I know I’ve barely written a blog in ages. It’s been hugely busy. And I do want to write about things other than Transformers 3, which was a rubbish movie.
But having seen Avengers Assembly you can’t help but be struck by the similarities. Both have mysterious cube things that can do amazing things as the central maguffin device. Both have heroes who can defend the useless human beings. Both feature big showdowns in US cities (ok, one is New York, one is Chicago, but to the foreigner both are all about big tall buildings) with grey villains from the skies, the main weapon of both sides being these huge wormy things that rip straight through buildings. These wormy things look incredibly similar.
The point here being that VFX houses aren’t that much different from their SFX counterparts. One may be on computers and the other actually physical, but they both have a growing menagerie of creatures and fx that they store in the hope they can refurb them and use them on more projects. It’s a useful thing for a low-budget filmmaker to know, that going to a place that has done whatever you need once before can mean you can get a good deal – it’s been paid for already, after all.
Avengers is the superior film. You’ll actually enjoy it. But you will feel like you’ve seen it all before. Perhaps because you have.
One last thought about this: big-budget action extravaganzas are about spectacle. It used to seem this was the last thing they had left. The stories have become safe, the dialogue neutered thanks to it needing to work across the globe. But if the visuals are coming off the shelf, pretty much exactly the same every year, well, all that’s left then is the marketing. It was more than mildly discouraging to walk down to the tube after Avengers to see an ad for the exceedingly-marketed Prometheus in which Michael Fassbender stares at yet another glowing blue cube…
One last last thought about this: we also saw another film on the same day as Avengers – Once Upon A Time In Anatolia, a film that at the time seemed excruciatingly slow but that stays with you, funnily enough for the reason you’d expect the blockbuster to – the spectacle. With most of it taking place in a single night out in the countryside, it contains some of the most extraordinary cinematography I have seen this side of St. Deakins. If you want a feast for your eyes, go for the obscurantist art house Turkish nothing-happens movie. If you want the full three laughs thanks to two moments of slapstick comic violence and a single line of dialogue (and they are good laughs), go see Avengers.