The Avengers (2012)


Guys, I’m Bringing the Party to You

Today’s movie was a hard movie to put off for as long as I did.  It came out almost a week ago now, but I didn’t have a good moment to go and see the movie with my roommate Richard until today.  It was not an easy couple of days.  I’ve been somewhat excited to see this movie since it was announced, and from the day it came out I’ve been beaten over the head with the fact that I need to see it.  But, when someone called the movie “The Best Comic Book Movie Ever”, I found myself very skeptical.  Had these people not seen the Dark Knight?  Or Watchmen?  Or was there a chance that this movie was that good?  We’ll find out today in my review of The Avengers, written by Joss Whedon and Zak Penn, directed by Joss Whedon, and starring Samuel L. Jackson, Chris Evans, Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Tom Hiddleston, Clark Gregg, Stellan Skarsgard, Cobie Smulders, Gwyneth Paltrow, Harry Dean Stanton, and Paul Bettany.

The fallen Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has reached a pact with an alien race known as the Chitauri.  If Loki is able to capture the powerful source of energy known as the Tesseract, they will declare war on Earth for it.  Armed with a fancy spear, he easily breaks into a facility of the Strategic Homeland Intervention, Enforcement and Logistics Division (aka SHIELD) and takes the Tesseract, also brainwashing the physicist Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard) and SHIELD agent Hawkeye/Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner).  In response, SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) activates the Avengers Initiative, compiling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes to face the threat.  SHIELD agent the Black Widow/Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johansson) is sent to retrieve the Hulk/Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) is sent to retrieve Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.), and Fury himself goes to retrieve Captain America/Steve Rogers (Chris Evans).  Iron Man and Captain America are able to capture Loki, which captures the attention of Loki’s brother, the God of Thunder, Thor (Chris Hemsworth).  Can these very conflicting personalities come together to work as a team?  Can they thwart Loki’s plans?  And, more importantly, how many times will I masturbate during this movie?

This was the worst movie ever … for someone with a heart condition.  HOLY SHIT is this a good movie!  I loved the living bejesus right out of this movie.  But, as much as I loved it, I don’t think I’d be willing to call it the greatest comic book movie of all time.  It’s certainly the greatest of its kind, though.  I would divide comic book movies in much the same way as I would regular movies.  Some are really smart, and some are really fun.  I wouldn’t call the Watchmen or Dark Knight particularly fun, but they’re great movies.  I also wouldn’t call Avengers the smartest movie, but it’s fantastic fun pretty much from the very beginning of the movie.  One thing that should be kept in mind while reading my review is that I do not have the ability to think about this movie as someone who is not a fanboy.  My fanboy boner is drawing all of the blood out of the rest of my observational abilities.  But fellow fanboys will have such the nerd boner throughout this entire movie.  Comic book movies already get +10 love in my mind, but this movie had no use for those excess points.  It’s such sweet, sweet fan service all the way through, thanks to the man at the helm, Joss Whedon.  Being a nerd himself, he would not allow any one of the Avengers to not have their moment in this movie.  Because of his nerdiness, this is the first Marvel movie (that wasn’t just a sequel) that took so much from what happened in the other movies into itself.  Things like the Tesseract that was introduced in Captain America’s movie and some of the Asgardian stuff that was introduced in Thor helped really connect this movie as opposed to leaving it to its own devices.  The introduction of each individual character in the movie was badass and usually preceded by an awesome quip that got me extra excited.  Things like, “Wars are won by soldiers,” and then BOOM!  Captain America punching the shit out of some heavy bags.  They did something like this for almost every Avenger and I loved it every time.  I was also assuming as I went into this movie that I would only be interested in the main Avengers like Thor and the Hulk, leaving me bored with the time I spent with the less spectacularly gifted Avengers like Black Widow and Hawkeye.  When the gigantic battle at the end of the movie was starting, I wondered what good Widow and Hawkeye – and maybe even the Cap – would be in this fight, but every one of them had the opportunity to be awesome in it.  And almost everyone on the Avengers teamed up with the other Avengers.  One of my favorite moments in the movie was something I had seen in some of the Marvel video games: when Iron Man shoots at Captain America’s shield during battles and Cap swings the beam around to hit the enemies around them.

I got to thinking about something early on in the trailers leading up to this movie.  I’m sure there was a time when goose bumps served a purpose like making our hair stand up because of cold in the environment or perhaps even fluffing up our hair when threatened to make us look bigger.  It made me laugh that, over time, these defense mechanisms have become completely useless and goose bumps now only involve showing our excitement over movies.  The trailers that preceded Avengers were for other movies I’m extremely excited for, like the new Spiderman and Dark Knight Rises, and they got my skin prepped for goose bumpage.  The Avengers movie barely ever gave my skin the chance to rest.  The introduction for each character caused goose bumps, each fight caused goose bumps, almost everything said by anyone in the movie, all of these things got my skin all riled up.  Even for some two hours after the movie, my skin wouldn’t knock it off with every time I thought about my favorite moments.  Hell, even writing this review caused me to get goose bumps.  I tell you all of this to let you know that goose bumps are stupid and this movie is awesome.

I briefly skimmed one of the very few negative reviews on Rotten Tomatoes to see how someone could possibly not like this movie.  It criticized the movie for being a big mess of CG action.  What did you go into this movie expecting?  Schindler’s List?  It’s a comic book movie!  It’s supposed to be like you’re watching a comic book come to life.  If you saw this same movie without CG, it would be the worst movie ever.  You’d have to bring Lou Ferrigno back to be the Hulk and no one could really do anything awesome.  So, what I’m saying to that guy is: go fuck your own face.  This movie looked epic and fantastic.  Things like SHIELD’s helicarrier looked as massive and realistic as humanly possible.  And, for the first time, the Hulk looked fantastic and real.  Well, as real as a giant green guy can look.  The other movies had the Hulk kind of stand out and not look like it was properly lit, but this movie didn’t have that problem.  Even the practical things were given the weight that made them feel like superpowered individuals were doing them, like when Cap blocked Thor’s hit as they were fighting in the woods, creating a shockwave that cleared a large portion of the surrounding area.

I’ve probably already discussed every character in this movie already in their own respective movies, but that shant stop me from doing it again.  But this time I’m going to discuss them in order of awesomeness.  First up is the only new addition to the Avengers team: Mark Ruffalo as the Hulk.  Though Ruffalo was the only one in this movie to not appear as his character previously, I think he stole the show.  I found him to be a combination of the most humorous and most badass characters in the movie.  When he randomly, and unexpectedly, punches Thor at one point in the movie it was pure comedy enjoyment.  When he lays an epic beatdown on one of the major characters in the movie, flopping them around like a ragdoll and following it up with one of his trademark “Puny …” lines, I nerdgasmed.  When he fights one of the good guys in the movie, I was worried that they wouldn’t give the Hulk his proper amounts of awesomeness in order to make another character that I wasn’t that fond of look better.  But when Captain America unleashes him on the enemies by commanding him to smash, he did just that.  The big question would be whether or not Ruffalo set himself apart as the best version of the character, and I’m not sure I’d be willing to give him that.  I would definitely allow Ruffalo to be called the actor that played the Hulk in the best movie he was in, but I didn’t think that Ruffalo had the appropriate build for Banner.  He did a great job acting as the character, but he was a little more muscular than I’d think of Banner.  I think Edward Norton looked the part much more, and acted the part equally as well.  My next favorite would have to be Robert Downey Jr. as Iron Man.  Adding Downey’s own wit and timing to Joss Whedon’s sharp writing is a winning combination.  RDJ is Tony Stark, and I don’t know how there will ever be another.  He got to bust out the hero chops more than any of the Iron Man movies here, and was still really funny.  Another of my favorite moments in the film was when Stark prodded Banner in the lab because he was just like a big child that just wanted to see the big, green smash machine.  Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor had tons of awesome moments and each had a couple of comedy moments as well that I appreciated.  Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow sets herself up as pretty awesome right in her opening scene, and also takes part in an epic fight with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye.  I was worried about Hawkeye going into the movie, thinking that a character whose only power is to be really good at firing arrows would not be super interesting.  Though his parts were lighter on the awesome, he still pulled a good bit out with some sweet shots and some cool, no-look shots.

The Avengers might not be what I’d be comfortable calling the best comic book movie ever, but it’s unequivocally the most fun, most action-packed, and most exhilarating comic book movie I’ve ever watched, and I’ve seen almost all of them.  The story is great, the dialogue is smart and funny, and the performances are all fantastic.  But, more importantly, the action scenes are frequent, amazing, and exactly what every fan wants to see.  Being a fanboy myself, I can’t really get into the mindset of someone who doesn’t like comic books.  But I also can’t imagine the type of person who would not think this movie is awesome.  I don’t only recommend you see this movie, I outright demand it.  Go see this movie now.  And, if you can, go see it in IMAX, and even in 3D.  I’m normally a 3D hater, but I hear this movie is worth it.  The Avengers gets “The world has changed” out of “I still believe in heroes.”

Let’s get these reviews more attention, people.  Post reviews on your webpages, tell your friends, do some of them crazy Pinterest nonsense.  Whatever you can do to help my reviews get more attention would be greatly appreciated.  You can also add me on FaceBook (Robert T. Bicket) and Twitter (iSizzle).  Don’t forget to leave me some comments.  Your opinions and constructive criticisms are always appreciated.

The Incredible Hulk (2008)


You Wouldn’t Like Me When I’m … Hungry

I had almost forgotten that I had promised to review one Avengers movie a month until the Avengers came out, but thankfully I remembered in time to fit this in to December. This month’s Avengers movie is the sequel to a movie I haven’t yet reviewed. I probably should’ve done them in order, but I wanted to watch this one ’cause it’s better. But, since this movie has all different actors in it and pretty much acts like the first movie never happened, it can easily be considered a standalone movie. It doesn’t even have a 2 in the title. And to prove that, I present you with the title of today’s movie, The Incredible Hulk, written by Zak Penn and Edward Harrison, directed by Louis Leterrier, and starring Edward Norton, Liv Tyler, William Hurt, Tim Roth, Tim Blake Nelson, Ty Burrell, and Christina Cabot, with cameos by Robert Downey Jr. and Rickson Gracie.

Dr. Bruce Banner (Edward Norton) is hanging out in Brazil, working in a soda bottling plant while doing experiments with plants, watching Portuguese Sesame Street, and training in heart rate control with Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert Rickson Gracie. One day, he cuts his finger and the blood falls in one of the sodas. He has them shut it down as he cleans it up (probably telling them he’s got the AIDS), but he misses a drop that gets mixed in to one of the drinks, shipped to the US, and makes Stan Lee sick. General Thaddeus “Thunderbolt” Ross (William Hurt) finds out about it and assembles a team lead by British Royal Marine Emil Blonsky (Tim Roth) to capture Banner. It doesn’t go well. Something happens and they lose Banner and find a giant green thing that kicks the crap out of them. But (SURPRISE!) Banner IS the giant green thing. Blonsky wants another crack at Banner so General Ross uses some Super Soldier Serum on Blonsky to ready him for their next encounter. Banner wakes up naked and confused in Guatemala. I’m beginning to think I may be the Hulk but, when you wake up naked and confused after becoming the Hulk, does your butt always hurt? Anyways, Banner decides that he needs some data from his ex-girlfriend (and daughter of the General), Betty Ross (Liv Tyler), so he goes back to New York to get it. This gives Blonsky his second chance at Banner, but it ends up with Blonsky getting kicked in the chest and all of his bones pulverized by the Hulk. Now back on the run with Betty, Banner has to meet up with his last chance to get cured, his contact Mr. Blue, Dr. Samuel Sterns (Tim Blake Nelson). But the danger of General Ross and Blonsky is still looming.

After the events of the first Hulk movie, I admit that I was a little bit disappointed. I was nowhere near as disappointed as most people seemed to be about it, but it certainly wasn’t the Hulk movie the world was looking for. It was kind of a slow, artsy, touchy-feely Hulk movie and, if you’re familiar with the Hulk character, you’re probably looking more for a movie with a lot of anger and smashing. That’s where this movie came in, because it WAS the type of Hulk movie we were wanting. A little bit of story is nice, but you really just want to see the Hulk smash some faces, and this movie delivers on that. Unlike the first Hulk move that took 55 minutes to even show us the Hulk (yes, I timed it), this one gets you to it in a clean 20 minutes or so. The Hulk shows up to wreak some havoc TWICE in 50 minutes, and that’s the kind of thing I like out of a movie with the guy’s name as the title. The basic story of the movie was a little simple, but worked for this movie. It was Banner’s usual desire to be free of the Hulk, General Ross’ desire to use the Hulk for military gain, and Blonsky’s jealousy of the Hulk. But all of these story elements mainly served to get us to the next time that the Hulk could smash some things. The main story element of the movie didn’t make sense until a little over halfway into the film. Why would anyone want to be free of the Hulk? Some dudes are picking on you but you’re too wimpy to do anything and then OOPS! You got too angry and they’re being taken away in an ambulance. The army is after you but UH OH! One of the soldiers tackled your girlfriend and now needs to have his car repeatedly smashed into some sculpture thing. But then they showed us why he wanted to be rid of the Hulk: he couldn’t get busy with Liv Tyler because it made his heart race too much. I’m with you now, Banner, let’s go see that weird guy about getting ourselves cured. On a similar note, how many super hot chicks are working in bottling factories down in Brazil? ‘Cause there was at least one in this movie and, if that’s a fact, I think it’s time for a relocation and career change for good ole Robert.

Where the story is perhaps a bit lacking, it’s made up for by exciting, badass action scenes. They really captured the Hulk in this movie. This dude is pissed, but he really just wants to be left alone, and that’s what the Hulk is all about. After he’s punished the people that initially made him get pissed enough to turn into the Hulk, he’s ready to walk away … until someone else shoots at him … then he throws a forklift at them or pummels them with half of a police car on each fist like boxing gloves. I also appreciated that the Hulk remained a creature of few words. He’s not usually articulate or anything, but in the comics he can tend to go on about how “The Hulk is the strongest one there is” and “Hulk hates puny Banner”, but in this movie he maybe spoke twice; once to say “Betty”, and once to give us a well-timed “Hulk smash!” Keeping the words he speaks minimal as they did makes it so much more awesome when he finally says those words, especially since he follows it up by choking out another giant CG creature. I also loved how they initially introduced us to the Hulk in this movie. They didn’t show him outright, only parts of him at a time, hidden in shadows, and some good silhouette work, like when they threw a grenade and it blew up behind him, but you only saw his silhouette in the orange cloud.

I don’t understand how the Hulk movies can’t keep any of their principle actors around. Though I thought Eric Bana did a fine job, I did think it was a nice upgrade to go to Edward Norton, even if the Hulk never told the Abomination to “bite the curb”. I did think that Liv Tyler was a bit of a step down. Liv Tyler is a fine actress, and a very attractive one at that, but I dig on Jennifer Connelly more. William Hurt was an even bigger step down for me, not because Hurt did a bad job, but Sam Elliot is so much more awesome. Sam Elliot trained THE Dalton in how to whoop ass down at the Double Deuce. That guy could’ve told us all kinds of stories about The Dude … who turns green and kicks people in the chest. Tim Roth was really good in this as well. He’s mostly a composed, by the book military guy, but you can tell he’s got that “I’m macho and I don’t like getting beaten” thing going on in the background, leading him to want more and more power and eventually turning him into an/the Abomination. The cameos in this (and most Marvel movies) are pretty sweet. You have the obvious and big one of Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark coming in at the end talking about some team he wants to assemble. Lou Ferrigno and Stan Lee show up again, as they did in the first Hulk movie. You’ve got a real life Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu expert training Banner in Rickson Gracie. Bill Bixby even shows up on a TV at one point. Not quite as awesome and X-Men: First Class’s cameos, but real solid.

No one would consider this movie a perfect movie, and I don’t even think I’d go so far as to say it’s the perfect Hulk movie, but it’s the best we’ve had so far. They don’t waste a lot of time with setup and story because they want to show a different side of the Hulk. This movie isn’t called “Bruce Banner” for a reason: because it’s about the Hulk. That giant, green, smash-machine. So instead of overdoing the story, they just give us lots of good action, and that’s what I wanted. I wish Norton was still the Hulk, and I kind of liked Connelly and Elliot better than Tyler and Hurt, but the performances were all very solid. Of course I own this movie on BluRay. I own Ghost Rider, for crying out loud! But I think you’ll enjoy this Hulk movie. If you didn’t see it because the first one scared you off, don’t worry. They did this one right. The Incredible Hulk gets “Mas stretchy” out of “Ready for round three”.

Hey, peeps. Why not rate and comment on this as a favor to good ole Robert, eh? And tell your friends! Let’s make me famous!