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Wednesday, January 9, 2013

The Eye of the Beholder (Part 1): My View of Two Films of 2012

English: Screen capture of actor George Reeves...
English: Screen capture of actor George Reeves as Superman in the U.S. government film "Stamp Day for Superman" (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I Like This, You Like That

         It's all a matter of taste--why one person likes something and another doesn't.  There are probably a few people who think I have bad taste about certain things, while I've found it difficult to appreciate what certain others have raved about.  The variance of what people prefer makes for an expansive marketplace of interests and ideas.  It also makes for some interesting disagreement.

         I don't think I have bad taste, but for many things I might have uncommon taste.  It's rare for me to find someone who will share my anchovy and onion pizza with me.  Most of my friends don't have the same enthusiasm I have for certain music styles and artists.  I got a fairly lackluster response for my excited review of Veronika Carnaby's Bohemia.   My wife and anyone else I know refuses to watch a Fellini movie with me.

        Why would my interests diverge so extreme from the mainstream?   Perhaps in future posts I'll go into some of my reasoning about this, but not here in this post.   At some point on Wrote By Rote (my memoir blog) I'll discuss the topics of food preference and other things with which I seem to be enamored.  Recently on Tossing It Out I addressed the topic of reading out of the mainstream, so I'll save any further discussion of that for some future post on this blog.

        In this current post my focus will be on examples of two films of 2012 for which my opinion diverges from most in one case and in the other may be something more readers might agree with--or not.  I offer these examples as a prelude to a future post that will examine not what makes a film good, but what makes it preferred over another.

Marvel's The Avengers

        When a film starts off with some weird Darth Vader voiced guy talking about conquest of the Earth then we know we're in for some heavy nonsensical crap--definitely time to start suspending disbelief.  I didn't pay too much attention to this prologue since I didn't understand what the guy with voice distorter was saying.   But I probably wasn't listening that closely either since the voice annoyed me.

         Soon we are in some kind of massive secret facility like you always see in these kinds of movies.  Trinity, Morpheus, and Agent Smith from The Matrix show up except it's not really them and the Agent Smith look-alike is part of the good guys team.  Then "The Crow" materializes amidst a bit of flash and fanfare.  Except it's not really "The Crow", it's Loki from Asgard.  He's a real jerk, but after all he's from Ass-gard so what'd you expect.

          Thor and Loki are my biggest problems with this film.  I'm no fan of mythology brought into modern times or any depictions of so-called "gods".  And the pretentious talk!  Shouldn't they at least be speaking Norwegian or something?  "Shakespeare in the park" is what Ironman calls it at one point.  Yeah, I can go with that.  Stop with the haughty talk already.

           Captain America is cool enough.  It would be unpatriotic to speak poorly of him and he wasn't all that bad of a character.   Then there's the big green Hulk.   I like the way they kept Bruce Banner calm until it was time for the raging Hulk to be released, but no matter how you look at it The Hulk is a comic book character who becomes a CGI figure on film.  No Lou Ferrigno Hulk for us modern folk--he's got to be huge and ludicrous and bounce and jump all over the place.  As much as I've always loved the Hulk in the comic books, my eyes were starting to hurt from rolling so much.

            There were a bunch of other characters as well, but the real star of this film in my opinion is Ironman.  He had most of the best lines and Robert Downey, Jr. carries the film as far as I'm concerned.  I like the technology behind this superhero.  Still a little dumb, but fun dumb.

              Marvel's The Avengers is heavy on the front end with excessive set-up, way too prolonged in the middle with drawn out fight scenes and quibbling amongst our supposed heroes, and effuscient with effects in the climatic invasion-through-the-portal scenes.  And yes, I made up the word "effuscient"--this is about a lot made up stuff so I guess I have the right to make up words.

             And how about that battle scene?  Was that some of the same footage used in the abhorrent film Transformers: Dark Side of the Moon?   I swear that was the same undulating fishlike aircraft used in both films with the tail crashing through high rise office spaces.  The entire battle sequence was impressive to give the fx crew credit, but come on already.  I did like the visuals of the battle, but I guess by the time we reached them the earlier tedium of the film had worn me out.

            Where is the style of the George Reeves Superman of 50's TV?   Back then our hero was fighting common thugs and war criminals, not hordes of aliens unleashed through a portal by some false god.  Can we go back to some simpler fun?

             If you want more of my rantings you can read My Amazon Review of The Avengers.


          I liked this film a great deal so there isn't that much for me to say about it.  The basic premise of the story concerns three typical teen-aged boys who become exposed to a mysterious force that causes them to develop super powers.  There is a delightful innocence in their process of discovering and developing these powers.  Eventually things get out of hand, but in a logically explainable progression of events.

          Various issues that are relevant to many young people are introduced and explored in the story.  This movie is thoughtful and tastefully presented.  The "found footage" portions are not overly distracting like The Blair Witch Project or Cloverfield and add nicely to the film.  There are some excellent special effects, but they do not overpower the movie.  

           A sequel has been proposed but apparently has been stalled due to dissatisfaction with the script.  If they do make a sequel, let's hope they don't try to go too big, too ridiculous, and too Hollywood.  Simplicity can be an exquisite pleasure.

And That's What I Think...

          These are my opinions based on my own personal tastes.  I know that many of you liked one or both of these films.   I hope no one was offended with my having a bit of fun with the first review.  Sometimes there's no accounting for taste.   Or, perhaps, maybe there is.   I'll explore this in a future post.

            Do you tend to like things in the mainstream or outside the zone of popularity?   What did you think of these films if you saw them?   If you didn't see them yet, is there a particular reason you did not?   What's the oddest movie that you like a great deal that not many others seem to care for?



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  1. Avengers was my favorite movie of last year. I'm a superhero geek, so it appeals to me. Chronicle was good, although very dark. I've also seen one too many found footage movies.
    Looper was a film outside the norm that not many saw. And it was my second favorite of last year. I probably lean mainstream in my tastes, but a few unique movies slip in.

  2. I'm surprised that you didn't enjoy Avengers buddy but at the same time I respect your opinion and actually find some agreement with your issues about the film. There are some ridiculous aspects such as the mythical Gods like you say which is why the other heroes kind of lampshade and mock that and the voiceover was stupid too I guess. I kind of have no issues suspending my belief since I'm a massive professional wrestling fan which is perhaps why I was able to enjoy it enough. The other film sounds good too man although I haven't checked it out but maybe I will now.

  3. I never saw The Avengers, but I 'm sure that Robert Downey Jr.would give the best performance of all. I liked the old Incredible Hulk TV show, and it was always fun to see Bill Bixby turn into Lou Ferrigno. I also liked George Reeves and Christopher Reeve better than most of the superheroes of today.

  4. I too really enjoyed the Avengers, and I admit a bit of a crush on Thor (those biceps!). I felt the best character in the film was Special Agent Phil Coulson. I can see what you meant in your review, but I love to set aside reality when I go.

    I did not see Chronicle so I can't speak to it. I would have to say I really REALLY liked Les Miserables which came out at the end of 2012.

  5. I didn't see either, and probably won't for no other reason that there are so many others I'd like to see first. I appreciate that there are so many genres to choose from and each one has their own audience.

  6. I thought the Avengers was pretty great - as was Chronicle. I'm not sure what else could have been done given the source material. I mean, 50 years of comic continuity dictates what characters are in the film.

    That said, I can concede your points made about it. I think for some of us it's a childhood dream to see this movie get made.

  7. I liked The Avengers, but I'm a Marvel girl going on many, many decades now.

    I've definitely been in your shoes, though: disliking a film/book/show that everyone I know seems to like. As they say, there's no accounting for taste.

    Glad to see you're feeling better, by the way.

  8. Alex -- Maybe part of my letdown in many big films is the hype. I was also disappointed in Looper, but perhaps my expectations were too large. For Chronicle I had few expectations and was surprised by what I saw.

    Yeamie-- I won't say I didn't enjoy The Avengers--don't get me wrong, I thought was a good movie. The originality just seemed to be lacking. It was a very well done film though and very watchable.

    Julie -- I enjoy realism, but it seems like many films these days are trying to outdo each other with effects and sacrifice story to do it.

    Sheila -- I'm a big fan of musicals so I look forward to seeing Les Miz.

    Em-Musing -- I too like the wide selection of genres that are out there because I like to go genre hopping. I don't like to settle into any narrow niche.

    Rusty-- For me Chronicle was fresher and it seemed more original with less pretense. One thing that might have helped The Avengers for me is streamlining it down--less prolonged fights and other scenes. Cut down by at least a half hour might have been better, but then again I know that hard core fans might have preferred to see even more. I guess I'm just not as steeped in the comic book culture to appreciate the film as much as some viewers. The film did have much merit though--it stands high in the line-up of great films for 2012.


  9. Kelly -- I still don't feel like a super-hero yet, but I am feeling well enough to head over to the Getty Museum today and look at some highbrow art. I bought a few comic books when I was a kid, but never was a huge fan. I was more a Hardy Boys/Tom Swift type of guy and later as I began to have more spending money I would join things like the Doubleday Book Clubs and buy novels. I guess that's why I prefer the more reality based stories.


  10. I haven't seen either of these and probably won't as they aren't my kind of thing, unless my husband wants to go, then maybe.

  11. I liked The Avengers but then I grew up on a steady diet of Marvel and DC comics. In general, I like finding those little indie films that play at the local indie theaters. Lots of gems to be enjoyed outside the mainstream.

  12. I enjoyed The Avengers. Not a big superhero fan, but it was fun. For us women, lots of eye candy, too.

    Chronicle was okay but felt icky. Then again, I don't like gritty stuff.

    And I've only seen one Fellini movie and it was WEIRD. I probably shouldn't have watched it when I was only 14 either.

  13. Didn't see either movie. I did see Captain America and tried to watch Thor and Ironman, but could not make it through either. I guess I'm not big on the super hero. I say leave them in the comics where they belong.

    I do like to genre hop and enjoy some pretty off beat flicks. I recently rented an oldie 'The Illustrated Man' a Sci/Fi with Rod Steiger. No CGI, but it was still awesome. I even like 'some' Fellinni.

  14. I thought you were going to reference Hollywoodland. You've seen that, right? if not, you really should. It's all about the mystery surrounding George Reeves' death.

    The Avengers was completely overblown like that because that's what the comic books it's based on are like. They're completely overblown, and Thor has always been presented like that. Audiences gobbled it up because that's what comic book superheroes are supposed to be like, when they aren't like Christopher Nolan's Batman. No, it's not a great movie. But it gives the audience things to cheer about. This is the first time a movie Hulk actually entertains anyone, because most of the actual Hulk scenes break the tension of having that big overblown dude bounding off everything.

  15. Karen -- Aha! A good example of a matter of personal taste.

    LD -- The little surprises can be fun.

    Diane -- Fellini is weird and that's probably what I like about his films. But I knew kind of what I was getting into when I watched my first Fellini film when I was in college.

    Faraway Eyes -- I think they'll have to come up with some new twists on super heroes to catch my fancy. I do like what most of the Batman movies have done--especially the Dark Knight series of late.

    Tony -- I need to check out Hollywoodland. I am familiar with it and it's been on my Netflix queue for years. I need to knock it up to the top I guess.


  16. I haven't seen either.

    In my high school senior book I wrote Thoreau's "If a man loses pace with his companions, perhaps it is because he hears a different drummer. Let him step to the music which he hears, however measured, or far away."

    My daughter laughed when she read that and said that this described me completely.

  17. I adored Avengers. It was one of my favorite films of last year. And I like Chronicle. It wasn't perfect, but it definitely held my interest. I always like to hear what other people think.

  18. Hey Arlee,I love your take on The Avenger's movie and if I wasn't already in love with Tony Stark and feel like he could do no wrong, I might have been more objective about the movie. But, it stands as my favorite movie of all time. I'm easy like that.
    The Chronicles was really interesting and I enjoyed it, as well.

  19. Teresa -- I've been a bit different all my life, but I like it.

    Hannah -- If we all thought alike there wouldn't be as much to discuss.

    Sydney -- I know I'm out of the mainstream on The Avengers. Maybe I'll like it more when I see it the second time (if I ever do). I heard that Thor and Loki won't be in the sequel which might be better.


  20. I enjoyed Avengers more than you, haha. Summer blockbuster, comic book characters, special effects, and I agree Robert Downey Jr. carried the film. Great review, honest, and no holds barred. I see your points. Haven't seen Chronicle, but sounds interesting. Are you delving more into movie reviews?

  21. Buck -- I knew I was going to be in the minority before I posted this. And yes, I'll be doing more film reviews, but they will rarely be current films since I watch what comes out on DVD.



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