So I have an idea for a one-panel editorial cartoon. A guy shows up to a gigantic movie theater that’s totally empty except for one guy sitting in the exact middle of the theater who tells him, “Oh, sorry, every single seat in here is reserved.”

Look, I’m just going to be blunt here: if you’re saving a seat for more than one person (who should probably be your significant other) who hasn’t yet arrived at the theater, you’re an asshole. You know why I usually go through the trouble to get to the theater well in advance of a movie starting? It’s so that I have my choice of goddamn seats. When I get there and there’s some dude who got there one minute before I did and then claimed 10 seats of prime real estate for his nine buddies who don’t even show up until five minutes after the movie starts, that pisses me off to no end.

It’s simple–if you want to sit next to your friends, then fucking get there at the same time as your friends and go in together. I really think that as a society we need to just say “no” to seat saving at the movie theater. I know it sounds dumb, but ultimately, this is going to be the thing that finally causes me to either punch somebody in the face someday or get punched in the face. I don’t know why of all the shitty and obnoxious things that people do, this irks me almost more than anything else. But it does.*

Moving on…

The Avengers (2012)

Rating: ★★★★★ 

I haven’t been to see a movie in the theater in the over year and a half since my daughter was born, so if I am perhaps overly excited about The Avengers, it may be down to my renewed thrill at seeing an action movie as it is intended to be seen: viz., 10 times larger than life and so loud it makes your ears bleed. I’m not going to spend a ton of time reviewing this in any real sense, since my friend Donald at Blessed Are the Geeks wrote a fine review of why this film is so good. I want only to make a few comments.

Donald makes the point in his review (not necessarily as a criticism) that these are not the Avengers with which he grew up. That may very well be true. I didn’t grow up reading about the Avengers, as I only really discovered comic books as a teenager. But with that said, these are the Avengers with which I wish I had grown up.

While the renderings of these characters’ personalities may owe more to The Ultimates than to The Avengers, I’m fine with that, as I think The Ultimates was one of a few revamps that really and truly worked in a way that didn’t seem gimmicky yet managed to create characters that felt like the more canonical personalities and yet also seemed fresh and fully-realized in their own right. I was a big fan of the first two volumes of The Ultimates.

To be sure, what the filmmakers delivered in the film is not the Ultimates–not exactly, anyway (for one thing, the characters are not mean-spirited in the way that Mark Millar sometimes wrote them). It’s more of a blending of the traditional characters and the Ultimate versions. And it works very well at giving us something we haven’t quite seen before.

Ultimately, however, this film was successful because each character’s arc was so well written and instrumental in driving forward the narrative. There were no wasted characters in this film, and at the point that the film finally coheres these individual heroes into a team, it felt like a very genuine and inspiring moment, because of the many plot threads that had to be woven together to make it work. Say what you will about Joss Whedon’s characteristically snarky dialogue (with which I happen to be fine), but his sense of narrative structure was completely on point here.

Some other remarks:

  • I really enjoyed Mark Ruffalo’s portrayal of Bruce Banner. He adopted this somewhat cowed posture as though perpetually clenching, and delivered his lines like a man who is affecting an appearance of calm while a great turmoil bubbles just beneath the surface. Later in the film, when he is finally recruited to the cause of the Avengers Initiative, his line there made perfect sense in the context of Ruffalo’s performance. And just as a concept of the Hulk, this brought back what I liked about the film starring Eric Bana–the notion that the Hulk really is just another aspect of Banner’s personality made manifest. Banner, himself, is a guy with a lot of issues.
  • Visually, it was also interesting how the CG Hulk kind of looked like Ruffalo. Though I’ve got to tell you…I’ve been rewatching Ang Lee’s Hulk a lot lately because my daughter likes it, and that version of the Hulk still looks friggin’ amazing to me. That version of the Hulk is easily, in my opinion, the best actor of any Hulk we’ve ever seen animated, and it’s so flawlessly integrated into the scenery that I sometimes forget I’m watching CG–maybe that’s also to do with all the real-world environments Lee was able to use (e.g., the desert). Admittedly, it’s harder to pull that off when you’re burdened with destroying New York City.
  • But to be sure about it, this one definitely looked the most like Jack Kirby’s Hulk brought to life.
  • About ten seconds before the last second teaser to the next film’s villain, I guessed where they were going, and I practically jumped out of my seat. I won’t spoil it, but if you know anything about me, you know that this is hands down my favorite comic book villain and I hope they don’t mess it up and that he is, actually, the main villain in the sequel and not simply relegated to the sidelines.

Anyway, I could probably go on and on about the things I liked in this film, but I’ll drop it there for now. If I could pre-order the DVD now, I’d do it.

*Now that you’ve read that, read this: Your Complete Guide to Saving Movie Theater Seats; or this: Boiling Point! Seat Saver’s Etiquette