Archive for Chris Evans

Before We Go

Posted in Drama, Independent, Movie Reviews, Romantic with tags , , , , on June 23, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Before We Go, the directorial debut of Chris Evans, follows the journey of two strangers stuck in New York City for the night. Starting as convenient acquaintances, the two soon grow into each other’s most trusted confidants when a night of unexpected adventure forces them to confront their fears and take control of their lives.

What people are saying:

“Slight and familiar but sweet enough for Saturday night, Before We Go is the umpteenth re-up of Brief Encounter, not that there’s anything wrong with that.” 4 stars

“Evans and Eve as actors get a passing grade, but Evans as director fails to find a thematic center worth sticking around to watch.” 2 stars

“I know it says “Romantic” but to me it was more than Romantic, it was about finding a friendship without being intimate. I loved the aspect that both Alice and Chris were there for each other. Two people that had never known each other detailing there most personal feelings. I am from a time that two people could fall in love without being intimate. Without giving away the ending had to be that way because even though she felt something for him she was still married. ” 5 stars

“A cliché but heartfelt romance movie. A good movie to watch with your significant other on a rainy night. The chemistry between the leads is apparent and for a Directing debut, Chris Evans gives a solid attempt at a slightly different take on classic Rom coms. If you do not enjoy long walking and talking scenes however, I would advise against this movie as this is a common story telling method throughout the film” 3 stars

“Equal parts drama and comedy, this one isn’t as predictable as you would think. I recommend it for a lazy rainy day or a before bed movie with minimal expectations. The two starts are both great. Good enough I would watch again.” 4 stars

Advertisements

Avengers: Infinity War

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 19, 2018 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Having acquired the Power Stone from the planet Xandar, Thanos and his lieutenants—Ebony Maw, Cull Obsidian, Proxima Midnight, and Corvus Glaive—intercept the spaceship carrying the survivors of Asgard’s destruction. As they extract the Space Stone from the Tesseract, Thanos subdues Thor, overpowers Hulk, and kills Loki. Heimdall sends Hulk to Earth using the Bifröst before being killed. Thanos departs with his lieutenants and obliterates the spaceship.

Hulk crash-lands at the Sanctum Sanctorum in New York City, reverting to Bruce Banner. He warns Stephen Strange and Wong about Thanos’ plan to kill half of all life in the universe; in response, Strange recruits Tony Stark. Maw and Obsidian arrive to retrieve the Time Stone from Strange, drawing the attention of Peter Parker. Maw captures Strange, but fails to take the Time Stone due to an enchantment. Stark and Parker pursue Maw’s spaceship, Banner contacts Steve Rogers, and Wong stays behind to guard the Sanctum.

In Scotland, Midnight and Glaive ambush Wanda Maximoff and Vision in order to retrieve the Mind Stone in Vision’s forehead. Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, and Sam Wilson rescue them and take shelter with James Rhodes and Banner at the Avengers Compound. Vision offers to sacrifice himself by having Maximoff destroy the Mind Stone to keep Thanos from retrieving it. Rogers suggests they travel to Wakanda, which he believes has the resources to remove the stone without destroying Vision.

The Guardians of the Galaxy respond to a distress call from the Asgardian ship and rescue Thor, who surmises Thanos seeks the Reality Stone, which is in the possession of the Collector on Knowhere. Rocket and Groot accompany Thor to Nidavellir, where they and Eitri create an enchanted battle-axe capable of killing Thanos. On Knowhere, Peter Quill, Gamora, Drax, and Mantis find Thanos with the Reality Stone already in his possession. Thanos kidnaps Gamora, his adoptive daughter, who reveals the location of the Soul Stone to save her captive adoptive sister Nebula from torture. Thanos and Gamora travel to Vormir, where Red Skull, keeper of the Soul Stone, informs him the stone can only be retrieved by sacrificing someone he loves. Thanos reluctantly kills Gamora, earning the Stone.

Nebula escapes captivity and asks the remaining Guardians to meet her on Thanos’ destroyed homeworld, Titan. Stark and Parker kill Maw and rescue Strange. Landing on Titan, they meet Quill, Drax, and Mantis. The group forms a plan to remove Thanos’ Infinity Gauntlet after Strange uses the Time Stone to view millions of possible futures, seeing only one in which Thanos loses. Thanos arrives, justifying his plans as necessary to ensure the survival of a universe threatened by overpopulation. The group subdues him until Nebula deduces that Thanos has killed Gamora. Enraged, Quill retaliates, allowing Thanos to break the group’s hold and overpower them. After Stark is seriously wounded by Thanos, Strange surrenders the Time Stone in exchange for Thanos sparing Stark. Thanos departs for Earth.

In Wakanda, Rogers reunites with Bucky Barnes before Thanos’ army invades. The Avengers, alongside T’Challa and the Wakandan forces, mount a defense while Shuri works to extract the Mind Stone from Vision. Banner, unable to transform into the Hulk, fights in Stark’s Hulkbuster armor. Thor, Rocket, and Groot arrive to reinforce the Avengers; Midnight, Obsidian, and Glaive are killed and their army is routed. Thanos arrives and despite Maximoff’s attempt to destroy the Mind Stone, removes it from Vision, killing him.

Thor severely wounds Thanos, but Thanos activates the completed Infinity Gauntlet and teleports away. Half of all life across the universe disintegrates, including Barnes, T’Challa, Groot, Maximoff, Wilson, Mantis, Drax, Quill, Strange, and Parker. Stark and Nebula remain on Titan while Banner, M’Baku, Okoye, Rhodes, Rocket, Rogers, Romanoff, and Thor are left on the Wakandan battlefield. Meanwhile, Thanos recovers on another planet.

In a post-credits scene, Nick Fury transmits a signal as he, Maria Hill, and others disintegrate. The transmitter displays a star insignia on a red-and-blue background

REVIEW:

The moment has come! The big payoff! The reason we have sat through seemingly endless Marvel Cinematic Universe films, though they have all been enjoyable to varying degrees. 10 years in the making, complete with developing an entire universe, setting up some high stakes, and teasing us with the big bad, Avengers: Infinity War has arrived! Will it be the payoff all of us comic nerds, as well as the general public have been expecting?

What is this about?

As the Avengers and their allies have continued to protect the world from threats too large for any one hero to handle, a new danger has emerged from the cosmic shadows: Thanos. A despot of intergalactic infamy, his goal is to collect all six Infinity Stones, artifacts of unimaginable power, and use them to inflict his twisted will on all of reality. Everything the Avengers have fought for has led up to this moment – the fate of Earth and existence itself has never been more uncertain.

What did I like?

Spread the wealth. From the moment this film was announced, it was clear that the cast was going to be huge. What we didn’t know was how the balance of screentime would play out. Would we get a heavy dose of Iron Man and Captain America, while Hulk and Dr. Strange are relegated to what amounts to glorified cameos? I can assure you that is not the case. Every character that we have been introduced to in the MCU to this point, with the exception of Hawkeye, Ant-Man (who has his own sequel coming later this summer, which takes place before this film, apparently), and a couple of others who i can’t think of at the moment, is included in this film. While not all time on screen is equal, each character is allowed to show their strengths and why we have grown to care about them over this time.

Mad Titan. Yesterday, I saw Josh Brolin as Cable in Deadpool 2 and, while he was good as that character, he feels more at home as Thanos. That’s not to say Brolin can’t play a cyborg mutant from the future, or that he should always seek out roles where he is a delusional psychopath with delusions of grandeur who has a strange misconception of what kind of balance the universe needs. Rather, he just seemed to have more fun as Thanos. I think he even said so himself. I can’t blame him. One the one hand, he could be a really strong time traveling cyborg who has to listen to Deadpool all day or be a universal titan that is nigh unstoppable. The latter seems to be the better option. As far as his plot is concerned, i think this is one of Marvel’s stronger villains. I won’t spoil it for you, but he does lay out and execute his plans with precision, rather than dawdle and monologue the way some earlier MCU villains have done (some in his employ).

Impact. The impact of the MCU has been felt ever since the first Avengers was released and other studios started taking notice of universe building. Now, if you notice there are many duplicators and imitators. DC has come the closest to recreating the formula, but something just isn’t right with them. When all is said and done with this film, though, the way it ends is sure to make a lasting impact on fans and probably moreso on those that aren’t fans. I can’t go into much detail about it without dabbling into spoiler territory, but i can say that something happens that will send shock waves through the audience, as it is something no one saw coming.

What didn’t I like?

Short end of the stick. Earlier, i mentioned the enormous cast and how not everyone was given equal screentime. For some reason *COUGH* ego*COUGH*, Iron Man gets the majority of the screentime. Meanwhile characters such as Bucky (Winter Soldier), Black Widow, Nebula, etc. have maybe 5 min on screen. In Nebula’s defense, she was a prisoner being tortured by Thanos for most of her time. This brings me to Black Panther. He, and the nation of Wakanda, play an important role later in the film, but that is all we get. Some have speculated that since this was filmed before the release of Black Panther, the studio had no idea of the impact that film would have and thus didn’t give T’Challa much to do in this film. There is an argument to made there, but my point is many characters, both major and minor didn’t receive as much time as they could have because of the amount of characters in this film. I’m not saying there were too many, just that, and I’m going to sound like Thanos here, ironically, more balance needs to be brought.

Offspring. Unless you are a fan of the comics, then you probably have no idea who Thanos’ “children” were. Myself, not being up to date on Thanos’ history, didn’t know who they were, either. Apparently, they are, much like Nebula and Gamora, the last children from worlds Thanos has conquered and destroyed who now serve him. That little bit of history doesn’t mean much, other than explain why they are fighting so hard for this big purple guy. They view him as their father and will do anything  for him. The way they seem to be portrayed in the film is equivalent to Stormtroopers, mindless clones who only serve one purpose.

Ground support. Granted, there isn’t much they could do and i just went on about too many characters, but i can’t help but think that the Defenders (Daredevil, Luke Cage, Iron Fist, Jessica Jones), the Punisher, Ghost Rider, and the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. , along with anyone else that could help out with this (Inhumans, Deathlok, etc.) The world is in danger! I find it hard to believe that these heroes/anti-heroes would just sit idly by, especially Coulson and S.H.I.E.L.D. (note…i have not been watching this season). Real talk…the only reason none of these guys are making an appearance is because Marvel is desperately wanting to keep the MCU away from the Netflix universe. Don’t ask me why. It makes no sense!

Spoiler alert. This isn’t a complaint against the film, but rather internet culture. As you know, i am nearly a month late getting to see this. Life/work kept me away from the theater. In this day and age, spoilers are very hard to avoid, especially when you are in a Facebook group for comic book and movie nerds. However, i believe it was the Sunday after the film’s release that i was checking out the Venom trailer and had the film spoiled for me. How was it spoiled? Well, right as the trailer is about to end, some @#%$!^ inserted a 10 second clip of himself telling the world what happened. I ask you…who does that?!?

Final thoughts on Avengers: Infinity War? Man, what a ride! The emotional roller coaster this film takes you on from the opening beat down of the Asgardians, to the triumphant return of Steve Rogers (that entrance was…wow!), all the way to the events that happen in the second half of the film are sure to keep one on the edge of their seat. There are some things that could be cut as well as some scenes that probably should not have been cut. All in all, though, i had a great time watching this and can’t wait for the next one. Do i recommend it? Yes, very highly!

4 1/2 out of 5 stars

Captain America: Civil War

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 18, 2016 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 1991 the brainwashed super-soldier James “Bucky” Barnes is dispatched from a Hydra base in Siberia to intercept an automobile carrying a case of super-soldier serum. In the present day, approximately one year after Ultron’s defeat in the nation of Sokovia at the hands of the Avengers, Steve Rogers, Natasha Romanoff, Sam Wilson, and Wanda Maximoff stop Brock Rumlow from stealing a biological weapon from a lab in Lagos. Rumlow blows himself up to avoid capture, and when Maximoff tries to displace the blast into the sky with telekinesis, it destroys a nearby building, killing several Wakandan humanitarian workers.

At the team’s headquarters, U.S. Secretary of State Thaddeus Ross informs them that the United Nations (UN) is preparing to pass the Sokovia Accords, which will establish a UN panel to oversee and control the Avengers. The team is divided: Tony Stark supports oversight because he feels responsible for Ultron’s creation and Sokovia’s destruction, while Rogers has more faith in his own judgment than that of the government. At a conference in Vienna where the accords are to be ratified, a bomb kills King T’Chaka of Wakanda. Security footage indicates the bomber is Barnes, whom T’Chaka’s son, T’Challa, vows to kill. Informed by Sharon Carter of Barnes’ whereabouts and the government’s intentions to kill him, Rogers goes to bring in Barnes—his childhood friend and war comrade—himself. Rogers and Wilson track Barnes to Bucharest and attempt to protect him from the authorities, but all three and T’Challa are arrested.

Helmut Zemo tracks down and kills Barnes’ old Hydra handler, stealing a book containing the trigger words that activate Barnes’ brainwashing. Infiltrating the Berlin facility where Barnes is held, Zemo recites the words to make Barnes obey him. He questions Barnes, then sends him on a rampage to cover his own escape. Rogers stops Barnes and sneaks him away. When Barnes regains his senses, he explains that Zemo is the real Vienna bomber and wanted the location of the Siberian Hydra base, where other brainwashed super-soldiers are kept in cryogenic stasis. Unwilling to wait for authorization to apprehend Zemo, Rogers and Wilson go rogue, and recruit Maximoff, Clint Barton, and Scott Lang to their cause. With Ross’s permission, Stark assembles a team composed of Romanoff, T’Challa, James Rhodes, Vision, and Peter Parker to capture the renegades. Stark’s team intercepts Rogers’ team at Leipzig/Halle Airport, where they fight until Romanoff allows Rogers and Barnes to escape. The rest of Rogers’ team is captured and detained at the Raft prison, while Rhodes is partially paralyzed after being inadvertently shot down by Vision, and Romanoff is forced to go into hiding.

Stark discovers evidence that Barnes was framed by Zemo and shows this evidence to Wilson, who gives him Rogers’ destination. Without informing Ross, Stark goes to the Siberian Hydra facility and strikes a truce with Rogers and Barnes, unaware he was secretly followed by T’Challa. They discover that the other super-soldiers have been killed by Zemo, who shows them footage from Hydra’s archives; it reveals that Barnes killed Stark’s parents during his mission in 1991. Enraged that Rogers kept this from him, Stark turns on them both, blasting off Barnes’ robotic arm. Rogers disables Stark’s armor and departs with Barnes, leaving his shield behind. Satisfied that he has avenged his family’s death in Sokovia by irreparably fracturing the Avengers, Zemo attempts suicide, but T’Challa stops him and he is taken to the authorities.

In the aftermath, Stark provides Rhodes with exoskeletal leg braces that allow him to walk again, while Rogers breaks his allies out of the Raft. In a mid-credits scene, T’Challa grants asylum to Barnes, who chooses to return to cryogenic sleep until a cure for his brainwashing is found. In a post-credits scene, Parker tests a new gadget that he received from Stark.

REVIEW:

DC has had their turn up to bat, and they got a decent pop fly, but mighty Marvel is strolling up to batting box, surely to hit a home run, right? Pardon the very bad baseball analogy, but there is a baseball game playing in the background as I type this up, so I found it fitting. Captain America: Civil War is a film that many comic book fans have been looking forward to for a long time, myself included, given how compelling the story is in the comics. Fans want to see how it translates to the big screen. Will Marvel’s track record stay intact, or is this the one that breaks them?

What is this about?

With many people fearing the actions of super heroes, the government decides to push for the Hero Registration Act, a law that limits a heroes actions. This results in a division in The Avengers. Iron Man stands with this Act, claiming that their actions must be kept in check otherwise cities will continue to be destroyed, but Captain America feels that saving the world is daring enough and that they cannot rely on the government to protect the world. This escalates into an all-out war between Team Iron Man (Iron Man, Black Panther, Vision, Black Widow, War Machine, and Spiderman) and Team Captain America (Captain America, Bucky Barnes, Falcon, Sharon Carter, Scarlett Witch, Hawkeye, and Ant Man) while a new villain emerges

What did I like?

Friends forever. Today, Facebook reminded me that I’ve been friends with my best friend 5 yrs today. Obviously, its been much longer than that, but its the sentiment that counts. A man needs his friends. For someone like Steve Rogers, who has outlived everyone he knew, it must be extremely tough. The filmmakers decide to show this by giving the audience a little insight into his relationship with Bucky, which we already know a little about from Captain America: The First Avenger. Seeing Cap, joke around with the guy shows a human side that we don’t see very often. Also, and I wasn’t a fan of this, his other tie to his time, Peggy Carter has an…event…shall we say, happen to her that nearly crushed my black heart!

Black Panther. I could sit here and go on and on about how awesome it is to have Black Panther make his big screen debut, but you’ve seen the trailers. He is a bad ass from those scenes alone. What you see in the film furthers that point. I do want to go a little bit into his character, a suave, smooth, respectable monarch that does not lose his cool and is highly intelligent. My knowledge of Black Panther isn’t as well-versed as others, but from what I saw in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and have read in a few comics, they nailed his personality dead on. Add in the bad ass action we get from him and we can’t forget to mention the costume…WOW! I can’t wait until we get to his movie!

Underoos. We’ve had 5 Spider-Man movies and they have yet to get him right. One franchise made got the Peter Parker side right but threw everything else out the window. The recent franchise got the Spider-Man part, right, but the actor that played him was not likable and there were just numerous other issues with that mess, which was rushed into production solely to keep the rights away from Marvel. Well, a deal was brokered to where Sony keeps the rights, but loans him out to Marvel. It isn’t the best situation, but at least we get Spider-Man in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. If his short time on screen is any indication of what we’re going to get in the future, I’m excited. This is the Spider-Man we see in the comics and cartoons, complete with eyes that move (more of a comic thing, but they learned from Deadpool, I would imagine).

What didn’t I like?

Crossbones. It seems that the last few Marvel movies have all started with a small villain fight before the film proper gets going. That’s fine. It is a warm-up of sorts. Here’s the problem with this one, though. Frank Grillo, who I think should be playing the Punisher, was introduced as a character that seemed to be headed for a long term rivalry with Captain America in Captain America: The Winter Soldier. So, what’s the problem? Well, after all that time building him up in the last film, he doesn’t make it past the first 15 minutes in this one. Making matters worse, Crossbones is somewhat of a major character in the comics…then again, so is Batroc the Leaper.

Put on the mask. In this day and age of “grounded” and “real” interpretations of superheroes and villains, filmmakers pick and choose who keeps their original costume, who gets and updated version, and who just throws the concept out the window. In the case of Helmut Zemo, they threw it out the window. In the comics he messed with a chemical that made him immortal and fused the mask to his face. I was looking for some sort of nod, if nothing else, to this origin, much like they did with Arnim Zola. Instead, there is nothing remotely Zemo about this guy.

Avengers assemble. If I’m not mistaken, this is a Captain America movie, yet it feels more like an Avengers sequel than Avengers: Age of Ultron did, and that one felt more like Iron Man 3 than the real one did. If they wanted to make this an Avengers movie, they should have just done so and given Cap a true close to his trilogy. If I recall reading early on, before this went into production, it was a totally different story (one that featured Crossbones more, too). What is it with studios masquerading sequels for one franchise as another? While I’m on this subject, how is it that what’s going on in Hell’s Kitchen with Daredevil, Jessica Jones, and others not come to the Avengers attention? What about all the Inhuman stuff that the Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. are dealing with? Just wondering, since Tony Stark was able to track down Spider-Man, as Peter Parker, mind you!

Final verdict on Captain America: Civil War? Well, it has everything you want in a Captain America movie, action, espionage, someone trying to take down American and take over the world, humor, etc. The scope and magnitude of this film won’t be as immediately felt across the MCU as the last film, but I’m sure something will come of it before the inevitable reunion in Avengers: Infinity War. In the meantime, can we just bask in the how superior these Captain America films have been to most everything else that has been released in theaters? Do you even need to ask if I recommend it? Stop reading and run go see it…multiple times!!!!

5 out of 5 stars

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 1, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In the Eastern European country of Sokovia, the Avengers – Tony Stark, Steve Rogers, Thor, Bruce Banner, Natasha Romanoff, and Clint Barton – raid a Hydra outpost led by Baron Wolfgang von Strucker, who has been experimenting on humans using the scepter previously wielded by Loki. They encounter two of Strucker’s experiments – twins Pietro, who has superhuman speed, and Wanda Maximoff, who can manipulate minds and throw energy blasts – and apprehend Strucker, while Stark retrieves Loki’s scepter.

Stark and Banner discover an artificial intelligence within the scepter’s gem, and secretly use it to complete Stark’s “Ultron” global defense program. The unexpectedly sentient Ultron, believing he must eradicate humanity to save Earth, eliminates Stark’s A.I. J.A.R.V.I.S. and attacks the Avengers during a victory party at their headquarters. Escaping with the scepter, Ultron uses the resources in Strucker’s Sokovia base to upgrade his rudimentary body and build an army of robot drones. He recruits the Maximoff twins, who want revenge against Stark for their parents’ deaths from his company’s weapons. Together, they visit the base of arms dealer Ulysses Klaue in an African shipyard to obtain vibranium. The Avengers battle them, but Wanda subdues the heroes with haunting visions, causing the Hulk to run amok and forcing Stark to use his powerful “Veronica” armor to stop him.

A worldwide backlash over the resulting destruction, and the fears Wanda’s hallucinations incited, send the team into hiding at Barton’s safehouse farm, where they meet his wife, Laura, and children. Thor departs to consult with Dr. Erik Selvig on the meaning of the apocalyptic future he saw in his hallucination. Realizing an attraction between them, Romanoff and Banner plan to flee together after fighting Ultron. Nick Fury arrives and encourages the team to form a plan to stop Ultron. In Seoul, South Korea, Ultron forces Banner’s friend Dr. Helen Cho to use her synthetic tissue technology, vibranium, and the scepter’s gem to create the perfect body for him. When Ultron begins uploading himself into the body, Wanda is able to read his mind; discovering his plan for human extinction, the Maximoffs turn on Ultron. Rogers, Romanoff, and Barton hunt Ultron and retrieve the synthetic body, but Ultron captures Romanoff.

The Avengers fight amongst themselves when Stark secretly uploads J.A.R.V.I.S. – who is still operational after hiding from Ultron inside the Internet – into the synthetic body. Thor returns to help activate the body with lightning, explaining that the gem on its brow – the Mind Stone, one of the six Infinity Stones and one of the most powerful objects in existence – was part of his vision. The synthetic being, now referred to as the Vision, and the Maximoffs accompany the Avengers to Sokovia, where Ultron has used the remaining vibranium to build a machine that lifts a large part of the city skyward, intending to crash it into the ground and cause global extinction. As the city begins to lift, Banner rescues Romanoff, who awakens the Hulk for the battle. The Avengers fight Ultron’s army while delaying Ultron from activating his plan’s final procedure. Fury arrives in a Helicarrier with Maria Hill, James Rhodes, and S.H.I.E.L.D. agents to assist in evacuating civilians, but Pietro dies when he shields Barton from a barrage of fire. A grieving Wanda abandons her post to destroy Ultron’s primary body in revenge, inadvertently allowing one of his drones to activate the machine. The landmass plummets, but Stark and Thor overload the machine and shatter the city into pieces. In the aftermath, the Hulk, unwilling to endanger Romanoff by being with her, departs in a Quinjet, while the Vision confronts Ultron’s last remaining body.

Later, the Avengers have established a new base in upstate New York, run by Fury, Hill, Cho, and Selvig. Believing the Mind Stone is safe with the Vision, Thor returns to Asgard to learn more about the forces he suspects have manipulated recent events. As Stark and Barton also retire from the team, Rogers and Romanoff prepare to train new Avengers: Rhodes, Wanda, the Vision, and Sam Wilson.

In a mid-credits scene, Thanos retrieves the Infinity Gauntlet and, dissatisfied with the failures of his pawns, vows to hunt for the Infinity Stones personally

REVIEW:

The film the world has been holding its breath for since its predecessor’s credits started rolling has arrived! Avengers: Age of Ultron is sure to make a ton of bank, but how is the film, really? Is it worth watching, or are people just enamored with the grouping of all these superheroes on the screen? Let’s find out, shall we?

What is this about?

Returning to action to stem another lethal threat to planet Earth, the cadre of superheroes from the original Avengers takes on the evil and all-powerful Ultron, who’s determined to stamp out humankind.

What did I like?

Teamwork. If you will recall from The Avengers, they didn’t really become a team until the end, as that served as more of an origin story…one that had been building for years. Well, since the first film ended, they have apparently formed a more cohesive way of handling things and work as smooth as a basketball team. It is a thing of beauty to see them in action. It really is like seeing the comic brought to life.

Skynet. Ok, let’s get right down to it. What did I think of Ultron? Well, he is menacing to see and in today’s society that is almost 100% reliant on technology, he is one of the best villains around. James Spader’s voice, which I initially questioned when it was announced, actually works for him, though I believe the guy that voiced him in Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes would have done a better job, at least with the soulless, menacing part. I do have some issues with Ultron, but they are more related to changes in his origin (for those not in the know…he was actually built by Ant-Man as a security robot and then went psycho) and his jovial nature. I don’t have an issue with his being more of a jolly fellow, but a slow descent into madness would have benefitted his character greatly, not to mention Spader’s voice would have helped sell it. All in all, though, I was pretty pleased with Ultron as satisfied with him as the film’s main villain.

Scarlett. There was a time when it was believed that Thor could never work properly on the big screen. We were wrong. There was a time when we though Captain America would never work on the big screen. We were wrong. There was a time when it was believed that the X-Men and/or the Avengers on the big screen would never happen. We were wrong. There was a time when it was thought that Scarlett Witch’s powers were too weird and mysterious to work on the big screen. We were wrong. I think they did an excellent job with her hex powers. Elizabeth Olson is a great actress and I am looking forward to seeing what else she does with the character going forward. One thing I do take issue with, though, is where is her horned head thing that she wears? HAHA!

Hulk and Hawkeye. Bruce Banner/The Hulk actually gets a bit more character development this go around. There are hints of a romantic relationship with Black Widow, you can see the torment that Banner deals with knowing the big guy is lurking, and even with the Hulk, you can see things going on his head. I appreciate that. With Hawkeye, in the first 5 minutes, we get more of him than we did in the entire last film. In the climactic battle, he was cracking jokes and shooting arrows. It felt like Hawkeye! No to mention they changed his costume. Now, just give him the hood/mask and we will have achieved perfection.

The return. I geeked out when the Helicarrier took off in the first film. It was comic geek’s dream to see that come to life. In this film, it came back and I was nearly in tears! Such an awesome piece of machinery, how dare they keep it “in storage”, as Nick Fury says. Hopefully we’ll get more of it and other fantastic machines soon.

What didn’t I like?

Baron von Strucker. Baron von Strucker appeared in a post credits scene at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier stating something about experimenting on humans or something, but we also got our first look at the twins (who should be mutants, but because Marvel and Fox are fighting like a couple of middle schoolers, they had to work around that). At any rate, this seems like it should have been a plot for a whole film itself or, at the very least, a few episodes of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. What we get instead is the beginning of what feels like something big, only to be ended by Ultron. I almost think that was symbolic of what the film was going to be and what it ended up being. Still, Strucker is a major villain, especially of Captain America. Didn’t he have deserved better?

Vision. Vision is one of the best characters in the Marvel Universe. He is nearly indestructible, has a vast intelligence, and is always adapting. Do I need to mention that he can phase shift at will, meaning that if you try to hit him, at just the right moment he can shift his density so that you go right through him. Sounds awesome, doesn’t he? I think we will get the full awesomeness in future films, but for now, I have to concentrate on the negative. First, the change in origin to make him and Jarvis one. I get the logic behind this, but I don’t think Paul Bettany was the right choice, after all. Maybe it is the paint, but there was just something that I can’t quite put my finger on that I don’t like. Bettany is a competent actor, and I think he was able to pull of the naïve, but highly intelligent aspects of Vision, but something just doesn’t sit right with me about this character. Maybe when I watch the film again, or when I hit publish on this post, it’ll come to me.

Tease. Anyone familiar with the Marvel Universe knows that vibranium comes strictly from Wakkanda. If you know anything about Wakkanda, then you of course know that it is a land ruled by the Black Panther, who will be making his debut in Captain America: Civil War about this time next year. So, what is my problem with all this? Well, Ultron and the Avengers go down to Wakkanda, meet this villain Ulysses Klaue, get some vibranium, fight, Hulk goes on a rampage, and leave. Black Panther is not only a superhero but also king of Wakkanda. Stolen vibranium and 8ft tall rampaging monster are sure to bring about you awareness. This would have been the perfect opportunity to sow the seeds for Panther, if nothing else than a mention, but alas, we didn’t get it.

Blockbuster. I hate to keep comparing this to its predecessor, but it has to be done. The last film was an event. It had action, story, comedy, character development…everything you can ask for in a film. This time around, everything is here, just not as well executed. The feeling I get from this is more akin to that of a Michael Bay film. Lots of action to cover up other weaknesses. This is not the kind of film that necessarily needs a deep story, but it does need something to set up the action and not just jump in. We’re getting to the point now that more is expected and I’m not sure this formula will work in round 3.

Some really good things are on the horizon in the Marvel Cinematic Universe and Avengers: Age of Ultron just showed us that we ain’t seen nothin’ yet! Bringing in new blood with the old guys as a way to keep things fresh, though I still could care less about Don Cheadle as War Machine. As far as this film goes, it is a really fun film, albeit slightly darker than its predecessor. It has its flaws, but those are outnumbered by the positives. I will be counting down the years/months/days until the next Avengers, but in the meantime the focus is on the forthcoming Ant-Man to start the next phase in the MCU. So, do I recommend this? Let me put it this way, I will be in line at the store waiting for the boxes of DVD/Blu-rays to be delivered when this is released. So, hell yeah I recommend it! Why are you even reading this, go watch it right now!!!

5 out of 5 stars

Snowpiercer

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2015 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

In 2014, an attempt to counteract global warming through climate engineering catastrophically backfires, resulting in an ice age so severe that nearly all life on Earth is killed. The only survivors are the inhabitants of the Snowpiercer, a massive train powered by a perpetual-motion engine that travels on a globe-spanning track. A class system is installed, with the elites inhabiting the front of the train and the poor inhabiting the tail.

In 2031, the tail inhabitants prepare for the latest in a series of rebellions. Guards arrive periodically to deliver protein blocks for food, and take some of the children. During the guards’ next visit, Curtis Everett (Evans) leads the tail inhabitants in revolt, forcing their way through several train cars to the prison section. There, they release prisoner Namgoong Minsu (Song), the man who built the security system that controls the doors dividing each car, and his clairvoyant daughter Yona. They offer him uncut Kronole, a drug that both he and his daughter are addicted to, as payment for unlocking each of the remaining doors.

One of the cars is filled with armed men. Under the orders of Minister Mason (Swinton), the men battle Curtis’s forces. Curtis’s side prevails, and he captures Mason, but he is forced to sacrifice his second-in-command, Edgar, to do so. Mason agrees to lead the group through the high-class cars in exchange for her life. In the school car, the teacher points out seven frozen rebels through the window. She and a henchman then draw machine guns, slaughtering many of Curtis’s followers, and executing his mentor Gilliam. Curtis then kills Mason.

Curtis, his few remaining followers, and Namgoong and Yona continue through the train, discovering the extravagance in which the elites have been living while the poor languished in squalor. One of Mason’s henchmen, Franco the Elder, kills the rest of Curtis’s followers, before the henchman is himself seemingly killed. Curtis resolves to complete his mission, accompanied by Namgoong and Yona. The trio moves through the remaining cars where the elite indulge in food, partying and Kronole; Namgoong steals much of this Kronole from the inebriated revelers. As they arrive at the Engine door, Namgoong suggests they use the collected Kronole, made from explosive chemical waste, to blow open the side of the train, and escape into the outside. Namgoong explains that every year, the train has passed a crashed plane buried in snow, which has become less buried with each passing year, suggesting that Earth is warming, and that survival outside is now possible.

Curtis explains why he must confront Wilford, creator of the train and its hierarchy. When the tail dwellers first boarded the train, they were deprived of food, water, and supplies, and in crowded conditions, forcing them to turn to cannibalism. Before the introduction of the protein blocks, Curtis had kidnapped an infant Edgar to eat him, and killed his mother, before Gilliam cut his own arm off and offered it in Edgar’s place. Namgoong resolves to use the explosive, but the engine door opens, and Namgoong is shot and wounded by Wilford’s assistant Claude, who forces Curtis inside. Curtis confronts Wilford, who explains that the revolution was orchestrated between himself and Gilliam as a means of population control, necessary to maintaining balance aboard the train for supplies, but Curtis was too successful and Wilford’s own losses too great, so he executed Gilliam as punishment. The aging Wilford says that he wants Curtis to replace him as the train’s overseer, while in the tail, Wilford’s henchmen execute 74% of the inhabitants.

Meanwhile, Yona and the recovered Namgoong fight off the irate partiers and Franco (who survived the previous fight). Yona knocks Claude unconscious, gets inside the engine room and pulls up the floor to reveal that Wilford is using the tail children as slave labor, to replace the train’s failing components. Outraged, Curtis sacrifices his arm to block the train gears, freeing one of the children, Timmy. Yona recovers the explosive from Claude and ignites it, before retreating into the engine with Namgoong. The damaged engine door fails to close, and Namgoong and Curtis sacrifice themselves to shield Yona and Timmy from the resulting explosive fire. The explosion sound wave causes an avalanche in the surrounding mountains that strikes and derails the train, destroying many of the cars. In the aftermath, Yona and Timmy step outside into the snow. In the distance Yona spots a polar bear.

REVIEW:

Sometimes an actor, who has proven himself in big budget projects, needs to take a step back and show the world that he can really act. When one initially looks at Snowpiercer, Chris Evans’ participation is sure to stir up those thoughts, but is that really what he is doing? If so, is this the film for him to that in?

What is this about?

The Earth’s remaining inhabitants are confined to a single train circling the globe as revolution brews among the class-divided cars.

What did I like?

Be prepared. This day and age, it seems as if everyone has embraced global warming, except the politicians. Yes, I am aware of the irony of talking global warming as a giant cold front is about to sit right down on most of the country, but consider this…it is currently 72 degrees in February!!!! Anyway, this film makes a statement about global warming and how ill prepared we more than likely are in the event of total global collapse. It wouldn’t surprise me one bit if someone hastily approved an untested “solution” that would do nothing but cause the world to freeze.

Octavia. It wasn’t that long ago that I was watching Octavia Spencer on some Comedy Central show about a bunch of inmates in a halfway house. Now, she is a respected actress who is getting more and more roles. This is a rare role for her where she isn’t the funny one, as she is being a totally serious character. A mother who wants to get her child back at all costs. Yes, theoretically, she was a serious character in The Help, but there were jokes and such written in to sort o make her a bit more “colorful”, as it were. Spencer’s character in this picture comes out of nowhere and is integral to the plan. I appreciated that she was able to branch out of her comfort zone with this role and look forward to more of her evolution.

Action. This is a film that needs action or else it might as well just be a train mystery film. Watching the action scenes, a thought occurred to me. When an American or American-ized director shoots action scenes, they tend to end in explosions, but with Asian directors the fight scenes are beautiful works of art. Now, I can go for either, but it is nice to get a change in the norm once in a while. It doesn’t hurt to have Chris Evans, who was obviously still in Captain America shape (more on that shortly) to help execute such amazing stuff.

What didn’t I like?

Matrix revisited. Coming around to the end of this film, we finally meet the elusive Wilford, played by Ed Harris. Nothing really special about the guy. He has no special powers, he’s not old and frail, nor is he on his death bed. He’s just a normal guy that apparently likes to hear himself talk. I’m not sure what this character is like in the book, but to me, he came off very similar to the Architect in The Matrix: Reloaded. The way the scene was set up with just the two of them in the room for the fate of mankind, really put that in my head. Is that a bad thing? Not necessarily, but I feel as if this film wasn’t trying to emulate anything else, but accidentally did so.

Class. Last night, I was watching Man of Steel and thought what would happen if we all had to evacuate the planet? Assuming we had somewhere to go, who would get to go? Judging by the way we fight over everything, it would be best to assume that the rich and powerful would go first and everyone else would follow. Yes, even though we don’t go by the class system, we sort of do. In this film, even though the world has become a dystopian, frozen tundra version of itself where the population now resides on a train that constantly circles the globe, it is made clear that class is important. Damn shame that when everyone’s life is at stake, some think they are more important than others.

Too buff. So, Chris Evans, as we all now is Captain America. Upon getting the role, he seriously buffed up and is a far cry from his days as Johnny Storm in The Fantastic Four franchise. Thing about that, though, is maybe he should have dropped some muscle for this film. I only say that because he is playing a character that is living on some sort of protein bars and little water. No way in the world he can be that huge living off that! Genetics and all that jazz do play a part, but in general this cannot be. Not to take anything away from Evans, mind you. He does a great job, but I couldn’t get my mind around how out of place he seemed.

I first hear of Snowpiercer shortly after it was initially released in the handful of theaters that were allowed to show it because of some controversy about distribution right. All the reviews were more than complementary and has me really stoked to see this. For the most part, they weren’t misleading. As with most action flicks, there is a slow buildup, but the payoff is more than satisfactory. On a totally different note, this is one of the most feminine roles I’ve seen Tilda Swinton look in quite some time! So, do I recommend this? Yes, very highly! A film that not only will make you think, but will also entertain you. Man, they just don’t make flicks like this anymore!

4 3/4 out of 5 stars

Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on April 5, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two years after the events of The Avengers, Steve Rogers lives in Washington, D.C., continues to work for the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., and struggles to adapt to contemporary society. After meeting and befriending former Pararescue war veteran and PTSD counselor Sam Wilson on a morning jog, Rogers is called to help save a S.H.I.E.L.D. vessel from Algerian pirates led by Georges Batroc. Aboard, he discovers fellow agent Natasha Romanoff extracting data from the ship’s computers, something Rogers was not briefed on. At S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, Nick Fury introduces Rogers to Project Insight; three Helicarriers linked to spy satellites and designed to preemptively eliminate threats.

Due to heightened encryption, Fury is unable to access the data Romanoff recovered. On his way to rendezvous with Maria Hill, he is ambushed by assailants disguised as police officers, led by a mysterious assassin called the Winter Soldier. Fury escapes, sneaks into Rogers’ apartment, and informs Rogers that S.H.I.E.L.D. has been compromised. After Fury hands Rogers the USB flash drive with the data from the ship, he is gunned down by the Winter Soldier. Rogers gives chase, and his neighbor reveals herself as S.H.I.E.L.D.’s Agent 13. Fury appears to die in surgery, and Hill recovers the body.

The next day, Rogers is summoned by senior S.H.I.E.L.D. official Alexander Pierce. When Rogers withholds Fury’s information, Pierce brands him a fugitive. Hunted by the agency, Rogers meets with Romanoff. Using data in the flash drive they discover an old S.H.I.E.L.D. underground base in New Jersey. There, they activate a supercomputer containing the preserved consciousness of Arnim Zola, who reveals that since S.H.I.E.L.D. was founded after World War II, HYDRA secretly operated within its ranks, sowing chaos across the world in the hope that humanity would willingly surrender its freedom in exchange for safety. Rogers and Romanoff narrowly escape death when a S.H.I.E.L.D. missile destroys the bunker.

They enlist the help of Wilson, and acquire his old “Falcon” winged-flight exoskeleton. After deducing that senior S.H.I.E.L.D. agent Jasper Sitwell is with HYDRA, they interrogate him until he reveals Zola developed a data-mining algorithm that can identify individuals who might become future opponents to HYDRA’s plans. The new helicarriers will sweep the country, eliminating these individuals with their satellite-guided guns.

En route to S.H.I.E.L.D. headquarters, they are ambushed by the Winter Soldier. In the fight, Winter Soldier loses his mask and Rogers recognizes him as Bucky, his old World War II comrade. They are captured by S.H.I.E.L.D. but are rescued by a disguised Hill. She leads them to a hideout where they discover Fury is alive and planning a mission to prevent Pierce from launching Project Insight by replacing a chip within each Helicarrier to override their satellite control.

After members of the World Security Council arrive for the Helicarriers’ launch, Pierce holds them hostage and reveals HYDRA’s true motives. Rogers and Wilson storm two Helicarriers and replace the controllers, but the Winter Soldier destroys Wilson’s suit and confronts Rogers at the third. They fight, with Rogers trying to revive Bucky’s memories. Meanwhile, Fury and Romanoff confront Pierce and force him to unlock access to S.H.I.E.L.D’s database so Romanoff can expose HYDRA’s motives to the public by leaking classified information. After a brief conflict, Fury shoots Pierce dead. Aboard the third Helicarrier, a wounded Rogers replaces the final controller, allowing Hill to override the satellite operation and have all three vessels destroy one another. The Helicarrier carrying Rogers and the Winter Soldier crashes into the side of the Triskelion, where Wilson battles compromised agent Rumlow, who had earlier tried to capture Rogers.

Rogers falls off the vessel into the river. Slowly remembering his past, the Winter Soldier pulls Rogers from the water before disappearing. With S.H.I.E.L.D. in disarray, Fury destroys the last traces of his identity before heading to Europe in pursuit of HYDRA’s remaining cells under the cover of his apparent death. Romanoff appears before a Senate subcommittee and later gives Rogers a dossier on the Winter Soldier program. Both Rogers and Wilson decide to track down the Winter Soldier.

A mid-credits scene takes place in a HYDRA lab, where Baron von Strucker is keeping Loki’s scepter and two prisoners: one with superhuman speed, the other with telekinetic powers. In a post-credits scene, the Winter Soldier visits the Captain America exhibit at the Smithsonian Institution to learn of his past.

REVIEW:

The day has finally arrived, my most anticipated film of 2014, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, has arrived…and with great fanfare! I loved Captain America: The First Avenger, partially because of the era in which it was set in and partly because it was just an entertaining film. I’ve been wondering how this would be able to follow that up, especially with it being in modern times.

What is this about?

Extending the saga of Marvel’s The Avengers, this superhero sequel finds Steve Rogers living quietly in Washington but growing increasingly restless. So when a deadly new foe surfaces, he transforms into Captain America and allies with Black Widow.

What did I like?

Bucking the trend. Have you noticed with most of the superhero films of late that the heroes have been doing all they can to not be the heroes they are anymore? Batman, Iron Man, Kick-Ass, Hellboy, Green Lantern, and most recently Superman have had this identity crisis. Thor seems to be the only one immune, but he has his own other issues to deal with. With Captain America, a guy who went through hell and back just to try to be able to enlist in the Army, being a super soldier is his dream. Cap’s issue is that his ideals don’t fit in with today’s world. As someone who is often told they belong in another time, I relate. Thank goodness, the writers were smart enough to realize that Captain America is above self-doubt, although he does have his doubts about the organization he works for.

Action. Man, oh man! The action we’ve all be clamoring for in these comic book films we finally get in this one. Captain America kicks all sorts of ass, and in different ways. In the first fight he has with Batroc the Leaper, played by MMA fighter Georges St. Pierre, we see Cap utilize some brawling, boxing, kickboxing, parkour, and martial arts moves. That is nothing compared to the elevator scene, the car chase involving Nick Fury, or the many other fights, chases, and other actions scenes that we get throughout the film.

True to character. Regardless of what you may think of these directors, who are best known for directing episodes of Community, you can’t deny that their devotion to this character paid off. Yes, this is a darker film than the previous film, but not so much that it changes who the character is. The Dark Knight was a game changer for superhero films (and is still highly overrated), yes, but it should not be the gold standard by which all comic book movies are held. As the Marvel films have proven, it is possible to be true to the character, tell a great story, and have some fun along the way. As proven with Man of Steel, DC hasn’t figured this out yet, and the one time they did, Green Lantern, they just didn’t have a good enough story. Back to my point, Captain America is not some dark, brooding anti-hero. He is a soldier, not a boy scout, but from a different time, and because of this, he needs to be written with that in mind, a tidbit that lends itself to some light moments, such as Black Widow spending the whole film trying to find him a date (not really sure why she wasn’t available).

Falcon. Introducing new characters can be a good or bad thing, especially when that character is one that had they adhered strictly to the original comic design is…well, it just wouldn’t have worked. I have to hand it to Anthony Mackie, he brought it as a sort of comic relief to the more stoic and serious Captain America, but more importantly, the revamped backstory he was given worked. A paratrooper that was given these experimental wings and he was able to fight as he said, “…same as Cap…only slower.”

Nefarious. I have to say, this plot that HYDRA comes up with is about as evil as one can be. I’m not going to explain all the intricate details, just know that the return of Dr. Zola (sort of in the form that he is known for in the comics) leads to the audience getting the full scoop on what the plan is. The short version is that the evil organization, HYDRA has infiltrated and taken over S.H.I.E.L.D. and is now planning on using three satellite controlled helicarriers armed to the teeth to destroy anyone that doesn’t fit their ideal mold for what they think is the superior man. Sound familiar? Well, they were created under the Nazi regime by the Red Skull, remember? Maybe I’ve played too much Assassin’s Creed, but these guys sound a little bit like Templars, too.

What didn’t I like?

Theme. Alan Silvestri did not return to compose the score for this film due to other commitments. His replacement doesn’t really do it for me, but I’m not sure that’s his fault. You see, in the original film, Captain America is given a very heroic theme song, and it could very well have worked with the film. They do use it in the opening scene when Cap is jogging and passing the man who would become Falcon. For me, the music works, but I feel there were moments when the heroic “Captain America March” would have serves much better than the current score, which doesn’t deliver until the credits roll.

She’s back? When they announced the initial casting for this film, Hayley Atwell’s Peggy Carter wasn’t said to be returning. I won’t spoil anything about her return except saying that it is a bittersweet. On one hand, she is one of the few friends Cap has and may very well be his only friend from the old days. On the other hand, there is a disease that afflicts her that breaks you heart when you see it happen to her. At least they didn’t go the Captain America route and kill her so they can replace her with her niece, who actually plays a somewhat major role in this film (and perhaps the future?)

Winter Soldier. The supposed primary antagonist isn’t given much screentime. At least not enough to justify getting such heavy billing. This is really a shame, as Winter Soldier is a great character. The storyline in which he is introduced has been considered one of the greatest in comics, and yet the film doesn’t allow him to develop into more than the brainwashed shell of a man that he is, while seemingly focusing entirely on Robert Redford’s character. I would’ve liked a different mixture amongst the antagonists and more fights between Cap and Winter Soldier. They do seem to be evenly matched, after all.

I have yet to read a bad review or hear any negative press about Captain America: The Winter Soldier, except for one article that was Yahoo earlier this week, but that guy came off sounding as more of a hater than anything else. This is one of those few films that manages to live up to the hype. While this may be a superhero film, it also is a sophisticated action spy thriller, but with bits of comedy thrown in there for good measure. This has set the bar pretty high for the rest of the films to be released this year (I’m looking at you X-Men: Days of Future Past and Guardians of the Galaxy), but what a ride it was. I can’t wait to watch it again and hope you rush out and check it out. This is not a film you should be waiting around for it to be released on DVD, so quit reading my random musings and go see it now!

On a side note…look for a certain homage to another Samuel L. Jackson character near the end of the film.

5 out of 5 stars

The Avengers

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 5, 2012 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Nick Fury (Samuel L Jackson), director of the espionage agency S.H.I.E.L.D., arrives at a remote research facility during an evacuation. The commander there, agent Maria Hill (Cobie Smulders), explains that the Tesseract, an energy source of unknown potential, has activated and opened a mysterious portal. Through it, the exiled Asgardian Loki (Tom Hiddleston) steps. Loki takes the Tesseract, and uses his abilities to control the minds of several S.H.I.E.L.D. personnel including agent Clint Barton (Jeremy Renner), as well as physicist consultant Dr. Erik Selvig (Stellan Skarsgard), in order to aid in his getaway.

In response to the attack, Fury reactivates the Avengers Initiative. Agent Natasha Romanoff (Scarlett Johannson) is sent to India to recruit Dr. Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo), while Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg), approaches Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) and requests that he review Selvig’s research. Fury himself approaches Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) with an assignment to retrieve the Tesseract from Loki. During his exile, Loki encountered the Other (Alexis Denisof), an alien conqueror who, in exchange for the Tesseract, offers Loki an army of the alien race called the Chitauri in order for him to subjugate Earth.

Rogers, Stark and Romanoff travel to Stuttgart, Germany, to apprehend Loki, who is recovering iridium needed to stabilize the Tesseract’s power and demanding that the civilians kneel before him. After a battle with Captain America and Iron Man, Loki surrenders and is escorted back to a S.H.I.E.L.D. plane. However, Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Loki’s adoptive brother, arrives and attempts to free Loki to reason with him. Stark and Rogers confront Thor, and Loki is eventually returned to the Helicarrier, a flying aircraft carrier, and placed in a cell designed to hold the Hulk.

The Avengers are divided, both over how to approach Loki and the revelation that S.H.I.E.L.D. planned to harness the Tesseract to develop weapons as a deterrent against hostile extraterrestrials. As the group argues, Barton and Loki’s other possessed agents attack the Helicarrier, disabling its engines in flight and causing Banner to transform into the Hulk. As Stark and Rogers try to restart the damaged engines, Thor attempts to stop the Hulk’s rampage, and Romanoff fights Barton. During this fight, a blow to the head knocks Barton unconscious, breaking Loki’s mind control. Loki escapes, killing Agent Coulson as he does so, and Thor and the Hulk are each ejected from the ship.

Fury uses Coulson’s death to motivate the Avengers into working as a team. Stark and Rogers realize that simply defeating them will not be enough for Loki; he needs to overpower them in a very public way so as to validate himself as ruler of Earth. Using a device built by Selvig, Loki uses the Tesseract to open a portal to the Chitauri fleet over Manhattan, summoning a Chitauri invasion.

The Avengers rally in defense of New York, but quickly realize they will be overwhelmed as wave after wave of Chitauri descend upon Earth. With help from Barton, Rogers and Stark evacuate civilians, while Banner transforms into the Hulk again and goes after Loki, beating him into submission. Romanoff makes her way to the portal, where Selvig, freed of Loki’s control, reveals that Loki’s staff can be used to close the portal.

Meanwhile, Fury’s superiors attempt to end the invasion by launching a nuclear missile at Manhattan. Stark intercepts the missile and takes it through the portal toward the Chitauri fleet before running out of power and plummeting back to Earth, but the Hulk catches him as he falls. Thor escorts Loki and the Tesseract back to Asgard, while Fury notes that the Avengers will go their separate ways until such time as a new world-threatening menace emerges.

In a post-credits scene, the Other confers with his master3 about the attack on Earth. In a second post-credits scene, the Avengers — gathered at a shawarma restaurant — eat in silence.

REVIEW:

What a way to start the summer movie season!!!

Over the past four or so years, we have been getting teasers for this great team up of all the Marvel superheroes (Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, and Captain America). Many people had their doubts, but The Avengers hit theaters with, pardon the pun, a vengeance.

Yes, I know there are other Marvel heroes (Blade, The Punisher, Ghost Rider, Daredevil, Spider Man, the X-Men, and Elektra), but there are a host of reasons why they weren’t chosen for this film, mainly being that Iron Man was the beginning of the official Marvel Studios era, and most of those films were made before. Also, there is the little fact that with the exception of Daredevil and on occasion certain X-Men and Spider-Man, none of these are actually Avengers. While on the topic of Spider-Man, he has a film coming out in July, so ol’ webhead is a little busy.

Ok, now that we’ve got that out of the way, what say we talk about this film, eh?

I can only think of one word to really explain how I felt coming out of this film…geekasm! Yes, ladies and gentlemen, as a comic book geek from days gone by, seeing some of my favorite characters on the big screen together and certain things that I thought would never happen, such as the helicarrier lifting off was a true delight.

3D is not my friend, as anyone who reads this blog will tell you, but I shelled out the extra bucks for the rental glasses and, I hve to say, this did not disappoint. I can’t say there is anything that you just have to see in 3D, but seeing it in 3D doesn’t hurt.

So, what works?

Direction. Joss Whedon does a great job with such a major undertaking. Can you imagine the amount of pressure that was on him with this picture? He does a gret job balancing the action and comedy, as well as making sure no one character takes over the film. Let us not forget how he delivers on this story, as well!

Bruce Banner/The Hulk. Some early reviews of this film have said he was the best part of it for them. I’m not a real big Hulk fan, but if they were to actually make a Hulk movie with this version, I’d be the first one to buy a ticket. Mark Ruffalo not only does a great job, and arguably the best ever job, as Bruce Banner, but he literally plays the Hulk. He did the motion capture for him, rather than just some CGI as his predecessors did. Don’t kid yourself. Can you really see Edward Norton taking the backseat role that he would have had to? Hell, the guy rewrote The Incredible Hulk just so he could get more screentime. Funny thing is, I actually didn’t think Ruffalo would work as the Hulk. See what happens when you assume something before it actually happens?

Loki. In Thor, we were introduced to this guy, and saw that he can be a pretty evil bad ass. Here, he takes that and multiplies it by 10. He really comes into his own and the Norse god of mischief, and has some great lines. However, his best scene may be with the Hulk!

Nick Fury. No matter which incarnation of Nick Fury we see in media, the one thing people always ask is what does the guy actually do besides sit around barking orders. Well, we get to see him in action during the heilicarrier scene. I just noticed something about Jackson’s portrayal of Fury, though. He appears to be wearing his coat from Shaft. On another side note, for those that don’t know, Fury actually started his career as a leader of Army commandos in the comics, but similar to the way the first Green Lantern (Alan Scott) is detached from just about all Lantern history, so is this part of Fury’s history, or at least it was during my day. They may have brought it into his backstory by now.

The helicarrier. I mention how this was one of those moments that we geeks have been wishing would finally come to fruition on the big screen. Well, the liftoff, anyway. Some of you may recall that there is a helicarrier in Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, flown by an eye patch wearing commander of a secret organization. This one, though, is 100 times as awesome (and Nick Fury is 1000x the Colonel Frankie was).

Character development. Over the course of the film, we see each of these characters grow, as well as their relationship with each other. Honestly, though, did you expect anything less. The Avengers are not exactly best friends, unlike the Justice League (not counting Batman), but they come together for the common good.

Supporting characters from other films. It was good to see some characters from the other films pop up, one of them playing somewhat of a major role. It ties things together. There is even a picture of Natalie Portman’s character, Jane, when Thor is brought aboard.

Balance. The mixture of action and comedy strikes a nice balance that, quite honestly, only these Marvel films have been able to do. Hell, Nolan doesn’t even try with his Batman movies, though it looks like he may with Catwoman in The Dark Knight Rises, which it rather ironic, since he made the Joker such a serious character. Anyway, I appreciate Marvel for realizing that not everyone wants to be depressed when they come out of the theater, but rather feel like they’ve gotten their money’s worth by mixing things up.

Cast. The cast is almost without flaw. How often has it been said that comic book films do one thing wrong that they never seem to learn from, which is have too many characters. This film proves, that no matter how many characters you have, each of them can get a decent amount of screen time and not feel like something the studios forced in at the last minute, like Venom in Spider Man 3.

Pacing. At nearly 2 1/2 hours long, you would think the audience would be bored and nearly out of it by the time you get to the denouement. However, with the exception of the rather slow beginning, the film gradually builds toward an awesometacular climax that makes it worth the wait. You don’t even realize that its been 2 hrs before you get there.

The final battle. This is what we came to see, a giant mashup of all these superpowered (with Black Widow and Hawkeye) individuals fighting to save the world. When the fight starts, it jumps around a lot, but that’s because you have everyone in different parts of the city, thanks to Captain America’s orders. Whedon is smart enough to realize that the audience doesn’t want to stay focused on what Thor is doing the whole time, but move on over to see what Iron Man is doing, then Hawkeye and Black Widow, etc, etc.

What didn’t work?

Hawkeye. Why is it Jeremy Renner couldn’t put on Hawkeye’s purple uniform? What, is he too good to wear a mask?

Cobie Smulders. I know that Maria Hill isn’t exactly the warmest of characters, but Smulders just doesn’t do anything to justify her being cast as this characters. As a matter of fact, if there was a weak spot in the picture, it was her. Perhaps she should just stay as the semi-hot friend on How I Met Your Mother. It turns out, though, that Whedon has a thing for her as an actress, so I’m sure this wont be the last we are forced to see of her.

Captain America’s costume. Remember Captain America: The First Avenger? Cap’s costume was authentic and believable. That was set in the 40s. Fast forward 70 yrs and they give him a new suit that looks like nothing more than some kind of cheap pajamas. On top of that, they kept taking his hood/helmet off. I don’t know whose fault this is, but it is a pet peeve I have with superhero films. If you’re gonna don the mask, then wear the thing. If you read any issue of any masked hero, then unless said face coverage has been severely damaged and/or stolen, they are not always taking their masks off, so why do they keep doing it these movies? My guess is the ego of these actors that play them, but considering how Evans has no issue wearing the mask all through his movie, this was probably more of a Whedon thing.

The Chitauri. As far as alien invasion forces go, these guys were not half bad, except it would have been nice to learn a little more about them, other than they think the Earth is week and have somehow teamed up with Loki to invade the Earth.

The Whedon death syndrome. When Whedon was first hired to direct this film, someone said that he was known for killing off pivotal characters. I thought maybe he’d avoid that with the material, since it isn’t part of the “Whedon-verse”. However, a certain character is killed off, and it leaves you wondering why. Best I figure is that they’re going to start pushing Maria Hill hard, especially since she’s actually in the books (a fairly major character, btw) and he isn’t.

The Avengers won one of my awards last year for most anticipated film. As of right now, it is a front-runner for movie of the year! The mixture of action, comedy, great characters, and a great story make for a great film. This is what I expect from my superhero movies. Spider-Man and Batman have some big shoes to fill, as do the rash of sequels that are sure to lead up to The Avengers 2, which hopefully will bring in characters such as Wasp, She-Hulk, Black Panther, Namor, Power Man & Iron Fist, Vision, Ms. Marvel, etc., but we’ll see. In the meantime, what are you waiting for? Go see this awesome film ASAP!!!

5 out of 5 stars