Thursday, September 27, 2012

The Avengers

Special effects are essential in action movies. One movie that utilizes special effects at the highest level is The Avengers. The Avengers is an ensemble of multiple superheroes all coming together for one incredible, action-packed movie. The biggest fight scene in the movie is the climactic battle, taking place in “New York City”. I put New York City in quotation marks because most of that scene actually did not take place in New York at all. The production could not realistically set things on fire all over New York, or destroy multiple buildings, so they did not actually film in New York at all. I learned from the bonus features on The Avengers DVD that they filmed some of the action sequence in Cleveland, which they dressed to look like New York. The other portion of the fight scene was filmed in New Mexico with a green screen surrounding all of the characters. Then they dressed the area with flipped cars, broken glass, smoke, fires in the distance, and stuff falling everywhere to add to the effect and make the scene more realistic. In reality, the only real thing was the ground around them. Filming in a different location can hinder a movies authenticity, but the extreme lengths that The Avengers visual effects team takes to make the scene look real counter effects the usual negative effects that might usually occur.

One of the most talked about characters, not only in this scene, but out of this entire film was the Hulk, played by Mark Ruffalo. People said that the character added some of the best lines and best scenes into the movie, but mostly people raved about how amazingly life-like the Hulk looked. In order to get that sort of reaction from the fans, the production team went through extensive work. The character in the film is primarily computer generated.  But to make it more lifelike, Mark Ruffalo was incorporated into the filming of the Hulk, and having that semblance really grounded the character in reality. Obviously there is not an actual Hulk out in the world that the visual team can look to for inspiration, but having the Hulk look as life-like and believable as possible really draws in the audience. Mark Ruffalo ran through every one of the Hulk’s performances in the film, which really adds credibility not only to the character, but to the movie as a whole. In addition to Mark being incorporated into the Hulk, the animation was a major contributor to the character. It involved a whole process of simulation to create fine wrinkles and the correct movement of the skin to make the Hulk look realistic and not just computer generated. The audience knows that it is a computer-generated animation, but being able to go to the movies and forget about reality for a few hours is extremely appealing. Therefore, the Hulk looking believable is extremely important and adds a whole other dimension to the film. Technology can sometimes hinder a movie’s acting. In Louis Giannetti’s, Understanding Movies, it states, “Acting has also been affected by this technology, though not usually in a positive way” (33). By using Mark Ruffalo to actually run through the scenes, it diminishes the risk of bad acting when the actors don’t actually have anything but a green screen there to act with. Lunsford and Ruszkiewicz say in Everything’s an Argument that, “Sometimes images have the power to persuade by sheer pathos” (452). That is exactly what happens in The Avengers when the audience gets to know Bruce Banner/ the Hulk.  A feeling of investment in this character is created that makes the audience want to root for Bruce Banner to accept the Hulk as part of himself and use it to his advantage to help save not only New York City, but the entire world.

I love learning about the behind-the-scenes action that goes on during film production. Watching the bonus features on The Avengers DVD really gave me an in-depth look at the lengths the production team took to make the movie incredible. The Avengers was one of the top movies of 2012 and one of the main reasons was because of the amazing special effects. The visual effects team did not care how long it took, but they wanted to get every detail right. They succeeded. Every detail from the shattering of windows down to the way that the Hulk’s skin moves was unbelievably accurate and life-like,  which added credibility to the movie and thus enhanced the film as a whole.


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