Published on May 3rd, 2012 | by dvdpinson0
Cinemastance Report Card: The Avengers Franchise
When the Power Suits at Marvel announced the idea it seemed impossible. Back in 2008 they released the news that they would give origin films to the main heroes that make up the classic comic book team “The Avengers” that would all interconnect and funnel into one huge film that joined them all. The project has been ambitious, epic and (most importantly) too cool. Here we are on the cusp of the release of “Marvel’s The Avengers” and it should be argued that the experiment has been a huge success regardless if all the films have been masterpieces or not. In a 4 year span the Marvel Universe has seen 6 films released under “The Avengers” name, all financially successful and all seemingly existing in the same world. My inner-fanboy is so filled with joy that he is break dancing to the “Beat Street” soundtrack in the cockles of my heart.
Here is Cinemastance Report Card for “The Avengers”:
Iron Man (2008) The one that established the formula: Great characters, interesting plot and good dose of humor. Robert Downey Jr. makes the perfect Tony Stark, a cocky arms dealer who starts off as an anti-hero before he sees the light (that ends up glowing in his chest. The only shortcoming, and it has plagued the entire series up until now, is the limited action sequences. Remember, this is a comic book movie and while its nice to see a superhero movie with more brains than brawn a little more explosions would be nice. But still I’ll take a talky Marvel movie over freebasing….I mean viewing… a “Transformers” film any day.
The Incredible Hulk (2008) Something is wrong with Bruce Banner. I don’t mean he is afflicted with a terrible curse that turns him into a raging green monster every time someone cuts him off in traffic. I mean the character doesn’t seem to be able to carry a film and they’ve tried twice in the last decade. This Edward Norton version does hit the target a little better than the bizarre Ang Lee entry (if the suits didn’t want a dramatic/boring telling of the green giant then WHY DID THEY HIRE ANG LEE TO DIRECT IT???). All you want from the Hulk is Smash and “The Incredible Hulk” does have some of best violence of the series. It just too fleeting and forgettable.
Iron Man 2 (2010) It seems that sequels to comic book movies can either go one of two ways. There are those (“Spiderman 2” and “The Dark Knight”) that feel like a natural extension of its predecessor and add layers to the hero’s mythology. These are justified sequels that merely continue on where the previous film left off. Then there is the variety (“Spiderman 3” and “Batman and Robin”) that comes with a slight sense of manipulation. This is the sort of film that I refer to as “SpaceBalls 2: The Search for More Money” movies. These are the unneeded sequels; two-hour exercises of bright lights and loud noises that exist with the hope that they generate 80% of the original’s profits.
“Iron Man 2” is a bit of a mixed bag that is almost equal parts justified and unneeded. The film spends much of its time slowly developing nothing much of anything then, as if by magic, shifts into overdrive and ends with a high level of frantic fun that just about makes up for all the time wasted to get there.
Thor (2011) The film is a welcomed addition to the Marvel Movie Machine and sits up close to the top of the list “Iron Man” as the best of the bunch. The most interesting aspect of this production is that Kenneth Branagh, as in British, master Shakespearean actor Kenneth Branagh, directed it. In the past he has tackled genre films before (let’s not forget the nearly-forgotten “Mary Shelly’s Frankenstein” or the wicked “Dead Again”), but to give him a $150 million, tent pole Summer Flick was a huge gamble that paid off plenty. The action is serviceable, though there are times when what exactly is going on is hard to determine. There is never a moment where you feel that the film is in the hands of a novice, however, and he establishes a nicely metered pace throughout. It’s the weighty moments where his influence is felt the most and the actors rise to the occasion. Emoted dialogue delivered with tears welling in the eyes isn’t something much seen in a superhero movie. Here, among the Norse Gods, it fits in well.
Captian America: The First Avenger (2011) Director Joe Johnston (“Jurassic Park III,” “The Rocketeer”) has always been second tier director whose work comes across like cut-rate Speilberg. But he can usually stage an action sequence. Here he misses the mark. The HYDRA villains never seem to pose any actually threat and our heroes spend the entire film mowing them down without even breaking a sweat. With no tension, the movie loses steam and the final moments are heedless. Chris Evans does give the film some heart though. The film just seemed a little tired after only six months after the release of “Thor”.
The Avengers (2012) The short and to the point of it is this: “Marvel’s The Avengers” is AWESOME!!!
The ambitious project has two tons of potential and fulfills every ounce. The culmination of 5 successful films released over the last 4 years, this superhero action flick is a unique animal, A Mega Tent-pole Franchise Film. Everything is huge: The cast of 6 misunderstood and reluctant heroes, the epic action sequences, and Tony Stark’s ego. The genius and beauty of the film is that all these elements are juggled with ease. Everyone has their screen time and back-story but it never feels like we are trying to play catch up. It’s a marvelous feat and one that is not to be missed.
How do you grade the series? Leave a comment and tell me what you think.