The Crow's Dream

Philosophy, geekery, and the meaning if life, and what I read this week…

Posts Tagged ‘movies

The Avengers: A Review

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Avengers was probably one of the best movies I have ever seen. It was a crowning jewel of Marvel’s cinematic renaissance, which has made the company a powerhouse over the past few years. It is hard to believe that Marvel went from almost disappearing, back in the 90s, to accompany that can make a superhero movie that is not only accessible, but also mind blowing, to geeks and mainstream audiences alike.

 Usually, when you watch a movie based on a popular franchise you hear from purists complaining about their beloved characters being modified in order to fit a director’s perception of what the mainstream will embrace. Invariably this type of storytelling leads to bland and boring moviemaking. Just think about this about the betrayal most fans experienced when it was announced that the Ninja Turtles were actually going to be aliens, rather than mutants. Avengers succeeded because Marvel had the guts to trust that a good story combined with their characters would be enough to please the audience. They were right. Shortly after the movie I received a text message from a friend whom I don’t think has ever read comic books as habitually as I do. The message read: “Amazing!” And I knew that he was talking about Avengers.

 Finally Marvel has done what me and my friends, back when we are 13 years old, only dreamt about, but never thought would be possible: A movie combining all of our favorite superheroes in the kind of extravaganza that only a genius or a 10-year-old dressed up in a superhero costume can dream about.

 While I haven’t enjoyed everything Joss Whedon has ever made, but the guy knows how to tell a story. Just ask the thousands of Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans who followed the show in rapture until it ended. Mr. Wheaton took the by now trite alien invasion ploy and turned it into a multilayered drama that contained just enough romance, political intrigue, corrected development, and action to appeal to almost anyone who loves a good story. The timing in the movie was impeccable, and every actor, from the superhero team to the lowly waitress who gets interviewed at the end had enough presence to carry themselves next to each other.

To be honest, I thought that Chris Evans was not going to be able to pull off the role of Capt. America. I thought that Robert Downey Junior’s magnetic personality would overshadow his role, but he actually pulled it off. He comes across as a somewhat older, extremely idealistic, but gifted leader who knows how to take control of the situation and direct his team towards victory. My concern for Mr. Evans’ ability to pull off the role of Capt. America stemmed from Tobey Maguire’s rendition of Spider–Man. He was a great young Peter Parker, but when it came time for him to turn into smart the  Alec personality of Spiderman, he felt a little bit short. Chris Evans was a great young Captain America, but did not lose track of the character when it was time for him to be the older version of the icon we’ve all come to love and trust.

 As I said before, every other actor surpassed my expectations. Scarlett Johansson was unbelievable as the Black Widow, and everyone got enough screen time for the story to feel tight and organized. While I usually never watch movies more than once, this one will make its way into my collection as soon as it becomes available. Seeing the movie’s incredible success overseas makes me hope that producers and decision-makers in big media companies will see that it is quality storytelling, well-developed characters, and attention to detail that make a great movie experience. I am hoping that the incredible amounts of money the Avengers will generate will have a positive impact in the movie industry. Of course, some producers are just as likely to try and imitate the movie’s success by dissecting it and by trying to copy the elements that made it successful. The problem is that you cannot copy good storytelling. It has to come from a place of authenticity, not from focus groups only.

 I can wholeheartedly recommend the Avengers to anyone who wants a good yarn. And yes, you should stay after the credits.


Written by Hector

May 5, 2012 at 3:13 pm

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Thoughts on Dreams and Stories

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I just finished watching the movie Forbidden Kingdom. It wasn’t bad, especially for young kinds. It was action packed and it had a little bit of philosophy and mythology in it. The characters were not very well developed, but were archetypical enough to not need it. Before watching the movie, however, I managed to catch up on my sleep–I woke up at 11. In my dream, I was a warrior from the future. I travelled in a shiny spaceship called the “Silver Skull.” My mission was to help a young medicine student fall in love with a young, and unsuccessful guy. Their marriage was going to somehow save the future world. The dream wasn’t bad either. Again, the characters were not that developed, and there was no philosophy in it. Though  the special effects were better in the movie–which actually begins with a very cool dream sequence–I got to experience the dream from my own perspective. In the end, after both the dream and the movie, my rational mind was amused by the content, but a small part of me felt that strange sort of nostalgia one can only feel for the worlds that never were. 

Although I am a rationalist in the strictest sense of the world, I believe that great stories and dreams are filled with intrinsic value. I do not claim to know why we dream, or even why we tell stories. I have heard that we do so in order to learn. It may be true. Stories teach us things that essays and non-fiction can’t even begin to explain, but even if this weren’t true, I wouldn’t give up the pleasure of dreaming or of a good story simply because there is no rational explanation for their utility. 

Good storytelling and great dreams enliven me. Good stories need not to be “really real” in order to mean something. The realm of the story needs not to be constrained by the bounds of reality, yet, many people try to prove the reality of their mythology, by making up pseudoscientific explanations for impossibilities. That cheapens the myth. It takes away it’s power and value. I think Joseph Campbell might have said something along those lines. The mystery within the story is not it’s hidden literary meaning, but the way it moves us to become better humans. Stories exemplify our ideals by painting them in colors so vivid that we cannot ignore them. As for dreams, I don’t know what they are or what they mean, but they rejuvenate me and amuse me, plus, they are the only way I know to fly a spaceship.

Written by Hector

October 18, 2008 at 6:46 pm