Jerry Pournelle: View from Chaos Manor and The Avengers

Our chief commentator, Dr. Jerry Pournelle, reviews a film, The Avengers. Classic Jerry. Great geeky stuff.

I was going to write more, but at 1530 my co-writer Larry Niven came over to pick up Roberta and me, and we went off to a theater where we were joined by Larry’s nephew and family to watch The Avengers.

Great fun. Anyone who is into Marvel Comics will love it. Those who aren’t familiar with the Marvel universe might want to look up a few of the characters but you don’t really have to.

You can roll with the flow.

It probably helps to understand that Black Widow and Hawkeye, the archer, were lovers. And it certainly helps to have seen the two Iron Man movies. But it’s still a rollicking good adventure with oodles of spectacular special effects. If you hate action adventure movies, you’ll hate this one. But then you already know that.

Gwynneth Paltrow is one of my favorite actresses. I particularly liked her performance as Sylvia Plath in what I think was a really underrated film. And she has managed to do something that a lot of young actresses don’t manage and that is to find a part that isn’t character-acting after their ingénue career period ends.

Paltrow has made Pepper Potts into a believable character, a capable and mature woman, but an attractive woman who doesn’t live off her looks. Though she’s a major character in the Marvel universe, she isn’t so heavily featured here. Her role, even so, is a substantial one.

Scarlett Johansson has a major part as an action adventure heroine with near superpowers. She is said to have done most of her own stunt work, too.

So far as the guys go, I didn’t find any of the male performances as outstanding. Robert Downey Jr. does his usual job of making Iron Man believable, and Tom Hiddleston is quite good as Loki.

It’s a long movie. I thought it perhaps too long, though I’m not sure what I’d cut. The action never stops.

I found a few of the plot changes too abrupt — that’s too little preparation — but Niven and my wife hadn’t noticed those until I brought it up. So I’m probably too analytical for this kind of film.

It’s the View from Chaos Manor here at

Still, I recommend this movie. It’s the View from Chaos Manor here at

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