So, this was it. Each of those individual Marvel superhero movies was supposed to culminate into this blockbuster of epic proportions. After watching Iron Man, Thor, Hulk, and Captain America, here we are. Did it live up to expectations?
To be honest, I didn’t think that The Avengers was quite the jaw-dropping experience that it was billed to be, but it wasn’t an utter disappointment either. The central villain here is Loki, so the mythology around this narrative focuses a little more on the world of Thor and Asgard. There is some initial build-up to reintroduce all the characters, but there’s plenty of action to go around.
Perhaps the greatest thing is, quite like the two Iron Man movies, The Avengers doesn’t take itself too seriously. You get some disbelief-suspending action–like a sea-bound aircraft carrier that actually flies itself–and some well-timed moments of comic relief. While I didn’t really like Mark Ruffalo as Bruce Banner, there were two great moments toward the end of the film where the Incredible Hulk had the whole theatre in stitches.
The decidedly epic stature of The Avengers is supposed to outshine any of the individual characters, but I still prefer the two Iron Man solo efforts over this ensemble creation. That said, if you’re a fan of superheroes and comic books, you’d be doing yourself a disservice if you missed this film. They’re already working on a sequel, you know.
Now, where’s my shawarma?
Being Elmo: A Puppeteer’s Journey (2011)
There’s so much more to that red ball of fur than the rampant commercialism of Tickle Me Elmo would lead you to believe. Yes, Sesame Street is a commercial property, but it has charmed and educated generations of children about counting, the alphabet, and what it means to be a decent human being.
While it may be true that watching Being Elmo can take away from some of that magic, thanks to seeing plenty of behind the scenes stuff with adult hands shoved up the back ends of muppets, it really offers so much insight into the craft. It shows you how Elmo was almost a throwaway character for a veteran muppet handler until newbie-at-the-time Kevin Clash had the random chance to give Elmo another shot.
Frank Oz and Jim Henson really created something special and Being Elmo gives you a much better understanding of just how special it really is.
Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011)
After watching so many other Pirates of the Caribbean movies, I’ve lost interest. The plot devices that carry through the films have all started to blur together, making for a mess of characters, objects, and relationships. And none of that matters.
People watch these films for some funny tidbits from Johnny Depp and some fanciful swashbuckling on the high seas. And yes, you do get that with On Stranger Tides, but it lacks depth or any sense of satisfaction. Great, they’re at another bar. Great, they’re stealing from one another again. Great, they found a portal to another dimension. Okay, maybe that last one is a little new, but it’s still not really enough to redeem this otherwise mediocre attempt at another cash grab.
Tower Heist (2011)
What do you get when you take the usual Ben Stiller neuroses, add in an unconvincing streetwise Eddie Murphy thief, and dash in some underutilized Gabourey Sidibe for good measure? Tower Heist, apparently.
The idea is that Ben Stiller’s character is the building manager for one of the most exclusive residential towers in New York. He entrusts the pension fund for his employees to one of the savvy residents, who has apparently swindled their money away in some scheme. Ben freaks out, gets himself fired, and dreams up a scheme to rob this savvy (but apparently crooked) resident to give the wealth back to his former employees.
There are far too many moments where you’re left wonder why they did that or why they didn’t do that. The premise is strange, the execution is lacking, and the comedy just doesn’t work. Ben and Eddie can do better and they have done better. Skip the heist.