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May 19 2012

Film Crit Hulk's 12 reasons The Avengers is truly a Whedon work. A very long article, but fun. It's in all caps, but it's a helpful articulation of film/narrative criticism.

The TL;DR summary: Movie is fun! Black Widow is more than just boobs who can fight! Big Bad is psychological! Action serves narrative! And many more reasons!

Ugh, not a fan of all-caps. Makes me feel like a crotchety oldskool nethead, but it hurts my eyes to try to read that. Get the clever conceit of Hulk being VERY LOUD, but doesn't work for me. The salient points in the piece could have been made without trying to stay "in character" (albeit only tenuously Hulk-like.) Then again, I've used the "Hulk smash puny X" snowclone too many times, myself-- and the article has a hulk-load of comments, so what do I know?
I kept reading it in my head in a caveman's voice, so I had to stop, lol.
Oh I enjoy this writer so much, I love his review in the New Yorker when Avengers first came out, but this is even better, more in-depth. Plus we have the Puny God fun!
I really enjoyed this article. After awhile I just got used to the all-caps. I found it to be one of the better and more enjoyable articles on The Avengers I've read. It was great to read about how Hulk became a fan of Whedon and the level of detail he goes into is great.
It is really great. It reminds me of what Hunter Maxin used to write about Buffy every week on ScoopMe. Same level of obvious love for the material, same depth and insight. Look up his stuff and see if you don't agree. He was incredible, and this HULK is too.
I didn't notice it being in all caps. I like the article, but the Hulk/Cookie Monster speak makes me want to find this guy and SMASH him!
I'm distressed that Film Crit Hulk thinks Wash's death "tipped the scales toward sadism" and had a "problem of execution".
Yes, I was expecting a different death in the footnote there. Hmm.

But I found this a thoroughly enjoyable read. I have no problem with all caps (compared to other text abominations the internet is littered with, I find that a breeze to read) and at least he relaxed the tortured syntax a bit for an article as long as this. But really it's just a long love letter to Joss, and I do enjoy reading those...
A nerdy typographical addendum to my anti-caps bias: just pulled the article up on my Windows box in Firefox, and lo -- the caps are readable. Seems there's a slightly different way that Arial is rendered on (my?) Mac-- it's more anti-aliasy and wider. Like, the first paragraph is twelve lines on the MacOS, and eleven on a Windows box. So, weird.

Now that I can get through it, yes, a nice and meaty piece with lots of Joss appreciation-- although I didn't get the rhetorical, "[Everyone said the moment they hired Joss Whedon,] 'At least Black Widow will be good." Really, everyone said that? Kinda struck me as a false premise to build an argument.
"SERIOUSLY. GO WATCH BUFFY IF YOU NEVER HAVE."

I wonder how many more Buffy fans we will get because of the Avengers? :)

[ edited by Lince on 2012-05-19 16:45 ]
Film Crit Hulk is a Hulk of passion.
I LOVED this article.
There are a couple of points I especially like in the article.

The first is Film Crit Hulk's #2 reason: "It's great in the way it needs to be", where the main argument is that Joss Whedon took seriously the problem of adapting The Avengers from the comics. I think it's easy to see comics as storyboards waiting to be made into movies when the two media are at least as different as they are similar in terms of how they work narratively. Successfully balancing this cast of characters in a two and a half hour film is a very different proposition from doing so over the course of even a year's run on a comic, let alone over decades.

The other is #9: "Action as visual story", especially, this:

BECAUSE YEAH, THE CINEMATOGRAPHY DOES NOT LOOK AS GOOD AS A LOT OF ACTION MOVIES. IT'S FLAT. IT'S OVER-LIT. IT DOESN'T LOOK HALF AS "GOOD" AS EVEN WRATH OF THE TITANS (YEAH HULK SAID IT). (8) BUT GUESS WHAT? THAT COULD NOT MATTER LESS. EVEN IF THE FILM IS NOT PRETTY, THE ACTION IS STILL WHOLLY FUNCTIONAL. WE HAVE A SENSE OF SPACE, DISTANCE, GEOGRAPHY. IT DOESN'T CUT HAPHAZARDLY OR RELY ON CHAOS CINEMA. IS THAT ALL WE REALLY NEED TO LOVE THE ACTION IN A GIVEN FILM?

In many cases, scenes like the final battle in The Avengers are mind-numbing, especially when they last as long as this one does, but because everything that happens here is grounded in what the individual characters are actually doing at different times and in different places, I was engaged and tense the whole time. Truly how big action should be done.
Yeah, I agree sph: I have never seen a final battle where there is actual character development and lots of humor. We spent most of the movie getting to know our superheroes (know what they can and cannot do) and we are given a final battle where we can easily see each of them (well lit in brightly colored distinctive costumes) and see how well they are inter-acting throughout the fight. It is awesome, and fun, and frequently hilarious. That is why everyone leaves the theater loving the movie (instead of numbed out by a confusing hand held melee that was impossible to see).
This is such a great critique of not just Avengers but Joss' work in general. If anybody really cannot get through the all-caps text, email me and I'll send you a transcription in regular text. The links won't work, but otherwise it's the article. Yes, I retyped the whole darn thing. Not much else to do while watching sickly kid and her My Little Pony videos. Is there a MLP-Avengers mashup yet?
I'm distressed that Film Crit Hulk thinks Wash's death "tipped the scales toward sadism" and had a "problem of execution".

I was surprised by this too. I thought for sure he meant Tara (about whom I'd disagree, but I can understand the argument for it). Wash is probably one of the best-executed deaths in all of Joss's work, for my money.

That said, I still worship at the altar of FILM CRIT HULK.
I assumed he was going to say Anya.
Yeah, Anya might have fit that phrasing better... How was the spear random?
I wish Hulk would expand on the point somewhere, since that particular Serenity death has a very specific narrative function, one you were supposed to think had already been served by the other one earlier in the film.
punkinpuss, couldn't you have just changed it automatically on a word processing software?

[ edited by Jaymii on 2012-05-20 11:35 ]
@sph agreed. that paragraph really stuck out to me, especially after going to see it a second time i realized the FilmCritHulk's commentary was so right on the nose. the flow of the final battle scene made me care so much about our heroes. Whereas in other movies (cough iron man) the final battle scenes just drag on and on.

FilmCritHulk's essay also really articulated for me the answer i would give some friends who liked the movie but criticized the "lack of plot" in the beginning.

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