Weekend Chatter: Early 'Avengers' Reviews Hit, But Can Critics Change Your Mind on a Blockbuster?
The press embargo on Joss Whedon’s The Avengers broke Friday, a full two weeks before the movie opens wide on May 4. Normally studios are furious when critics publish early reviews. Marvel Studios and Walt Disney Pictures, however, likely will be thrilled with the raves being dished out by embargo-busting press.
The Hollywood Reporter might have been the first leak, posting Todd McCarthy’s favorable Avengers review. He writes, “It's hard to imagine that anyone with an appetite for the trademark's patented brand of fantasy, effects, mayhem and strangely dressed he-men will be disappointed. … Director Joss Whedon has adroitly balanced the celebrity circus to give every single one of the superstar characters his or her due."
Variety’s Justin Chang chimes in, “Marvel's cinematic master plan for its comicbook all-stars pays off in extravagant fashion with The Avengers. Like a superior, state-of-the-art model built from reconstituted parts, Joss Whedon's buoyant, witty and robustly entertaining superhero smash-up is escapism of a sophisticated order, boasting a tonal assurance and rich reserves of humor that offset the potentially lumbering and unavoidably formulaic aspects of this 143-minute team-origin story.”
Countless more reviews will continue to flood the Web over the weekend. If you want to read them, they’ll be easy to find.
I’m choosing to stay far away from early reviews, so as to preserve what little surprise remains for Whedon’s Avengers, a film that has been heavily scrutinized since the first day of production. Don’t you want to be a little bit surprised when you finally sit down in a theater on May 4 to enjoy the film Whedon has assembled?
But that’s not today’s question. I’d rather know this: Do reviews influence your decision to see a blockbuster like The Avengers? If the reviews hitting the Internet were negative, would they change your mind about potentially seeing this mighty Marvel event? Or are you going, regardless, and will happily make up your own mind?
It’s an interesting debate. Every major outlet has to review The Avengers. But are they creating any additional buzz for a film that has saturated the market with awareness. There are a number of summer movies fighting for attention that will need critical support to build a fan base and potentially increase their audience size. The Avengers probably isn’t one of them.
So tell us, do early reviews for massive summer blockbusters like The Avengers affect your decision? Could negative reviews for a film like Avengers, The Dictator, Battleship or – Heaven forbid – The Dark Knight Rises affect your decision to see it in theaters? Or when it comes to the Summer Movie Season, is it just, “Pass the popcorn and cue up the special effects,” regardless of what critics have to say. We’d love to hear your thoughts!
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Sean O'ConnellFandango Bloggers
Sean is a film reviewer for The Washington Post and daily contributor to Fandango.