The holidays, with family visits, school vacations, and all the work that goes along with them, were extraordinary this year, if tiring. On top of that, my younger brother came in from Europe for a week-long visit; it was the longest we’d spent together in about twenty years, and I cannot wait to see him again.
Despite that, I’m glad to return to my writing desk. What follows are three micro-reviews of movies my brother and I saw.
- The Avengers: As I get older, I find myself less and less fetched by superhero films, even ones depicting what used to be my favorite superheroes. Unfortunately, The Avengers succeeded only in disappointing. The lack of a central character resulted in a chaotic, plotless mess; Joss Whedon, who can be very occasionally entertaining, failed to bring the story elements together into a comprehensible whole. All in all, the film was too self-conscious and required that you’d already watched the Thor and Captain America movies before it. Hawkeye was fun, but under-used, and Black Widow took the typical female Whedon role: an ass-kicking woman smarter than everyone else. Robert Downey Jr. was great as usual. Tom Hiddleston was so good as Loki again that it almost made me want to watch Dr. Who. 2 out of 5 stars.
- Anchorman 2: I loved Anchorman and had middling hopes for the sequel, which were borne out by a series of improv pieces that went on way too long. There were a few very funny parts, including the musical number, the visit with Veronica and her boyfriend Gary, the first minute of the dinner scene at Linda’s house, and the final battle. The rest of it just wasn’t terribly funny. It was clear that on some shoot days, certain actors were more on the ball than others. For whatever reason, Steve Carell seemed to be phoning it in, and in the scenes with Chani, Kristen Wiig (in her tighty-whiteys) always stole it. It’s extremely difficult to recapture the magic with an original sequel to an original film, and Anchorman 2 failed. Still, the funny bits were memorable enough to carry it to 3 stars out of 5.
- Man of Steel: I really, really wanted to like this film more than I did. As a mixture of Moses and Jesus, Superman is a transcendent figure, a true super hero sent to Earth to help mankind. Henry Cavill was excellent: hit all the right notes, looked great, achieved dignity in the blue suit with the red boots. And yet…it was a mess. General Zod wasn’t crazy enough to be a true villain; he just seemed like a massive dick. There was too much Russell Crowe and not enough Kevin Costner. Amy Adams wasn’t a convincing Lois Lane. Diane Lane was good, but didn’t get anything interesting to do. The fight scenes between the Kryptonians and Supes eventually became tiresome. Krypton, however, seemed like a real place with real people, unlike the Richard Donner Superman film. Still, it was a Superman movie, so it gets 3 out of 5 stars.
Usually, I’m a Marvel over DC guy when it comes to superheroes, but Superman beat the Avengers handily.