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The Avengers Movie: for Senior Citizens
People as old as me shouldn't be expected to love the 2012 movie The Avengers. For the most part, I'm not a big fan of action-adventure, solid special effects movies. Don't get me wrong: I do enjoy that genre to a degree, but my enjoyment arrives in spite of all the explosions, destruction, pain and gore, and certainly not because of it.
I would probably not have chosen on my own to see The Avengers in a theater. I really only went because we were celebrating my youngest son's birthday; and he had chosen to see it upon the recommendation of his older brother. I admit I didn't have very high expectations for it, in spite of all the media hype I had missed and in spite of its record-setting opening weekend. The characters, story line, screenwriter/director - practically every detail was unknown to me. All I knew was that a bunch of superheroes had to band together to save... -- um, somebody -- and they did not particularly wish to work together.
So it seems logical that my opinion might have some decent value, since I was not pre-sold on the movie before entering the theater.
Iron Man Tony Stark
Hooked from the Get-Go
But the opening scenes just grabbed my attention and wouldn't let go. There was the rather obvious Experimental Science Gone Wild set-up, but (remember my lack of preconceived notions about the characters) I didn't know immediately whom to root for. Loki, in legend known as the mischief-maker of the Norse gods, actually did exude some sort of charisma initially that kept the jury out longer than usual on the question of who the good guys and the bad guys were. That hooked me. A mystery in the set-up.
Then there was the question of who had opened the portal to another world. Had it been opened from the other side or from this side? I indulged in my usual practice of looking for spiritual parallels and reading some religious implications into that question. My mind visited the biblical warning not to "consort with spirits," and I reminded myself occasionally (increasingly as allegiances became more obvious): This is why. This is why we are not supposed to try this at home. We don't really know what forces we might unleash when we experiment with things that are beyond our control and that can explode further out of control so easily. It's not a bad thing to guard against in every area of life -- not just in religion, but also in science, politics, and business.
Following quickly on the heels of the Good Guy/Bad Guy question came some pretty spectacular visual effects in a futuristic chase scene and the collapse of the science laboratory shortly thereafter. For me, it was just the right amount of effects, and as believable as any absolutely unbelievable situation can be made to appear. Then Scarlett Johanssen as The Black Widow showed up in a terrific scene with dialog in Russian (subtitled in English), clearly being interrogated as a prisoner, having to speak into a cell phone while strapped into a chair with arms tied behind her back - all the while indicating that she believed she was the one doing the interrogating. The fight that ensued is a marvel of choreography, even all by itself pretty much worth the price of admission.
By this point the sides had become pretty well drawn, even for a novice like me. The classic Evil versus Good story is probably somewhat predictable, even with the infighting and the disadvantages that develop among the Avengers. Even so, some of the little turns in the plot, guest appearances, breathtaking sets, and - yes - some truly spectacular special effects made the evening completely satisfying.
The Incredible Hulk
For me personally, some of the cinematic enjoyment detoured in a different direction. During those occasional moments when the fighting and special effects got to be TMI for me, I became engrossed in the question: How did they do that? You see, I'm sort of a junkie of DVD featurettes that explain the techniques behind such cinematic moments as the rooftop chase scene in Algiers in The Bourne Ultimatum and the like. So, during The Avengers I zoned out a few times, trying to determine how the producers could have achieved a certain onscreen result. In spite of a couple of instances of obvious greenscreening, most of the effects were worth whatever they cost. (In case you wondered, I counted at least four different special effects companies in the end credits, including one that was devoted just to the pyrotechnics.)
For the most part, my out-zoning did not last long; usually the storyline would come to life again and draw me back into a willing suspension of disbelief. The transformation of mild Dr. Banner (Mark Ruffalo - is it just me, or is he seriously a Vincent D'Onofrio lookalike?) into The Incredible (raging) Hulk is one of those movie moments that I will enjoy seeing again and again, one day when I have my own copy of the DVD. And People, Producers, Whoever You Are, I'm really counting on some revelatory featurettes there. Don't let me down, okay?
Maybe there was too much focus on Iron Man throughout the movie, as my son thought – at least in the most memorable and most lovable (to him) moments – rather than being more equally about all of the Avengers; in spite of that, it was Tony Stark's ironic and flippant lines that made the strongest impression on him from the script. Funny thing is, I didn't remember nearly as much about Iron Man as he did. (Maybe because of a Senior Moment?)
Not least among those matters that I may have heard in passing many weeks ago, but not enough to stick (another Senior Moment?), was that Joss Whedon was the screenwriter and director and - what else? He probably wore another half-dozen hats. Well, no wonder the movie was so good!
Getting into the car after the movie, my husband noticed that we had seen the movie on Thor's Day. Thor's Day, OH Yeah!