For my 35th birthday, I was lucky enough to see The Avengers on the big screen. The really big screen. If you’re one of the three regular readers of this site, you know I don’t normally talk about movies, as I’m too busy talking about books, games, and Community.
But I felt like I had to say something about what I experienced last night.
Before I review the movie, a few caveats:
- I love Joss Whedon. Firefly is one of my favorite shows ever, and I have watched Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along-Blog more than I care to admit. That said, I was nervous when it was announced that he would be directing The Avengers. I just didn’t think that he could harness all of those big names and big-name egos while making a movie. I was wrong.
- I love all of the Marvel Studio movies (the ones independently done by them—not their previous co-productions) that built up to The Avengers (Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor, Captain America, and even The Hulk to a lesser degree).
- I am not a fan of post-production 3-D. I think that if you’re going to do 3-D, you should incorporate it into the entire process of filming.
- I will not separate the movie with the presentation in this review. By that, I mean that the movie and the presentation are an integrated package as far as this review is concerned. Would my review have been different if I had seen it in 2-D? Probably. Just thought it should be noted.
The first part of the evening that blew my mind was the 3-D trailer for Prometheus. Holy crap that movie looks insane. And the preview for The Dark Knight Rises… Between those two, my mind was jelly.
The 3-D presentation of the movie was nice. It never felt gimmicky, nor did it feel hastily thrown together like some have said for Clash of the Titans. Right from the get-go, I was thrown into the action, and several times, I found myself clenching my teeth out of excitement. There were a couple of times where I wanted to jerk out of the way, but for the most part, the 3-D was there to add depth, which seemed to increase my immersion, never drawing attention to the fact that it was in 3-D. Just like good special effects, you’re not supposed to notice it…
This movie is crazy. I mean, there are huge chunks of action, the kinds of which I’ve never seen in any movie before. When the different characters are doing their thing, it’s epic. If you think about it, it should be epic. Here is a billionaire-genius who flies around in a power suit with enough firepower to destroy entire cities, a Norse god who can conjure lightening, a super-soldier, and a gamma-ray-infused Hulk all running around, and for a kid who grew up reading about the Secret Wars, the Phoenix Saga, and the Skrull invasions, this shit was dead-on.
These guys are supposed the be the best of the best, and every time you see them in the movie, you feel like they just might go crazy and blow everything up. Leave it to a nerd like Whedon to make this movie feel just like it did when your imagination filled in the blanks from all those comics. On that level, it felt authentic.
Okay, enough of all of that. Now on to the real review:
Movies like this destroy piracy. In a sense. Avatar, which made ridiculous amounts of money, also saw a ton of illegal downloads. The figures for that movie? $2.7 billion in gross ticket sales… While it was pirated so much, Avatar was an experience, one that couldn’t be replaced by shaky-cams and screener-rips. Even though torrents of The Avengers have been online for a week or more, there is absolutely no way that it could even come close to the experience of watching the movie on the big screen with those ridiculous glasses.
Sure, 3-D televisions are getting more commonplace, but even if you had one, the movie experience will probably need the real 3-D blu-ray to even come close to the experience. I mean yeah, you *could* download the blu-ray rip if you find it, but holy crap. That’d be a huge file to download, and realistically, it’s hard to get a machine and software that will let you re-create the disc perfectly. And I’ve said this several times so far, so I’ll reiterate: this was an experience, not simply a movie. For the companies that are so worried about piracy, take note: experience trump shitty rips every time.
Of course, it must also be noted that seeing the movie on the big screen was expensive. Two tickets to the Imax 3-D showing plus a large popcorn (my loyalty card got me a free soda—score!) equalled $46. Forty-six dollars.
Holy shit. For that money, I could’ve almost bought a brand new game for the PS3 or something. But my wife and I have also been known to go see concerts in the past, and tickets to go see some band perform for three hours could easily be around $20 or so per ticket, and then you have to contend with beers, parking, and all that other stuff.
So what’s really going on here is that movies, if compared to other three-hour experiences, are starting to cost as much. With the 3-D technology, I think that they’re starting to approach that level of immersion. For me, I was still reliving the experiences from the movie for hours afterward.
My wife, who was subjected to a crash-course description of the previous five movies in the hours leading up to the previews (she normally doesn’t like superhero movies), said that she didn’t really have too many questions, which is a definite testament to the presentation of the material. Here again, Marvel had done a good job of bringing in the existing fans and the new fans, providing a script-presentation that wasn’t alienating, yet still leaving plenty of room for inside-jokes for the diehard fans.
If you have the money, go big and check it out on the big big screen. I don’t say these things lightly: this was the best movie experience I’ve ever seen at a theater. Period.
Now I’m going to go and patiently wait for the sequel.