Thursday, December 27, 2018
When Super-Heroes Do Their Thing- Marvel Comics “The Avengers” (2012)-A Film Review
When Super-Heroes Do Their Thing- Marvel Comics “The Avengers” (2012)-A Film Review
By Phil Larkin
The Avengers, starring Robert Downey, Jr., Chris Evans, Mark Ruffalo, Scarlett Johannsson, 2012
WFT-again. Phil Larkin here to tell one and all that I am ticked off once again having been pieced off for the second time in recent memory by one site manager Greg Green to do another review of the freaking seemingly endless Marvel Studio productions. This time The Avengers which is strictly kid’s comic book stuff thrown on the screen since somebody there realized that today’s kids don’t read, don’t even read comic books but will sit through a couple of hours of some mutants ass-kicking a second set of mutants, the latter bad dudes who get no sympathy from anybody, munching giant tubs of buttered popcorn swilled down with giant sodas. Yeah so now you get WTF is all about.
This time I am not putting my screed like I did the first time in brackets so the disinterested reader did not have to bother to read about the flaming internal politics behind this social media site. I don’t expect, frankly, that this plea for sanity, my sanity to see the light of day and that is to be expected from this new regime, Greg Green and his toady rubber-stamp so-called Editorial Board which seems intent on getting rid of all the old writers who sided with Allan Jackson the previous site manager before he was purged (and I am not putting that word in quotation marks since it has become apparent, at least to me, that Allan’s so-called retirement was just a publicity ruse to cover a dirty deed removal. Even if any of this does see the light of day Green will probably have cyber-red penciled the thing so it reads like the mutterings of a craze maniac. So yes, WTF I have nothing to lose either way since I am probably headed for that same Siberian fate as my old friend Alan Jackson.
For those who missed the previous piece quickly this whole new indignity started, or this second chapter of the assignment distribution problem started, when a few readers wrote in to Greg Green to complain about my use of the “f” word in the introduction to my I almost blush to say “review” on the Marvel production Captain America: Civil War. (I won’t even bother to write the “f” word all out since I know that simple every day word will never make it pass the Puritan censors here who think we are back in the gentile 1950s when such thing would never be mentioned in public, especially in mixed company.) The reason for the foul language was that I was extremely ticked off that I had not been given a plum assignment for me doing a lesser Humphrey Bogart film 1952’s Deadline-USA and was pieced off doing that Captain America thing according to Greg to broaden my reach with some modern material. Like I had been stuck in 1950 and never had done a modern film review before.
Moreover, and this I think is the core of Greg’s real reason, was in trying to reach younger audiences which had been drifting away from the site as the older writers allegedly were stuck in that same 1950s as me, he took umbrage at my language and not for any other reason. But see if he had talked to any of the other writers like Josh Breslin, Si Lannon, Bart Webber, even staid old political commentator Frank Jackman, guys who knew Allan Jackson in the old days he would have known that in my youth I was called Foul-mouthed Phil for just that language. And they had written, at least Bart had written about it in this space. The funny thing is that under Allan my pieces, especially the foul language ones, had the highest reader ratings. What Greg doesn’t know and the guys from back in the day, including Bart, could never figure out was that back then the girls, even the proper go to Sacred Heart Roman Catholic Church on Sunday and who had Bibles between their knees, were crazy to hear me swear. How silly the times have changed for the worse when a few “fs” blow up the planet, or at least the regime.
The so-called real reason according to a couple of the younger writers it turned out though was that Greg had just brought young, twenty-something young Kenny Jacobs on board and allegedly gave him that assignment so he could broaden his reach as well. Here is a kid who wasn’t even born and as he admitted neither were his parents when that film was originally presented against the expertise of a guy like me who was both a Bogie aficionado and had seen the film a few times in retrospective film festival theaters. Moreover how was a kid who grew up on cellphones, texting, social media, Internet and all the rest supposed to get a handle on the declining fate of modern day hard copy newspapers. Against a kid who spent many a lonely get out of the house Strand Theater Saturday afternoon double-feature matinee watching just such material. “F” the reason just didn’t hold up and I responded in fiery anger.
Adding salt to the wound Greg after that first review said to Kenny that there would be more coming up if he felt he would like to continue his education. That brings us to chapter two when another obvious Phil Larkin assignment came up doing the bright and witty Howard Hawk-directed Bringing Up Baby starring the versatile Cary Grant and Katharine Hepburn. Strictly a home run type review for me and who knows what the kid will do with it since I am sure he will not get either the social commentary or wit involved. And I am once again stuck with a f—king kid’s movie review.
Stuck is just the right word. Look I am no stranger to tough to read about films, films hard to get a hook on. Figure it out for yourself on these various comic book action publication thinks. Whoever produced them they run to a type. Start with the characters once you branch out of the single hero-type productions like Ironman, Batman, and Superman and have the action involve a clot of super-hero mutants, yes, mutants. Take a guy like Captain America, played by brawny Chris Evans. He started out as a 4-F ninety-eight pound weakling out of some 1950s matchbook cover Charles Atlas girls throw sand in your face advertisement back in World War II, got into this weird junkie steroid program that created an over-sized guy who could jump high, run like the wind, maybe faster and bonk bad guys by the carload who got put in deep- freeze for some seventy years only to be found among the wreckage of a plane up in the Artic and ready to do battle against I don’t know bad guys, Hydra guys. But the guy has the personality of a flounder and the brain of an amoeba who had trouble multiplying four times three because he had run out of fingers at ten and got stymied after that.
And the Captain is not the worst of the lot (I will only detail who is in this currently reviewed film since there are some changes from the crew in that first review.) Take the Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo, aka mild-mannered nerdy Doctor Banner, another junkie, when he is not angry or brought to anger which is pretty easy. (If you have watched that green-etched transformation in action when Hulk balloons up to King Kong size as his shirt is torn to shreds have you ever noticed that he pants not only are Puritan-approved intact but have unlike that unlucky shirt ballooned up too-WFT) When riled which isn’t hard to do the guy is a brainless twit as likely to cross friend as foe and moreover hard as this is to believe he is dumber, sorry if I offend anybody by not saying mentality challenged, than dishwater, dumber even than the Captain who at least can count to ten.
Let’s go on with the roll call. Take the only female this time out, the long Russia-named which I can’t pronounce Black Widow played by Scarlett Johannsson, who admitted looks really good in black leather but whose only positive skills are karate chops and bam-bam two-fisted gun play. She is inherently untrustworthy in my book having probably been a commie agent or worse one of Putin’s people. Strangely and maybe they know something we don’t about the Widow nobody among the male mutant clot takes much interest in her romantically. Of course watching her bam-bam away even the ever romantic Phil Larkin would think twice about taking a run at her. The master archer whose archaic weaponry of bow and arrow should have put him out to pasture long ago is a cipher and we best leave it at that-strictly cannon-fodder. The beautiful Thor, fresh out of Wodin or some Norse myth bullshit who had originally been ready to kill off earthlings got “turned” is another one of those brawny guys whose muscle count is higher than their I.Q. In this film the poor bastard has the added disadvantage of being the brother of bad guy HYDRA agent Loki, the guy with the tell-tale heart and big plans to run the universe between lunges.
To round out the crew. Two guys, one mutant, one average world citizen, who might have amounted to something are of a little more interest. This poor little rich boy inventor freak with some serious heart-trouble wise-cracking Stark, played by Robert Downey, Jr, aka Ironman, could have been a great leader if he took the whole caper seriously, could have figured out a way to really lead if he had not been taken over root and branch by assorted A.I. agents making him yet another beast of burden like Hulk except with some brains. The last character, the only non-freak in the bunch meaning he might bleed if he were wounded Nick Fury, played by Samuel L. Jackson, seems to be amused by all the freaks he and his S.H.E.I.L.D organization have inherited (which at some point in one of these freaking story-lines had been a front, had been infiltrated by Hydra loyalist so much for the good guys being good. Probably is amused that a half dozen otherwise unemployable misfits are leaven to save this wicked old world from those dark forces who wish to take charge and ask questions later.
Since I know this review will never see the light of day or be so red-penciled by Greg that it amounts to the same thing I will not spent much time on plot. In that I am just taking after the Marvel producers who didn’t either. Actually what plot? X-bad guys (name your organization or bad guy renegade special forces crew that however seems to be composed mostly of cannon-fodder for the good mutants) are out to take over the world using plenty of muscle and technology are confronted by half a dozen specially skilled elite special forces mutants who take a long-drawn out but predictable victory while humankind watches and wonders. (Taking a serious amount of casualties along the way as these super-heroes rack up “collateral damage” galore WTF. WTF let the kid Jacobs do the next one of these mass production jobs.