Archive for Robert Downey Jr.

Spider-Man: Homecoming

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on August 4, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Following the Battle of New York, Adrian Toomes and his salvage company are contracted to clean up the city, but their operation is taken over by the Department of Damage Control (D.O.D.C.), a partnership between Tony Stark and the U.S. government. Enraged at being driven out of business, Toomes persuades his employees to keep the Chitauri technology they have already scavenged and use it to create and sell advanced weapons. Eight years later, Peter Parker is drafted into the Avengers by Stark to help with an internal dispute, but resumes his studies at the Midtown School of Science and Technology when Stark tells him he is not yet ready to become a full Avenger.

Parker quits his school’s academic decathlon team to spend more time focusing on his crime-fighting activities as Spider-Man. One night, after preventing criminals from robbing an ATM with their advanced weapons from Toomes, Parker returns to his Queens apartment where his best friend Ned discovers his secret identity. On another night, Parker comes across Toomes’ associates Jackson Brice / Shocker and Herman Schultz selling weapons to local criminal Aaron Davis. Parker nearly drowns intervening, and is rescued by Stark, who is monitoring the Spider-Man suit he gave Parker and warns him against involvement with the dangerous criminals. Toomes accidentally kills Brice with one of their weapons, and Schultz becomes the new Shocker.

Parker and Ned study a weapon left behind by Brice, removing its power core. When a tracking device on Schultz leads to Maryland, Parker rejoins the decathlon team and accompanies them to Washington, D.C. for their national tournament. Ned and Parker disable the tracker Stark implanted in the Spider-Man suit, and unlock its advanced features. Parker tries to stop Toomes from stealing weapons from a D.O.D.C. truck, but is overpowered and trapped inside the truck, causing him to miss the decathlon tournament. When he discovers that the power core is an unstable Chitauri grenade, Parker races to the Washington Monument where the core explodes and traps Ned and their friends in an elevator. Evading local authorities, Parker saves his friends, including his fellow classmate and crush Liz. Returning to New York City, Parker persuades Davis to reveal Toomes’ whereabouts. Aboard the Staten Island Ferry, Parker captures Toomes’ new buyer Mac Gargan, but Toomes escapes and a malfunctioning weapon tears the ferry in half. Stark helps Parker save the passengers before admonishing him for his recklessness and taking away his suit.

Parker returns to his high school life, and eventually asks Liz to go to the homecoming dance with him. On the night of the dance, Parker learns that Liz is Toomes’ daughter. Deducing Parker’s secret identity, Toomes threatens retaliation if he interferes with his plans. During the dance, Parker realizes Toomes is planning to hijack a D.O.D.C. plane transporting weapons from Avengers Tower to the team’s new headquarters. He dons his old homemade Spider-Man suit and races to Toomes’ lair. He is first ambushed by Schultz, but defeats him with the help of Ned. At the lair, Toomes destroys the building’s support beams and leaves Parker to die. Parker is able to escape the rubble and intercepts the plane, steering it to crash on the beach near Coney Island. He and Toomes engage in an open confrontation that ends with Parker saving Toomes’ life from his own unstable equipment, and leaving him for the police along with the plane’s cargo. After her father’s arrest, Liz moves away, and Parker declines an invitation from Stark to join the Avengers full time. Stark returns Parker’s suit, which he puts on at his apartment just as his Aunt May walks in.

In a mid-credits scene, an incarcerated Gargan approaches Toomes in prison. Gargan has heard that Toomes knows Spider-Man’s real identity, but Toomes denies this.

REVIEW:

With all the success Marvel has had with the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe), they could not say they truly were a success story until there was a Spider-Man film under their wing. With Sony holding the rights to the character (not to mention the Fantastic Four) hostage, many were wondering if we would ever see the day when Spidey would grace the big screen in the MCU…then we saw Captain America: Civil War. Now, Spider-Man: Homecoming aims to take that character introduction and flesh out a third cinematic version of Peter Parker. Hey, at least this one is age-appropriate, right?

What is this about?

Thrilled by his experience with the Avengers, Peter returns home, where he lives with his Aunt May, under the watchful eye of his new mentor Tony Stark, Peter tries to fall back into his normal daily routine – distracted by thoughts of proving himself to be more than just your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man – but when the Vulture emerges as a new villain, everything that Peter holds most important will be threatened.

What did I like?

Fun. Audiences and critics have been noticing something in superhero films (and TV shows). A lack of fun! Think about how bright and vibrant Superman is and now think about what we were forced to sit through with Man of Steel. Somewhere along the way, our superheroes stopped being beacons of hope, and turned into examples of how to brood. Spider-Man has not been exempt from this curse. Toby Maguire’s version started out pretty good, but couldn’t keep it up. I never cared for Andrew Garfield or his take on the character, so I won’t waste time on him. Tom Holland brings a fresh take to Spider-Man in that we haven’t seen him as a high schooler, at least not an age appropriate high schooler. With that, the fun and innocence that Stan Lee intended for the character is front and center, as are the awkward moments of being a teenager. Again, this is what Stan Lee envision when he first created him, not some attitude having, puffy haired, British string bean who ruins the character of Peter Parker.

We know the story. Look, if you don’t know the origin of Spider-Man by now, either through comics, cartoons, Watchmojo.com, Wikipedia, or whatever, then chances are you either don’t care or just haven’t bothered to learn yourself something. With that said, I join the billions of fans who saw this and noticed the absence of Uncle Ben’s murder. As a matter of fact, it isn’t even mentioned! We are more than aware than Ben gets shot and its Peter’s fault, but in the last 5 Spider-Man movies, we have either seen this happen or been privy to a bevy of flashbacks so that we can relive the scene ad naseum. Thank goodness the 6th time they got it right and didn’t include anything about the murder…though I do hope in future films we get something on what happened. I’m mostly curious as to who they’ll cast as Uncle Ben to pair with Marisa Tomei’s Aunt May

Cap must’ve needed the money. One of the best cameos in the picture is Captain America doing PSAs. While I was laughing when Cap showed up in these videos, I couldn’t help but wonder why he was doing them. Did the government make him? Is he just being a good guy and attempting to help the youth? Just some thoughts that popped in my head. I’m sure that I am just overanalyzing and  these were nothing more than a funny thing to include in the film.

What didn’t I like?

Homage or ripoff? About halfway through the picture, there is a scene where Spider-Man has to use all of his strength to hold two halves of a dissected boat together. As I was sitting there watching him strain, I couldn’t help but recall the train sequence in Spider-Man 2 when Toby Maguire is called on to use all of his strength to stop the train. Many people have noticed this comparison and now I must ask…is this an homage or a ripoff? I see it more as an homage, personally. The scene in question is from what is arguably the best Spider-Man film to date, so why wouldn’t you bring something from that great film into this new version? Also, if it was a ripoff, I think we’d have a seen something involving the subway, I’m sure.

What a shock! Shocker is one of my favorite in Spider-Man’s rogues gallery. I can’t tell you why, but I have this affinity for him. Maybe it’s the Texas connection?!? At any rate, I was over the hills with excitement when I heard the announcement he was going to be in this film. Then I saw him and my jaw dropped. This is not Shocker. He doesn’t even really don the costume, save for the sleeves on his jacket. How is it we can get nearly every detail right with superheroes, but for the villains they just seem to wear similar colors to their comic counterparts. I wonder why that is!

A change will do you good. My first introduction to the Vulture was as an elderly gentlemen who was running part of the criminal organizations in NYC. Obviously, there are some differences between that idea and the one we see on the screen. Most importantly, the family man version of the character remained intact. So, why would I not like the change in history? Well, just this week, some promotional photos were released for Deadpool 2, specifically images of the mutant, Domino. I bring this up because she’s quite the curvy wonder in the pics, it is the sudden realization that she is now to be played by an actress of color…complete with afro and some weird face that causes her to look like a dog. What is the reason for this change? No real reason, they just wanted someone of ethnicity to play a character who has plae white skin.

Final verdict on Spider-Man:Homecoming? This is the superhero film we’ve all been clamoring for. It has action, humor, sci-fi, crime, and even a love story. What is there to not like? While Marvel and Sony are sure to fight over who gets credit here, really it is the fans and moviegoers that win. Do  I recommend  this? Emphatically yes! The cons are few and the pros are many. Go check it out!

5 out of 5 stars

 

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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

Weird Science

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy with tags , , , , , , , , , on February 22, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

The film takes place in the fictitious Chicago suburb of Shermer, Illinois. Two high school nerds, Gary Wallace (Anthony Michael Hall) and Wyatt Donnelly (Ilan Mitchell-Smith), are pantsed by school bullies Ian (Robert Downey, Jr.) and Max (Robert Rusler).

Later on, at Wyatt’s house, the boys have the house to themselves for the weekend. Inspired by the 1931 version of Frankenstein, which the boys watch on TV, they decide to create a “perfect” woman on their home computer (a Memotech MTX512). When their computer reaches its computing capacity, the boys decide to hack into a government mainframe for more processing power and data storage capacity. As a finishing touch they connect a Barbie doll to Wyatt’s computer through a series of wires and electrodes. At the exact moment they hit “enter” to execute the computer program, a lightning bolt strikes the house leading to a series of supernatural occurrences. When the smoke clears a beautiful woman (Kelly LeBrock) emerges from Wyatt’s bathroom. Her first words are “So, what would you little maniacs like to do first?”

In addition to being totally devoted to them, the woman has superhuman abilities, such as memory manipulation, molecular manipulation, and reality warping. The boys are too intimidated to take advantage of the obvious opportunities presented, as is shown when they keep their jeans on while showering with her. Realizing the boys need to lower their inhibitions, she transforms their outfits and then takes them out in a pink 1959 Cadillac convertible that she conjured up. The boys name her Lisa. Lisa takes them to a blues club. The trio end up ingratiating themselves to the staff and some of the regulars, in part with the help of alcohol.

As they head home, Lisa asks Wyatt about his older brother, Chet (Bill Paxton), who extorts blackmail money from him in exchange for withholding information from their parents, as shown when he brings a drunk Gary home past Wyatt’s curfew. After putting Gary to bed, Wyatt shares a series of increasingly passionate kisses with Lisa. At a shopping mall, Gary and Wyatt, finally feeling secure after their time with Lisa, are humiliated once again by Ian and Max, who dump an Icee onto them in front of the whole mall, upsetting their own girlfriends, Deb (Suzanne Snyder) and Hilly (Judie Aronson). Ian and Max then spot Lisa on the escalator and abandon the girls to run after her. When they catch up with her, she invites them to a party at Wyatt’s. Gary then pulls up in a black Porsche 928 and he, Wyatt, and Lisa leave together, to Ian and Max’s chagrin.

The milquetoast Wyatt begs Lisa to cancel a planned party, but she refuses, pointing out that it will lead to the popularity that he and Gary want. She then picks up Gary at his house, but when Gary’s parents, Al (Britt Leach) and Lucy (Barbara Lang), object to Gary going out with a woman Lisa’s age, Lisa manipulates their memories so that Lucy forgets the incident and Al forgets he has a son. Back at the house the party begins. Gary and Wyatt, too intimidated to socialize at first, lock themselves in the bathroom. Deb and Hilly meet Gary and Wyatt in the bathroom and are surprised to discover that they, not Lisa, are the party hosts. Max and Ian encounter Lisa and make a pass at her. She refuses, explaining that she “belongs” to Gary and Wyatt.

Ian and Max then scheme to offer Gary and Wyatt permission to date their own girlfriends in exchange for dating Lisa, leading Gary and Wyatt to explain how they created her and an attempt to recreate the process in Wyatt’s bedroom with the computer follows. They forget, however, to connect the computer to the Barbie doll, instead leaving it clamped to a Time magazine on whose cover is a Pershing medium-range ballistic missile. As soon as the machine starts up, the kitchen turns blue, a picture of Wyatt’s parents starts dancing, the chimney proceeds to suck up all the furniture in the living room and launch it into a lake out back, and the “Weird Science” song starts playing. The missile, like Lisa, becomes real and ends up emerging in the middle of Wyatt’s bedroom from underground. When Gary and Wyatt are dejected by this, Lisa decides to provoke a confrontation in order to spur them to stand up for themselves. She conjures a group of mutant bikers to disrupt the party. At first the bikers intimidate and humiliate Gary and Wyatt, but after they accost Deb and Hilly, Gary and Wyatt stand up to the mutants, mainly because they realize they are Lisa’s creation. Everyone present, including Deb and Hilly, are impressed by the boys. After the mutant bikers apologize and leave the house, the boys and girls end up pairing off, Gary with Deb and Wyatt with Hilly.

Early the next morning, Chet returns from spending the night out and is angry at the state of the house. Lisa tells Gary and Wyatt to take Deb and Hilly home. Gary and Wyatt take the girls home, each guy sharing a kiss with his new girlfriend. Lisa confronts Chet, telling him that he will no longer threaten or extort money from Wyatt. Lisa then transforms Chet into a squat, grotesque creature, humbling him enough to apologize to Wyatt. Gary and Wyatt talk to Lisa, who understands that the boys now have girlfriends, which is all what she wanted for them. After saying goodbye, Lisa disappears in a puff of smoke and the damage to the house and Chet’s transformation is reversed just in time for the return of Wyatt’s parents from Cincinnati, Ohio.

In the epilogue, a group of high school students hear their new gym teacher’s whistle. When their teacher turns out to be Lisa, the entire class of boys faint and Lisa winks to the viewer.

REVIEW:

Arguably one of the most popular films on the 80s, Weird Science ranks up there with the likes of Back to the Future, The Breakfast Club, Fast Times at Ridgemont Highand others that immediately come to mind when you think of this period of time. The question everyone asks is what was so weird about the science? Was it too much for the 80s? What about today? Well, you just have to watch if you want to know the answer to those questions. In the meantime, I hope I can give you a little insight into this light comedy from the late, great John Hughes.

What is this about?

When teen geeks Gary and Wyatt use a computer to create Lisa, a gorgeous woman with a genius IQ, they enlist her help to boost their seemingly pathetic social status. But she thinks the boys just need a lesson in courage.

What did I like?

Bullies never prosper. It may seem like a distant memory, but there was a time when us nerds, geeks, and dweebs were nothing but the object of ridicule by bullies. In the case of this film, those bullies do everything they can to make life a living hell for our stars, and it seems like they aren’t going to get any repercussions from this, but their girls nearly leave them and, by film’s end, they have dumped the girls for a shot with Lisa, the perfect girl, or an attempt to create their own piece of perfection, which ends up backfiring and becoming a missile.

Lisa, Lisa. After being created from so hacked military software and a Barbie doll, which Kelly LeBrock sure fit the waist definitions, at least, it seemed that once we got past her wanting to party and have sex, she became, well a character very similar to Elizabeth Hurley in Bedazzled. Thing is, that isn’t necessarily a bad thing, as her intentions are to be a hot chick that opens the doorway for them to become happy, which does happen, so mission accomplished.

Dated. This film was released in 1985, so in 2014, of course the technology and effects are going to look a little dated. That is part of the charm of the picture, though. This happens to be one of those films that hasn’t aged well, thanks to advances in technology, but is still worth watching in spite of that because it gives off that nostalgic vibe that takes us all back.

What didn’t I like?

Practically perfect. I won’t deny that Kelly LeBrock is a looker. She has a rocking body, and as I mentioned earlier, could quite possible pass for a living Barbie doll. That being said, is that the “perfect” woman? For me, I have to say no. I prefer some mean on my women and more curves. The next guy may prefer the opposite. Another guy may prefer that masculine body builder type. As a wise man once said, “beauty is in the eye of the beholder”. I guess the beholder is the casting director. Again, nothing against Kelly LeBrock, she’s just not my ideal woman.

Creature feature. In the last scenes of the film, the big brother character, played by Bill Paxton, is turned into this weird poop like creature. There is a level of supposed realism that is going on in this film (and I use that term lightly), but this sudden creature that he was turned into, especially this late in the film, didn’t quite fit with everything else in the film. It was just…odd.

Girls. Through the work of their creation, our boys finally get girlfriends, but I have to wonder why it is that these girls were chosen. Sure, they are cuties, but seems to me a couple of girls that were more along the nerdy plane of existence, if you will, would have worked better. No, I’m not talking about the kind that would have thick coke bottle glasses, braces, headgear, and a bad case of acne, just the kind that are wallflowers, but you can still tell they are a bit of a looker.

All in all, I had a good time with Weird Science. This is a film that you can have issues with, and there are plenty of things to take issue with, but it is still fun to kick back and enjoy. Do I recommend this film? Why yes I do. There is no reason to not watch this sci-fi comedy from 80s legend John Hughes, even if it isn’t his strongest work. Give it a shot sometime!

3 3/4 out of 5 stars

Iron Man 3

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 4, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Tony Stark recalls a New Years Eve party in 1999 with scientist Maya Hansen, inventor of Extremis – an experimental regenerative treatment intended to allow recovery from crippling injuries. Disabled scientist Aldrich Killian offers them a place in his company Advanced Idea Mechanics, but is turned down.

Years later, Stark’s experiences during the alien invasion of New York are giving him panic attacks. Restless, he has built several Iron Man suits, creating friction with his girlfriend Pepper Potts. A string of bombings by terrorist the Mandarin has left intelligence agencies bewildered by lack of forensic evidence. When Stark Industries security chief Happy Hogan is badly injured in one such attack, Stark overcomes his stupor and issues a televised threat to the Mandarin, who responds by destroying Stark’s home with helicopter gunships. Potts and Hansen, who had come to warn them, survive the attack. Stark then finds himself in rural Tennessee after his artificial intelligence JARVIS followed a flight plan from Stark’s investigation into the Mandarin. Stark’s experimental armor lacks sufficient power to return to California, and the world believes him dead.

Teaming with Harley, a precocious 10-year-old boy, Stark investigates the remains of a local explosion bearing the hallmarks of a Mandarin attack. He discovers the “bombings” were triggered by soldiers subjected to Extremis, which at this stage of development can cause certain subjects to explosively reject it. After veterans started exploding, their deaths were used to cover up Extremis’ flaws by manufacturing a terrorist plot. Stark witnesses Extremis firsthand when Mandarin agents Ellen Brandt and Eric Savin attack him.

With Harley’s help, Stark traces the Mandarin to Miami and infiltrates his headquarters using improvised weapons. Inside he discovers the Mandarin is actually a British actor, Trevor Slattery, who says that he is oblivious to the actions carried out in his name. The Mandarin is a creation of Killian, who appropriated Hansen’s Extremis research as a cure for his own disability and expanded the program to include injured war veterans. After capturing Stark, Killian reveals he is the true Mandarin; he has kidnapped Potts and subjected her to Extremis, intending to infuse her with superhuman abilities and turn her against Stark as leverage to gain Stark’s aid in fixing Extremis’ flaws. Killian kills Maya when she has a change of heart about the plan.

Killian has also manipulated American intelligence agencies regarding the Mandarin’s location, luring James Rhodes — the former War Machine, now re-branded as the Iron Patriot — into a trap to steal the armor. Stark escapes and reunites with Rhodes, discovering that Killian intends to attack President Ellis aboard Air Force One. Remotely controlling his Iron Man armor, Stark saves some surviving passengers and crew but cannot stop Killian from abducting Ellis. They trace Killian to an impounded oil-drilling platform where Killian intends to kill Ellis on live television. The vice president will become a puppet leader, following Killian’s orders in exchange for Extremis to cure a little girl’s disability.

On the platform, Stark goes to save Potts, and Rhodes saves the president. Stark summons each of his Iron Man suits, controlled remotely by JARVIS, to provide air support. Rhodes secures the president and leads him to safety, while Stark discovers Potts has survived the Extremis procedure. However, before he can save her, a rig collapses around them and she falls to her apparent death. Stark confronts Killian and traps him in an Iron Man suit that self-destructs, but fails to kill him. Potts, whose Extremis powers allowed her to survive her fall, intervenes and kills Killian.

After the battle, Stark orders JARVIS to destroy each Iron Man suit as a sign of his intention to devote more time to Potts. The vice president and Slattery are arrested. With Stark’s help, Potts’ Extremis effects are stablized, and Stark undergoes surgery to remove the shrapnel embedded near his heart. He pitches his obsolete chest arc reactor into the sea, musing he will always be Iron Man, even without his armor.

In a present day post-credits scene, Stark wakes up Dr. Bruce Banner, who fell asleep listening at the beginning of Stark’s story.

REVIEW:

Last summer, The Avengers was the film everyone was looking forward to and talking about. This year, we are starting what Marvel Studios is calling Phase II leading up the second Avengers film with Iron Man 3. As you can imagine, there is a tremendous amount of pressure on this film, not only to not drop the ball, but also because this is the first big blockbuster of the year.

What is this about?

Marvel’s “Iron Man 3” pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?

What did I like?

Tony, Tony, Tony. The last film was so focused on the Iron Man suit that we forgot there was a man inside, Tony Stark. Here we get back to basics with him, as he is without his suits and JARVIS for a good portion of the film. Yes, that is not necessarily a good thing for a summer blockbuster, but it just makes the final payoff that much better. Not to mention, Stark is a genius! Seeing his brilliant mind come up with innovative ways to escape and do things is something we haven’t seen since the first Iron Man. Say what you will, but Iron Man is ultimately nothing without the man behind him.

Stand alone. We all loved The Avengers and that is great, but what I really appreciated is how this stayed an Iron Man film. Yes, there were references to the events that happened in New York, and Stark has a bit of trauma from it, but that isn’t a major plot point. Admittedly, I was sort of afraid it would. Looking at the trailer for the new Thor movie, it doesn’t seem to be a problem in that one either. So, Marvel is doing things right. I don’t think we would have minded seeing Thor, Captain America, Black Widow, and the others, I just felt that Stark needed some time to himself.

Comedy. Contrary to what some out there may want him to be, Iron Man has never been the dark, brooding type like Batman. The only dark thing about Stark is his alcoholism, which will never be covered on-screen as long as Downey is portraying him…for issues that would hit too close to home. So, getting moments of levity thrown in here and there are an absolute delight for me. It is what I know Iron Man to be and the cast seems to be having fun with these jokes, so how can you complain?

Kid. I’m not a fan of this kid they brought in, but for the purpose he serves, I suppose he works. It seems like they just wanted him to be a foil for Tony Stark and to remind the audience that while Stark is all about saving the world, he is still a total selfish douchebag, lest we forget.

What didn’t I like?

Final battle. In Transformers, one of the complaints was that you couldn’t tell who was who with all those gears and stuff clashing. In a way, that is how I felt watching this final scene. You’ve seen the trailer where all the Iron Man suits show up, right? Well, they all join in the fight, but it is very hard to tell who is who and what is going on. Part of that may be related to watching this in 3D and wearing those rented sunglasses, but it would have been nice to have a better sense of what was happening.

Yes, you have abs. Normally, I’m the last one to complain about seeing a woman in her sports bra, but when Gwyneth Paltrow is kidnapped, they strip her down to a sports bra. To me, it seemed like this was done for no other reason than for her to show her abs, especially since not long before that, we see another woman, but she was in her miliary gear.

Color scheme. This is a personal complaint, but who the hell told these people Iron Man is yellow and red instead of red and yellow?!? That just doesn’t look right! For me, it was distracting, I couldn’t wait for him to get out of that crappy paint job he calls a suit!

Imma call him War Machine. I would say this was done just for the movie, but there actually is an Iron Patriot. The armor is best associated with Norman Osborn, you know Green Goblin from Spider-Man. As far as I can tell, they changed it here for marketing reasons. Parents are so squeamish these days. Last thing they would want to do is buy a kid a toy called War Machine, but Iron Patriot? Not a problem. Isn’t that just sickening?

Botanist. This is a very small thing…hardly worth mentioning. You may remember Batman & Robin where a botanist was responsible for much of the evil that was happening. Well, this botanist doesn’t turn into a mad supervillain, but the idea did put me in mind of that film. I couldn’t help but think back to it, but that might just me overanalyzing things.

Mandarin. Let me tell you about the first Iron Man comic I read…It was the end of some storyline,  Stark came hom, poured a drink, took his armor off and got shot in the back. This would leave him paralyzed for quite some time. I keep hope that they’ll actually use this storyline in a future film. While he didn’t commit that heinous act, the Mandarin was the villain Iron Man had defeated before heading home. A sinister being of unspeakable power, thanks to his 10 rings. At first, the Mandarin here seems to be just as menacing a figure, then the proverbial curtain is pulled back. I’m not going to spoil anything about how they handled this interpretation, but I will say it pissed me off to no end to know that this is what they did to a great villain such as the Mandarin. Making matters even worse, they got Sir Ben Kingsley, who I felt would have been great as a true Mandarin, to do this. WTF?!? For a franchise that even through the changes it has made to the source material has had a pretty good track record of pleasing the fans, this was like a big F— you! All I can do is hope that he gets a true Mandarin-izing (yes, I just coined that phrase) before the next film. Prison has ways of changing a man, after all, and dammit does it need to do it quickly!

Iron Man 3 is sure to make a ton of $$$, but did you honestly think it wouldn’t? The new elements added to the already familiar story are hit and miss, but they work well enough when all is said and done. This new director, Shane Black, gave the film a darker tone which I am not sure I liked, but to each their own. I question what his obsession with Christmas time is, though. Ultimately, though, I had a good time with this film. It has some issues here and there, but still a really solid flick that you need to rush out and see ASAP. Yes, people, the summer movie season has officially arrived!

4 1/4 out of 5 stars

Johnny Be Good

Posted in Comedy, Movie Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , on February 3, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT:

Johnny Walker (Hall) is the top high school quarterback prospect who is heavily recruited by many schools. His best friend, Leo Wiggins (Downey), thinks he should hold out for the best offer. His girlfriend, Georgia (Thurman), wants him to go to State with her and get a solid education. The colleges offer him everything he could possibly want — girls, cars, cash, free room and board, etc. Although he has all the skills a coach would want in a quarterback, he is unsure where he wants to go. Although Johnny lives with his mother, grandfather, younger brother and sister, he is offered everything and anything by every interested college except for the local State College.

REVIEW:

In a few hours, the Super Bowl is about to start, so I figured what better time to watch a football flick. Unfortunately, my top choices ended up going on a very long wait. Oh well, there’s always next year, right? The alternative, Johnny Be Good, happens to work just as well since this week is when college football recruiting kicks into high gear with national signing day.

What is this about?

Johnny Walker (Anthony Michael Hall) is a nice, normal teenage boy who happens be a star football player — such a star that he’s got every college in America bucking to get him on their team. As he’s lured and baited with a dizzying array of extracurricular temptations, can Johnny really be good — and stay that way?

What did I like?

Gotta start somewhere. Take a look at this cast, Anthony Michael Hall, Robert Downey, Jr., Uma Thurman, all-stars in their own right that have gone on to bigger and better things, but in the 80s, they weren’t so big. I always enjoy seeing big actors in early roles, such as Johnny Depp in the first Nightmare on Elm Street. There were signs of what they were destined to become, although, Downey freaks me out a bit looking so young, or maybe I’ve gotten so used to seeing him with goatee.

Process. I wasn’t a great high school football player. Hell, I didn’t even play high school ball, but I was there every Friday night because I was in band. In the band world, we don’t really get recruited. A letter may be sent to directors, but that’s about it. From what I’ve seen when I watch College Football Live on ESPN, these recruits are shown any and every luxury they can just to get them to come to a school, with the hopes that they will become the next great thing. I’m sure it isn’t as entertaining as this process, though. Making things better is that with all these amenities thrown at Johnny, these schools are finally held accountable by an NCAA scout (played by Robert Downey, Sr.). Some things never change.

What didn’t I like?

Ol’ Tex. This is more of a personal distaste than something against the film, but Ol’ Tex? Seriously?!? They couldn’t convince Ole Miss or Texas to come recruit this kid? At least Alabama, Notre Dame, and Penn State allowed their names to be said a couple of times, albeit by some guys in hideous plaid jackets.

Uma. She may have actually looked better in her younger days, but this character didn’t do her any favors. She came off pretty much as a bitch in my eyes. The only thing that was redeeming about her is that she didn’t seem to care that her boyfriend was the hotshot quarterback and apparent #1 recruit in the nation. We all know that it would have been so easy for her to have been a goldigger type.

Any other era. There is a scene where somehow we end up in the girl’s shower. Now, if this was any other time than the 80s, I would have said this made no sense. However, in this bygone era, gratuitous nudity was in vogue, often time it made it into movies rated everything but G. Still, I’m not really sure how the shower scenes popped up. I probably just forgot the segue, though.

Johnny Be Good isn’t a great film, but it is somewhat decent. I found myself laughing more than I thought I would, mostly at the true horridness of this low-budget film. Yes, the titular song does appear, but at the end, and not the Chuck Berry version, but a Judas Priest cover. Sorry for those of you hoping for another Back to the Future moment. Still, I think you’ll enjoy this, so take a go at it!

3 1/2 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