Movies: The Avengers

I initially had no interest in seeing The Avengers. I only knew it was coming soon because it was advertised on the Diet Dr. Pepper bottles I buy for my husband. I’ve never been a big fan of superhero movies, and if I watched the movie at all, it could be on DVD.

Then I saw all the positive comments (and only positive comments) from various friends in cyberspace. Maybe it would be worth watching, I thought. So I read a review in the Wall Street Journal, which described “a slow start, a single star performance surrounded by indifferent acting and an onslaught of computer effects.” OK, back to waiting for the movie to come out on DVD.

Our older son is coming home from college today (just finished with his sophomore year), and I knew he’d want to see it. I could send my husband and the boys to the theater and have the house to myself for a while. Except that our son posted yesterday on facebook what an amazing movie it was. So when my husband suggested the three of us go see it yesterday evening, I agreed – it was something we could do as a family, and I had been working hard cleaning the basement most of the day.

We chose to watch it in 3D, and while I’m not sure it added much to the movie itself, it certainly gave me something else to observe and think about. What is it about 3D that makes all the characters look skinny? For that matter, even objects such as cars seemed strangely on the smallish side to me. Mostly we gauge size of objects compared to other objects in the scene, so if everything looked small then nothing should look small – relative to the scene.

I haven’t yet found an online explanation of this phenomenon, so I don’t know if it’s just going on inside my own brain. But I did find out that scenes shot in 3D tend to have less visible detail than those shot in traditional 2D, and that there is a lower level of light in the scene. Since it was always the object that was in focus that seemed smaller, I wonder if there is something about shooting 3D that makes the in-focus object appear smaller than everything else.

As for the movie itself, it was fairly good entertainment. There was a fair amount of humor along with all the action, which I appreciate. And while there was clearly a message of “we have to work together despite our differences,” there was no heavy-handed moralizing.

Being relatively unfamiliar with Marvel superheroes, I had no idea what to expect in terms of the group of superheroes or their background. I had seen Iron Man, and enjoyed it, as well as at least two Hulk movies. But I knew next to nothing about Captain America, and I had heard of Nick Fury only because the protagonist in Michael Palmer’s The Last Surgeon was nicknamed for him. I didn’t know what S.H.I.E.L.D. was until my husband explained on the way home.

It was certainly interesting to watch the characters’ difficulties in carrying on civil conversations with each other, let alone trying to fight as a team. Of course, when things get desperate enough, they manage to come together – just like most people. Naturally by that time the odds against them were next to impossible, and the action sequences so fast and furious that it was difficult to make out much except that the Avengers were proving surprisingly (to the invading aliens) hard to defeat.

There’s nothing particularly inspirational about the movie to take out of the theater. But then, there’s nothing depressing either, unlike some action/adventure flicks where the hero’s love interest gets killed (a key plot device, but one that I find seriously detracts from my enjoyment of the movie). And that’s what makes it a good summer movie, I suppose – lots of action, some humor, nothing profound, just two hours and twenty-three minutes (I was surprised to discover it had been that long) of entertainment.

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