Assembling “The Avengers”

This weekend I, along with the USA, will finally get a chance to see Joss Whedon’s Avengers film. This movie has been four years in the making with Marvel Studios, recently acquired by Disney, deciding to invest millions of dollars to introduce a mass audience to each of the members of the Avengers team with their own individual films, all of which you can find my initial reviews for on this site.

I decided this past week to revisit all of these films to see how they stack up in preparation for the convergence.

Iron Man (2008) (dir. Jon Favreau)

At first I used to like to joke that Tony Stark is nothing more than a spoiled boy with too much money and toys. Rewatching the film it made me realize that while that previous statement may be true to some extent, the film succeeds emphatically in giving some great character motivation for Tony Stark to want more responsibility in his life. He’s spent his entire life being a character for the cameras to help sell his wares and not ask too many questions, but when he finds out the hard way that things aren’t going the way he thought he takes it upon himself to set things right, even with a little Black Sabbath playing in the background.

I still find a lot of the Obadiah Stane (Jeff Bridges) arc to be a bit to hamfisted, but on a whole the film works in setting up Stark for this bigger than life character.

The Incredible Hulk (2008) (dir. Louis Leterrier)

Here’s one of the film’s that I’ve always held a special place in my heart. After the failed outing of the Hulk in the 2003 Ang Lee feature, Leterrier decides to make a much more upbeat reboot, which in all honesty can be seen more as an episode. Thanks to a ridiculously quick one minute introduction to the world where gamma rays make people big and green we are allowed to jump right into the “off the grid” life of Bruce Banner and make a much stronger connection with him as a character when he’s being hunted by the US Military.

Hulk’s character is one of much complexity. On the surface the character of Banner/Hulk acts as a parallel to that of Dr. Jekyl and Mr. Hyde, but at the same time it shows how powerful and frail humanity is at its core. We’re all “primal” creatures, or so some psych majors would have you think, but even in those moments where the Hulk is free you can see the most gentle gestures being made, like when he and Betty are in that cave in the rain and he’s just slowly reaching in to get away from the environment around him.

The film on a whole is a vast improvement, and before this round of revisits was my favourite Marvel/Avenger movie.

Iron Man 2 (2010) (dir. Jon Favreau)

Is here where the “I was wrong” apologies begin? When the film was first released I reviewed the film to an astoundingly positive rating. To this date I’ve now seen the film four times, and while I admit that the film is full of a lot of ridiculously horrendous aspects, I do still like it for a lot of silly things.

I wouldn’t change this movie if it meant I didn’t get to see Sam Rockwell as Justin Hammer dancing on that stage and acting across from Mickey Rourke, who while playing a horribly written role – just like he did in The Immortals – I still enjoyed how he managed to deliver his character in the few scenes he got to take center stage (minus the opening moments in Russia), or the Monaco scene (once again credit to explosions), or even the crazy moments with Pepper and Stark. On the other hand I could deal without the overt nature of the Avenger presence, Tony Stark showing me that triangles are better than circles with “it tastes like metal”, and the ridiculously stupid end to an uneventful boss battle where I personally imagine being played in slow motion with Enrique Iglesias’ Hero playing.

Easily the worst Marvel/Avenger film of the lot and I can only hope that Iron Man 3, with Shane Black at the helm, will turn out a lot better.

Thor (2011) (dir. Kenneth Branagh)

Here is a movie that I worried about the most of all the Avengers. How does one take a god and make him actually more human than any of the superheroes we have in this group? Well I guess making Anthony Hopkins his father helps a lot.

Thor is one of those movies which bothers on the silly a lot, the running gag of him being knocked out everytime he says his name for the first hour of the film after reaching Earth, and his general demeanor in a real world setting works well as comedic magic. A lot of the characters on the fringes of the story – Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings and Stellan Skarsgard – all come off as completely useless and exist just to help Thor get from point A to point B, geographically, in most parts of the film. I know they propose the idea of Thor falling in love with humanity, and more specifically Natalie Portman, but I don’t truly think that the movie showed that in any way.

Removing that from the equation I do believe that Loki (Tom Hiddleston) manages to be the best of the Avenger villains. We have a great brother rivalry and his back handed tricks allows for a different kind of problem for our hero, which he can’t just hammer his way out of – even though he technically does.

It’s heart makes up for the silly in spades, and the likes of Tom Hiddleston, Anthony Hopkins and Idris Elba also do their own fair share of heavy lifting.

Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) (dir. Joe Johnston)

The leader of our Scooby gang finally decides to check in for our benefit and how wrong could I ever be. I criticized this film of resorting to easiness way too quickly and I apologize.

The first time I saw this movie I was completely with it until the end of the scene where Rogers brings back all the soldiers from his rescue behind enemy lines. At that point the movie was still perfect. Then he officially becomes Captain America and goes raining a fiery hell on Red Skull’s plans to take over the world. I was too preoccupied with the fact that the film at that point shifted from a character development piece to a pure action film. Somehow this time around the transition didn’t bother me that much.

I do also remember complaining about the representation of the action in the film and revisiting the film on bluray (in 2D) I didn’t have any of those problems I previously expressed, which allows me the opportunity to push all the blame on 3D conversion – a complaint I hope not to have while watching Avengers – and keep some form of dignity.

Otherwise this movie was perfect. It gave me the right blend of character, fun and action. Everytime the film paused to give Tommy Lee Jones a moment it was always worth it no matter how inconclusive he was. Joe Johnston knocked it out of the park with the visual look and feel of the film, and I even like how that disappears completely for the ending scene of the film where he is officially recruited into the initiative.

What’s Your Favourite of the Marvel/Avenger Films?

Top Ten Most Anticipated Summer Films of 2012

For the last two years running my anticipated lists have been well received (2011, 2010) so here I am again having survived the dregs of third of the year with honestly not much to show for it. But like rainbows coming after a spring shower it’s time for the bombs to go off and all that jazz, cuz the summer season is here.

10. Safety Not Guaranteed (June 8 )

I don’t know what it is about her but I dig Aubrey Plaza. This movie looks like it may not be much, but I can’t wait to check it out and see how the basic romantic comedy based on a preposterous setup of a guy believing he’s invented time travel.

9. High School (June 1)

So… Adrien Brody is one of those actors that no matter how poor a film seems he can always brighten it up completely. Seeing this image of him being this ridiculous cannabis salesman makes me smile in ways you can’t imagine.

8. Seeking a Friend for the End of the World (June 22)

I want to tell you that I have a good reason for this one, but that would be a lie. The apocalypse is a weird time to be making friends and trying to reunite with people, but I just want to see me some crazy Patton Oswalt. I’m pretty sure he’ll be in one scene of this movie and be done, but I still will enjoy the Carrell and Knightley moments I hope.

7. G. I. Joe: Retaliation (June 29)

Did I mention explosions? Because for some reason we haven’t seen any yet. Until The Rock showed up and decided that Cobra is bad…. I remember reading when this sequel was announced that Joseph Gordon-Levitt wouldn’t return as Cobra Commander, but we see the character, can I hope for a cameo voice over or something? I know this is going to be trashy explosions, but I can’t help myself… I still enjoy the first film and that movie was bad.

6. Avengers (May 2)

Deep down I believe Marvel owns my soul. I read way too many of their comics and now I’m in too deep. I couldn’t even see how bad Iron Man 2 was when it was released (review). But hey, at least now I can go see all four big boys (Cap America, Iron Man, Thor & Hulk) fight over who gets to be the team captain and wonder why they’re listening to Sam Jackson at the end of all their movies.

Read Top Five Next Page>>

TUMP [EP#97 – Red State]

We’re getting closer and closer to the benchmark of episode #100 and with that in mind we discuss the latest film from Kevin Smith, Red State. Listen to show to see if we manage to survive.

Show Notes

What We’ve Been Watching

Andrew (00:01:44): Batman: Year One, Assault on Precinct 13 (1976), Real Steel, Buck, The Big Year
Damion (00:10:54): The Green Lantern, Midnight in Paris
Douglas (00:18:29): Homeland, Boss, Person of Interest, The Counterfeiters

Trailers(00:31:08): Avengers, Sleeping Beauty, Shame

Review (00:56:31): Red State

Thanks for listening and feel free to let us know what you think either through the comments below or email us here.  You can subscribe to the podcast via our RSSThe Podcast Alley or iTunes.  It would be awesome if you would rate/review us on iTunes (we’ll read your reviews on the show)

This Week in Trailers: Oct. 15th

More trailers please:

THE BEST

Synopsis: A haunting portrait of Lucy, a young university student drawn into a mysterious hidden world of unspoken desires.

There are trailers I’ve found that just speak to me. Just like there are films that I don’t expect the general movie going population to get behind. This trailer is just intriguing and oozes mystery from frame to frame with Emily Browning being talked into being in the sex trade.

The film’s relationship with the name (obviously also the name of a classic Disney film) isn’t quite clear to me. There are some shots (including the final one) in the trailer which give me the feeling that this may be a reinvisioning, but I’m not quite sure and don’t want to commit to that mode of thinking so quickly. All I know is that I want to see this movie and hope Browning does a lot better than she did in the film earlier this year, Sucker Punch.

Synopsis: In New York City, Brandon’s carefully cultivated private life — which allows him to indulge his sexual addiction — is disrupted when his sister Cissy arrives unannounced for an indefinite stay.

I’m the biggest Micheal Fassbender fan that you’ll find out there on the net and when you add Carey Mulligan and the director Steve McQueen to the mix then I’m sold.

While I didn’t go wild for Hunger (and yes I’ve been meaning to give it another chance to win me over) I did see the talent from the director. So with what seems to be a much more character built drama with a lot more plot to it I feel that this may be the make or break film for McQueen in my eyes. I’ve already heard a lot of things about the film after it’s playing at TIFF last month. Can’t wait to see it.

 

THE INTERESTING

Synopsis: Jim, Michelle, Stifler, and their friends reunite in East Great Falls, Michigan for their high school reunion.

I was 14 when the first iteration of this franchise was released and to say that my memory of it is foggy is an understatement. What I do know is that it was funny, and more to the point that it’s been dragged into the ground over the years with a number of National Lampoon‘s style spin offs that go direct-to-DVD.

Here all the original cast return with us finally getting to ask “Where’d they go?” with very few of them actually doing big film/TV work after this franchise was over. The film seems to be keeping to it’s very sexual humour, even with it being grown up and all, and I can’t wait to revisit it all.

Synopsis: The S.H.I.E.L.D. agency brings together a team of superhumans to help save the Earth from annihilation by extraterrestrial invaders.

I’m not going to lie to you. I’m stretching my imagination here. This movie may just turn out to be bad. But I want so very much for it to be good. I want Whedon to succeed. I want it to be fun, and I want it to rock my socks off. The trailer doesn’t give me much to go on, a few scenes of people blowing things up and flying in Iron Man suits and members butting heads with some fun sounding dialogue (mainly Robert Downey Jr.).

I’m willing to give the film a shot. The question I want to ask is after this movie is done and released will Marvel allow all of their superhero films to stop intermingling?

Synopsis: Two top CIA operatives wage an epic battle against one another after they discover they are dating the same woman.

I don’t know why but the movie looks fun. It looks like a version of Mr. and Mrs. Smith (a film I love) with all the same kind of jokes except it’s two guys fighting over a girl. It’s not going to win any awards but it does prove that Tom Hardy can make me watch anything at this point, even when Reese Witherspoon is in the bloody movie.

 

THE WORST

Synopsis: An elite team of Navy SEALs embark on a covert mission to recover a kidnapped CIA agent.

Anyone here plan to sign up to become a NAVY SEAL? No. Then why are we watching this movie?

I get it people like action films set in a tactical war sense. But when the selling point of your movie is that it’s a war movie starring active Navy SEALS using real tactics you can tell that it’s going to wreak propoganda filmmaking. I prefer a film like The Greatest Film Ever Sold where the movie is upfront about it’s desire to sell me on something as opposed to this which is trying to do it in an underhanded manner. I’ll just go and watch Rambo: First Blood Part II again and be done with it.

Synopsis: Survivors of a nuclear attack are grouped together for days in the basement of their apartment building, where fear and dwindling supplies wear away at their dynamic.

Blah blah blah zombies/infected/end of the world. People are stuck in a hole waiting for it to be okay to go up and see the sun again but that’s probably going to take a while and in that time food will run out, they’ll be attacked and they’ll probably soon enough become cannibals. It looks generic and boring and at the same time not as terrible as Skyline (yes I’ll continue to shit on that movie).

When your trailer says “Michael Beihn gives one of his best performances of his career”, an actor who I truly think has never given a good performance then you know the marketers are stretching for something that isn’t there.

What’s your favourite trailer of the week?

A Week of News: Feb 11th

I may not be a fan of writing about film news due to the rumour-like quality that a lot of the articles are. However, I do follow the news on a lot of film blogs and I do think that there’s something to keeping track of all of the “news” that’s mentioned throughout the week as it relates to the world of cinema.

So every Friday I’ll be posting a list of links of the week’s news around the internet. Highlighting my favourite stories of the week and those stories so ludicrous I jut can’t imagine them to be true.

MY FAVOURITE STORIES OF THE WEEK

Shane Black may direct IRON MAN 3

Shane Black directed Kiss Kiss Bang Bang and that’s enough, but for those of you out there needing more credentials he also wrote Lethal Weapon, The Last Action Hero and The Long Kiss Goodnight and each of those movies play perfectly into what Iron Man as a franchise wants to accomplish. Black already has experience working with Robert Downey Jr. and gets his comedic sensibilities and that’s why this news makes me smile and would like to put in my official recommendation for the studio to go ahead and make this happen.

Danny Boyle and Simon Beaufoy may reteam for SHARP TEETH

They worked together on Slumdog Millionaire and 127 Hours which were both great movies (the later more than the former) and the idea of Boyle putting moving pictures to Beaufoy‘s words makes me tinkle a little bit. Also the idea of horror elements re-entering Boyle‘s filmography is also a great idea since

THE REST:
PRODUCTION NEWS

CASTING NEWS

TV NEWS

OTHER NEWS

POSTERS

TRAILERS

What’s your favourite story of the week?