Saturday, April 28, 2012

The Avengers: a non-spoilery consideration of its pacing issues

This isn't a spoiler; it's the premise: The Avengers are a bunch of super-heroes that team up to fight global threats. That means the structure of the film is pretty reasonable:

Act One: In which a Threat emerges and some characters are introduced
Act Two (First Half): In which we witness a series of decidedly awkward encounters between characters
Act Two (Second Half): In which some stuff happens, and we observe the aftermath of that stuff.
Act Three: In which some further stuff occurs.

Here's my review of the movie:
The Avengers (2012) ***** Holy. Shit. Pacing issues don't detract from splendid characterisations and great action scenes. The bar is raised.
It's in the first half of Act Two that the majority of those pacing issues occur. And I think it comes down to this: the role of an antagonist is to force characters to change. Now, I think the antagonist in The Avengers (who, now I think about it, could be considered to be Nick Fury ... but that's a discussion for another day) does force every single character to change - and in ways that really reinforce one of the film's main interests: the nature of teamwork.

However, when you're watching it, notice what the antagonist does and doesn't do during the first half of Act Two. Ask yourself what their goals are, and whether they achieve them. Ask yourself: what is the immediate threat that the Avengers are dealing with? That's certainly what I'll be doing during my second and third viewing of the film - and it's the answers to those questions that created the intermittent bursts of slow pacing for me.

... Also: it's one of the funniest blockbusters I've seen in years.
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