Tag Archives: Paramount Pictures

“The Avengers Will Assemble!”

Thor teaserAnd no matter what anyone tells you, that is the cold hard fact of this film. As the second to last place setting for next summer’s ‘Avengers’ superhero team-up flick, ‘Thor’ does nicely.

Much in the style of ‘Captain America: The First Avenger’ (Damn, I hate that sub-title), the story touches greatly upon the mythos of the title character (obviously more deeply based in Norse mythology) and updates it accordingly. Luckily in this case, for all the simplicity in the story development and character set-up, Kenneth Branagh was at the helm and worked the proper amount of development into both the story and the primary characters.

The script, obviously having a major mythic back-story to draw from, mixing it with the established comic lore and then adding the S.H.I.E.L.D. element and place setting actually moves fairly well. Yes, there are a few slower parts, but this is Norse mythology directed by Kenneth Branagh and it ain’t all gonna’ be on rocket propelled roller-skates. However, this is a Marvel comic book film directed by Kenneth Branagh and you can’t really go wrong.
Donald Blake and his girlWith cast members such as Anthony Hopkins and Natalie Portman you expect a good turn and you certainly get it. A few of the characters are a bit cardboard but the actors do well to keep them believable. Chris Hemsworth fits quite well behind the hammer, playing both sides of the egotistical God of Thunder as well as anyone could play an egotistical God of Thunder. If there was one complaint, much like a Skywalker turned Vader in Episode III, the turn from one side to the other as Thor makes his heroic choice was a bit rushed. Obviously, the clock was ticking and the story needed to move into Act III, but…
Father and SonsAs a place setting for the forthcoming ‘Avengers’ (and if you saw the post end credits teaser scene, a great unknown lead in for Captain America) this film performs and does so far better than Iron Man 2 (whose exit teaser was a place setting for this film). As a stand alone film about Marvel’s Thunder God, it exceeds expectations.

Not quite Comic Book epic, but definitely taking you for the ride. Bring popcorn and no bathroom breaks.

4 Stars

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Avengers… ASSEMBLE! Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Avengers European posterFifty years ago, that simple phrase ushered in a vision of comic book excitement and sheer imagination. And let there be no doubt, this film lives up to The Avengers storied past.

With a brisk pace, compelling character plot and backed by a motivating Alan Silvestri score, The Avengers is an excellent ‘movie’. It meets the requirements of a Saturday matinée popcorn flick, an action movie and a damned epic comic book film. The dialogue stays fresh while mixing comic relief, drama and Steve Rogers’ archaic sense of civility. Joss Whedon and his staff did a fantastic job of sharing the ‘heavy lifting’ between characters while remaining true to Stan Lee’s original visions.
Loki DemandsMarvel’s answer to DC’s Justice League of America, The Avengers took several of the comic line’s mid-level characters and created Marvel’s first true “Super-Team”. With the Silver-Age revival of Captain America in issue number 4, the Avengers never looked back. This film, the culmination of plot bits and end of credit scenes from Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America (I still don’t get why people left during the credits… ) we finally get the epic telling of Marvel’s most elite team. Sure, many in the comic world will debate who really comprises the best incarnation of Avengers (as they will X-Men), but this assemblage of heroes is it. It harkens back to the Silver Age while keeping a purely modern feel (which propelled Iron Man from background character to comic media sensation in his debut film) for the characters, the story and the idea that such fantasy could indeed seem so real.
Assembly RequiredBelieve me, this is the film that will dictate the future of the comic book film industry… and it is the film that has to make Warner Bros./DC stand-up and take note. Easily the second greatest comic book film of all time, Avengers mixes its comic lore against The Dark Knight’s gritty realism. Marvel, who for years plodded in a non media landscape and survived bankruptcy to give us the Blade Trilogy, Spider-Man, Iron Man only to score the slaughter in 2011 (perhaps thanks to their purchase by Disney) with such summer blockbusters as X-Men: First Class, Thor and Captain America have reached a definite new level of epic storytelling with The Avengers.

The TrioAnd let’s not forget, we still have Iron Man 3, a Captain America sequel and a Thor sequel before we get to the next installment of The Avengers and their previewed antagonist, Thanos (who makes a showing in the surprise hit Guardians of the Galaxy to delay his Infinity Gauntlet appearance, aka Avengers 3 & 4).
ShwarmaReaching comic book epic, grab the popcorn and snow-caps and absolutely no bathroom breaks. And yes, you’ll be seeing it at least twice in the theatres.

5 Stars

Another Iron Man Movie… Iron Man 3 (2013)

Iron Man 3 teaserTo me, this film seemed to have even less to do with the original Iron Man (and the best film of the ‘trilogy’) than Iron Man 2 which barely achieved place mat status. It certainly didn’t do anything to advance the saga of Tony Stark nor did it add a sense of closure or continuity to the recent Avengers storyline. It did however do much more in destroying Pepper Potts as a credible character.

As most Shane Black movies go, it involved Christmas… no wait, that’s not fair. It involved things that get shot and blow-up at Christmas. Making a useless involvement of AIM, the Hydra-esque secret agency which could have been easily folded into the ongoing Marvel film or Television universe, the plot just sank. If the point of the movie was that Stark can survive through his wits, sarcasm and ingenuity, well we established that in the first movie, it’s why he’s Iron Man. Since there are no plans to extend Iron Man into Phase Two or Phase Three in his own solo adventure, let’s hope his involvement in the expanding Avengers universe fares far better than this.
Kingsley MandarinDefinitely a wasted effort for the reliable Downey Jr. in follow-up to the masterful first Avengers film but a total fail for the awesome effort of Sir Ben Kingsley who stole a portion of the film (I can only hope he will return to the Marvel Universe in a future film).

Bring popcorn but a break is allowed.

3 Stars

Did You see the end of ‘Iron Man’..? Iron Man 2 (2010)

French teaser posterGood, cause you just watched the extended version of it. When Tony Stark defeated his formerly trusted ally in the ‘Iron Monger’ armor, I’m fairly certain the next thing he said wasn’t “Boy, I hope I get to fight a whole lot more of those…”.
So let’s see, an arms dealer jealous of Tony Stark, check. A terrorist who covets Tony Starks’ toys and makes a devious deal with the jealous arms-maker, check. Iron-Man fights another Iron-Man type, check. Throw in the ever shag-able Scarlett Johansson as the Black Widow and we have a movie.

Black WidowNow, this movie does very little to set itself apart as an installment in a series other than serve as a place setting for the forthcoming ‘Thor’, ‘Captain America’ and a reminder we still have ‘The Avengers’ to look forward to. As a comic book movie, it still makes an OK Saturday matinée popcorn flick and is better than such sequels as ‘Spider-Man 3’ and ‘X-3’.

RASPUTIN

Not quite epic, but no bathroom breaks.

3 Stars

“With Great Power comes Great Responsibility”… Iron Man (2008)

Iron Man TeaserOK, it went to another very popular Marvel Comic flick but the message was loud and clear, especially throughout the second half of the film. An excellent role for the roller-coaster known as Downey Jr. (whom Disney repeatedly did not want in the role), who really seemed to enjoy and excel playing the troubled genius ill-fated billionaire.

Did it follow exactly as the 60’s story did, no, but damn it was still a good story. Combining elements of yesterday and today.. just as the Batman series (part deux) has been able to do. Let’s hope the sequels will follow suit where the X-Men films and Spidey’s have faltered and failed.
I Am Iron ManComic book epic for sure… bring the popcorn and no bathroom breaks.

5 Stars

The ‘Saturday Matinee’ idol who never was… Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal … (2008)

Crystal Skull TeaserBut is still the greatest ‘Serial’ adventure hero to not star in a 10 part series… yet. Yes, the Saturday matinée serials that inspired Spielberg and Lucas are in full glory as we can see. Sure a lot of critics said this that and the other… it’s a fun movie that takes you on the journey for under three hours.

A Movie! That’s what it is supposed to do. Doctor Jones is at it again, just as we love. Yes, the film and script does swerve a little off the formula, but not near as bad as ‘Temple of Doom’, and delivers Indy to a genre we hadn’t imagined.. Sci-Fi. So, aliens and Russians instead of Nazi’s and Christ Almighty. It still works. Now, Indy’s calling to Junior.. it works.. if not in some corny reversal. He’s still Doctor Jones, named after the dog and saving the free world from the forces of whatever earthly or other worldly evil threatens us… all in the name of archeology.

In Search OfAnd what a wonderful gift we may have in the form of Indy’s WWII adventures in the form of prequels… ah but to challenge Lucas and Spielberg just a little more.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull movie image Harrison FordAdventure epic.. popcorn and no breaks.

4 Stars

“We named the dog ‘Indiana’…” Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade (1989)

Last Crusade TeaserWell, yes it is true… there was a dog named ‘Indiana’, as well as ‘Short Round’ and ‘Mutt’… see a pattern? But, the guy named after a dog kicked some serious Nazi ass… again.

From the start with a great flashback we are taken for a ride, and like the original ‘Raiders’, we are taken on the journey. Easily a match for the 1981 Blockbuster, this version simply raises the bar in epic scope and adventure. Temple of what? The sweet thing about ‘Raiders’ and ‘Crusade’ is that they can both stand alone but are better together.
The Doctors JonesNot quite as Saturday matinée as the original, but there really isn’t anything else that is for that matter. Junior!

5 Stars