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Those pesky aliens are always trying to destroy the Earth

The Avengers MIB3

The Avengers and Men In Black 3

In the summer I tend to see the big blockbusters, and so far this one is no different.  Perhaps the two biggest SF blockbusters so far are The Avengers and MIB3, and as of last weekend, I’ve seen both.  The Avengers follows the team-up of the Marvel superheroes who’ve been brought into the film world by a series of movies running up to this one.  The plot of this particular adventure involves the evil Aasgardian Loki arranging for an invasion of Earth using a… oh never mind.  MIB3 involves the escape from a LunarMax moon base of “Boris The Animal,” an alien assassin who hates K and goes back in time to… oh, never mind.  A few thoughts:

  • Both films are exactly what you’d expect them to be.  They’re fun, they’ve got good fights and good explosions, and some surprisingly good acting.  They’re also not going to make you a better person, improve your love life, or help society in any way.
  • The villains in both films are quite enjoyable.  Tom Hiddleston plays the over-ambitious loser quite effectively, making Loki both menacing and somewhat pitiable.  Jemaine Clement is nearly unrecognizable (so much so that I didn’t recognize him until we saw the credits) as the creepy toothy alien, Boris, in MIB3.  His outrageous accent and utter disregard for human beings works very well for the story.  Excellent.
  • Both films also features scenes in which prominent actors yield the screen to excellent and entertaining secondary characters.  The Arcadian, a fifth-dimensional being who apparently got his Earth fashion sense from Bob and Doug McKenzie, chitters and chatters delightfully about the mixing possibilities of the future.  It’s a great way to characterize the multiverse, and hilarious.  In The Avengers, as every person including my six-year old recognizes, The Hulk stole the show.  I love the Whedonesque line explaining Hulk’s secret (though I don’t really understand how it works, just that it sounds badass).
  • Creepy aliens invading New York? Check and check.  Laser blasts? Check and check.  Secret base full of high tech goodies? Check and check.  Assassin who shoots people with startling accuracy and clings to walls like a bad ass? Check and Check. Time travel? MIB check.  Robo-suit with missiles and other good stuff? Avengers check.
  • In both films, there’s an undercurrent about the nature of Earth as a member of the intergalactic community.  It’s been a common part of alien-invasion narratives that Earthlings need to make a statement to the Galaxy as a whole: “This planet is protected.” c.f. also Dr. Who (Torchwood), Warren Ellis’ The Authority, and L. Ron Hubbard’s Battlefield Earth.  In the latter, we’re a little slow to make that statement, but there it is nonetheless.

I’m sure you’ll enjoy these films.  They’re good summer candy.

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