I keep hearing this (mainly from my Mom and my sister, but I keep hearing it anyway). I've also read it around the Internets, so. I've also been given odd looks when I disagree. Or seem to imply that "The Dark Knight Rises" was bad.
Did I mention that I really don't get the Mormon commercial campaign? I understand that there's a lot of bad stereotypes directed at them (join the club; "Jew" became an insult at my school for no other reason than that it was the first thing people could think of, and I spent four years asking people why "being like a Jew" was an insult, BEFORE I told them that I was one; also, see just about every religion and sexuality that isn't hetero, and every ethnicity). I understand that they've had to flee from people. I understand that most people don't know a lot about them. I've known, for certain, one Mormon in my life, and we only sat at the same lunch table - I spoke to her once outside of the cafeteria and I didn't like her all that much. She was a nice conversationalist some of the time, anyway. We had a number of discussions at my school (typically at lunch, when there was nothing else to talk about) about the differences between our different religions. We were... at least mildly diverse. We had a couple Catholics, at least one Mormon, a couple Jews, some atheists, some Presbyterians, some Protestants, some Muslims, some Anglicans, some "I don't really care what your religion is, I just want to talk about homework and TV and how much the preps really annoy us". So.
So I see these as a couple things. 1) It's supposed to teach people about what Mormons are like. They're not like the Quakers or the Hutterites or those "weird" enclosed sects you see on TV all the time. They could be some person you pass on the street. All right. DOWN WITH STEREOTYPES! THEY'RE CRUEL AND COMPLETELY UNTRUE!
2) It's supposed to convince people that being a Mormon is a great idea. I've seen only two of these commercials. One featured a business owner and another featured a scientist. It's nice to know that there are great people in our society, who might also be Mormon. But just because a great person is of a specific religious denomination does not mean that I would convert to that religious denomination. Most of my favorite actors are Christians or Atheists, as are most of my favorite singers, writers, and artists. That doesn't mean I'm converting. It's like people converting to scientology cause it's "the cool thing" in Hollywood.
If it's a conversion thing, even a passive conversion thing, then they must be assuming that they'll simple attract people to look up the religion and its tenets and such. So maybe they would be convinced to convert. Because, like so many commercials, this commercial thing has a large distance between "object being advertised" and "advertisement". Like those insurance commercials where you see them having a taste test. And it's supposed to have something to do with insurance. And there's not even an explanation about the insurance company or what it does. There's just a taste test.
Watch every insurance commercial you see closely. You would be... surprised. Also food commercials. "With a name like Smucker's, it's gotta be good." What? What about the Smucker's name makes it good? When I think about the word, I imagine someone doing fish lips and making the "smooch" sound, which, altogether (and separately) is really disgusting. Or it looks like a bastardized version of "Schmuck", which is not a nice term for someone. Then there's "mucking around", which is not a nice thing to say about someone's habits. Here's another test: go look at some well-known product names, and just think about them for a moment. H&R Block, McDonald's (which has an interesting history if you check it out), Burger King, Einstein Bagel's, and individual food items. Not like "banana" and "tomato", but like products. Candies and cereals and insta-meals and so on. Mascots, too. Especially when they involve animals. I just LOVE shows where all the animals talk. Especially when the group involves carnivores. Not omnivores. Carnivores. Yes, let's teach kids that all animals are friendly! Then when they grow up and realize that they're eating chickens and pigs and cows and sheep and such they can be filled with horror and go vegetarian or else keep on with what they've been doing and know that they're hypocritical, at least a smidgeon. Also, pray they never see a carnivore in action! Or learn how most of their foods were made (not just the generic meats; I mean like... the history of Jello, or just about any food involving chemicals and such).
So anyway, I wanted to write about DKR vs. The Avengers IMO.
Oh my. Kristi Yamaguchi???? When was the last time I heard about her? And they used her in a MITT ROMNEY AD? Seriously?
Ugh. So. Much. Anger. Especially since they just... why? Why do people DO that? Stick an Olympian talking about how awesome it is to be an Olympian in an ad highlighting how Mitt Romney "saved" the Olympics way back when. Yes, Mitt Romney. I bet you even built the podiums and cleaned up the garbage AND trained all of the athletes. Sure.
So I just stuck ye olde Doctor Who in so I can watch something and not get TOO distracted while I ramble.
Besides, I don't like watching it that much anyway. Dude. Barbara just knocked Ian over. And managed to break one glass thing. Out of four. Well... knocking Ian aside might have been one too many amazing things to ask from 60s television. Wow, I'm glad things changed. Ye old Doctor annoys me. I'm going to assume that his aged form made him at least partially senile. Ooh, bad scene change. It's like 90% screaming in the old series. Have I mentioned that At-Risk children annoy me?
Did I mention that teleportation also annoys me when it's not carefully thought out, insofar as it is possible? Not so much that it's POSSIBLE to move someone from point A to point B without bumping into the space between and reforming right at the end... but having it... work out sensibly. What's stopping them from landing inside a tree or a wall, especially when they're not familiar with the terrain?
What I've also learned from this show is that when a character does anything but stand, it's a very bad idea.
So I wrote a longish rant about DKR a few days ago. I'm not going to completely rewrite it so I guess I'll put in the Cliff Notes version for a decent comparison.
For starters, I did not "hate" DKR. As a favorite writer of mine wrote, "hate is not the opposite of love". The opposite of love is, well, not love. Just like the opposite of hate is "not hate". To be simple, anyway. I suppose a "lack of hate" also works.
I just don't love it, is all.
So, Cliff Notes. I'm just listing stuff when it comes to mind, not in order of importance.
1) The soundtrack was unremarkable. From what I heard, it was a recycling from the first two movies. Which is fine. I really like the soundtrack for those (Hanz Zimmer :D). But it wasn't remarkable enough for me to want to get my own copy. Have I mentioned that part of the reason I saw POTC 3 in theaters like six times was the soundtrack? (Only part of the reason, I assure you). I love soundtracks and, well... good music in general. So yeah. DKR. Not so much.
2) The acting was, IMO, unremarkable. I know everyone's saying Anne Hathaway just shone in this movie and that Tom hardy was great and, well... Yeah, okay. To each its time.
For starters, this movie featured Michael Kane, Morgan Freeman, and Gary Oldman. All three were playing characters I liked, and they were good at being those characters. But all three characters had small parts and relatively little screen time. Heck, Alfred disappears maybe halfway through the film. Gary Oldman did a good job as an older Gordan. But none of them were truly remarkable in any way. They were great in the previous movies, too. But they added to the tapestry in 2, and just seemed to die out in this one. In one they were amazing.
Christian Bale was... okay. He did fine for what he had to do. The script was odd and the plot was... He did fine for what he had.
Tom Hardy was... well, I'm glad he's not just playing a pretty boy. He's very nice looking and he could easily get typecast into that role, like Heath Ledger. I am all for experimentation. I love it! I hate it when actors and actresses get stuck in one role (-cough, Hugh Jackman-). I also like Anne Hathaway's decision in this. A new kind of role for her! That's great! So Hardy was... fine. I kept getting side-tracked by the fact that I couldn't understand every 2 out of five words he said and that I was trying to understand how his mask matched up with the Bane power set, since he wasn't really doing the whole steroids, powerjuice set-up that most Bane storylines involve. Also, the script. The really, really lame script. And the fact that I really got annoyed with the ridiculous anarchy plot. Hathaway was an interesting add for the Catwoman legend. Best live-action Catwoman? Sure. Given that her only competition that I know of is Halle Barry, since I haven't seen the original movies or the TV show and we're not counting animated Catwomans. She wins. Lack of competition always helps.
I think that she was great, and would have been much better if it weren't for the script and plot. She did great with what she had, and her acting helped save the movie. In fact, it helped, a little, for me to ignore the stiletto heels she was wearing. Yes, they make nice weapons to threaten people with. Shoes that spit out daggers can be very useful in a desperate situation. Stiletto heels for a cat burglar, or any superhero or someone who runs? No. Not so much. More dangerous to the one wearing them. Running in heels is an art on a normal day and you can't maintain and your feet won't forgive you for at least a couple days. Ever notice how a lot of male supers don't have heeled shoes? Yes, I know not high-heels. But boots with heels, too.
Did either of them win the movie over for me? No. Not together and not separately.
[Doctor Who] You have the damn bracelets stupid people. Teleport out! Or did you forget to take them or something? Ugh... bad TV... Snerk... they're lifting giant "ice rods". Yeah. Sure. Cause ice that big would be that light. Uh, no. (Yes, I know it's not ice and most likely Styrofoam).
[Back to DKR] Joseph Gordon-Levitt was okay. I think his star is really rising :D Inception was a great big step up from "Angels in The Outfield", and now he's doing this. Also a sort of acting experimentation. Very nice. Still... there were problems. Also, he's adorable.
I think the extras in the prison did a great job. The guy from Grimm who had no speaking parts did great, too. The mayor was good for his two minutes of screentime.
The dude who took Gordon's old job? Eh. He was just annoying and a little too over-excited.
So acting job. Not so much.
[Doctor Who] YOU HAVE THE KEY, TELEPORT OUT! OMG!
[Back to DKR] One of the principal things you should like in a movie is the acting. Sure, you should like the overall movie, but it's a movie. With people acting in it, typically. If the acting weren't important, you wouldn't have actors in it. Probably. Maybe. I THINK THAT LIKING THE ACTING IS SOMEWHAT IMPORTANT IN ANYTHING INVOLVING ACTING.
[Doctor Who] Oh really. They DIDN'T take the things. Wow. That was stupid. Oh no, they needed more plot threatening. Woot.
It's like this entire episode is one movie cliche after another. WTF.
[Back to DKR] 3) Plot. Anarchy... for the sake of anarchy... um... Kay? The story fit with the source material used so I liked that. I just... yeah, it fit the comics, but the sex scene just came off kind of randomly to me. I don't know if it's a thing or not, but I still kind of think that this "random in the moment sex", especially between characters who don't know each other well is kind of a Hollywood fiction. If they were married or had been dating for a while, okay. Fine. I get that. But this? I knew what was going to happen as soon as Tate... showed up... for no reason that I could fathom... And between wondering why Bruce had NO concern for this, being, well, Batman, who's only slightly better than the Question on conspiracy theories (admittedly, he was probably a little distracted at the time), I sighed. Aloud. "Great. A random sex scene. Lovely." I don't know about you, but I've always considered watching sex scenes on the big screen to be awkward. I'm kind of grateful that we only saw before and after. Although after was also kinda awkward, too. Beyond that, I mean... anarchy. It always comes back to that. I understand using anarchy for plot. Some of the time. I don't know if it was properly used here. I don't really think so.
4) Action sequences. Well... there weren't many. Bane was pretty badass, I suppose. Although Batman was kind of lame. I remember liking two, maybe. Both were Catwoman action sequences and were pretty short. One was good because of the way it made use of a ridiculous article of clothing. A staple of DC superhero stories is random fighting sequences. There weren't enough for my taste. And those that were there weren't as fun as normal Batman sequences, especially in comparison with the other two movies. I actually didn't even consider this element because there was nothing that really caught my eye beyond those two sequences where Catwoman uses the shoes and where she helps the kid thief.
[Doctor Who]Ah. More people thinking that a criminal court case involves a "let's solve the crime", which will prove innocence. Yeah no. Just no. Oh really. Really 60s sexism? A woman opens the door and automatically expects that someone is there to see her husband, and not maybe herself or whoever's on hand? Jeez. Beating of a woman. Ooh. This show, this show this show. Psychometic examination? Not DNA testing? MY FRIENDS, I GIVE YOU OLD TELEVISION! I take it that people know so little about what this show considers "law jargon" that they don't use dramatic music when certain people say things because people aren't expect to be smart enough to understand it.
[Back to DKR] 5) A very poor show of diversity. Two of the principal cast members are female. Seven are male. Two were Asian. Perhaps 85% of the extras were male. Perhaps 65% of those were white. It's one of those damned-if-you-do-damned-if-you-don't scenarios, so I understand at least some of the decisions. The only principal cast members (other than Catwoman) that they could replace were characters the audience wasn't meant to like. You make them female or nonwhite and people say "so only non-white and/or women are evil; great", instead of "so only white men can do anything of importance". I understand it. Doesn't mean I like it. Did this make me hate the movie? No. Didn't make me like it. Did I also mention that it's a "boy's orphanage", not just a generic orphanage? Sure, it's sticking to the comics. Maybe. I don't really know. But seriously?
6) There's a moment where Batman goes out to gather clues. And he ends up randomly at the top of a bridge. I know that comics are full of moments where heroes end up at random points somewhere for no reason, especially Batman, who just finds weird places to stand. A lot. So he ends up at the top of a bridge.
I was left thinking of a moment from Code Ment where Lelouch says "HOW THE HECK DID I END UP HERE???"
7) When Robin takes the the bus full of kids to the bridge and the cop blows it up and they tell the kids to get back on the bus... well. They flash back to this scene at least three times between other takes. I'm not entirely certain they even change the children in the picture. I know that it's annoying to get little kids to do anything, but seriously? I kept thinking "and meanwhile, Robin is shouting "OMG KIDS, JUST GET ON THE DAMN BUS ALREADY!"
8) Humor is a big winning point for me. There was a little of it, but not even close to enough to make a difference.
The things I liked about it.
1) When Batman says "so that's what it feels like" when Catwoman vanishes on him. That was funny. It made up for his really. Really. Really. Slow head-turn to look at the noise or light or whatever he looks at. And then turns back really. Really. Really slowly.
2) This actually ties into something I'm sort of angry about. I think that it would have been really awesome to see Gary Oldman take out those assassin. I know it wasn't necessary and still made him look badass the way they did it. And it was a fun moment. But I would have liked to see it anyway.
3) Despite the fact that I predicted just about everything and the fact that I really should have figured it out, they still surprised me with Talia's identity. That was nice.
It really isn't a matter of the bad things outweighing the good. It's a matter of there not being enough incredible things and no "good feeling"... and then the problems just shone out. I don't know. I thought it was a good movie, really. I just wouldn't watch it again.
Now for the Avengers. I've seen the movie twice in theaters and enjoyed it both times.
I guess I should do this in the same order.
1) I don't remember the soundtrack. I'd have to give it a listen to see if it was good.
2) Despite their best efforts, there was a LITTLE bit of cheese. But hey, it really wasn't much. They had Loki and the whole bowing thing, which was kind of lame. His opening speech was certainly... energetic. But kind of odd. The mind control thing was also kind of odd.
3) There were a few big "convenient" plot points. Putting in a self-destruct bit into the device? Banner just showing up where they were in New York? From wherever the heck he was? Also, while I think that Banner saying "I'm always angry" was very dramatic and badass", I was a little confused and it was WAY too convenient. I'm not familiar with the Hulk in the comics, so I don't know if he ever gains control, at least briefly, in some way. Obviously he didn't have COMPLETE control (and we don't see him change back until I guess the extra scene THAT I STILL HAVEN'T SEEN). But this was just... odd. He does occasionally help people in Hulk form in the comics. He did it twice in the Ultimate Spider-Man comics. She-Hulk seems to have full control. I think. Again, I'm not familiar with the comics.
Contrary to what people say, Heimdall could have probably spotted Loki while he was busy throwing all his power around (throwing power around messes a lot with stealth spells, unless the power IS a stealth spell; it's also harder to be stealthy when people are looking for you) on Earth. And honestly, who's to say Odin didn't have such power? The Bifrost had to be created at some time, and had to run on something. Who's to say this "dark matter" or whatever didn't power or it predated it, and the Bifrost was just a new invention that made travel easier? So I think that the only problem with Thor's appearance was the SLIGHT convenience. But if he was trying his best before to remain hidden, well... then I get him only showing up when Loki got to Earth.
Oh, yes. They only care about the woman. First, "it's a woman!" They didn't have to say "it's a man!" for the first dude. And they didn't make any comments about his age or anything. GOD THIS SHOW!
4) Sacrificial lamb/lion. I can't think about which he was supposed to be. THEY KILLED PEDRO!
5) The diversity distribution... was still eh. I didn't notice AS much as I did in DKR because I wasn't BORED watched Avengers, while I had a number of moments watching DKR where I thought "what should I look at now? Well, that bottom corner looks mildly interesting. Let's see what happens there." When you're bored by the main action, you're more likely to notice EVERYTHING ELSE. Yes, I did notice the diversity distribution. Two of the primary cast members are female. Eight are male. Of that, one is Russian, one is black, two are aliens... and the rest are all white guys (and the one girl). Most of the SHIELD personnel looked male. The city-goers seemed more diversified, and I don't remember the police very well (although I'm pretty sure those were mostly male, too). The Chitari (or however you spell it)... didn't have obvious either/or. Also, the scientists Loki had looked mostly (or entirely) male. It did bother me, but the movie was still good, so...
I would have liked other female heroes to be used. Spiderwoman has been on the Avengers, as has She-Hulk, Miss Marvel (or whatever her name is... Carol Danvers?)... But as far as I'm aware, Black Widow's is one of the only original female Avengers. So whatever. Most of the other female heroes in the Marvelverse seem to be spread between the X-Men and the Brotherhood of Evil (can't they just change it sometime, I mean seriously?).
1) The acting was fun.
RDJ was, well... he was fun as Tony Stark. Sure, he gets a funny script, but he was hilarious in pulling it all off. Even an amazing script can be wrecked by poor actors. And in this case, we had a great script and great actors.
Samuel L. Jackson was great. VERY great.
Chris Evans was great. Chris Hemsworth was great. Jeremy Renner was great. Mark Ruffalo was AMAZING and simple adorable. Tom Hiddleston was great. Scarlet Johannsen was great. Clark Gregg (Phil Coulson) was hilarious.
2) Lots of jokes and humor. "Ant! Boot!" "He's adopted." "This usually works." And so on. Lots of fun stuff.
3) The dynamic between the characters was just... it was amazing. I was very concerned that throwing that many big name actors into a soup, especially for a comic-book-based adaptation was doomed to failure, but, well... they did amazing. Adorable and funny and just... amazing.
4) The fights were great. Funny, nice to watch... simply enjoyable. And there were lots of them. The only one I really had issue with was the ThorxCaptain AmericaxIron Man end of the fight. It was kind of odd. I think it had something to do with where they were standing and how Iron Man and Captain America were just fine.
5) Script was awesome for the most part.
6) Chris Hemsworth. Chris Evans. Tom Hiddleston. On screen. A lot.
7) The story was just fun.
8) It matched up to the source material I'm familiar with. My first real run at an Avengers comic was the New Avengers, where there's a prison break-out and it attracts a bunch of disparate heroes to the scene, where they have a fight, and it's awesome. Afterward, Captain America gathers those heroes together so that it's just like the good ol' days. They have to learn to deal with each other and work together, and that's not easy. There's plenty of humor along the way. Admittedly, the make-up of the New Avengers was Captain America, Wolverine, Spider-man, Spiderwoman, that dude whose name escapes me... and I think someone else. Maybe Miss Marvel? I don't remember. For the most part, the Avengers seem to always be made up of Captain America, a Hulk-related character, and others. There's no storyline I know of that Whedon was blatantly copying. What's a theme in all comics, Marvel AND DC, when you have any team up? Typically, at least one villain (and it can be from one hero's specific Rogue's Gallery, doesn't have to be shared, although heroes are more frequently sharing villains today, probably because the majority of villains out there are just ridiculous), and then they all band together to deal with the world-ending problem.
In conclusion. Avengers awesome. DKR... not so much.
Avengers had good actors with a great script and an okay plot, and they shone together. DKR had good actors with a clunky script and a weird plot. And they kind of struggled with each other.
Avengers was funnier by a large margin.
Watching the characters interact with each other was very enjoyable to watch in Avengers. In Dark Knight it was somewhat painful at times and, well... kind of boring.
There was more fighting and more INTERESTING fighting in Avengers.
So... yeah. I enjoyed Avengers more. I don't agree that DKR was better. I would defintely buy Avengers for myself and rewatch it more times. It's not the best thing since sliced bread, but honestly it was a great movie.
And so I'm done. Now it's time for sleep. No more ye olde Doctor Who! Woot!