in a bout of nosyness - that won't get you anywhere. This three screen option is one kind of 3-D at least. I have plenty of time to decide which screen to look at because the opening few minutes of The Avengers were never its strong suit. 

The sound mixing is atrocious on airplanes. Also I just realized that I'm listening to the movie in a Spanish dub --  Damn you channel 2. I've switched over to English just in time for meaningless human exposition on Earth. It's not like I would have understood the aliens in any language.  

The Tesseract is misbehaving!"

Samuel L Jackson intones this silly sentence for $250k (he's in so little of this I figure each line delivery is worth ¼ a mil) because, you know, everyone understands how a cosmic cube should behave so we all get when it's being a naughty teenager.

Cosmic Cube Rebel ! © Nathaniel R

MORE...

Loki of Asgaard attacks, glorious with purpose and a long hard pointy stick for poor Jeremy Renner. He keeps talking about Renner's heart but it's Renner's eyes that take the brunt of the attack going from blackish to blue. There's lots of blather about Freedom and Freedom as Life's Great Lie and it's kinda hard to argue with that given how meaningless the word is once politicians are done with it. I don't know where I was going with this but Renner's heart will know peace. And his eyes will known color contacts.

The sound mixing is terrible. At least the sound mixing on this 747 or B52 or whatever it is. It's a good thing I've seen this heard this before.

I've already developed a 3-D strategy of my own in the first 15 minutes. When there's a closeup I like *cough Tom Hiddleston* I stare at the screen that's right in my face. "Hi Tommy!" When there's action, I stare at the far away screens. This is why action scenes should not be composed entirely of close ups contrary to the belief system of 90% of the hack directors currently employed.

This is a level 7 -- as of right now we are at war."

I know lines like that are just for texture but sometimes they distract me. What is a level 5? a level 12? May I see a chart please?

After that boring-ass opening scene of misbehaving cubes and heart possessions and whatnot the title comes up.

The light flashes on the "N" in Avengers as it should. A subliminal love letter... to me!

The Black Widow's interrogration scene, her first in the film, is an instant reminder that Scarlet Johansson is really really good in this movie. Unexpectedly good. So sassy and sexy and smart all without ever pushing OR, more importantly given that its Scarjo, without ever seeming like she's catching some quick shut eye between takes.

After Scarjo beats up the bad guys with an unstoppable combo of very three dimensional cleavage and a head-butting skull that must be made of adamantium (ouch), we have out first reference to the Hulk "the big guy". Natasha is supposed to go get him. When ScarJo arrives she and Mark Ruffalo, the big guy (Meg Ryan can prove it!), have words.  

"Are you here to kill me. that's not going to work out?"

"Nick Fury seems to trust you."

"I'll persuade you."

People are already doubting the honesty of Nick Fury (Foreshadowing!). We get pieces of old story threads and back story threads and the most beautifully swift origin story of any superhero film (unless you could all the lead up movies. Please don't!) "The Avengers Initative". The world will be entrusted to a handful of freaks, a response team.

Captain America & The Punching Bag. Ass Shots Alert! My eyes have switched to the closest screen. I love my 3D strategy.

Iron Man has entered the plot and we find out that the Tesseract, which we were told was going to be an unlimited source of sustainable energy was actually going to be Hydra's secret weapon on the sly. Or some such? See also The Dark Knight's Plot Rising. Why is this plot so popular, the energy source that will save us all as a weapon of mass destruction? I'm guessing it has something to do with the GOP and the oil industry (unsustainable)'s constant lobbying against anything that might be better for our world (and thus bad for their pocketbooks) like green technologies. Teach us to fear it and we will!

I ♥ this visual effect where Iron Man's armor is taken off of him as he walks. Maybe I'm just extraordinarily lazy but that seems like the best invention of all time. Imagine coming home from the office and not having to spend any time at all getting into your pajamas and hanging up your suit after a big day.

Speaking of corporate attire. Pepper Potts is the only known CEO of a Fortune 500 company who wears Daisy Dukes to work. This makes me think of those hilarious Hark, a Vagrant! cartoons about Strong Female Characters.  

I'm getting bored but that isn't so much a reflection of the movie's pacing as the fact that I hate watching movies on planes. I can't get comfortable in my chair. My back is killing me. Anyway Loki was just arguing with those useless aliens -- they look like the comic book version of the Green Goblin, only uglier.  He just said something like...

is this not simpler? is not this …"

I know that English is not Loki's first language. But his grammar! I cannot follow. I doubt even Yoda could.

Iron Man and the good Captain are already not liking each other and we learn that Captain America's out of time status makes him a target of teasing. He might have missed a few things. I'm normally not one to get all teary eyed with jingoistic religion or patriotism but I have a soft spot for Captain America. My favorite moment of this part of the movie is when ScarJo or the Token Female Operative I already forgot who says something about Thor being a god.

There's only one god Ma'am and I'm pretty sure he doesn't dress like that."

Is Captain America still a virgin? I feel like Joss Whedon would have really addressed that if this were a TV show. 

Loki vs. Thor on the mountaintop has some pretty clunky dialogue.

I've seen worlds you've never known about."

It's not exactly poetic! I keep hoping he'll juice it up with a little actual Shakespeare or maybe a Blade Runner flourish at the tail end of the sentence. like "I've seen worlds you've never known about... AND  Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion and C-beams glittering in the dark near Tannhauser Gate." Jazz it up a little Whedon.

The superhero fight is a draw. It was a big of fanboy pandering that -- nobody wants their favorite hero defeated. When they take Loki in to his new prison, he smiles at the Hulk through the surveillance cams. I love that he knows he has an audience on the screens. Performance! The big verbal fights between the superheroes have some fun dialogue. I love the good Captain's Wizard of Oz relief at recognizing a cultural reference. I hate RDJ's now petrified smarmimess. Mark Ruffalo on his big green altar ego "I kind of broke Harlem". Hee!  

Now we're at the big interrogration scene between Loki & the Black Widow. ScarJo is so fine in this scene with the fake weeping. This scene would not have worked if ScarJo didn't sometimes play a bad actress in other movies because the crying reads really fake. And just when you're thinking "oh ScarJo... TRY to act" you realize you've been had -- not just Loki -- and the Black Widow isn't a super actress but ScarJo can be when she wants to be.

So that's your move? The Hulk?

All hell breaks loose

 

 

EPILOGUE: One week later in Harlem, showing no wear and tear from previous Hulk visitations, I am transferring this live blog over to be published only to realize that the notes stopped abruptly once The Hulk was let loose. I believe it was a combination of excitement (the last hour continues to be awesome) and complimentary snacks; stale pretzels... Mmm-mmmmm, Delta! You shouldn't have.

The only thing I have to say about the all action last hour is that the two most hilarious Hulk jokes in the movie don't transfer well at all to an airplane where everyone is experiencing the movie alone with earphones in. Tiny nuances of action like an swift punch to the side while the rest of the body is at rest or dialogue "Puny God" aren't so legible in this downgrade format.

I have now seen The Avengers twice. I have finally seen the post credit schwarma scene once (It's so Whedon. I only wish it had been followed with a "Grrrrr. Arrrrgh") since that tag didn't play at the end in the version screened for critics. Twice is most certainly enough (for me) but it totally is a fun movie. How many times have you seen it, dear reader?

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Reader Comments (10)

Glad to have you back and really enjoyed this writeup. As for The Avengers, I've only seen it once which was more than enough. Few movies are worth watching repeatedly in such a short period of time and this wasn't one of them.

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterMDA

I watched it for a second time fairly recently and enjoyed it as much as the first time. I must say it's one of my favorite films of the year so far.

September 1, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterConrad

None.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterPeggy Sue

It was the best available in-flight movie for my last trip, and since it was a day-long flight to England, I watched it twice. That, plus two in theaters, makes four times.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel B

Saw it twice and will see it a bajillion times when I own it on DVD.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterRyan T.

Twice in theaters (midnight showing and a week later). I'll probably buy it on Blu-Ray when I can actually afford to buy a Blu-Ray DVD again, lol. I cannot agree with people that say it's the "Best Superhero Movie Ever" because it wouldn't even make my Top Ten but it was better than I thought it would be and certainly worth watching.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterDaniel Armour

Daniel Armour: Best ever? No. Not with The Dark Knight and the 78 Superman around. Not even in your top 10? Mine is this:

1. Superman (78)
2. The Dark Knight
3. Batman Returns
4. Batman Begins
5. The Avengers
6. Hellboy
7. The Incredibles (yes, I'm counting non-comic adaptations)
8. X2
9. Iron Man
10. Bounces between Kick-Ass and The Dark Knight Rises

(Now, what about The Crow? Well...that movie was about Eric Draven's personal vengeance. It's satisfying in it's own right, but, at the same time, it's not at all a superhero narrative. You can still kill people and technically be a superhero, but it can't be entirely personal, like The Crow is. If it counted, it'd be #3.)

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterVolvagia

well *I* love my cartoon of the Tesseract ;)

September 2, 2012 | Registered CommenterNATHANIEL R

Saw it once and absolutely hated it.

September 2, 2012 | Unregistered CommenterJordan

I saw The Avengers once, which was enough for me. It was fun, but there's nothing in it that requires a second viewing. If I spot in on cable in another year or two I might leave it on depending on what part it's at, but other than that I highly doubt I'll ever see it again.

Oh, and that drawing of the Tesseract is AWESOME.

September 3, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterdenny
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