Wednesday, June 20, 2012

The Avengers (Brockway)

Tropic Sprockets by Ian Brockway

The Avengers

Finally, a superhero film that makes your hands (and eyes)  feel  smudged with a soiled joy as if you were touching an actual comic book just off the presses. The film is "The Avengers" directed by the television impresario Joss Whedon and  filmed in smoothly textured 3D. "The Avengers" is a joy in color and adrenalin, proving the perfect anodyne for a struggling day, stormy weather, lost love or whatever mortal pitfall may be heaped upon you. 

The plot is as old as the Ancients: Good Vs Evil. It's the tried and true Marvel Manichaeism we've all come to expect, revere and root for---an artifact of infinite power is stolen by a Luciferic fallen angel and the battle lines are drawn. But rather than overweigh the story with one battle scene after another, Whedon handles the story with humor, heart and a richness of character that has so much leap and verve that it almost reaches a kind of poetry within its glossy hyperactive frames. This is how a superhero comic should feel in the eyes. And you even feel it in your chest.

Of course we have Tony Stark, (Robert Downey Jr) Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor ( Chris Hemsworth).  Iron Man Stark is wonderfully sarcastic as a svelte and dapper playboy in a quasi-Art Deco iron suit while Captain America is an Ultra enhanced blonde beach boy from the 1940s with baby blue eyes. That's a given. The real surprise is Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) as "The Hulk". Ruffalo as Banner is a revelation here. Ruffalo's Banner is tormented and concerned at times, but oddly non-plussed. His past fits of anger leave him disheveled and self deprecating. There is something existential and innocent here and Ruffalo's role has a real  emotional core.  There are lots of opportunities for Ruffalo to smirk, but his smirks are sad and carry angst. Banner is not just rage in green and his portrayal is a graceful mixture of Pop Art and poetic remorse. Within The Hulk, a weariness of waiting exists.

The skill of "The Avengers" is in letting its superheroes and demigods drive the action forward. This is a large comprehensive film that is far reaching in scope and probably the only superhero film I have seen where the characters really are as they appear, larger than life with genuine fun, quirk, majesty and menace.
I'll admit that The Hulk and Iron Man have all the best lines (not to mention the Loki rag doll scene) but there is nothing like the sight of Captain America to inflame your patriotic heart as he stands up for a senior citizen or last but not least, Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to excite our latent dominatrix desires. 

The real sorcery of "The Avengers" is its ability to portray its characters with a pathos that contains a comic edge as pointed as an Ultra fine Sharpie. Despite their Gamma Gametes and a lot of  Tesseractan testosterone, these exotic beings are indeed human. In holding the earth and the realms of Asgard in balance, they stumble and smile with a know- it- all sarcasm just like us. To err is human, but to err in the air with a Million Trillion Gazillion smashes and crashes with punches and punch-lines to rival Dan Ackroyd or Walter Matthau is Super. 

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