YPM @ the Movies: The Avengers

Previously in the “YPM @ the Movies” series of blog posts:

I’m a big movie fan. In fact, I not so long ago wrote a way, way too long review of my top ten films of the 2011 film season.

However, I moonlight in my day job (wait…daylight?) as an Associate Pastor of a Uniting Church in Golden Grove, with a heavy emphasis on the Youth Pastor part of that job.

I love my job. I love being able to connect with kids, to feed into them a deep faith in Jesus that can give them hope for the present and future. I feel privileged to work with them and to hear their stories, to laugh and cry with them and to be permitted to offer advice for their lives.

Let’s face it – I love shooting them with Nerf Guns and tackling them in Gladiators as well. It’s a multi-faceted job.

So I thought it might be worthwhile to let two of my joys combine – youth pastoring and film watching – and offer a film review from the perspective of a youth pastor.

I promise you – I don’t go seeing movies every week and I won’t do a review of every movie I see! I have just happened to see two films in a row that could potentially raise questions for parents about whether they should or should not allow their children to see it.

Last week I reviewed The Hunger Games. This week?

YPM @ the Movies

Movie: The Avengers
Rating: PG-13
Duration: 142 minutes

Marvel has been building towards this film for a loooooong time. Two Iron Man movies. Two different tries at Hulk (both unsuccessful, really) with a third actor used as Hulk in The Avengers. One Captain America movie, one Thor. Zero Black Widow movies (and counting). Multiple Samuel L. Jackson cameos.

To be honest, in a lot of ways, all the other movies were just vehicles to make the fanboy uber-dream that is The Avengers happen. Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth have begun to be genuine stars as a result and the quickly-rising star of Jeremy Renner fits in with that group nicely. So Marvel’s eggs are firmly in this basket and they will be hoping that it – and The Amazing Spider-Man – will be 2012 smash hits.

The Ratings System
What factors am I using to rate this movie as a youth pastor? Glad you asked.

Voting in this particular rating takes into account a variety of things that I wouldn’t always consider as a moviegoer but include while analysing it as a youth pastor:

1) Acting
2) Story
3) ‘The Look’ (Cinematography/Production/Direction/Costume/Make-up and, for my wife’s sake, Editing)
4) Appropriateness of themes
5) Appropriateness of content

Add it up to a score out of 50, divide by ten and there’s your out-of-five stars.

So without further ado:

Acting – 4/5:

Acting is a loaded word in a superhero movie. You can only expect so much and its very scripted, naturally. Acting forThe Avengers goes on a sliding scale from Robert Downey Jr down to Samuel L. Jackson. Somewhere between is the vaguely confusing acting of Scarlett Johansson. I’m still not sure if she’s an excellent actress or a terrible one, or somewhere in between.

Anyway, props to Mark Ruffalo as an excellent Bruce Banner and Chris Hemsworth for trying hard with Thor. And props to Jeremy Renner for being less lame as Hawkeye than I thought he’d be.

Hawkeye – not as lame as you’d expect!

Story – 3/5

The story was always going to be exactly what you thought it was.

***PARTIAL SPOILER ALERT***

Superheros unite, fight, disperse, reunite, fight aliens, rinse, repeat.

It’s a thoroughly enjoyable romp that isn’t a total nuke of a script. It’s predictable, explosion-filled, one-liner stocked and has a few cheesy moments that you almost need to enjoy this kind of movie.

See, being exactly what you thought it would be isn’t a bad thing if it’s exactly what you want it to be.

‘The Look’ – 5/5:

Love it. Special effects are obviously at a premium in The Avengers with The Hulk in particular a combination of greenscreen, motion capture and food colouring. But the cinematography and production qualities are exceptional too. Perfect marks.

Appropriateness of themes – 5/5:

The Avengers, like most of the Marvel comic movies, has a fairly light theme. Yes, the fate of the world is at stake. Yes, the characters are basically violent by profession and nature. But – as opposed to The Hunger Games – there is a sense of the unreal. None of us really expect to see an alien portal open above New York City. Right? Right? Riiiiight. There is a small look at death, but it’s done in an appropriate way and without gore. There is nothing in this movie that I would consider genuinely frightening for kids 10 and over.

Appropriateness of content – 5/5:

The Avengers is very appropriate for its PG-13 rating in terms of violence (mostly directed at aliens), sex/use of sexual imagery (non-existent) and bad language (non-existent). I have no hesitation recommending it for children with parental guidance.

Overall:  4.5 stars

See it if: You can handle PG-rated movies, you love superhero movies, you love superhero comics, you secretly believe you are a superhero
Don’t see it if: You hate superhero moviesm you hate explosions, you hate aliens, you hate costumes
Suggestion to parents: Just keep an ear out for RDJ’s dialogue and make sure your kids don’t go all Thor and Loki on each other

Mike

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