Monday, May 7, 2012

Movie Review: The Avengers

As a fan of Joss Whedon’s Buffy the Vampire Slayer I always wondered what would happened if he ever got some funding (to steal a line from the series). In his new movie, The Avengers, he had $220 million dollars worth, but the opening sequence wasn’t promising. It was typical of today’s action flicks: lots of shooting and computer-generated special effects as a substitute for anything interesting or clever. I wondered if I was in for two hours and twenty-two minutes of boredom.

Fortunately, the opening was not typical of the movie.

Avengers Movie Poster

Photo source: Wikipedia

Just as with last year’s Thor, what made this movie intriguing was the interaction among the characters. The theme of Thor was family relationships; the theme of The Avengers was team building. The plot actually followed the stages of Ohio State University psychologist Bruce Tuckman’s group development model: forming, storming, norming, and performing (Dr. Tuckman’s full name, BTW, was Bruce Wayne Tuckman so I suppose his model is appropriate for a movie based on a comic strip). The storming phase was the most entertaining, with personality clashes between Iron Man and Captain America, and the entire team suspicious of leader Nick Fury’s ultimate agenda.

A couple aspects of the movie appealed to my right-wing political sensibilities. The villain, Loki, reminded me of Obama when he said in the opening scene that he had come to set mankind free from the burden of freedom (Ok, so there was one thing in the opening scene that I liked). It was also refreshing to see Hollywood portray a chronically straight-laced character like Captain America as a hero. He reminded me of many of the real soldiers I met during my career in the defense industry. In another nod to conservatives, he even adhered to Christian theology. When told that Loki was a god, he replied, “There’s only one God and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that.”

That response was typical of the many great lines in the movie. My personal favorite came from another exchange about Loki – this one between Thor and the Black Widow:

Thor: He's my brother
Black Widow: He killed 80 people in 2 days
Thor: He's adopted
Exchanges like this made The Avengers lots of fun; they definitely compensated for the opening.

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