I should have gotten to the drive-in more last year. I kept thinking to myself that I had kinda shirked my responsibilities to the drive-in and avoided it. This was mostly due to the fact that the car I had last year sucked. In general. I mean, it was a nice car, got me from point A to point B in a reasonable amount of time, but as was predicted by my brother when I bought it, it started to deteriorate. One of the first things to go was the speakers.
No speakers, no radio, no sound. As fun as it is to watch a movie with no sound, I wouldn't want to repeat it anytime soon. Sure, I could have taken my mother's SUV, but it would have been too inconvenient. The time that I did, I didn't know how to turn the lights off. About halfway through the horror line-up, I had the owner of the drive-in tap on my window, scaring the bejesus out of me, asking me to turn off the lights. After I caught my breath, I turned them off, on edge for the next four hours thinking he was gonna come knocking again.
Around the end of January and the beginning of February, my car finally became more trouble than it was worth and I had to trade it in. It was kinda sad. Even though I knew I didn't want the car and it would cost me more than I could afford, I still felt bad trading it in. So what, I'm nuts. It's nothing new, nor should it be that surprising.
When I traded it, I ended up getting a 2009 Honda which is worlds different from my 1994 Honda. Everything worked in the car. This was something new for me. When I got the car, one of the first things to cross my mind was the fact of how awesome it would be to go to the drive-in with it.
I started taking the back way home from work, just so I could drive past the drive-in. Like a hopeless stalker, I fantasized about sitting in the front row with my double cheeseburger and French fries drenched in ketchup and vinegar. I kept smelling the smells, imagining what movies I'd see on the big screen, all that shit.
Needless to say, I was looking forward to it.
I kept missing my opportunities. My job doesn't afford me many opportunities to go as I work all but one weekend a month. I kept driving past the drive-in, pathetically believing that one day, someday, I would be able to go.
And then, as if God Himself understood my plight, the stars aligned and my weekend off coincided with the Midway Drive-In premiere of "The Avengers". I told my sister and we finalized plans to be there.
I opened that day, getting out of work at 2. I drove home, taking the back way again, seeing the drive-in in all it's glory. The sun reflected off the screen as if responding to my obsessive stalking of the area. I took a power nap, waking up around 5 and chugged a glass of coffee. I was ready. My sister was ready.
We drove there and there was a line already. I find out, once there, that they don't start letting people in until 6:30. We had an hour. My sister and I had a conversation all the way through the hours between us and "The Avengers". Her and I were both anticipating it.
We got food, reclaiming our seats in front of my car, watching the kids play in front of us. I got my order of a double cheeseburger and fries. The vinegar was dripping out of the side of the box. It was glorious.
The movie started and my sister and I realized that we wouldn't be able to hear it from outside the car. It was a quick fix as we made it back into the car. The night air blew through the open windows.
It took me a little while to realize that "The Avengers" wasn't as good as the atmosphere that night, though it certainly gave it a run for it's money.
As is well known by now, "The Avengers" concerns the trials and tribulations of the main characters from the last four years of Marvel movies trying to work together. The plot is quite ridiculous, concerning some cube that is one half of a knock-off Stargate. The cube brings the brother of Thor to Earth to wreak havoc. There isn't really any motivation for Loki to do this, aside from the fact that he's just a generally petulant bad guy, intent on world destruction. There is some lame excuse that he wants to destroy the planet that Thor loves so dearly, but, yeah...
When it comes down to it, the movie, while it has six stars, is fairly even when it comes to who's movie it is. For a while, you're thinking that Iron Man will dominate the proceedings. You look through the cast and you see who's in it and it's pretty obvious that Downey Jr. is the star of the movie. While Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Jeremy Renner, Scarlett Johannson, Mark Ruffalo and Samuel L. Jackson are all stars in their own rights, none of them have commanded films to box office glory by themselves when they weren't playing superheroes.
And even if it weren't Downey Jr., Tony Stark/Iron Man is such a strong-willed, bull-headed character that you can't help but think that this is going to be Iron Man 2.5. But, it's really not. The headliners of the movie are Captain America, Iron Man, Thor and Hulk all in fairly even doses. Black Widow and Hawkeye kinda combine to become one superhero.
Holy shit. Can I go off on a tangent for a minute and talk about Scarlett Johannson? I know, I'm not breaking any new ground here, but what the hell. She is so extremely hot. I don't know if I've gone through this in the past, but there are different levels to attractiveness for me.
They are the following:
Pretty - The type of girl you could take home to your mother. The type of girl that you bring to dinner, date and eventually marry. These are the type of girls that they talk about in romance movies.
Cute - This is the type of girl that you'd find at a coffee shop. The one that is sitting by themselves, reading Faulkner or some random biography of a historical figure. Maybe John Paul Jones. These people will likely have glasses, maybe somewhat of a "Pygmalion" thing going on where if she lost the glasses and cut her hair she'd look like the group above. But, you really don't want her to change how she looks because you know she's cute and could be pretty. You want to be the only one in on the joke. These are the types of girls that you'd find in a romantic comedy.
Hot - Simply put, these are the girls that you don't typically do a lot of talking with. You find most of these girls in porno.
There are the obvious combinations of these three groups and the rarity of all three. I can't see Johannson as cute. The other two are not a stretch whatsoever.
But, the real brilliance at work in "The Avengers" is how the movie is constructed. It's not one person's show. It's the team element that brings the movie together. I was amazed at how when I left the movie, I couldn't tell what movie it really was. Really, it was kinda like "Freddy vs. Jason" in that respect. You couldn't tell if you were watching a Freddy or a Jason movie.
(But truly, it was a Freddy movie. Jason was Freddy's puppet the entire time. That's where that movie failed among other places.)
Aside from the structure of the film, the acting was top notch and the directing with the actors. I think Whedon was wholly responsible for the feel of the movie. How it felt like a team more than a singular hero at the forefront. That aspect of Whedon's involvement I liked. And his writing.
But really though, can Whedon direct action?
This has been a question for a long time anytime a new superhero movie comes out. Christopher Nolan has come under attack for his lack of creative direction during action scenes. That his stuff is too choppy, confusing. I fully agree.
Now, with Whedon. Can he? I'd say I think he sorta can. I think that he had a lot of plates he had to keep spinning while making this movie. He could have been a little over his head. Some of the action scenes are just plain dull (the opening sequence and the chase through the tunnels). Some of it just seemed like too much (Black Widow finding Hawkeye after being Hulk smashed through flying aircraft carrier that is about to plummet from the sky as Captain America and Iron Man fix it because possessed Hawkeye was trying to free Loki, but not before Loki tricked Thor into the same cage he was just in while having a showdown with Agent Coulson).
And then there was the episodic feel of some of the fights. It's like Whedon had a list on a marker board in his office that connected each of the main eight characters with a different colored marker, indicating who would fight with who. "Okay. We have a two hour and twenty minute movie. Thor has gotta fight Loki, we know that, Loki is the main bad guy, but he should fight Iron Man. Ooh. And Captain America. But, they're all so evenly matched. Holy shit! Inspiration! Thor and Hulk should fight on the aircraft carrier as it's going down. Oh! This is perfect!"
As for Whedon's dialogue, it was pretty good. He seemed to temper a lot of the ridiculouslness of the situations with his humor. Though there was one line that struck me as false. Or, the only one I can remember at the moment. There's a part where Thor is speaking to the group about how the group shouldn't really speak down about Loki because Loki is still his brother after all. When Black Widow mentions the amount of people that Loki has killed in two days, Thor quickly quips, "He's adopted."
This really seems out of character for Thor to say for a couple of reasons. Really, Thor spends the entire movie trying to believe that his brother still has some good left in him. There's gotta be something deep down underneath all the costumers and Devil-horned helmets that still rings good and true. He is always there for his brother. He doesn't want him killed, he wants him to be healed. He stands by him in his own way the entire movie.
This line, while funny, throws all that back in the audience's face. It's out of character and seemed like something that Whedon wrote as a joke, not being able to see the big picture at the time of his writing. He went for the easy laugh as opposed to the earned one.
And another thing:
Why is it that Alan Silvestri is getting lazy? I swear to God, he keeps rehashing the same themes over and over again. I know, a lot of people will say the same about John Williams or Jerry Goldsmith, but they at least change SOME things about their music. There were a lot of parts in the score, especially the actions scenes, that seemed vaguely familiar. Allen pointed it out to me that some of the music sounded like it was directly lifted from "The Mummy Returns". It's a rip-off. Really, if you're not getting goosebumps from the music from a superhero movie, then it's not doing it's job. I think I might have gotten one goosebump. Alan Silvestri, I swear to Thor that if you don't change up your music, I will find someway to get to you. I don't know how just yet, but give me time and I'll enact a plan.
All in all though, I did like the movie a hell of a lot. I think it was fun and fast-paced, with the exception of a few spots in the middle. At this point, it's the second best movie I've seen this year (though I still need to see "The Grey") and feels like it would be hard to beat this summer season.
"The Dark Knight Rises" I feel won't be nearly as fun. It's not Christopher Nolan's style to be fun and I wouldn't expect him to be. I just have a bad feeling that "Dark Knight Rises" is going to be closer to "Spider-Man 3" than it will be to "Batman Begins". Yes, I know. "The Dark Knight Rises" will not be as ridiculous as "Spider-Man 3", but think of the two directors. Raimi and Nolan. Raimi let his freak flag fly with "Spider-Man 3", played into all his proclivities and more or less went crazy. It shows on the screen. You give a man no rules and a huge budget, this is what will happen.
Now, on the other end of the spectrum, you have Nolan. Mr. Super Serious. Mr. Let's Have The Joker Slit Some Guy's Throat and Make the Movie PG-13. I have a feeling "Dark Knight Rises" will be two and a half to three hours of pure oppression. Characters being put through the ringer, people dying, Anne Hathaway looking absolutely ridiculous as Catwoman. She wouldn't be able to intimidate an actual mouse in that outfit. The mouse would see her and likely die laughing because of how fucking stupid she looks.
With no rules and basically carte blanche, Nolan will fuck with people during this movie. I can't even really think of a better way to put it. I don't think it's fucking with people with purpose either. I think it's just fucking with people because he can. People are touting him as being this great director (which he is, but he's gotta work on his writing) and it's getting to his head. So, now, he's going to screw with people more.
And let's face it, "The Dark Knight Rises" is likely not going to make money like "The Dark Knight" did. "The Dark Knight" had a lot of hype around it. It had a lot of love coming to it from "Batman Begins" alone. Plus it had Ledger. And the most famous of all the Batman villains prominently featured throughout it. Ledger died and it was like putting a shot of pure cocaine into the vein of the public. People were buzzing around it, wondering what it could have been about the role that drove Ledger to swallow all those pills. What dark places did he take the character, so on. People went for all those reasons.
Now, you have "The Dark Knight Rises". While there is a lot of praise coming off "The Dark Knight" (99% of it undeserved), it stands a chance. But with Bane sounding like a bad Bond villain and Catwoman looking more like she's playing dress up than cat burglar, it's looking bleak. And not the bleak that Nolan is hoping. Bleak like this is gonna be bad bleak. Bleak like let's line up and see this train wreck bleak. Bleak like emo Peter Parker jive-walking down the street.
The point is, I don't think "The Dark Knight Rises" will match the quality of "The Avengers". But I hope I'm wrong. Batman has always been my superhero since 1989. I can't change a 23 year old tradition now.
"The Avengers" - ***1/2 out of ****