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MANILA, Philippines - The big-budget, action hero film "The Avengers" packs a wallop, but what made it really good for a viewer like me who goes for the storyline than anything else is that it lets you meander through messages - some even reflective of an imperfect leadership and flawed humanity.
The heroes - Iron Man, Captain America, Hawkeye, Black Widow, and Incredible Hulk - all have their demons that the film elucidates, but not to the point of overkill. These are illuminated through sharp dialogue and a cacophony of pithy lines - when Captain America, played by Chris Evans, tells Iron Man (played by the amazing Robert Downey Jr.) that he is not a hero because he mainly thinks of himself, you knew it hit a raw nerve. Who is Tony Stark without the iron suit? Stark, in his charming, funny way, gives you the expected answer: a billionaire, a playboy, a philanthropist.
Yet, whilst he is all that, he is not a hero. Captain America, in an icy glare, expresses this without saying anything: Stark is just like any other self-serving powerful person. Brilliant, but superficial.
The Captain then says in order to be a hero, what it will only take is to think of others, too.
Stark - and the rest of the Avengers - did this after seeing a blood-speckled card. I wouldn't say whose blood swathed the vintage playing card showing an effervescent Captain America, but this I'll stress: the scene will tell you why valor and vulnerability are intertwined truths.
The movie had a decent balance of visual effects, action, and humor. There was fluidity in the fight scenes, if not perfect sophistication. The Manhattan mayhem is a scene that's easily etched in the viewer's memory, as the Avengers fought the army of Loki (Tom Hiddleton) the brother of demi-god Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and try to stop him from using the Tesseract - a cosmic cube and a source of infinite energy - to take control of the Earth.
Another engaging fight scene was the one between Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson). It's not flashy, not the kind where Hawkeye shoots his arrows with deadly precision, but it has some good old hand-to-hand combat. What made the scene pivotal is the fact that Hawkeye and Black Widow are even fighting - the two were not only supposed to be allies, they were friends - a rarity and some will say a peculiarity in Black Widow's world.
The Avengers, however, were not just fighting Loki, but also S.H.I.E.L.D, the law enforcement agency that tried to make them a team. S.H.I.E.L.D was not transparent about their objectives and strategies, widening the already damaging division between the members of the Avengers. The superheroes were also fighting themselves, their insecurities and in the case of Captain America and Incredible Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), their past.
The issues did not the overpower or distort the fun of the film though - and vice versa. The movie celebrates the color of Marvel universe, but it does not downplay the importance of contextualizing struggle. Lines such as "We bow down, but not to men like you" - a classic battlecry against oppression - makes you understand why the fight for freedom is essential, no matter what world (may it be on Earth or in Thor's Asgard) you're in.
But then Loki says, "Freedom is the biggest lie in life," and you can't help but appreciate how it almost asks the audience to probe a little more on the psyche of the movie. The director (Joss Whedon of the series "Buffy: The Vampire Slayer") did strive to make "The Avengers" more than another visual spectacle.
Amid the zing of creative shots and expected bonanza of visual grandeur, there's homage to real strife. - Rappler.com
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