My 1st Movie Review: The Avengers!

Here is my disclaimer: I am terrible at reviewing movies. I love them too much to write anything truly mean about them. There. I said it. So, here goes my first attempt at a review.

The other night I went to see Marvel’s The Avengers in 3D. I am not a huge comics devotee, and I’m not always impressed with wearing 3D glasses. To be honest, I usually become a bit woozy.

Until Iron Man came out in 2008, I had never heard of Tony Stark or his bad-boy/ good-guy escapades. I grew up watching the 1978 series of The Incredible Hulk, with Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, on the small screen. I didn’t love the whole idea of the show, but the special effects were cool—I was ten. My superhero knowledge is limited to what I glean from movies and TV. I watched Batman and Wonder Woman on TV and Superman on the big screen. The only thing I knew of Thor and Loki was from Norse mythology. I had heard of Captain America, but never of Hawkeye or Black Widow. I have sons, so I watched both Iron Man movies, along with Thor (2011) and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011).

With that little background behind us, let me say that I thoroughly enjoyed The Avengers. Joss Whedon impressed me yet again. When will he stop that?

The banter between the characters was clever and actually served to propel the story, and the actors really endeared me. I am now a Hulk fan. Really. He has one particular scene that absolutely cracked me up. Okay—maybe more than one. Mark Ruffalo is a terrific Bruce Banner. He’s so laid back that it’s not difficult to believe that he must be fuming inside.

I laughed aloud at one of Black Widow’s very first lines in the film. “I’m working…”

While Stark retains his selfish façade, Captain America leads with his do-good-always persona. The fact that it’s sincere makes it even better.

As the end credits began, I asked my boys which was their favorite Avenger. My husband and older son like Iron Man best, and my younger son refuses to answer. I think he’s like me, and can’t really decide.

The Avengers broke records with an opening weekend box office bringing in over $200 million. That makes sense to me. It was pure fun. I laughed, I (almost) cried, I jumped out of my seat a few times, too. It’s what a movie should be. Even the 3D was great—no wooziness. If you are one of the eleven people who didn’t see it this weekend, you should go. This is a family-friendly movie with lots of action.

I only have a few negatives to add. If you haven’t seen the other Marvel movies, you might be a little bit lost on minor points. I’d recommend watching them first. In addition, I would warn that the film is over two hours long—visit the theatre facilities before the movie starts.

There’s my first review. I’m sure some critics can find all sorts of ugly things to say about this film, but I was too busy watching it.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading.

This Versus That

My whole family loves movies, and one of my sons’ favorite games is “Versus.” They compare movie and TV characters all the time, weighing strengths and weaknesses of each role, as well as the actors’ physical attributes. Whenever they make comparisons, they always offer their reasoning behind their decisions. It’s a wonderful exercise in critical thinking.

The game has been around forever, I suppose. When I was a kid, the big debate was Superman versus Mighty Mouse. I guess these days, most people don’t even know who Mighty Mouse is. I tend to come down on the side of Superman, if for no other reason that he’s not just a cartoon, thus he could beat more villains. (There just aren’t as many cartoon villains as there used to be.)

The other question that I grew up with was Ginger versus Mary Ann, from Gilligan’s Island. That one is mostly for guys, but a wise woman can tell a great deal about a man from his answer to that quiz.

Sunday at lunch, we all got into the debates. It began with James Bond versus Jason Bourne. Of course, we had to stipulate which Bond actor would face Bourne, and my boys settled on Daniel Craig. Because they felt it was still too close to call, they had to settle on a neutral location, as well as what they would be wearing and have on their person.

They argued that because Bond is a gadget guy and Bourne can make a weapon out of just about anything, they would have to fight naked. (I suggested swim trunks, but they were pretty sure that Bourne could use them for a weapon anyway.) They also decided that since almost any location could have a tactical advantage for one over the other, the challengers should be skydiving at the time of their combat.

My youngest son then suggested that the debate was moot, because if they were skydiving naked, they would both die when they hit the ground. True, but I have a feeling that somehow or another, Bond might have a back-up plane (piloted by a Bond girl) that he could swoop into after the fight—assuming he survived. Bourne is the loner type, which does have that disadvantage. It was fun to watch their reasoning play out.

Their match-ups continued. They paired Jackie Chan and Liam Neeson. They pitted Fiona Glenanne (Burn Notice) against Ziva David (NCIS). They matched The Avengers’ Black Widow with Alien’s Ellen Ripley. They put real thought into their game. They batted about names of characters like Jack Sparrow (Pirates of the Caribbean), John Casey (Chuck), Malcolm Reynolds (Firefly), MacGyver, Indiana Jones, and others.

These kinds of games show me that they are paying attention to the shows that they watch. They understand character development. It also shows how wonderfully these actors embody the roles that they play.

If you ever want to start a fun game with your family, “Versus” is terrific for understanding the way your kids think and perceive others. It will give you insight into their likes and preferences. It’s a good conversation starter.

That’s a wrap for this Toast to Cinema. Thanks for reading!