Codename V

Vanguard of Individuality and Freedom

Archive for the month “May, 2012”

Movie Review: The Avengers

The Avengers

Assembly Line Superheroes

The best thing about movies like Avengers is that they do not take up much time. Neither during conceptualization or filming, nor while writing the review. They are mind-numbing and so devoid of intelligence that they do not deserve much time.

How difficult is it to make a movie like Avengers? Here’s how it all started:

Disney: Guys, we have taken over Marvel now. How do we squeeze the juices out of it?

Marvel: Ummm…. we’ve already done that ourselves. We had a series of Spiderman, two Iron-Mans, even the Hulk. Not much we can do now.

Disney: Oh kids! Whenever we used to face this problem, we just smash the characters all together! You know, sort of a Mickey & Donald Show.

Marvel: Ummm…So what you are suggesting is we take our best characters in an all-in-one movie? Like the Avengers???

Disney: Hmmm…Not a Disney-like name. But, at least, the comic geeks would come and see it.

Marvel: Yes! Yes!

Disney: The first one will be in America. Has to be. All aliens in all movies first attack America. Make it New York, so that people in Third World countries also understand the movie. And if it works, we’ll have the sequel in Asia, the third in Eastern Europe, and so on.

Marvel: Yes! Yes!

Disney: And we shall have them doing a whole lot things… smashing cars, blowing up buildings, fighting aliens, fighting each other, pulling each other’s leg, having major anger-management issues, and still saving the world.

Marvel: Yes! Yes!

Disney: So do it then!

Disgruntled Marvel executive who really knows his comics: Why not then call it The Aristocrats!

Disney and Marvel (in unison): You’re fired!

Disney buys Marvel

Now all superheroes will wear two-button shorts

And that’s how the film came about on our screen. It would have taken not more than two months to film it. I don’t suppose they would have bothered to come down to Calcutta to film the leper colony. But the post-production CGI definitely would have taken more. There are few scenes in which two characters are together. And when they are, they don’t touch each other. The makers probably shot everyone separately, then merged the scenes and put in CG in the background.

I mostly don’t like superhero movies. Very few qualify as movies anyway. They are mostly commercial ventures with no regard for the comic ecosystem in which they exist. My favorite superhero franchise reboot is Spiderman. Just the idea of Spiderman being a troubled teen with emotional issues is awesome. And the idea has the elasticity: it can be stretched over many sequels and yet come back to the original state whenever required. The rest, including Superman, IronMan, Batman, etc offered nothing new. I probably enjoyed Hancock more. Probably I like reluctant superheroes more than the cocky confident types. And when they are not self-made but created by circumstances. This gives a suitable context to the superhero. (Is that why I liked The Matrix and V for Vendetta?).

Back to The Avengers. The story is simple. Before seeing it, many had recommended that I go and see it because it had a story to offer. So even if I don’t like the action part, I can still enjoy the story. But as British kids say, “Bollocks!” The story is simply this: a Holy Grail is lost to the Enemy and Crusaders have to recover before the Enemy destroys the World. The plot by itself is interesting and has been used countless times with minor denting and plumbing. Let me give a top-of-the-mind list: The Matrix, Mr India, Mission: Impossible, Lord of the Rings (Frodo doing protection instead of snatching), Waqt Hamaara Hai, James Bond movies, etc etc.

The Holy Grail itself is unimaginative. A cubical element that is an infinite power source. When put in an apparatus, it opens up a channel in the sky from which aliens can enter and destroy the Earth. The element falls in the hands of the main villain within the first 20 minutes.  The Avengers fight to recover it in the last 30 minutes. But not before there is an unnecessary angle of the Government firing a nuclear missile at Manhattan not bothering about collateral damage and Iron Man has to divert it. So the major part of the movie gets spent in assembling the Avengers team and them trying to overcome their personality clashes. This too gets boring after a while.

But an oft-used storyline should not come in the way of a good entertaining movie. The treatment can be the entertaining factor. Here too the film falters. Scene after scene, we are subjected to assembly-line CGI seen in hundreds of movies now. There is no imagination in the fights, no sense of drama, anticipation, novelty, nothing. This wouldn’t have taken time. Any good CGI company would have an inventory of buildings crumbling, windows smashing, planes crashing, cars flying. You have to just buy them off the shelf. There are practically no twists and turns, no nail-biting falls, just a big yawn. There is no proper background story, no internal conflict, no depth. It’s a shallow story where the focus is solely on the action.

But the focus is also on being absolutely politically correct. So the Avengers team is led by a Black American. The male-female ratio in the Avengers space-ship is a healthy HR-acceptable 60:40. Women are even in supervisory roles. In fact, the second-in-command is a female. But, of course, don’t stretch it. The ladies are also lithe beauties who can do a mean fight of their own. Yawn!

I was about to close the review but suddenly remembered that I saw the film in 3D. Yuck! It was bad 3D effect. Patchy in parts. If the 3D trend dies soon it will be only because of movies like Avengers and Tintin. 3D has been reduced to a promotional gimmick. What makes it worse are the cheap 3D glasses that make the screen look darker. I’m off 3D unless they improve the quality.

Verdict: Typical Superhero. All brawn no brain.

Do Say: I can’t wait for Mr. India in 3D!

Don’t Say: This is 5 times better than one superhero movie!

Stars:     * *

Mickey Man

The Disney-fication of Marvel

The Last Inch

It does not matter who you are. But what you are.

Every inch of me will perish. Every inch but one. An inch… It is small, and fragile, and it is the only thing in the world worth having. We must never lose it or give it away. We must never let them take it from us. They will always try to snatch it. To break it. Tempt us to lose it. But to not give it away will be our greatest victory.

Because within that inch is all that I hold dear. It contains the possessions most personal and private. Dignity, Integrity and Individuality. It is only when I have all three with me can I consider myself truly free. Freedom will have no meaning without these three. Freedom will be lost when I lose that inch.

I can keep running all my life to race ahead of the others. I can keep craving for money and still be always poorer. Or even achieve fame and then remain at the mercy of others to keep it with me. It is very easy to gain these. And they can be measured, so are easily understood. But these are things that can fill up the whole world, keep me busy all my life and yet be not mine.

But only one thing is truly mine. That inch. Because it is my Spirit. I was born with it. And my whole life shall be a fight to not lose it. To die like the way I was born.

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The above post is an expansion of a dialogue in ‘V for Vendetta’ (novel,movie). The first five sentences are the ones from the letter by Valerie Page.

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