While I still have a massive post about movies I saw earlier in the year (or late last year) in the works, I figured I’d actually comment about The Avengers while it was still out, and throw in a little Hunger Games love while I’m at it.
The Hunger Games
The Hunger Games movie has been a hugely successful start to a franchise that—unlike a certain other book-turned-movie series *cough*TWILIGHT*cough*—also has the distinction of actually being a good movie. I have not personally read the books by Suzanne Collins, so I can’t comment on the quality of the adaptation, but the movie worked.
The movie is all about tension and pacing, and it handled both deftly with a largely excellent cast. My only complaint at all comes from the heavy use of handheld camera work for basically everything, which (for me, at least) made static scenes somewhat nausea-inducing and reduced action sequences to blurry messes. This is, of course, always the effect of handheld shaky-cam, and it sucks every single time that it is used. Never once has it heightened my sense of being in the action; all it does is make me think about their lame camera work and hope I don’t get sick.
Anyway, back to my point: The Hunger Games was a well-done movie with an excellent cast and is well worth seeing (despite the unsteady camera). Thematically, it is rather darker than most Hollywood SF not because of the level of violence, but rather in the grittiness and brutality of how that violence is portrayed. In some respects, just like the games themselves, you don’t watch The Hunger Games—you endure it.
The Avengers is made of win. There were so many ways this movie could have sucked, but Joss Whedon avoided them all and put together a movie with an all-star cast that met every high expectation people had for it.
(I feel the need to suggest that I may have been a teensy bit happier after the original Iron Man, since that was so unexpectedly excellent and thus seemed all the better, but even that is a tough call. About the only other criticism of The Avengers I could assemble would be that I was familiar with many of the general plot points since I have a signficant familiarity with the comics, but that is not a flaw with the movie itself, just my experience of it.)
This movie is the payoff of years of anticipation, and thankfully it worked so well. Delightful action, an over-the-top science fictional story, and layered throughout with humour—The Avengers hit the mark on all fronts. There’s not really much else for me to say, except I can’t wait to see it again.