Archive for Thor

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

Thor: Ragnarok

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 22, 2017 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Two years after the Battle of Sokovia, Thor has been unsuccessfully searching for the Infinity Stones, and is now imprisoned by the fire demon Surtur. Surtur reveals that Thor’s father Odin is no longer on Asgard, and that the realm will soon be destroyed in the prophesied Ragnarök, once Surtur unites his crown with the Eternal Flame that burns in Odin’s vault. Thor defeats Surtur and claims his crown, believing he has prevented Ragnarök.

Thor returns to Asgard to find his brother Loki posing as Odin. Thor forces Loki to help him find their father, and with directions from Stephen Strange on Earth, they locate Odin in Norway. Odin explains that he is dying, and that his passing will allow his firstborn child, Hela, to escape from a prison she was sealed in long ago. Hela had been the leader of Asgard’s armies, and had conquered the Nine Realms with Odin, but had been imprisoned and written out of history after Odin feared that she had become too ambitious. Odin subsequently dies, and Hela, released from her imprisonment, appears. She destroys Thor’s hammer Mjolnir, and when Thor and Loki attempt to flee through the Bifröst Bridge, she pursues them and forces them out into space to die. Hela arrives in Asgard, destroying its army and the Warriors Three; resurrects the ancient dead who once fought with her, including her giant wolf Fenris; and appoints the Asgardian Skurge as her executioner. She plans to use the Bifröst to expand Asgard’s empire, but Heimdall covertly steals the sword that controls the Bridge, and hides away with the rest of Asgard’s citizens.

Thor crash-lands on Sakaar, a garbage planet surrounded by wormholes. He is captured by a bounty hunter named Scrapper 142, and taken to serve as a gladiator for the planet’s ruler, the Grandmaster, with whom Loki has already become ingratiated. Thor recognizes 142 as one of the Valkyrior, a legendary force of female warriors who were killed defending Asgard from Hela long ago. Thor is forced to compete in the Grandmaster’s Contest of Champions, facing his old friend the Hulk. Summoning lightning, Thor almost defeats the Hulk but the Grandmaster sabotages the fight to ensure the Hulk’s victory. Still enslaved, Thor attempts to convince Hulk and 142 to help him save Asgard, but neither is willing. He soon manages to escape the palace and finds the Quinjet that brought Hulk to Sakaar. Hulk follows Thor to the Quinjet, where a recording of Natasha Romanoff makes him transform back into Bruce Banner for the first time since Sokovia.

The Grandmaster orders 142 and Loki to find Thor and Hulk, but the pair come to blows and Loki forces her to relive the deaths of her fellow Valkyrie at the hands of Hela. Deciding to help Thor, she takes Loki captive to prove her goodwill. Unwilling to be left behind, Loki provides the group with the means to steal one of the Grandmaster’s ships. They then liberate the other gladiators who, led by Korg and Miek, stage a rebellion. Loki attempts to betray his brother to gain a reward from the Grandmaster, but Thor anticipates this and leaves him behind, where Korg and the gladiators soon find him. Thor, Banner, and 142 escape through a wormhole to Asgard, where Hela’s forces are attacking Heimdall and Asgard’s citizens. Banner becomes the Hulk again, fighting Fenris, while Thor and 142 battle Skurge and the resurrected warriors. Loki and the gladiators arrive to help, and the citizens board their large ship; a repentant Skurge sacrifices himself to allow their escape. Thor, facing Hela, loses an eye and then has a vision of Odin that helps him realize only Ragnarök can stop Hela. While Hela is distracted, Loki locates Surtur’s crown and places it in the Eternal Flame. Surtur is reborn and destroys Asgard, seemingly killing Hela.

Thor and the others escape with Asgard’s remaining citizens aboard the Grandmaster’s vessel. Thor, crowned king, decides to take his people to Earth. In a mid-credits scene, they are intercepted by a large spacecraft. In a post-credits scene, the Grandmaster encounters a group of his former subjects, who are still rebelling.

REVIEW:

It seems of all the Avengers, aside from Hawkeye, Thor is the biggest butt of all the jokes, mostly on the internet, but a few time in the movies. With his two films, the right tone for the character just could not be locked down. Perhaps Thor: Ragnarok will be the one to solve this dilemma and give us a solid film for such a major Marvel character.

What is this about?

Imprisoned, the almighty Thor finds himself in a lethal gladiatorial contest against the Hulk, his former ally. Thor must fight for survival and race against time to prevent the all-powerful Hela from destroying his home and the Asgardian civilization.

What did I like?

Hela good.

Marvel has been churning out great films, some better than others, since the MCU started. With that said, there is a complaint that seems to be universal among fans and critics. Villains in the Marvel universe just aren’t strong, aside from Loki. Well, Hela has come in and made a name for herself. Not only did she destroy Thor’s hammer, but she took over Asgard, brought and army back from the dead, is pretty much indestructible, and we were given some development to her character. What more could you ask for in an evil, malevolent being…I’m looking at you Ronin the  Accuser (Guardians of the Galaxy)!

Dark World resolution. Thor: The Dark World was not universally loved. It seems as if Marvel wants us to forget about it with as little reference there is to it. Whether you think it was god or bad, the ending of the film needed to be resolved in some way. Loki was masquerading as Odin while the real Odin is apparently on Earth. Thor finds out about this and…well, he’s none to happy. As a matter of fact, this leads to the plot device of this film, now that I think about it. Guess it won’t be forgotten, anymore…at least the final scene.

Individuality. Heimdall has been a pretty badass character in these films…when they give him the chance to do something other than stand guard at the Bifrost. Relieved of his duties, he now saves Asgardian refugees from Hela’s wrath. We also get some interesting individual moments from Thor and Hulk, both of whom have taken a backseat to Iron Man, Captain America, and Black Widow in the Avengers movies.

What didn’t I like?

Surtur. Hela is the big bad of this film (no offense, Grandmaster), but there is another major foe that bookends the film, Surtur. Now, I have a couple of things to say about this guy. First, his design looks like some cheap CGI, but at least its better than Dormammu was in Doctor Strange. Second, as major a force this guy is in the comics, you’d think he would have been more important to the film, perhaps something related to Hela, not counting that “fight” they have at the end. Also, Enchantress could have been brought in and that would have made Skurge’s presence make sense.

New powers. As I mentioned earlier, and you no doubt have seen in the trailers for this film, Hela destroys Thor’s hammer. I was under the impression that Thor’s powers came from his hammer, as was he, apparently. Turns out the hammer was just a way to channel his powers, as Odin tells him. Now, without his hammer, he seems to have developed new powers. The question is, will he keep these new powers, or will they be forgotten come the next film? Also, if he had all this power, why is it just now showing? Seems to me there would have been at least a hint of it before conveniently showing right as Hulk is about to smash his head in.

Hulk. Speaking of Hulk, can we get a definitive decision on his intellect? Sometimes it seems like there is a brain up there and then there are times when he seems like a petulant child. Hulk is a gamma-fueled rage monster with immense strength. Imagine a hyperactive child with that? Oh the horror!

Final verdict on Thor: Ragnarok? Well the lighter tone makes a huge difference! The comedic back and forth between the characters makes a much more entertaining picture than watching them all brood and barely interact. Also, Jeff Goldblum’s over the top Grandmaster would only work in this type of film. The bright colors, bad ass action, and excellent story have many thinking this is one of the best Marvel films of all time. Yes, this is good, but I need to see it again before I can rank it. So, yes, I do recommend this very highly. Perhaps even check it out twice!

4 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

Revisited: Adventures in Babysitting

Posted in Movie Reviews, Revisited with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 2, 2014 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!:)

After her boyfriend, Mike Todwell (Bradley Whitford), cancels their anniversary date, 17-year-old Chris Parker (Elisabeth Shue) volunteers to babysit for the Andersons’ children, 15-year-old Brad (Keith Coogan), who is infatuated with Chris, and 8-year-old Sara (Maia Brewton), who is infatuated with the superhero Thor. However, she gets a frantic phone call from her friend Brenda (Penelope Ann Miller), who has run away from home, asking her to come pick her up after running out of money from the cab ride to the bus station. Throughout the film, Brenda’s situation is interspersed with the rest of the film, showing her dealing with a bum who thinks a phone booth is his house, a homeless woman who steals her glasses, a hot dog vendor who demands payment only in cash, and her holding a stray cat, refusing to hand it over to animal control officers until they inform her that what she is holding is actually a sewer rat, which she cannot recognize due to her lack of eyeglasses. Chris takes Brad, Sara, and Brad’s friend Daryl Coopersmith (Anthony Rapp) and sets out, but they get a flat tire, find the spare compartment empty, and become stranded on the expressway.

A friendly tow truck driver with a hook on one of his hands, “Handsome” John Pruitt (John Ford Noonan), realizing they are on their own in the city for the first time, offers to tow them to Dawson’s Garage free of charge. En route to the garage, he gets a call on his CB saying that his wife is cheating on him and he heads home. The kids look away when Pruitt claims that he keeps his severed hand in his glove compartment, which in truth it contains his firearm, then a brief shootout ensues in which during the crossfire the windshield of Chris’ family car is shattered. During their scramble to get away, the kids unwittingly climb into a Cadillac just as it is being hotwired by a professional car thief, Joe Gipp (Calvin Levels). Gipp promises to help them get out of the city but first he needs to get the car to his boss at a chop shop. Gipp’s boss briefly detains the kids, then decides to leave them in his office as he has more important issues with his underlings. Daryl finds a Playboy magazine and steals it before they escape onto the building’s roof; however, it contains incriminating notes, causing the crooks to chase after them. They stumble into a Blues club and are forced to sing about their ordeal by Albert Collins, receiving applause from the audience. Billy Branch plays himself as the harmonica player in this scene. After they have left, the car thieves are held up when they are forced to do the same thing.

The car thieves manage to once again catch up to the kids, but the four narrowly escape by stowing away aboard a Chicago ‘L’ train. Inside the near-empty train, Chris and the children become suddenly caught in the middle of a gang fight in which Brad is injured and taken to the hospital (Mercy Medical Center), where an Indian doctor first says Brad is dead, but embarrassingly then says he mixed up his patients and that Brad only fainted from the shock and that the doctor has easily patched up the knife wound, which only knicked Brad’s foot. The group again encounters Pruitt, who is on the run due to his earlier fight. He tells Chris he took responsibility for the broken windshield, replacing that at his expense, but that his boss Dawson charged them $50 for a new tire and that he will keep the car until the debt is squared. They then come across a college fraternity party at Daryl almost gets into a fight with a jock whose lonely girlfriend attempts to make out with him. Chris encounters a fraternity member Dan Lynch (George Newbern), who is a gentleman to her, but only can offer Chris $45 towards her debt with Dawson. Dan then drives them to Dawson’s garage.

In the garage, Dawson (Vincent D’Onofrio) is seen with a sledgehammer, which makes Sara believe he is Thor. Chris gives him Dan’s cash, but he says that is insufficient to release the car. Sara says that Thor would not be stingy like that, and she gives him her plastic winged helmet, causing Dawson to reconsider and allowing Chris to reclaim the car. On their way through the city, they pass by the restaurant to where Mike was going to bring Chris on their date, and Daryl spots his car parked out front. She goes in to find him flirting with the sleazy Sesame Plexer. Furious, Chris yells at Mike, but when he insults her, Brad and Daryl shove him into a table full of food. Meanwhile, Sara wanders off and is spotted by Joe Gipp and Graydon, the underboss of the car theft ring. She is chased to the Crain Communications Building, where her parents are attending a party. Sara tries to find her parents to get to safety, but she ends up the unoccupied top floor, which is undergoing renovation. She then uses a rope to escape, but finds herself dangling precariously. Graydon goes out on the ledge in order to rescue Sara, but the intent of his rescue is to capture her to find out what happened to the crucial plans. At the last moment, Sara is rescued by Chris and Joe, who has turned on his bosses and is now convinced to go straight, joking to Chris that her babysitting job is tougher than anything he has done.

The group successfully pick ups Brenda, whom Chris returns to her house, telling Brenda she just has to face her own problems with her family. The group then speeds back to the Anderson residence. Chris sends the kids upstairs while she quickly tidies up the mess left earlier in the day. She settles in just as Mr. and Mrs. Anderson walk in through the door. She goes up to say good night to the kids and they all thank each other for the greatest night of their lives. As she leaves, Dan shows up to return Sara’s skate which she had accidentally left behind, but notes that wasn’t the only reason, and they share a kiss.

A post-credits scene shows Graydon still leaning against the side of the building, desperately waiting for rescue.

REVIEW:

Well, it appears that is my 2000th post, so it better be a good one, right? How does Adventures in Babysitting sound? Recently, I’ve gotten addicted to taking those Buzzfeed movie quizzes. One of them was about how many movies have you seen from the 80s. I thought I would’ve done better than I did, but oh well. Let there be one from the 40s or 50s, maybe even the 60s, and I bet I get a really high score! Ha! Enough rambling, let’s get to the review, shall we?

What is this about?

When Chris agrees to baby-sit for the Andersons after her boyfriend stands her up, it’s hardly the boring night she expected. Chris takes the kids along on an errand to downtown Chicago, but one flat tire leads to an outrageous all-night fiasco.

What is this about?

Excitement. There is a reason adventure is in the title. Along with all the comedy this film has to offer, the entire film is a caper. For those of us that didn’t grow up in a major metropolis, an outing to the big city with the parents was enough of an adventure. Just imagine what it would have been like to experience said trip with a babysitter, no money, and car thieves chasing you.

Blues. “Don’t nobody leave here without singing the blues.” As part of their trek across downtown Chicago, a town that look beautiful at night, btw (they just don’t show cities at night like this anymore…at least to the point that the audience can enjoy them), they end up in a blues club and Elizabeth Shue’s character is forced to sing the blues, with the kids backing her up. Now, a group of white kids from the suburbs on stage at a blues club on the wrong side of Chicago is sure to not go over well with the crowd, as you can imagine, but since this is a family film, you can also imagine that they’ll eventually warm up to them with a good performance, and that is what we get, in perhaps the most memorable scene of the film.

Back in time. Maybe it is because of the strict copyright laws (and greedy artists/companies) we have today, but 30 years from now, I don’t think any of us are going to be able to watch a film and be transported back to today based strictly on the soundtrack. This film doesn’t sport a soundtrack that is indicative of the era, such as Back to the Future, Animal House, or Clueless, but it is definitely 80s, one of the most entertaining eras for music, if nothing else. One the opening tune started, I was immediately taken back to my childhood (I was in elementary school when this was released) and had a strong desire to torture my big sister.

What didn’t I like?

Car trouble. This whole adventure happens because of car trouble. Well, actually, it starts because of Chris’ friend running away, but who is arguing exact details, right? The whole busted tire and all the trouble that happens accordingly has never really made much sense. Not because it happened, but because she didn’t have a spare. As someone says to her, “You got on the freeway without a spare?!?” Even the most inexperienced driver knows to not go anywhere without the right preparations. Since this is her parents’ car, it just seems like common sense that, unless they were driving around on a donut, they would have a spare. Why didn’t they, other than this is just a convenient plot device to get the ball rolling?

Playboy. We are constantly being teased with how much Elisabeth Shue’s character looks like the current Playboy centerfold. Keep in mind that this is somewhat of a Disney film. I say somewhat because the company that released it was owned by Disney. At any rate, even though there is some choice language sprinkled in here and there, this is a pretty clean picture. That being said, I can’t help but wish they would have given us a glimpse at said centerfold. Not because I would have gotten some horny pleasure from it, but rather because 80s films are known for gratuitous nudity, a little glimpse at a Playboy wouldn’t have hurt, now would it?

Thor. Maia Brewton’s character is obsessed with Thor. In this day and age, where superheroes have all but taken over all of pop culture that hasn’t been polluted by the kardashians, miley cyrus, and the like, a little girl obsessed with the Norse God of thunder is nothing, but remember that this was released in the late 80s. I don’t even think our current Thor, Chris Hemsworth was out of diapers, yet. I don’t need to tell you that this Thor obsession was a bit much, but when you notice that the guy in charge of the garage happens to look like he could play Thor (he doesn’t look anything like that anymore, fyi), it makes me wonder if they had plans to do something more Thor-ish at some point, but instead, we just get the annoying references to Thor from Brewton every chance she gets.

Can I go back to this simpler time, please? Adventures in Babysitting made me realize how much the world has change in a short amount of time, and not for the better. This is one of those films that sets out to entertain, and does so in spades. Do I recommend it? Yes, very emphatically! Sometimes you just cannot go wrong with a classic film from a time not so far gone. Give it a shot some time, why don’t you?

5 out of 5 stars

Thor: The Dark World

Posted in Action/Adventure, Movie Reviews, Sci-Fi/Fantasy, Superhero Films with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 16, 2013 by Mystery Man

PLOT (spoiler alert!!!):

Eons ago, Bor, the father of Odin, clashes with the Dark Elf Malekith, who seeks to destroy the universe using a weapon known as the Aether. After conquering Malekith’s forces, including enhanced warriors called the Kursed, on their home world of Svartalfheim, Bor safeguards the Aether within a stone column. Unbeknownst to him, Malekith, his lieutenant Algrim, and a handful of Dark Elves escape into suspended animation.

In present-day Asgard, Loki stands imprisoned for his war crimes on Earth. Meanwhile, Thor, alongside warriors Fandral, Volstagg and Sif repel marauders on Vanaheim, home of their comrade Hogun; it is the final battle in a war to pacify the Nine Realms following the reconstruction of Bifröst, the “Rainbow Bridge” between realms, which had been destroyed two years earlier. In London, astrophysicist Dr. Jane Foster’s intern, Darcy Lewis, now with her own intern, Ian, takes Jane to an abandoned factory where objects have begun to disobey the laws of physics and disappear into thin air. Separating from the group, Jane is teleported to another world, where she is infected by the Aether.

The Asgardians learn that the Convergence, a rare alignment of the Nine Realms, is imminent; as the event approaches, portals linking the worlds appear at random. Heimdall alerts Thor of Jane’s recent disappearance, leading Thor to search for her. When she inadvertently releases an unearthly force, he takes her to Asgard. There, Asgardian healers say they do not know how to treat her. Odin, recognizing the Aether, warns Jane’s infection will kill her given enough time, and that the Aether’s return heralds a catastrophic prophecy.

Malekith, awakened by the Aether’s release, turns Algrim into a Kursed and attacks Asgard. During the battle, Malekith and Algrim search for Jane, knowing she contains the Aether. When they fail to capture her, they escape, killing Thor’s mother, Frigga. Despite Odin’s orders not to leave Asgard, Thor reluctantly teams up with Loki, who knows of a secret portal to Malekith’s world, where they will use Jane to lure and confront Malekith, away from Asgard. In return, Thor promises Loki that he can have his revenge on Malekith for killing their mother. With Volstagg and Sif stalling Asgardian soldiers and Fandral assisting their escape, Thor and Loki commandeer a Dark Elf spaceship and escape to Svartalfheim with Jane.

On Svartalfheim, Loki tricks Malekith into drawing the Aether out of Jane. However, Thor’s attempt to destroy the substance fails, and the Aether-empowered Malekith leaves with his ship as Loki appears to be fatally wounded while killing Algrim. Thor, cradling Loki in his arms, promises to tell their father of his sacrifice. Following Loki’s apparent death, Thor and Jane discover another portal in a nearby cave and reunite in London with Jane’s mentor Dr. Erik Selvig — who was briefly institutionalized due to the mental trauma he suffered during Loki’s attack on Earth — as well as with Darcy and Ian. They learn that Malekith plans to unleash the Aether to destroy the universe, and that he will do this in Greenwich, the center of the Convergence. Thor battles Malekith, but a portal separates them, leaving Malekith unopposed. Thor comes back in time to help his mortal comrades use their scientific equipment to transport Malekith to Svartalfheim, where he is killed before he can destroy the universe.

Thor returns to Asgard, where he declines Odin’s offer to take the throne and tells Odin of Loki’s sacrifice. As he leaves, Odin’s form transforms to that of a grinning Loki.

In a mid-credits scene, Volstagg and Sif visit the Collector and entrust the Aether to his care, commenting that, with the Tesseract already in Asgard, having two Infinity Stones so close together would be dangerous. As they leave, the Collector remarks, “One down, five to go.” In a post-credits scene, Jane and Thor reunite on Earth, while somewhere in London a frost monster from Jotunheim, accidentally transported to Earth during the final battle, continues to run amok.

REVIEW:

One thing that has come from the Marvel Cinematic Universe has been the increased attention to certain characters that weren’t known as well, such as Iron Man and the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy and Ant Man. Also, they have brought respect to characters that has become nothing but a joke, such as Thor (need I remind you of Adventures in Babysitting)? Thor: The Dark World brings the breakout star of the MCU into a darker tale, but an enjoyable one, nonetheless.

What is this about?

The God of Thunder strikes again as he fights to save the Nine Realms from mysterious villain Malekith, who plans to make the entire universe go dark. Meanwhile, Thor must find Jane Foster, who’s been targeted by the evil denizens of Svartalfheim.

What did I like?

Loki. Talk about a breakout star, if you look up that definition in the dictionary, you’re sure to find a picture of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki. This summer, there was a clip of him at San Diego Comic-Con where he was hamming it up and the crowd was going wild. He obviously loves this character, but the time will come when audiences will grow weary of him. In preparation for this day, they kept Loki in the film, but pulled him back immensely.

Girls night out. Thor, and pretty much all of the MCU films, can be said to be guy’s films. With that in mind, one should notice that the women get a bit more focus here, particularly Natalie Portman, Kat Dennings, and Renee Russo’s characters. I wish we could get a lot more of the beautiful Jaimie Alexander as Lady Sif, though. Perhaps in the third film, unless the rumors are true and she becomes Wonder Woman.

Portal. Once again, Marvel has outdone themselves with the climactic battle. This time, as a fellow amateur critic put it, they play a game of “Portal Kombat”, which is quite interesting and doesn’t get old. As a matter of fact, I found myself wishing it would go on for another 10-15 minutes, but they way Thor was getting beat up, I doubt that could have lasted.

Learn. It seems like everything that critics were complaining about in the first film, the filmmakers took notice of and fixed. For instance, the biggest complaint was that too much time was spent on Earth, but in this one about 75% of the film is spent on Asgard which is what we all wanted.

What didn’t I like?

Tease. Some of the characters from the last film that had small parts were supposed to have bigger parts, such as Heimdall. True, he does get a slightly increased roll, but other than one scene where he single-handedly brings down an alien ship. Other than that, he just has a few extra lines.

Pacing. I mistakenly listening to a review of this before watching the real thing and I wonder if that inadvertently brainwashed me because this review mentioned that the film slowed down without Loki. Indeed it does seems as if things go a little slower without him, especially when you consider how things pick up when he seems to lift the mood of things and give us some vintage Loki moments upon his release from prison, including allowing a quick cameo from a certain “Star-Spangled Man”.

Thor: The Dark World is darker than its predecessor, but still had laughs and fun to be had, something that couldn’t have been said about its fellow MCU entry this year, Iron Man 3. Now, the question is, does this stack up to its predecessor. Do the Dark Eleves work as a new threat? Should this be seen in theaters? Well, to answer those questions…yes, yes, and most likely. I wasn’t blown away by this, but I haven’t been blow away by anything this year, I still enjoyed it for what it is. I would most definitely check it out ASAP!

4 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

The best of 2011…so far

Posted in Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , on September 8, 2011 by Mystery Man

With Labor Day now passed, is it a sign that the summer movie season is officially over. As I have done for the past couple of years, I bring you the best of 2011…so far.

Just like year’s past, please keep two things in mind with this list….a) this is only my opinion and b) I can only judge the films I’ve seen.

10. Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides
9. Rango
8. Cowboys & Aliens
7. The King’s Speech
6. Thor
5. Green Lantern

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

4. Captain America: The First Avenger

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

3. Transformers: Dark of the Moon

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

2. Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part II

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. X-Men: First Class

 

 

 

Well, there you have it. I don’t need to tell you this was a tough decision (unlike last year). There are still 3 months left to go before the year is over. Let’s see if any of the forthcoming movies can make their way on this list, or if any rankings change. In the meantime, keep coming back and reading my reviews and remember, comments are always welcome!