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Subject: Finally saw 'Avengers'! If you haven't, rush out and...go see 'Pacific Rim' instead rss

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Xander Fulton
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So we finally saw 'The Avengers', and...meh.

I can certainly see Joss Whedon's touch on it, and it definitely benefited from that in the dialog department. But, overall, the movie...kinda didn't "click" for us. Which is strange, as we really liked the 'Thor' and 'Captain America' movies before it (although were somewhat so-so on the 'Iron Man' films - amusing to watch once...Tony Stark is an interesting character...but that's about it. The other two we have on iTunes and have watched a few times.)

If I had to take a stab at why, I think the comparison I'm making to 'Pacific Rim' might be the reason. Or even something like 'The Dark Knight' (haven't seen DKR yet), for opposite reasons. In TDK, you had a fairly large cast of characters...but they weren't all doing stuff at once, with scenes cutting between them. Joker robbing a bank...Wayne throwing a fundraiser for Dent...Joker negotiating with the mob...etc, et al. As many characters as get involved in the plot, there are only a couple really working a story element at any given point, and each character really gets to resolve their scene.

And 'Pacific Rim' handles that similarly, although part of the solution, there, is just having a very much smaller set of elements. Pretty much only a couple Jaegers or Kaiju are fighting in any point of the movie.

But 'Avengers'...whoo, boy. Nearly the entire damn movie is skipping around between totally different settings and scenes. Any given character hardly has time to utter one or two clever lines or pithy retorts before the camera is yanked away to someone else. Sure, the lines WERE witty, and retorts WERE pithy, but...the camera just never rested and allowed anything that was happening to have any impact.
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Sounds like Avengers is a perfect ADHD movie. I might have to check it out.
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Morgan Dontanville
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I loved both.
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Matthew M
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I loved them both too, and the huge final battle in Avengers is one of my favorite movie fight scenes ever. Yes, no one character had much personal time...but that's why they all had one (or more) movies beforehand.
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sisteray wrote:
I loved both.



Yep, me too.

As for complaints about everyone getting something to do...boy, those Russian Jaeger pilots, huh?
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Octavian wrote:
I loved them both too, and the huge final battle in Avengers is one of my favorite movie fight scenes ever. Yes, no one character had much personal time...but that's why they all had one (or more) movies beforehand.


They had about as 'much personal time' as pieces on a checkers board. They were there to take an action or two (whether being part a fight sequence or saying some quote), virtually interchangeably, and then that was about it.

I guess that might be an interesting way to describe that final fight...like watching a checkers (eh, let's go as far as 'chess') match, but zoomed in so you could only ever see two pieces at any given time, and the camera just jumps one group of pieces to another.

It's less that the pieces don't get enough screen time to matter, but that you can't tell any kind of overall state of the battle, alongside not really caring about the characters in it.
franklincobb wrote:
As for complaints about everyone getting something to do...boy, those Russian Jaeger pilots, huh?


Did they even get a line in the movie? Not sure they did...movie wasn't really about them, though. Difference between a movie with 3 title characters, and a dozen...
jeRm! wrote:
Sounds like Avengers is a perfect ADHD movie. I might have to check it out.


It definitely is that, in spades!
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Complaining about Avengers not being a character driven story is like complaining about a movie like You Can Count on Me not having enough action.

There weren't enough laser fights in Cleo from 5 to 7.
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Xander Fulton
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sisteray wrote:
Complaining about Avengers not being a character driven story is like complaining about a movie like You Can Count on Me not having enough action.

There weren't enough laser fights in Cleo from 5 to 7.


No, you missed the point.

And I'm kind of surprised HOW you managed to miss the point, given I'm comparing 'Avengers' unfavorably to 'Pacific Rim'.

The problem is that 'Avengers' is either:
A) A 'character driven story'...that managers to not deliver any meaningful character interactions of any kind due to constant aborted action sequences.
...or...
B) A carefree action movie...that manages to confuse and muddle the action to the point of inanity, with an unending barrage of attempted character development.

It's trying very hard to have its cake; and eat it, too - and as a result failing miserably at both. 'Pacific Rim' is (by FAR) the better 'carefree action movie', while something like 'The Dark Knight' is (by FAR) the better 'character driven superhero story'.
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What if we just disagree?

The relationships between characters in the team had several excellent little moments and bigger payoffs. And even the action scenes advanced those relationships. Using action scenes as another way to show the relationships between characters and not just as a spectacle (something I think both movies did well, but Avengers did better) is good storytelling.

So, yeah...I guess we just disagree. I thought there were plenty of meaningful character interactions and that they accentuated the action scenes rather than detracted from them.

I had my cake and ate it too...which is why Avengers is awesome.
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The problem, folks, is that a lot of people don't understand just what The Avengers is about.

No, really.

People tend to believe the movie is about Captain America and Iron Man and the other heroes defending the Earth from hostile, invading aliens.

It isn't.

It's also not an origin movie, showing us how the Avengers came together so they can star in future movies together.

It really isn't.

It's not about how Captain America is a man out of time. It's not about Tony Stark learning self-sacrifice. It's not about the Black Widow balancing her ledger or Hawkeye realizing he's not a superhero. It's not about Thor or the Hulk or Nick Fury or Agent Coulson or Maria Hill.

What's The Avengers about, then?

Well, let me tell you. In screenwriting, there's something called "The Hollywood Formula". In shortest form, it goes like this:

Every movie has (a) a Protagonist (someone who wants something), (b) an Antagonist (who exists to challenge the Protagonist), and (c) a Relationship Character (basically there to tell the Protagonist, at the start of the movie, "you want this" and then, at the end of the movie, either, "you did it!" or "too bad you didn't do it" (and, if they did fail, to tell them why it's not so bad).

With me so far?

Okay: who's the Protagonist of The Avengers?

Which is to say, who WANTS something in the movie? Oh, and I probably should have added, a character's goals tend to be smaller. So, in Casablanca, Rick doesn't want to win World War II. He wants to be with the woman he loves. Small goals, then. So it's not that Nick Fury is the Protagonist because he wants to save the Earth. That's too big a goal. If Nick Fury wanted to save his kid sister, or win back the girl of his dreams, then we might have something.

So, who wants something?

Cap? Um, no. Stark? Nope. Do any of the Avengers have a "want" in the movie?

Not really.

But someone does. And it's subtle is the thing. You can miss it if you're not paying attention. And it helps to have seen the other Marvel Phase 1 movies. Specifically, it helps to have seen Thor.

Because Loki is the Protagonist in The Avengers.

"But wait!" you cry. "Loki's the bad guy! He wants to conquer the Earth!"

Does he? Seems like kind of a rotten plan. Also, seems like he's either setting himself up to be double-crossed or he's setting himself up to be ruled by (allegedly) Thanos. Does that sound like Loki?

No. Loki has no interest in being ruled. Loki wants to rule. Loki was born to rule.

Hold on a second there. Ruling. That's NOT what Loki wants in The Avengers.

What DOES he want, then?

Loki wants to go home.

That's it. That's his goal. That's the plot. He wants to go home. Why? Because after falling from the rainbow bridge at the end of Thor, Loki found himself . . . kind of boned. He's clearly in a situation he's not happy with. He's working under Thanos' thumb, doing his bidding, toadying favor.

None of these are things Loki will long tolerate.

But, Thanos (the Antagonist) is also clearly more powerful than Loki. So Loki does what Loki does: he plans. He bides his time. He offers Thanos one of Odin's treasures, the (I'm just going to call it what it is) Cosmic Cube.

He's knows it's on Earth. He knows Nick Fury and SHIELD have it. He also knows (or, perhaps, hopes) if he shows his face on Earth (or, Midgard) Odin will send his brother, Thor (the Relationship Character, though it could just as easily be Stark or the Black Widow, or "The Avengers" as a unit, depending on how you want to look at it), to collect him.

So he promises the Cube to Thanos if Thanos will only give him the Earth. "Give"? You don't "give" Loki something. He takes! But Thanos is too dangerous for Loki to fight himself.

Hmmm, who could stand up to Thanos? Not Thor.

How about Odin?

See, that's it. What Loki wants is to get out from under Thanos' thumb. He wants to go home, to where, under the watchful eye of Odin, he will be safe from Thanos.

Safe to plot and plan and, eventually, one day, take over Asgard for himself. And then all the nine realms.

Loki is an immortal. He'll live forever. So he can afford to bide his time before moving against Odin and Thor once more. What he can't do is live under Thanos' rule. It is anathema to him.

So: he goes to Earth and makes a big noise. Probably he's only hoping Thor will come and scoop him up. If the Earth is destroyed, meh, who cares? But then he finds there are other players on the board -- it's possible he knew this already, what with the spying he was doing on Fury and the Cube -- so he starts poking them and prodding them.

He sets himself up as an easy bad guy, egging them on and when his invasion begins -- kind of a lame invasion, don't you think? One little portal over one little city? Easy enough for, say, a small group of powerful individuals to stop -- well look at this, Thor's got some backup in fighting off Thanos' forces.

And -- huh -- there's a way to shut off the portal. And it's -- wha -- Loki's staff? Which he just left laying in plain sight and not twenty feet from the Cube? Well, that's . . . convenient.

The Avengers is Loki's story through and through. If you don't believe me, ask yourself why, when Thor steals him from the quinjet and is then busied in fighting Iron Man and Captain America, Loki doesn't just . . . leave? He clearly could. But he doesn't.

He's being watched, we see, which explains most of the trouble he starts. But he does just enough to align forces against him. He does just enough to ensure he'll be "captured" and returned to Asgard.

His plan the entire time.

The Avengers is a great damned movie. I haven't seen Pacific Rim yet (5-month-old in the house), so I can't compare the two, but when you understand what the movie is about, it's construction makes more sense. Cap, Iron Man, the Hulk and more ARE pieces being moved on a chessboard. We see enough to see they're doing their jobs, forwarding Loki's goals. However, given Loki's stealthy moves, he can't very well be front and center leading them into battle.

It's a subtle movie, one which bears repeat viewings. For me, it's sort of like watching The Usual Suspects again knowing how it's going to end. It's incredibly fun watching everything coming together once you know what the point of the whole affair is; moving the pieces around the board so Loki can be free of Thanos and back in Asgard causing mischief.
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Xander are you a marvel fan? I ask because any marvelite would have seen this way before now. A fan has a lot invested in the characters and easily makes the jumps back and forth knowing so much backstory already and relishes the jump around to see what each character is doing. A non fan would look at the movie like I did "lord of the rings". Now who is that again? why are they doing this? where did that come from and am i supposed to know why... can we leave?

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Xander Fulton
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ohbalto wrote:
The Avengers is Loki's story through and through.


Well, it's certainly true that Loki is the closest thing to an interesting character in the movie, but...

ohbalto wrote:
...when you understand what the movie is about, it's construction makes more sense. Cap, Iron Man, the Hulk and more ARE pieces being moved on a chessboard. We see enough to see they're doing their jobs, forwarding Loki's goals. However, given Loki's stealthy moves, he can't very well be front and center leading them into battle.


...I can't help but think you are maybe reading more into this movie than the producers, directors, and writers intended. They MEANT for it to be a movie with the 'Avengers' as the protagonists and main characters, and that none of them (or even all of them, collectively) fail to be as interesting as Loki just feels more like sloppy writing than anything.

But then, as noted, we rather liked 'Thor' - the whole 'lost brother' dynamic between Thor and Loki is a compelling story. They just did very, very little with it, here.
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Phil of Mars wrote:
Xander are you a marvel fan?


Totally unaware of any of the characters or settings before the movie they were in, but we have seen all the 'Marvel' movies in sequence.

As noted - 'Thor' and 'Captain America' we both ended up fans of, and have seen multiple times. The two 'Iron Man' movies before 'Avengers' were...alright. Saw them once, don't own copies of them and can't say I have much interest in seeing them, again. Stark is an amusing character, but there is just such a staggering lack of depth to the movies (or, I guess more specifically, characters in the movies), that they just feel so overwhelmingly 'meh'.

As to the Hulk...ehhh...not sure that's a character possible to make an interesting movie about. Certainly all attempts to date have fallen far short of anything interesting, although Ang Lee's version was definitely better than the 2008 attempt.
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XanderF wrote:
although Ang Lee's version was definitely better than the 2008 attempt.



Ah. I can see I should probably check out of the thread at this point.
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franklincobb wrote:
XanderF wrote:
although Ang Lee's version was definitely better than the 2008 attempt.


Ah. I can see I should probably check out of the thread at this point.


Well, I did note that it wasn't very good.

Just better than the 2008 take on it.

Pretty low bar to pass, IMHO...
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For what it's worth, I'm only a casual Marvel fan and really enjoyed Avengers.

Of course, it's entirely possible I have a low fun point when it comes to movies...
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While I can understand all the OP's complaints, they are all so utterly inconsequential, personal, and wrong that it's not even necessary to understand them. When Thanos comes he's going to be angry at you for that bullshit about the Ang Lee Hulk.
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I like Ang Lee Hulk. I thought Avengers was pretty lame. 'Nuff said.
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I also liked the Ang Lee hulk except for the hulk dogs. It was a pretty cool fate son story wrapped pretty accurately around hulk lore, right down to him expelling extra matter when he becomes banner again.

I also enjoy Pacifc Rim more than the Avengers, mostly because of how good Pacific Rim was. The Avengers was okay, but felt like it was just another summer blockbuster with few memorable scenes. Most had to do with the hulk (hitting Thor in the subway, ad pulling the "puny God" trick." Bad guys were generic. Yes, they had flying eels, but otherwise really uninteresting. I did love the extra scene at the end when they are all eating together in the shattered restaurant. The most Whedon I saw amongst all the special effects.

Pacific Rim, on the other hand, was incredibly well crafted. Not only is the story just heavy enough to push the plot along without pointing out how silly everything is, but Del Toro managed the proper sense of scale, so you really felt (not just saw) how massive these robots and beasts were. My only complaint was that every fight took place at night, in the rain, or underwater.

Avengers had no scenes like the introduction of Hannibal Chow, Gypsy collapsing on the beach, or even the incredibly nice touch when Gypsy sets the perpetual motion balls going. Heck they even made the old voltron "form blazing sword" chestnut look new and fresh.

So while avengers is an okay technical achievement with an established property, Pacific Rim really revolutionized the Kaiju move.

Part of the reason Frank Miller's Dark Knight Returns was so good is because He took an established property, and turned it on its ear rather than just continuing with typical Batman fair. In my opinion, Avengers is typical for its Genre and Pacific Rim is more game changing.

and for what it's worth, I really disliked thor, but I loved the captain america movie.

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XanderF wrote:

As to the Hulk...ehhh...not sure that's a character possible to make an interesting movie about. Certainly all attempts to date have fallen far short of anything interesting, although Ang Lee's version was definitely better than the 2008 attempt.


Holy shit! It is clear that there is no reason to attempt to find a common ground now. That was one of the worst movies I've seen. I had to turn it off.
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Smilinbrax wrote:
In my opinion, Avengers is typical for its Genre and Pacific Rim is more game changing.


I love Pacific Rim, but there is not a single moment in that movie that anime hasn't done for 40+ years.
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sisteray wrote:
Smilinbrax wrote:
In my opinion, Avengers is typical for its Genre and Pacific Rim is more game changing.


I love Pacific Rim, but there is not a single moment in that movie that anime hasn't done for 40+ years.


That argument applies even moreso to the avengers. I've never seen the hulk jump on a jet before and tear it apart. Oh yes I did, it was in that supposedly bad Ang Lee movie.

Star Wars and Raiders of the Lost Ark also had nothing you couldn't find in old pulp novels either. To quote Megamind, it's "Presentation."

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Sure, Hulk also did it a ton of times in the comic. It's fun to see. Just because it has been done before doesn't mean that it isn't great when it is done again. I just think it is silly to imply that Pacific Rim isn't typical for its genre. Rather, it takes every trope and pays perfect homage to its various source material.
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XanderF wrote:
Certainly all attempts to date have fallen far short of anything interesting, although Ang Lee's version was definitely better than the 2008 attempt.
Up until this point I was very motivated to go and watch Pacific Rim based on your recommendation.
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sisteray wrote:
Sure, Hulk also did it a ton of times in the comic. It's fun to see. Just because it has been done before doesn't mean that it isn't great when it is done again. I just think it is silly to imply that Pacific Rim isn't typical for its genre. Rather, it takes every trope and pays perfect homage to its various source material.


my point earlier is not too far off from yours. Pacific Rim definitely has roots in anime. the thing that makes it special is that it is a maintstream live auction movie that manages to capture the spirit of its genres that has not been done on the big screen before. So yes, I do think it is groundbreaking.

They didn't just remake Ultraman, or Godzilla, Or Evangelian (sp?), but a rip roaring fusion of them.


as an aside, I really find it funny how polarizing old vs. new hulk is. I think many people throw the baby out with the bathwater on old hulk, and give the newer one too much credit because of it. It's not like new hulk is considered a classic or anything.
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