Category Archives: TA Marvel Reviews (2010-2013)

The Avengers (2012): Movie Review

Marvel’s The Avengers is a box office hit, topping The Dark Knight’s midnight premier

The Avengers (2012 film)

The Avengers (2012 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

records and emerging as #1 opening weekend at $207,438,708 [1] in the United States and Canada alone. However, is this highly acclaimed film worth the hype? Or is it simply another blockbuster blown out of proportion? Even many of the staunchest critics agree – The Avengers is a superhero masterpiece.

Incorporating elements from the previous films, The Hulk, Iron Man, Iron Man II, Thor, and Captain America, The Avengers embodies a fantastic medley of the Marvel Universe’s greatest heroes and villains, all the while, paving the way for the next installments. It is highly comedic and intensely action-packed, superior to the Transformers series which attempts a similar plot-line in Dark of the Moon.

The Avengers opens up with a most ominous, alien voice, rambling on about some plot which entails the power-hungry Loki, banished of Asgard, like something produced by Garage Band’s “deeper vocals” voice modifier. Following this singular introduction, we find SHIELD agents and scientists (some from Thor) working diligently at unlocking the secrets of the divine Tesseract, a source of seemingly ultimate and limitless power. Albeit, as one might expect of the suspenseful setting, their experimentation goes terribly wrong. The Asgardian device suddenly reacts with a violent burst of light and generates a portal, which may be likened to the destructive force which presumably annihilated the Red Skull in Captain America: The First Avenger, sending forth the vengeful Loki who is bent on conquering Earth with an army given him in return for the Tesseract. The available SHIELD agents surround the self-proclaimed “god,” albeit are disposed of by a few blasts of Loki’s newly acquired staff. Nick Fury arrives on the scene, shooting a few rounds in vain, whilst Loki uses his staff to mind-control the mercenary Hawkeye and Dr. Erik Selvig to aid in his escape. The next few moments are without respite – the SHIELD complex sinks underground, collapsing inward as a maelstrom, due to the effects of the Tesseract. Fury and company give chase, although lose their quarry and are forced to flee.

On less dramatic grounds, fan-favorite Tony Stark and his girlfriend Pepper Pots, are debating who deserves the most credit for Stark Tower – a top of the line, self-sufficient complex inspired by the reactor core. Amusing quarrel aside, SHIELD Agent Phil Coulson -promptly arrives with a briefing for Iron Man, in preparation for the “Avengers Initiative” – it would appear the world is once again in peril and only the aforementioned team of heroes can save it.

In another part of the world, Natasha Romanoff (Black Widow), after dispatching with a Russian general, is sent to extract Dr. Bruce Banner (The Hulk), and Director Fury introduces Steve Rogers (Captain America) to the Initiative. The team slowly comes together as the peril grows greater, and there is much dissonance among the members, as they fight to recapture Loki, and then amongst themselves (Thor vs. Captain America & Iron Man) to retain him. All the while, the preparations for Loki’s army is nearly complete… will the team be able to come together and save the world, or will the alien apocalypse fall upon them?

The Avengers is a barrel of fun, with enough intrigue to keep the audience guessing until the end and a good portion of comedy to provide the necessary balance. It introduces [to the series] the developmental process of a team, rather than a single protagonist. The villain is likewise in control of a massive army and it is evident another power is pulling the strings at the start, adding depth. In this way, it separates itself from its superhero predecessors outside of the animated realm, attaining the claim by some that it is “the best superhero movie ever.”

Family Perspective

This time around, the violence gets a little bloody, with the death of a great number of characters (as opposed to those scenes which are given little reflection), some more evident than others which are merely suggested.

Language is fairly minimal, albeit a few curse words are used in the course of the film.

Natasha Romanoff, portrayed by Scarlett Johansson, remains a source of eye-candy, albeit not as overt in as in the Iron Man films and much more of an independent protagonist. Her top, during the Russian interrogation, is low cut and gratuitous during fighting scenes, yet the “buck stops there” so to speak, in that the female form is not exploited for the vast remainder of the film (note: at the beginning, Pepper Pots wears “short-shorts,” she, however, plays a minor role in the film and takes up only a small fraction of screen time), aside from the skin tight suits.

The Avengers is better suited to teen and adult audiences, especially on account of much more mature conceptions and visuals.

Notable Quotations

“Earth’s mightiest heroes type-thing. / Yeah. Takes us awhile to get any traction, I’ll give you that one. But let’s do a headcount here. Your brother the demigod, the super soldier living legend who kind of lives up to the legend, a man with breathtaking anger management issues, a couple of master assassins, and you, big fella, have managed to [anger] every single one of them.” -Tony Stark to Loki

“You miss the point, there’s no throne. No version of this where you come on top.” -Tony Stark to Loki

“I’m in the middle of an interrogation, this moron is giving me everything.” -Black Widow

“I’m bringing the party to you. | I don’t see how that’s a party.” Iron Man | Black Widow

“How desperate are you? You call on such lost creatures to defend you. / It burns you to have come so close. To have the tesseract, to have power – unlimited power. And for what? A warm light for all mankind to share, and then to be reminded of what real power is.” -Loki

“Well, let me know if real power wants a magazine or something.” -Nick Fury

Christian Perspective

The Avengers delves deep into what it means to be a hero, as clashing egos and selfish motives are put aside for teamwork and integrity.

Captain America, Steve Rogers, stands for traditionalist, Christian America, when, after a remark is made about Loki and Thor’s “godhood,” retorts “I mean no disrespect ma’am, but there’s only one God, and I’m pretty sure he doesn’t dress like that!” All the while calling for team to unite and realize their duty.

References are made to the macro-evolutionary theory, as Loki jokingly states he had thought “humans were more evolved” than they were behaving. Loki, furthermore, observes the depravity of man and the hopeless nature therein (without a remedy).

Ready for the Avengers?

I’ve been ready since I heard about it months ago (update), although I wasn’t sure what to think of the trailer.

The Avengers promises to be explosive, yet whether it will have an equally well-thought out, energized plot is to be determined. From my experience with Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and such other Marvel films I’m hopeful, however, I’ll have to see it before I get beyond my perceptions of the trailer.

Captain America: The First Avenger – Review

Captain America: The First Avenger

Image via Wikipedia

“You win wars with guts…”

…and boy does this guy have guts! Captain America: The First Avenger is the latest film in The Avengers lineup and its nostalgic nature, explosive action, and sentimental qualities make it stand out among its predecessors as something uniquely distinct, and a film worth watching if you’ve taken positively to previous installments.

“There are men laying down their lives. I got no right to do any less than them.”

Captain America: TFA, takes place during World War II when America first gets involved and the recruitment process is in full swing. Propaganda posters are plastered on any available space, and Uncle Sam calls the men of America to action. Many bold young man take up the challenge, seeing the war as one of life’s great adventures or the chance to serve one’s country. One of these men is Steve Rogers – a thin, almost frail young man, who passionately desires to serve on the front line. He attempts to register many times, each with the same result.

“Just give me a chance…”

“Sorry son – I’m saving your life.”

In each of his efforts, he is never granted his place on the front lines, but rather a stamp of REJECTION. Until one day, a German doctor (serving the United States) named Abraham Erskine, offers him a chance.

While in Germany, Abraham Erskine had been developing a serum to strengthen the human metabolism, structure, and immune system. In it’s early stages of development, however, he was interrupted by Johann Schmidt – a Nazi, working under Hitler, under the control of HYDRA Division – a science & cult division of the military which would in the future secede to wage its own war for world domination. Schmidt saw a potential use for the serum in military practice, able to create the perfect army (reminiscent of Hulk), but first he had to try it out on himself. Dr. Erskine attempts to inform the commander that the serum is not ready for human testing, to no avail, Schmidt injects the serum into his system with an atrocious result – the birth of the Red Skull. An effect of the serum was that it enhanced a human’s values and character, and as Schmidt was a self-centered, wicked man, the serum amplified the evil within, as well as providing a horrid face defect that essentially explains his newly gained title (the Red Skull).

Steve Rogers is offered the same serum, which has been modified to a point of seeming perfection, which he eagerly takes up. In the process of prior military training, he meets a woman named Peggy Carter, a strong-willed woman who would prove to be his life-long love interest. After being given the serum, Steve Rogers becomes Captain America – a propaganda tool in the hands of the U.S. military. He is made to dress up in showy costumes, among pretty girls, and put on a show for the American people and soldiers abroad. He advocates recruitment, bonds, and other war-supporting mediums, becoming an American icon like Uncle Sam. Rogers, however, is not satisfied. He is grateful that he has the chance to serve his country, but he has not yet had the chance to do it battle. He would soon have his chance, however, when his friend goes missing while on a mission to invade HYDRA. Against orders, he sets out alone and rescues the division, coming back with a team that would serve him throughout the rest of the war. Yet a dark shadow looms over them all, as Schmidt paves the way for world domination. Will Captain America be able to save the world? And how will he suddenly end up in the modern Avengers? Well… that’s all explained at the end. SPOILERS FOLLOW, HIGHLIGHT TO READ Captain America successfully takes down Schmidt with the same technology he had been planning to use against the world (stolen from Asgard), but sacrifices himself by plummeting into some area of Northern Canada with a colossal HYDRA bomber plane. After the American forces lose his signal, Stark Sr. and Peggy make a desperate search for Rogers, which only bears fruit in the modern day, years later. Captain America is discovered buried under the snow, preserved in his state at the time of the crash. SHIELD, the government organization which investigated Thor and recruited Stark Jr. and Stark Sr., takes in Captain America while he is still in a coma (or deep sleep) and places him in a facility that attempts to imitate the time which he lived in, to enable an easy transition into the modern day. When he awakes, however, Rogers sees through the deception and tears his way to the New York streets, before being intercepted by SHIELD. After a thorough explanation, Captain America decides to join the team. After the credits are all over, there is a special ending showing Rogers training in a (most likely) SHIELD facility. Followed by a preview of The Avengers.

Captain America: The First Avenger, although not at the level of acclaim as Iron Man, is an overall splendid film and a suitable addition to the Avengers line-up (Further Analysis Tomorrow). Content is appropriate for older children (12-13+), considering some scary images and violence related with HYDRA and the Red Skull. (In-depth Christian and Family Perspective Tomorrow) The movie contains Biblical values of moral character and perseverance, yet has some iffy themes as well (click Christian for details from PluggedIn.com).

X-Men: First Class

X-Men: First Class

Image via Wikipedia

Movie Introduction & Synopsis: The Run Down 

X-Men: First Class provides an in-depth view of the origins of primary X-Men characters Charles Xavier (Professor X) and Erik Lehnsherr (Magneto), as well as Raven (Mystique) – and their relationships therein. The movie kicks off with a most foreboding introduction, taking place at a German concentration camp during the Holocaust. We see a young boy struggling as he’s taken away from his parents – when the guards shut the gates, he reaches his hands out and attempts to crush the gates with his fledgling electromagnetic-manipulation [1]  powers. Afterwards, he has a confrontation with a Nazi scientist (Dr. Schmidt) who kills his mother when he is unable to use his powers – this action fuels his rage and triggers his abilities, leading to him wrecking the Dr. Schmidt’s office, much to the man’s pleasure. From this point on, Erik is establish with a motive for revenge, and this single goal will drive him to make drastic decisions. In contrast, we are introduced to Charles, a respectable young boy born into a wealthy home. We begin to see his kind, benevolent character at his confrontation with Raven as she attempts to steal from his home. Instead of being angry, he welcomes her with joy and invites her to stay at his family’s luxurious home – glad to find another child with unusual abilities much like himself. All three characters grow older, developing their motives and values – we discover that Raven has grown self-conscious of her looks, with much internal conflict. She sees herself as a socially unacceptable monster, while Charles continually insists there is nothing wrong with her.

Even further on, Charles and Erik meet – forming an alliance and developing a brother-like bond as the movie continues. They differ dramatically in opinion, which ultimately determines the movie’s finale. Throughout the film, Charles attempts to persuade Erik to let go of his vengeful nature and rely on less hostile methods – his efforts prove futile. Raven, the originator of nicknames (she comes up with Magneto, Mystique, etc. MacTaggert, a female CIA operative, comes up with Prof. X), ultimately falls in love with Erik – locking in her future alliance with him. Much of the other characters are introduced when Charles and Erik join the mutant division of the CIA – together training for a seemingly imminent nuclear war.

The movie’s finale takes place during the Cuban Missile crisis where the X-Men team intercepts a rogue Russian ship controlled by Dr. Schmidt who has formed his own team of mutants. The two parties face off – Erik gives into his hatred and kills the doctor, Charles is indirectly shot by Erik, and the Russian and American militaries open fire their missiles upon the mutants (which Erik deflects). Once the “coast is clear,” and Schmidt’s mutants are without a leader, the two parties divide themselves into teams (to put it quite simply) – Erik, now Magneto, forms his team of Raven and Schmidt’s mutants, while the remainder stay loyal to Erik, and effectively serve him in future movies.

Character Analyses (TBU: To Be Updated)

  • Charles Xavier: TBW (To Be Written)
  • Erik Lehnsherr:  TBW
  • Raven: TBW
  • Dr. Schmidt: Doctor Schmidt is a man without morals who cares only about his own selfish ambitions. When a young, Jewish boy is presented before him with extraordinary powers (Erik Lehnsherr), he seeks to exploit his abilities and scientifically examine them. When Erik cannot activate his powers, Schmidt has two Nazi soldiers bring in the boy’s mother, only to be held at gunpoint. Schmidt counts down from five, threatening Erik that he will shoot his mother if he cannot demonstrate his powers before then. 5… 4… 3… 2… 1… Erik tries desperately to use his powers, emotion and fear overwhelming him, yet his efforts are to no avail. Dr. Schmidt coldheartedly shoots Erik’s mother dead, then laughs as Erik’s anger triggers his powers. “Good, good!” he says. “We’re going to have a lot of fun together.” From the beginning, the doctor is set up as a merciless human being, and his qualities will transfer into Erik’s undeniable hatred.

Conclusion

X-Men: First Class is certainly a successful prequel – the cast was splendid, and I eventually overcame the initial surprise of having James McAvoy as Prof. X (instead of Mr. Tumnus from The Chronicles of Narnia). As a fan of the previous movies, I greatly enjoyed the nostalgic look back at the origins of many pivotal characters. If you haven’t seen the movie, though plan on seeing X-Men: First Class, I would advise against it. A friend of mine, who watched the movie as well, did not find the movie to be well-developed, having no prior introduction to the series. Watch the other movies first to gain a taste and feel for the series, then enjoy First Class with prior knowledge of it’s characters, not having to feel empty when the character development appears unfulfilling. From a family-Christian perspective, the movie has some very questionable content. One of the mutants was a stripper before joining the team, many of the female characters wear low-cut outfits, and there’s some evident sexual content. Many of the beliefs presented oppose those of Christianity, being Evolution-based in nature – thus removing the spiritual side of humanity.

Thor

Thor

Image via Wikipedia

The fourth movie in the Avengers movie series by Marvel Entertainment introduces one of “Earth’s mightiest heroes” – the mythological god of lightning, Thor.

The movie Thor brings about a certain otherworldliness to the Avengers universe, being primarily centered around the world of Asgard – home to the gods, and their wise and most ancient ruler Odin. We are given a brief history of his reign and rule, including the wars he fought in order to establish universal peace. Then the film’s two primary characters are introduced, Odin’s sons Thor and Loki. From early on in their childhood, they are trained to become proper heirs to the kingdom as Asgard, and after many years pass, it is evident that Thor shall be king. Just before his father bestows the title of King, however, a group of Frost Giants infiltrate their kingdom. They are dealt with quickly and efficiently, but Thor is enraged at their attempt to break the peace. Defying his father’s orders and the peace treaty between their kingdoms, Thor seeks out their the Frost Giant leader, Laufey, in order establish a firm grip of power over their world of Jotunheim. For this treason, Thor is banished to Earth, devoid of his powers which are sealed inside the legendary hammer which was once his own. After a run-in with scientists and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents, Thor begins to realize the error of his arrogance and pride. Just in time to be crushed by a weapon now in the hands of his treacherous brother Loki – the new King of Asgard, now that their father Oden has fallen into one of his deep sleeps. Will Thor’s life and power be restored or will the universe fall into darkness?

Thor came as somewhat of an unexpected surprise. How Marvel could take a mythological realm and place it at the terms as Iron Man and Hulk seemed quite a difficult task. It worked just fine in old-time comics, but how about in our very different world of modern cinema? Masterfully accomplished! For example – during a scene in Thor, Thor’s friends come to take him back home to Asgard, from where he is now on Earth. It would seem quite awkward and unrealistic to have these Iron-clad immortals ordinally stroll through a very real American town – if not for the incorporated humorous remarks in regards to renaissance fairs and the allusions to Robin Hood, etc.

Overall, Marvel made quite a smooth, entertaining transition!

Christian & Family Interpretations

Thor, of course, rises some red flags for Christian families. The very essence of it being a world with contradictory truths and multiple deities. It is, however, not especially gruesome (as one may be inclined to think) in terms of violence and scary images, being fairly at par with the Chronicles of Narnia.

Overall Satisfaction & Important Tip!
I would highly recommend Thor and it’s many other related Marvel films. They are filled with great adventure, suspense, and even hints of romance. Nevertheless, I have a few tips and cautions you might want to watch out for!

1. Wait till’ the VERY end of the credits, after all the logo’s, contributing organizations, etc. have been listed for a special ending to the movie! I can certainly say, “The Plot Thickens!”
2. Don’t be fooled into buying the Thor mockbuster film – produced by The Asylum, these low-budget movies try to trick you into thinking they’re the real thing with virtually the same title and similar cover.

The Incredible Hulk

The Incredible Hulk (film)

Image via Wikipedia

The Incredible Hulk was one of the most recent portrayals of the Hulk, first premiering in theaters in June 2008 [1], and the cast could not have been more brilliant. The film provides an ingenious, fresh perspective on the classic Hulk -touching upon his rarely explored emotional side. Marvel fans may expect the usual HULK SMASH – action sequences, side-by-side with deeply rooted character development.

The Incredible Hulk wastes no time reflecting on the past, and at the beginning of the film we receive only a few minutes review on Bruce Banner’s (the Hulk) life – his transformation into the Hulk, his romantic interest in Betty, the General’s persistant hunt for him, and his eventual move to the  isolation of South America where the film begins. Bruce has begun a new life, though remains searching for a cure with the help of a mysterious scientist codenamed Mr. Blue who communicates via a secure line on a computer. His new life entails working in a soda factory, where he accepts no pay for fear of being tracked by United States military, and ultimately the General. Yet one day, his past comes back to haunt him. After accidentally scratching his arm, a drop of blood falls into two of the soda bottles – Bruce quickly orders the assembly line to be stopped and quickly locates where a droplet fell, and quickly wipes it away – yet he misses a bottle a fair ways away that still contains another drop of blood. The soda is consumed by a man in the United States, who finds himself affected by the toxicity of Banner’s blood, and this incident is traced by the military. A highly trained force is set out to find him, and the hunt begins. Bruce soon finds himself cornered and forced into a state of anger and fear – can he escape the clutches of the general, or will he once again be faced with the inescapable Hulk?

At the end of the film, Robert Downy Jr. makes an appearance as Tony Stark, linking this film to the rest of the Avenger-related films.

The Incredible Hulk is rated PG-13 and isn’t suitable for young children – there is some sexual content, but the real issue is the intense graphic violence that is entailed. Not the level of Saving Private Ryan, but preferably suited for ages 13 or 14+.

Iron Man II

Iron Man 2

Image via Wikipedia

One of the most action-packed movies of the season, Iron Man 2 is one of those Blockbuster movies that come in short quantities. Starring Robert Downey Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Don Cheadle, Scarlett Johansson, & Mickey Rourke.

Join Tony Stark on his latest escapade – after admitting to the public his identity of Iron Man and changing the focus of his company from war to peace (allowing Hammer Industries to rise up as the main weapons developer in Iron Man 2), Stark’s life has changed … little more than what we’d seen before. Stark is still the self-absorbed womanizer that everyone knows him by, and still claims the world stage [and world peace]. Yet dark days are soon to come – Stark’s palladium cores have gone from the life-saving power source we knew them as in the first movie, to a slowly developing poison which would eventually prove fatal – making an antidote of the highest priority. But that’s not all! With new exposure to the public eye, Stark has also brought the attention of a new adversary, Ivan Vanko, who comes to be known as the son of the alleged creator of the palladium core. With time running out, and the mass-production of Iron Man suits [in the hands of his enemy] becoming a horror-filled reality, Tony Stark must find a quick solution to a complex problem.

Cover of "Iron Man (Two-Disc Special Coll...

Cover via Amazon

If you liked this movie, be sure to check out [in order of release]:

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader [Dec. 10th, 2010]

Thor [May 6th, 2011]

Transformers III: The Dark of the Moon [July 1st, 2011]

Sherlock Holmes II [December 16th, 2011]

Iron Man Anime (G4) [2011]

The Avengers [May 4th, 2012]

Batman Begins Threequel [July 20th, 2012]

Iron Man III [May 3, 2013]

From Wikipedia: Movie Release Dates.