Scott Ellington's Blog

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The Avengers — 3D

Well…that worked!

Despite my misgivings (expressed in summarily reviewing Graphic Novel Movies) the strengths of the legendary writer/director carried the day out of the stadium and off the battlefield with fanfares, banners and there might have been some bunting, beating the pants off Hollywood chic, money and the tradition of big-dumb tentpole blockbuster junk.  It’s a fine film that’s packed with clever dialogue delivered with consummate grace by a very-deep bench of seasoned, professional actors portraying characters whose depth telescopes a bit from film to film, but dramatically and dimensionally in this film.

It’s weaknesses derive from Hollywood’s embrace of a medium that Hollywood doesn’t understand. Perhaps Hollywood never will.

3D produces a perceptual effect in an audience that jittering multiple-camera operation defuses and MTV editing obliterates.  These fashionable devices grate against the 3D viewing experience by jerking the audience around the mise en scene arbitrarily in ways that resemble a psychotic episode that culminates in nausea and neuralgia.

My concern for Whedon’s shortcomings in visual storytelling persist even after my thorough enjoyment of this kickoff blockbuster that relies on the current licentious abuse of point-of-view (of a nonentity) to tell a tale that’s far more than merely big&dumb, it’s enormously-spectacular and profoundly hearty.  The 3D experience is an ideal platform for pomography (post-modern; self-aware, relativistic graphic storytelling) and pornography, but that’s a whole ‘nother rant.

I fiercely object to the way The Avengers was shot and edited, but in spite of those counterproductive hurdles, it’s about stuff that’s eminently worthy of concentrated contemplation, and nobody I know who’s writing and directing films is better qualified than Joss Whedon to provide clever, pithy, insightful, joyous entertainment that knocked my socks off while stimulating my brain beyond its accustomed limitations, and will continue to do so when I own a copy that complements the growing list of narratively-complex shortform blockbusters that tie the bow on this fascinatingly-continuous tale of the Cosmic Cube.

Talkytalk is cheap, but an action movie that repeatedly differentiates sentiment from faith from conscience from confidence from hubris is worthy of very close scrutiny.  Talk persuades, action inspires faith (which is neither sentiment nor sentimental).  This action-movie is, at its root, a religious experience for devout agnostics.

“Moments not moves!”  I always wondered whether that Mutant Enemy axiom was about camera moves.  The action-moments are deeply satisfying, but they set up moments of buttery serenity so rich and smooth I hoped they’d never end.  The camera moves and the varieties of flobotnam are a fundamental problem that belong to/on this kind of turf.  They’re counterpointed and greatly mitigated by the heroic strengths (creative, rhetorical, personal and interpersonal) of a filmmaker I greatly admire, but they’re flaws in the fabric of two industries that demand a whole lot of love.  Whedon does.  More like this (but even better) would be great! and sooner would be best.

Conversely, Haywire shows all the flaws in the absence of love.  There are worse ways to spend 92 minutes, but most of them involve waiting in line at the department of motor vehicles.  Gina Carano needs her some Whedon.  But then, who the hell doesn’t?

05 May 12 - Posted by | Uncategorized


  1. Hey Scott,

    Interesting, and I agree. An enjoyable film.

    “3D produces a perceptual effect in an audience that jittering multiple-camera operation defuses and MTV editing obliterates.” Well said.

    It’s interesting that while CGI is the technology that makes these superhero movies feasible, it’s the least interesting part of the films. I’d much rather watch Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark than a CGI Iron Man; ditto Mark Ruffalo and The Hulk. But then, I guess I could just watch Zodiac.

    I’d be interested in your thoughts on The Grey, the Liam Neeson-vs.-wolves movie. Might be the most brilliant stupid movie I’ve ever seen.

    Comment by Sam | 27 May 12 | Reply

  2. Thanks, Sam,
    At your suggestion, I’ve queued it, releases mid-June. Your reference freshens the spoor of a film that interested me initially, until I read past the title. BigBad, black or white; those associations made the film sound entirely fascinating, but the more I learned, the less it seemed as though Carnahan and Jeffers were bent on extending the wonderous spell I found in Never Cry Wolf.

    It’s cinema extravaganzas that don’t suck that lead me away from the frequent resolve to dive headlong into radio drama, where the visual effects are better. I’ve seen Zodiac and gave it a 4/5, but remember nothing. That’s the curse and blessing of a memory I wouldn’t wish on anybody.

    I’ll get to The Grey as soon as NetFlix makes that possible.

    The Grey

    Comment by Scott Ellington | 27 May 12 | Reply

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