I certainly can imagine many kids liking Avengers 3D. For that matter–though it’s a bit more of a stretch–I can imagine some adults liking it.
Not me though. This is absolutely not the genre of movie that does anything for me.
At first glance it might seem that that’s just because I’m an elitist about such things. The vast majority of movies I see are independent films, documentaries, and foreign films after all. No doubt there’s some truth to that, but it’s not unheard of that I get at least some enjoyment out of a movie (book, song, whatever) that’s not high-brow at all.
So I know what that feels like. It’s a “guilty pleasure” kind of thing, or maybe something that nostalgically taps into my childhood fondness for something I’ve sort of outgrown but still feel some attachment to. That’s how I picture adults appreciating this movie, as a chance to turn off their critical faculties and react like a kid again.
So I don’t look down on that necessarily, nor claim I never react that way to anything, but this movie simply didn’t take me there.
“Formulaic” doesn’t begin to describe how lame Avengers 3D is. Imagine a movie with no reason to exist other than a commercial one, aimed at the masses (especially the preteen and teenage boy masses), filled with every action movie cliché that can fit into two and a half hours (that feels like double that).
One way that it maybe deviates from what one would expect is the minimal amount of action for the first hour or so. It feels like an unusually large portion of this movie consists of set-up. And not because the plot warrants it; once it gets going it’s just lots of stuff blowing up and such. So you’d think the set-up would be as perfunctory as the story, but instead there’s all this detail and backstory that could have (and should have) ended up on the cutting room floor.
But anyway, the dialogue is full of tough guy wisecracks (“We need a plan of attack!” “I have a plan: Attack!!”). Extras always fight about as effectively as a bowling pin against a bowling ball, and are quickly killed and forgotten. When two major characters fight, they go back and forth endlessly pounding on each other and flinging each other across the room, seemingly suffering no damage whatsoever in the process except maybe a split lip. No one ever just shoots somebody when instead they can dance around in an extended hand-to-hand combat scene. The good guys, even the ones who are superheroes, are presented as if they are at constant risk of being killed or severely injured, but they might just as well be immortal since of course none of that bad stuff ever happens, and they prevail in the end.
There is the token female superhero (Scarlett Johansson), and of course she’s not allowed to ever lose or be subordinate to or reliant on the males. Interestingly, though, when you think about it her “superpower” is easily the lamest of any of them. (I couldn’t help but think of poor Meg on the Family Guy episode where radiation exposure gives all the members of the family superpowers, and hers is that she can extend and retract her fingernails like a cat.) Basically her “superpower” is that she turns flips and kicks people in the face like a random character in a karate genre movie.
That’s enough to enable her to always come out on top, regardless of the number of foes or how they’re armed or whatever, but it certainly shouldn’t be. At least the Hulk can grab spaceships out of the sky and slam them into the ground; you kind of figure you’d come out on the losing side if you tangle with him. But some broad spinning around and karate chopping people somehow doesn’t fit my notion of invincibility.
I don’t see much point in describing the story in detail. Basically Thor and Loki come down from another planet (yes, that’s as silly a notion as it sounds), Loki intent on conquering Earth and Thor seeking to help defend Earth from him. A bunch of superheroes come together to repel the threat. They succeed. The end.
Did I like anything about the movie? The Hulk is kind of entertaining the way he stomps around grabbing and smashing anything or anyone in his path. There’s Scarlett Johansson shot from behind multiple times in skintight pants. Beyond that, not much.
I knew absolutely nothing about this movie in advance. (As will come as no surprise, it wasn’t my decision to see it. I tagged along with other people.) I was quite curious after to check what the consensus opinion of it was. I would have guessed it would rank somewhere around the middle of movies of this genre, so I was surprised to see it has received almost unanimous praise from critics.
I’m not saying they’re necessarily wrong. I think the accepted approach from critics is to rate a film relative to its genre. (You’re not supposed to complain that the latest Dora the Explorer movie isn’t as deep as Citizen Kane, for instance.) I virtually never see movies of this genre, so it might well be that this is an unusually good film relative to most of them. (My surmise that it would rank around the middle was very much a guess based on little background information.)
So I’ll accept that. Based on what I read from people who know a lot more than me about such matters, if you’re into the comic book, action hero movie genre, you will very likely enjoy Avengers 3D.
I’m not, and I didn’t.