Thursday, June 5, 2014

Me trying to watch The Avengers

This was a few years back, I was on a plane, The Avengers was one of the films playing. After seeing Spiderman 2, both Hulk, The Incredible Hulk, and X-Men 3 I have resolved never to watch another comic-book based film ever again as long as I live, except if Chrisopher Nolan is directing.

However, since I had just transferred off of an 11 hour flight with a 3 hour stop-over, my computer's battery was dead and I had read my book. I had heard The Avengers had been pretty well received by the audiences. I decided to pass the time watching The Avengers since there was really nothing better to do. So I started watching it, albeit with very low expectations. Lowering my expectations has help make several movies more enjoyable for me, I understand that some films make no attempt at artistry and exist solely for entertainment purposes. If this is one of those films, that is fine with me.

The film opens, I cannot remember too many details except a few that really stood out to me.

There is Samuel Jackson's character with a long black leather jacket and an eye patch. There is some science-fictiony stuff happening with flashy, whispy flares of energy coming out of portals hovering in some gigantic heavy machinery or something, and there are movie scientists and movie military officers here and there in various position in the scene, all looking very busy and/or concerned about something.

Samuel Jackson's character says, "How bad is it?"

One of the movie scientist or perhaps one of the movie military officers responds to him: "That's the problem sir, we don't know."

Ouch. To this day I have spent many idle moments trying to think of a line in any film I have seen that was more cliche than that, but I honestly cannot. I hadn't slept well, I was tired and uncomfortable and this is going to be a long movie if all of the dialog is that bad. But hey, it was not even 2 minutes past the start, I trudged on lowering my expectations as low as they could go.

"I am Loki of Asgard, and I am burdened with glorious purpose."

"Loki? Brother of Thor?"

"Burdened with a glorious purpose? He sure uses big, epic words." But at hearing "brother of Thor," sarcasm could not alleviate my ennui nor my frustration at the fact that dialog this bad can even possibly exist in a popular big-budget film.

"Freedom is life's great lie. Once you accept that, in your heart..."

"So this bad guy here wants to destroy freedom? Wow that is a really bad guy. It's a good thing he said that, I was starting worry that this was turning into one of those heavy, evocative stories with lots of moral gray-areas." Not only is the dialog the most vapid I have ever heard in my life, but the conflict involves an enemy who wants to destroy freedom which has to be the most unimaginative antagonist I have ever seen in my life. Words cannot express how truly bad this is. I am at a loss.

"He's right. The portal is collapsing in on itself. You got maybe two minutes before this goes critical."

By now I am imagining a hundred sarcastic voices in my mind, all shouting at the film makers, all saying something to degrade how cliche that dialog is. "Oh no, so little time!" and "It goes critical? That must be bad!" and "Portal is collapsing! Dear god help us all!" were among the things that came to mind less than a moment after hearing that line spoken.

"Coulson, get back to base. This is a level seven. As of right now, we are at war."

I turned the movie screen off, maybe a bit more forcefully than I should have. I just couldn't take it anymore. They were at war, certainly, with my better sensibilities. In less than five minutes this movie has compromised every defense I have against the fiercest onslaught of stupid.

I tried to sleep after that, but my hope for a brighter future had been suffered a tremendous blow. Seriously, this is what your average American likes to see? Did who ever write that dialog seriously think I would be intrigued by the words "level seven?" Why did this receive such good reviews? Were they categorizing this film as a children's movie and judging it against other films in that category? Why do geeks like it? I thought I was a geek but apparently not, have geeks always been this stupid or have they become this way only in recent generations? Maybe this is a parody? It didn't seem like a parody. It wasn't advertised as a parody.

People will criticize me for not watching the whole thing. True enough, but why should I when the opening is the worst I have seen in my entire life? Does the dialog actually improve? I can see no possible way for this film to make me empathize with the main characters, or have any concern about the conflict with an antagonist who was not at all subtle or clever in the exposition of his goals to destroy "freedom." Only in some extreme circumstance would I ever even consider watching whole thing.

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