The Avengers: Part 4

Carrier attacks, bloody Coulson playing cards, pep talks from Harry Dean Stanton.

Chapter 12. “Carrier Battle” 1:12:52 – 1:29:10

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Logline: Hawkeye leads a daring attack on the carrier with the intent of scattering the Avengers to the wind.

The Sequence. Intercutting can be tricky. I like the sequence on the whole, but I don’t feel much tension during it, and as the scene in which the villains are at their height, that’s a problem. There’s too little unity to it. Everyone is in a different location, facing a different problem. They all seem to be in their own movies independent of each other. There’s no sense of things building.

What does make good intercutting? It’s a question we haven’t really had to face yet, Back to the Future, The Matrix, and Aliens all have very linear action scenes. But two movies in which the suspense is heightened through intercutting, Inception and Die Hard, are coming up on the roster. Actually, the climax of The Avengers is coming up tomorrow. So we’ll get our answers before long.

There’s something a little bit bland about the whole sequence for me. The way the carrier looks, Alan Silvestri’s score, it’s all very homogenized. I had almost no notes to take on interesting shots or visuals. It like a TV show with a high budget. Usually in MCU films I feel like the action scene in the middle of the movie has the director’s voice in it and the finale is generic, in The Avengers it’s the other way around.

The Big Picture. Loki planned to divide the Avengers, but it’s a bit doubtful whether or not he accomplished that. SHIELD is still flying, Hulk and Thor are scattered but will be able to find their way home. They even managed to get Hawkeye back, who’s going to be pissed. Of course the real objective was to distract everyone while Stellan Skarsgard did his thing.

Live Reactions
1:15:38 – “Navigation is out!” “IS THE SUN COMING UP? THEN PUT IT ON THE LEFT.” Great moment. SLJ at his most SLJ, and I love the quick bit of commentary on how he forget analog solutions when we rely too much on technology.

1:16:47 – Another Widow/Banner jump scare time stamp.

1:17:03 – I have a note here that says “I do like that shot” but don’t have access to the movie. What am I talking about here? You tell me!

1:17:31 – This scene does expose what didn’t work about the first two Hulk movies. They were told from Banner’s perspective, and when we lose him as a character it’s just a CG green thing against faceless military types or another CG thing. It’s a lot more effective when we know and like Banner, but when he transforms it’s other character we’re strongly invested in who have to deal with him.

1:19:37 – This is the kind of thing I was talking about. The moment in which Fury ambushes the guy invading the control room, and Maria guns down the guy he didn’t have time to shoot, and then we cut away. Cool moment, but there’s a feeling of a mini-resolution. I’d like a feeling of more constant peril when we cut around, for the music to be tying all this together. We see characters in their own mini movie, it’s resolved, we move over to another mini movie.

1:20:04 – That’s a bit more more what I like. Tight intercutting between Hulk vs. Thor and Fury and Maria under fire, the latter two of which order a pilot to go help out Thor.

1:20:45 – That’s a great novel moment. The ejector seat that gets grabbed, hurled away, only for the parachute to deploy anyway.

1:21:20 – I do like how Captain America is an unambiguously heroic character with no qualms about killing.

1:23:55 – This is the biggest offender. Cutting away from the energy of the Widow/Hawkeye fight to the dialogue heavy Thor/Loki scene. You don’t feel as much peril in this, all it does it bring the momentum down and force the next scene to have to step it back up again.

1:24:20 – You’re not given enough time to see Coulson’s death coming, which is why it works.

1:24:56 – How many instances are there in this movie of Thor just very suddenly exiting frame?

1:26:28 – Whedon reusing his “You lack conviction” moment from the Angel Season 5 premiere, only this time he puts it in the heroic character’s mouth.

1:27:56 – Never noticed how Loki gets shot by Coulson’s gun, then just get on a plane unharmed in the next scene. Guess they just figured you can’t have a huge gun without setting it off.

Behind the Scenes
-I always write those Sequence/Big Picture sections before I watch the scene a second time for Live Reactions/Behind the Scenes, so it’s always a giddy-up in my day when on the commentary track the filmmaker is talking about the same thing I was talking about. In this case, Whedon says that the entire carrier sequence is made up of many different scenes that “not only have different tempos, but different genres,” and says he was stretched so thin the editors had to figure out how to put it together. Though he has praise for how it’s come together and I’m a bit more mixed. What about you?

Action Level
Wall to Wall

Rating
Mixed


Chapter 13. “Man Down” 1:29:10 – 1:38:26

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Logline: Reeling from the attack and Coulson’s death, the Avengers are spurned to action after realizing Loki was trying to divide them.

The Big Picture. This is the scene that exposes how formulaic the movie is. I tout my five act blockbuster formula, but in reality nearly every movie has some kind of failure at roughly the 75% mark, a small window of demoralization, followed by a big push into the finale. This is a quieter scene with less to distract you, so it’s easier to notice the template.

But if we go back to 2012, Marvel is still doing something new-ish here. They’re giving us the typical superhero movie, but it’s multiple by six. Six heroes, action scenes about six times in scale. Now’s not the time to twist up a story structure. We need something proven and reliable that can hold that much weight.

I’m holding the sameiness of many of the MCU movies against the first Avengers, pretty unfairly. If I feel many of them used the story structure of The Avengers as a template and put out something lesser, that’s not this movies’s problem. Only Infinity War wound up feeling different, but that was more like Part 1 of a series finale. Is that story going to look a lot more conventional when it’s available in one big five hour piece? Guess we’ll find out later today.

Live Reactions
1:31:10 – The very brief shots of Thor in the field are my favourites of the movie just visually. They feel like they don’t belong in the MCU movies, in the best way.

1:32:19 – One of my favourite tropes is the demoralized hero who disappears from the movie for a while, then suddenly comes roaring back in a crucial moment. I like to think there’s always a scene where Harry Dean Stanton gives, say, Han Solo a pep talk in A New Hope a pep talk and we just never see it.

1:32:45 – Suddenly we’re on that drug from Dredd.

1:33:23 – I’d kind of be interested in an exploration of how Hawkeye copes with being mind controlled, but Marvel basically did a whole series like that with Jessica Jones later.

1:36:49 – “Son of a bitch.” Classic Tony Stark is back after being sad.

1:37:07 – As screwed over as Jeremy Renner may have felt, his joining the Avengers at Minute 97 does have the effect of keeping the movie fresh.

1:37:34 – This is the first cue I’ve felt something. If there was more character to these soundtracks I’d like the MCU maybe 20% more than I do.

1:37:55 – The sequence comes full circle with the cards.

Action Level
Low

Rating
Good.

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