Whedonpalooza!

It is finished. My grading, I mean. Over the last few days I have graded roughly one thousand math problems, some of which were even done correctly. But that’s all finished now. Except for graduation tomorrow, the semester is now over! Yay!

So what better way to celebrate than with a little Joss Whedon film festival? For the clueless ones among you, Whedon is responsible for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel. (And Firefly, of course.) First up was The Cabin in the Woods, which Whedon co-wrote with Buffy writer Drew Goddard. Brilliant! A masterpiece! If you have any taste for horror movies at all you’re going to love it. Five college students decide to spend a few days in a cabin in the woods. Mayhem ensues! I won’t try to describe the story any further, both because it would require major spoilers and because, well, it doesn’t make a whole lot sense. But that aside, the film has the best version of the “what’s going to come out of the elevator?” scene ever put on film. Had that been the only good thing about this movie then, as we like to say at Passover, dayenu.

Then it was back for the midnight show of The Avengers, directed and co-written by Whedon. It was exactly what you’d expect. Enjoyable, but not very satisfying.

I agree with everything in this review over at Salon. There’s very little in the way of dramatic depth in the film, and you do sort of get the feeling that the dialogue is viewed as a minor inconvenience for bridging the gaps between action scenes. Which is a pity, because the best superhero stories, most notably Batman and Spider-Man, really do have a lot of dramatic oomph.

Another problem is that the bad guys in these films have gotten pretty unimaginative. Thor’s half-brother Loki is back, craving global domination, and he has an alien army to back him up. Yawn, though Loki himself is one of the film’s more interesting characters. From a storytelling perspective, The Avengers are so powerful that it is hard to find bad guys who can challenge them.

But for all of that, I loved it! There’s plenty of Whedonesque humor and the action scenes are well done. There are plenty of memorable moments, even if the whole doesn’t add up to much. The scene where Loki confronts the Hulk, for example, will not be soon forgotten. Likewise for the scene where the Black Widow confronts Bruce Banner, or where Tony Stark and Captain America get into a battle of wits.

Basically, I’ll keep seeing these films for as long as they keep making them. And to judge from the trailers (Spider-Man! Batman! Battleship!) I think we are in for a long summer of enjoyable but ultimately unsatisfying films. I will be seeing all of them on opening night.

Comments

  1. #1 eric
    May 4, 2012

    Another problem is that the bad guys in these films have gotten pretty unimaginative. Thor’s half-brother Loki is back, craving global domination, and he has an alien army to back him up. Yawn, though Loki himself is one of the film’s more interesting characters. From a storytelling perspective, The Avengers are so powerful that it is hard to find bad guys who can challenge them.

    In some respects its got to be unimaginative, because the more imaginative ways of taking over the world don’t involve fistfights or big explosions. Nobody wants to watch a movie about how Loki wins the US election by out-campaigning Tony Stark.

  2. #2 Jason Rosenhouse
    May 4, 2012

    In some respects its got to be unimaginative, because the more imaginative ways of taking over the world don’t involve fistfights or big explosions. Nobody wants to watch a movie about how Loki wins the US election by out-campaigning Tony Stark.

    Actually,that sounds like a great premise! Come to think of it, in DC world, didn’t Lex Luthor eventually become President of the United States?

  3. #3 Deepak Shetty
    May 4, 2012

    in DC world, didn’t Lex Luthor eventually become President of the United States?
    Yes and it wasn’t a commercial success.

    I think we are in for a long summer of enjoyable but ultimately unsatisfying films.
    There is hope for Batman.

  4. #4 JimR
    May 4, 2012

    Just saw “Cabin in the Woods” and rate it 3.5/4 stars. One of the best ever horror stories. Very imaginative. I really liked it. Minor sex, fair amount of gore.

    Plan on seeing Avengers in a 3D Imax theater. Even a bad film with a lot of action is improved in that setting. It even made John Carter good, if incomprehensible.

  5. #5 Badger3k
    May 7, 2012

    After hearing I’d be stuck in a theater and give up 2.5 hours of my life…I’ll pass. I may get it on BR eventually, but I’m not a Whedon fan and hate the dweeb they got playing Cap (and really, who designed his costume – in the commercials it looks like he bought it at Walmart). I’ll take your word on the film and avoid the fangasm.

    Cabin in the Woods (if it’s what I think) looks like tourists stumble (?) upon a cabin that is a cover/entrance for a biowarfare lab. I may be mixing movies, though, since I don’t watch much tv and tend to avoid paying any attention to the commercials if I can help it. Is that close?

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