Sunday, December 9, 2012

Forgetting the Why

Friday night, I watched The Avengers with Dar. While watching the movie, I noticed that I was more interested in why I am not carried away by the action than by the action itself. In many films, I find myself either captivated by the concept of the movie or skeptical of the details of the plot. Movies based on comics often require a huge leap of faith, one that I am not always willing to make. How did the hero gain his or her superpowers? Where did the villain come from, and how is he (or she) strong enough to challenge the hero? And how did the creators then raise the stakes high enough so that I desperately want the hero to win?

The Avengers was a huge box office success. It made a record 207 million dollars in its first weekend in theaters and by now has earned over 1.5 billion dollars worldwide. For comparison, it is listed as the third highest grossing movie, after Avatar and Titanic. But the film wasn’t just a box office success. Critics as well as viewers loved it, and it got high ratings everywhere. I had heard good reviews about this film myself from many of my friends

There’s a lot of action in The Avengers: a universe-leaping cube, guns of various sizes and shapes, a guy who shoots arrows that always hit the mark, Norse gods whose personal vendettas affect our world, an invasion from outer space of aliens riding space tricycles and Godzilla-like metallic monsters. Where did the aliens come from? Why is this invasion army working with Loki, the villain? I did not quite know. Some weapons stopped or slowed down Loki, but some didn’t. Why? I didn’t know. Sometimes Loki just touched people with his wand to make them obedient to him, and sometimes he chatted with them instead. Why? Perhaps because he’s the super villain and can do whatever he wants. Super villains love chatting about their plans, you know.

I suppose in a way I wish that, just like when I was a child, I could still become whole-heartedly engaged by the plot, living for the superhero, believing in him (or her). Today, a cynic, I sit there and think: are those Godzilla-like metallic things supposed to be alien monsters or some sort of vehicle, and I am not scared. I do not worry about the safety of the heroes, because the danger facing them seems somewhat ridiculous to me. And when Bruce Banner turns into the Hulk, saying that he can suddenly control himself because he is “always angry,” I am happy that he’s going to help the good guys, but inside I scoff.

Usually I love these kind of movies, about superheroes such as Superman, Spiderman, Batman, The Fantastic Four. I enjoyed this movie too, the action, the characters. It was only the added value of getting completely sucked into the plot that was just not there. I wish it was. I wish I could have forgotten the why and fallen into the flow of the movie, but for this particular one, I could not.

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