Tuesday, May 22, 2012

anthony lane on the avengers


The first scene is set in an undesignated patch of outer space, where some masked moaner yaks on in a rich and threatening baritone. I couldn't understand a word until he asked, 'The humans - what can they do but burn?' If he is referring to our cooking skills, this is grossly unfair, for we can also poach, broil, gently simmer, and steam en papillote. . . .

Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is a tall, well-spoken megalomaniac who bears a magic spear, although, for anyone who enjoyed Hiddleston's spry and convincing turn in Midnight In Paris, the world would appear to be at the mercy of F. Scott Fitzgerald with a monkey wrench.

One of the failings of Marvel - as of other franchises, like the Superman series - is the vulgarity that comes of thinking big. As a rule, be wary of any guy who dwells upon the fate of mankind, unless he can prove that he was born in Bethlehem. . . . I remember the joy of reading Dvid Thomson's entry on Howard Hawks, in A Biographical Dictionary of Film; the principle underlying Hawks's work, Thomson argued, was that 'Men are more expressive rolling a cigarette than saving the world.' All movies thrive on the rustle of private detail - on pleasures and pains that last as long as a smoke - and there has been nothing more peculiar, in recent years, than watching one Marvel epic after the next, then sifting through the rubble of gigantism in search of dramatic life. . . .

Come the climax, Thor tosses his mallet, Iron Man hurls energy pulses from his palms, while Captain America waves his slightly underwhelming shield, and, not to be left out, Black Widow repels invading aliens through the sheer force of her corsetry. . . .

The New Yorker, May 14, 2012

1 comment:

Jeremy Purves said...

There are times when Anthony Lane puts it all so perfectly in a couple of paragraphs that you wonder why you should even try to write anything about the same film. There aren't many reviewers who can write how a certain director insists on keeping his "high level of vapidity" or how a popular film "clings to the frantic in a desperate bid to avoid the plausible" while coming across as a comic rather than as a snob, but Lane is one of them.