This week saw the release of two new Marvel comics, Superior Iron Man and Captain America. Unsurprisingly, both comics failed to impress. Superior Iron Man came straight out of the current Marvel event that keeps giving, and Tom Taylor’s script was vastly underwhelming. There’s really no reason for Tony Stark to be written as such a reprehensible character anymore. Axis’ core concept might be switching the alignment of good and evil, but it’s just not interesting or exciting.
Captain America was also disappointing, despite Stuart Immonen being on the creative team. Rick Remender has proven he can be fantastic before, especially with Uncanny X-Force, but Captain America was fairly boring from start to finish. The final reveal wasn’t anything new, as it’s all been done before. Let’s get some new blood into Captain America’s rogues’ gallery already, Marvel.
However, it’s not all bad this week. Cameron Stewart’s Batgirl arrived on our shelves, and here’s hoping this Batgirl is here to stay. It’s such a refreshing read, and the artwork really compliments the script. How long can DC keep it up? Who knows, but here’s hoping it’s a while.
Admittedly, a guilty pleasure of the week was Scott Snyder and Greg Capullo’s Batman. Sure, we’ve seen it all before. Batman conveniently has the upper hand against Superman and the Justice League every time, but it was still a bit of fun. It’s probably helped by Capullo’s artwork as well, making it the nicest looking Batman story for some time now.
Finally, Mark Millar’s MPH had it’s fourth issue this week. Duncan Fegredo’s artwork is always on form, and even though it’s a strong statement to make, his Hellboy artwork was better than Mignola’s. MPH has had a decent build up so far, and it’s strange to think it could be a film worth looking forward to. Ignoring Millar’s Kick-Ass sequels and other nonsense, titles such as MPH and Starlight make you realise he’s got a great deal of talent.
Blackfish is a transfixing documentary that largely focuses on one killer whale, Tilikum, an orca at SeaWorld Orlando, who was involved in the deaths of three individuals at the resort. Blackfish explores the blatant dangers of keeping the species in captivity, and it allows viewers an inside look into the true, horrible practices at such a resort, which have lead you to believe they have the animals interests at best.
Blackfish is not to be missed, especially if you have a semblance of care for animals of any sort, as it’s a perfect example of what a documentary should be; shocking, interesting and even persuasive. I’ve always been lead to believe that marine animals should not be used for human entertainment, and Blackfish further cements my stance on the subject. Go check it out, it is documentary filmmaking at its finest.
19. Don Jon
Don Jon was Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s first directorial debut, and yet again he further proved his status as one of the most versatile actors working today. Not only did Gordon-Levitt direct Don Jon, but he also wrote the script and starred in the movie. The film focuses on Jon (Gordon-Levitt), whose obsession with pornography has morphed his expectations of relationships and intimacy. Of course, this habitual problem causes issues in his new relationship, and it’s up to Jon to find a new perspective on life.
Don Jon is essentially a story of one man’s moral lesson, and it ends a rather unconventional note. Its ending is sentimental, which a few reviewers were quick to dismiss the film over, but it’s a neat touch. All of the main leads are great, and of course Joseph Gordon-Levitt shines throughout. It’s smart, funny and thought-provoking. Here’s to JGL’s next movie.
18. Alpha Papa
Alan Partridge finally took his leap onto the big screen this year with Alpha Papa, which is possibly one of the best British movies of the year. After being sacked, disgruntled Norwich DJ Pat Farrell takes it upon himself to take hostage his old co-workers at the radio station. To help prevent any ghastly incidents, the police use the assistance of the famous and ever cowardly, Alan Partridge.
It’s a hilarious movie, from Partridge’s amazing intro sequence and right to the end credits. It’s indefinitely classic Partridge, but just on the big screen. There are plenty of memorable moments throughout, and it has a cracking finish. It’ll be quoted for days after it’s been watched. “Sea…Gull…”
17. Saving Mr Banks
Sure, Saving Mr Banks is undeniably melodramatic for the most part, but it’s a brilliant film that stars an Oscar-winning performance by Emma Thompson, who plays famous author P.L.Travers. The film is focused around Disney’s attempt at adapting Traver’s novel, Mary Poppins, and during the production Travers reflects on her childhood.
Tom Hanks gives a surprisingly convincing performance as Walt Disney, and Colin Farrel tries his best as the troubled father, portrayed in the flashback sequences. Admittedly, Farrel should stick to dark comedy, but all in all Saving Mr Banks was a wholly enjoyable movie, which is heart-warming and sure to be a tearjerker for some.
16. Side Effects
Rooney Mara, Jude Law and Channing Tatum starred in one of this year’s best thrillers, directed by the great Steven Soderbergh. The story focuses on Mara’s character, Emily, who is dealing with severe depression and anxiety issues. After being prescribed a new treatment by a renowned psychiatrist Jonathan Banks (Jude Law), a terribly tragedy befalls her and her husband.
Side Effects was one of my favourite movies of the year, purely due to the fantastic script and Soderbergh’s eye for cinematography. It’s rife with Hitchcockian motifs throughout, and it’s one of the sexiest thrillers in years. For a longer review, check out the link here:
15. Blue Jasmine
Woody Allen’s Blue Jasmine boasts one of Cate Blanchett’s strongest performances to date, in a movie that tells the story of one rich New York socialite who loses almost everything. After being taken in by her sister, she attempts to pull herself together again.
Blue Jasmine is an exceptionally well made movie, and it’s one of the more resonant movies Allen’s directed for some while. The entire cast is phenomenal and it’s arguably one of the best dramas of the year. It’s a real pleasure seeing Louis CK in the movie, and Blue Jasmine goes on to prove that Bobby Cannavale needs to star in more movies.
14. About Time
There’s no doubt about it, Richard Curtis is the greatest romantic comedy director of our time.
About Time is about a young adult named Tim (Domhnall Gleeson), who discovers he has the ability to travel in time. He can only ever travel back to the time has personally experienced though, and he ends up utilising this power to win the heart of Mary (Rachel McAdams).
Of course, things don’t go very smoothly for young Tim. It’s a heavily sentimental movie, which is both funny and genuinely moving. There’s great chemistry between Gleeson and McAdams, and you can’t really go wrong with Richard Curtis and Bill Nighy. Just get the tissues ready, because those tears are going to be flowing.
13. Monsters University
Unless it’s a Toy Story sequel, you have to be a little wary of Pixar’s sequel offerings. It’s an unfortunate fact, but Cars 2 proves this point. Nonetheless, Dan Scanlon managed to direct a great sequel to the much-loved Monsters Inc., and it’s possibly even worthy to stand amongst Pixar’s bests.
The movie tells the story of Mike and Sulley’s time at Monsters University, as both students attempt to make it big in the Scaring Academy. As is the case with all Pixar and Disney movies, there’s a strong moral lesson which is taught during the film. However, Monsters University has a slightly unconventional ending, which really sets itself apart from other animated features. Monsters University is literally brimming with charm and humour, and since its release I’m now anticipating a whole slew of Art (Charlie Day) shorts. Any time now, right Pixar?
Directed by Jon S. Baird, Filth is based on the novel of the same name, by renowned Trainspotting writer Irvine Welsh. The movie featured James McAvoy in the main role, as a corrupt and bigoted police officer in Scotland, who surrounds his life autoerotic asphyxiation, gallons of alcohol and mounds of cocaine.
Thankfully, the movie lived up to the name and book. It’s McAvoy’s best role to date, as viewers get to witness his character’s dark descent into madness. It’s a fantastically bleak movie, and not for the faint of heart but what do you expect when the original author of the book is Irvine Welsh? After viewing Filth, it’s evident that McAvoy needs to chase down more of these roles. Less of the X-Men, more of the Filth.
11. The Way Way Back
Sure, coming-of-age indie movies have been done dozens of times, but The Way Way Back stands tall amongst them, with a finely tuned script, a great lead and a wonderful cast (which includes a dancing Sam Rockwell – always a good omen). 14 year-old Duncan (Liam James) is on holiday with mother (Toni Colette) and her overbearing partner Trent (Steve Carrell). Thankfully for Duncan, he finds solace during this holiday by working at a waterpark, owned by the effortlessly cool Owen (Sam Rockwell).
The Way Way Back further proves that Jim Rash (the Dean from Community, no less) needs to write more scripts. The same applies to Nat Faxon, the director of the movie and cowriter. If you’re after a relaxing way of spending your evening, then look no further than The Way Way Back. It’s a pure delight, from start to finish. It’s funny, irresistibly charming and touching, and it’ll live you feeling warm for hours.
10. Anchorman 2
Now, upon watching Anchorman 2, it must be noted that the sequel never had a chance of reaching the cult status of the first movie. Having said that though, Will Ferrell and Adam McKay do a damn fine job of attempting to recapture that comedy magic, with a cast that back on top form and a script that boasts Brick one-liners which are just as good – if not better – than the first.
This time round, Ron Burgundy loses his job to Veronica Corningstone, and he has to pull himself together again, to star in 24-hour rolling news alongside his old news crew. It’s typically satirical of the times in the 70s, but it’s undoubtedly one of the funniest movies of the year. Anchorman 2 was a surprising relief for many, and I’d argue that it has some of the best cameos ever.
9. The Lone Ranger
One of the biggest box-office disasters of the year, Gore Verbinksi’s The Lone Ranger ultimately deserves a place in the top 10. Yes, the movie opened to scathing reviews and empty audiences, but Verbinksi’s movie is pure popcorn entertainment, from start to finish.
It’s bizarre that a movie with Johnny Depp didn’t sell that many tickets, but to me it felt like The Lone Ranger was already dismissed even before it got a chance to showcase its humour, interesting themes of ambiguity and insane action sequences. Its good old fashioned escapism and I loved every minute of it. If you haven’t seen it yet, then don’t hesitate to do so. Most people I’ve talked to about the movie have been pleasantly surprised.
8. Django Unchained
The release of Tarantino’s eagerly anticipated Western took too damn long in the UK. Nonetheless, the movie finally arrived in January and it turned out to be one of Tarantino’s finest offerings to date. Of course, he always has had a solid repertoire of movies, but Django Unchained ranks highly amongst them.
The movie is focused around slavery, and it features Jamie Foxx as Django, and Christoph Waltz as King Schultz. Leonardo DiCaprio was surprisingly cast as the villain for the movie, as Calvin Candie, and he turned out to be fantastic. Django Unchained is a masterpiece, and Foxx shines as the main lead. Of course, there’s plenty of gratuitous violence, but it wouldn’t be a Tarantino movie without it. It’s gorgeously shot, wonderfully acted by its main leads and it stands as being one of the best Westerns in years.
7. The World’s End
The third film in Edgar Wright’s Cornetto trilogy had a lot to live up for, since Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz raised the bar so high. This time round, Pegg and Frost found themselves in Newtonhaven, back with three friends in an attempt to recreate the infamous pub crawl they never finished. Not everything is as it used to be though, which leads the five friends for a night out they’ll never forget.
The World’s End is a typical Wright creation; frenetic, funny and layered with some warming sentimentality. Pegg and Frost are on form here, and it was a pleasure to have the Cornetto trilogy end on such a high note. Disregarding Anchorman 2, this may be the most quotable movie of the year, “Smashy smashy egg-man,” and it may have encouraged many guys to sort their out their own golden mile…
6. Kings of Summer
Directed by Jordan Vogt-Roberts, Kings of Summer tells the story of three young teenagers who escape to the woods to build themselves their own piece of paradise. It premiered to rave reviews at Sundance, and upon watching the movie, there’s no surprise why. The movie boasts some wonderful performances from newcomers Nick Robinson, Gabriel Basso and especially Moises Arias, whose role as Biaggio was undeniably one of the kookiest characters in cinema this year.
Kings of Summer is full of poignancy and charm, and the cinematography is wonderful throughout. Sure, it’s another coming-of-age teenage comedy/drama, but it’s fresh, unique and Nick Offerman and Alison Brie star in it. That should be enough of a reason to watch this movie already. If this is Vogt-Roberts debut feature, I look forward to what’s next. It’s one of the most gorgeous movies of the year.
5. Pacific Rim
What, this isn’t my favourite movie of the year?! Guillermo del Toro’s monster epic was my most anticipated movie of the year, and I enjoyed it so much I even wrote a big article on it. Starring Charlie Hunman, Riko Kikuchi and Idris Elba, Pacific Rim was about humanity’s fight for survival against the deadly, monstrous Kaiju.
Inspired by old Japanese Kaiju movies and anime, del Toro delivered cinemagoers a visual treat for the eyes, as trained pilots utilised their mechanic behemoths – called ‘Jaegers’ – to fight the Kaiju. It was pure popcorn entertainment throughout, and del Toro really achieved what he had set out to do; to make you feel like a kid again. Pacific Rim is not to be missed, especially if you’re fan of anime, big robots punching things or Idris Elba. It looks glorious in HD.
4. Captain Phillips
Captain Phillips was one of the most engaging movies of the year, and that’s all thanks to director Paul Greengrass and amazing Tom Hanks. The movie is based on the real life 2009 hijacking of a US container ship by a crew of Somali pirates, and it’s up to Captain Phillips (T.Hanks) to resolve the situation.
It’s safe to say, this is Tom Hanks strongest performance since Castaway, and arguably Greengrass’ best movie yet. However, they shouldn’t get all the credit, as Barkhad Abdi – who played lead pirate Muse – was astounding in his scenes alongside Hanks. Captain Phillips keeps you on the edge of your seat from start to finish, and it ends with one of the most emotional moments in cinema this year.
3. Iron Man 3
The third Iron Man movie from Marvel Studios was this year’s cinematic Marmite, as audience opinion was split right down the middle. Some people accused the film of being the worst thing they’ve ever seen, and others would simply declare it as the best Iron Man outing yet. For me, it was indefinitely the best Iron Man movie yet, and that’s all thanks to Shane Black and his sheer genius.
Iron Man 3 concerned itself with themes of terrorism, as the Mandarin became Tony Stark’s new nemesis, whose reach knew no bounds. After dealing with PTSD from the events of the Avengers, Tony Stark had to use all of his skills – in and out of the suit – to overcome the dangerous odds.
Disregarding the Avengers, Iron Man 3 turned out to be my favourite Marvel movie yet. Shane Black infused the third movie with some fantastic humour, the greatest reveal of the year, and some astounding set pieces. The plane sequence alone was one of the best action scenes of the year, alongside the scene that included all of his glorious armours. Sploosh.
One of the highest rated movies of the year, Alfonso Cuarón’s Gravity was undoubtedly a masterpiece. Starring Sandra Bullock and George Clooney, Gravity is about two astronauts’ survival in the unforgiving realm of space. Using state of the art technology, Cuarón brought to cinemas one of the most enthralling movie experiences of my life.
It’s a testament really, to cinema. Whether or not Gravity will have the same effect on the small screen remains to be seen, but it cannot be denied that Gravity needs to be witnessed in 3D, on a big screen. It’s visually astounding, and truly unforgettable. Bullock and Clooney give it their all too, and it could be said that this is Bullock’s greatest achievement to date (apart from Miss Congeniality, of course).
If you didn’t get a chance to see Gravity in cinemas, then it’s a damn shame. Films like Gravity only ever come round so often in cinema, and its 90 minutes of pure spectacle. Heck, it even makes a good argument for 3D, which hasn’t been done since Jackass 3D. Cuarón has delivered us the best Harry Potter film to date, the great Children of Men and now this. Here’s to his next big thing.
This might be a surprise to some, but Rush is my favourite movie of the year.
Brought to us by the great Ron Howard, Rush is based on the true story of James Hunt and Niki Lauda, two F1 drivers who had a bitter rivalry in the 1970s. The film showcases their attempt to win the Formula One championship, and it presents the glaring differences between both drivers.
It’s an exhilarating ride, and perhaps for the first time in cinema history, Formula One racing has been captured correctly in cinema. Biopics are always a nice treat when they’re done properly, and Rush is no exception. Somehow Ron Howard manages to tell these captivating stories and characters perfectly, and in doing so he creates one of the most exciting and enthralling movies of the year.
You don’t even have to be a Formula One aficionado to appreciate Rush. The movie doesn’t have you picking sides, which is thanks to the fantastic script. It’s compelling even when the racers aren’t on the tracks, and when they are you get a real sense of danger, as the engines roar loudly over the speakers.
Rush’s clear strength is that it’s one of the most enjoyable rides of the year. Hemsworth and Brühl are perfectly cast, and the racing scenes are some of the most dynamic sequences in an auto-sports movie to date. If you haven’t seen Rush yet, then do so. You’re in for a great thrill ride:
In 2008, Robert Downey Jr. surprised cinemagoers around the world with his perfect portrayal of Tony Stark, in Marvel Studios first major motion picture, Iron Man. Directed by Jon Favreau, the movie was injected with wit, humour and some quintessential comic book action. The film was a huge success – both critically and financially – and it later paved the way for one of the most ambitious movie projects of all time, The Avengers. Fast-forward a year later, and after the box-office smash which was The Avengers, Tony Stark returns to cinemas in Shane Black’s Iron Man 3.
Tony Stark now finds himself in his workshop most nights, in a total state of disrepair after the traumatic events which occurred months earlier in NYC. He is constantly overworking, fixated on building new suits and worried about the very existence of new threatening life-forms. The world as he knows it has been shaken up, but the iron Avenger has yet to face his deadliest enemy to date; the Mandarin.
Regarded as a deadly terrorist and the leader of the Ten Rings, the Mandarin threatens the very safety of the American public. After a very personal attack against Stark, the Iron Man suit is utilised once more to thwart this new mysterious opposition. It is Stark’s most dangerous journey yet, as he comes across the likes of the sinister corporation A.I.M., rival scientist Aldrich Killian (Guy Pearce) and ‘botanist’ Maya Hansen (Rebecca Hall).
The plot of Iron Man 3 lends itself to a mix of storylines that have previously appeared in the comic books, such as Warren Ellis’ renowned Extremis arc, and Matt Fraction’s first arc in The Invincible Iron Man. Of course, as this is Shane Black’s movie, the film is typically set around Christmas. All of the original cast members from the second movie return, such as Gwyneth Paltrow, Jon Favreau and Don Cheadle.
The idea of a third Iron Man film without Jon Favreau seemed like a daunting one, but Shane Black is the perfect director for Tony Stark’s fourth outing. The director is recognised for his ingenious action-movie scriptwriting (Lethal Weapon), and he has previously worked with Robert Downey Jr. on the criminally unappreciated Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Marvel loosened the reins of their most profitable character this time round, and that clearly shows. This is Shane Black’s film, and it’s an enjoyable ride from start to finish.
The screenplay was written by both Drew Pearce and Shane Black, who have managed to create a script with the perfect mix of action, drama and quick-witted humour. Moviegoers will be quoting the film for months to come, which is partly due to Black’s trademark comedy. Whilst the various trailers and countless TV spots suggested a much darker tone for Iron Man 3, it still maintains the light-hearted comedic tone of the two previous films. Of course, Robert Downey Jr. is the perfect Tony Stark, and he’s utilised to a greater extent than ever before due to the script. The snappy one-liners are excellently suited for Downey Jr., whose deliverance will leave audiences laughing throughout.
Some of the set-pieces in Iron Man 3 are grandiose in scale, and a whole bunch of scenes will whet the appetites of even the die-hard Iron Man fans. One particular moment may upset some fans, but it effectively works to the film’s advantage. Nonetheless, the film is rife with plenty of astounding scenes, which are sure to agape jaws across theatres. The ‘barrel of monkeys’ scene in particular, is a tremendous scene and is handled beautifully.
Thankfully, this isn’t Avengers 1.5, which was a concern for many. Iron Man 3 is its own movie, which Marvel Studios’ Kevin Feige had promised in the past. One of the true successes of Iron Man 3 is that you won’t be left desiring the appearance of a fellow Avenger. The main characters each have their own respective roles in this movie, and they are fleshed out and moulded well into the storyline.
Ben Kingsley’s role as the Mandarin was greatly anticipated since the news reports confirmed his part, and luckily Kingsley delivers the goods here. He’s an unforgettable villain in the franchise, who will be a major talking point after the film. Guy Pearce’s performance as Killian is also a strong one, with more screen time than many had assumed.
Stark’s close friend James Rhodes also has a more substantial role this time round, as Don Cheadle’s character is finally fleshed out. The exchanges between Rhodes and Stark have a true ‘buddy cop’ feel to them, which is all thanks to Shane Black’s previous experience. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts is finally an important factor this time round, as it actually feels like she’s Stark’s love interest.
Yet again in a Marvel movie, the CGI is flawless. All of the action sequences have seamless CGI, but as is the case with 3D conversion nowadays, the 3D is just not necessary. Ten minutes into the film and you’ll surely forget it’s even in 3D. Marvel need to stop applying useless post-converted 3D into their films, but unfortunately it provides more money for them.
The score is nothing remarkable, but it still accentuates some of the drama and action throughout. The opening number in the film however is truly a strange, yet hilarious way to begin such a movie.
The finale is an explosive hot-mess, which is a relief. The previous Iron Man movies unfortunately suffer from weak third acts, but Iron Man 3 wraps up the storyline nicely with some pleasant surprises, and an ending which could potentially wrap up Tony Stark’s story completely. The fight scenes are lengthy and choreographed well, and it thankfully differentiates itself from the previous uninspired bouts in the Iron Man franchise.
The after-credits sequence is not to be ruined, but it may not be the material that fans are clamouring for. Nonetheless, it’s still nice of Marvel to continue this trend of post-credits sequences and it’s definitely worth sticking around for.
Iron Man 3 is undoubtedly the best film in the series and it could be regarded as the best Marvel movie to date. Whilst that’s a bold statement to make, Shane Black has managed to create a perfect superhero film for fans and cinemagoers alike. It is equipped with a genius script, some terrific action and Downey Jr.’s best performance of Tony Stark so far. It’s a smart blockbuster, with great spectacle.
Upon writing the review, it appears that even before Iron Man 3‘s American release, it is breaking box-office records. Having been shown in 79% of foreign markets, Iron Man 3 has already grossed an impressive $198 million, which has already surpassed The Avengers‘ $185 million start. It’s set to be one of the biggest summer blockbusters yet.
Is this to be the last Iron Man movie with Robert Downey Jr? It just might be, and whilst the talented actor may return for the second Avengers movie, he has at least left us with this remarkable fourth outing as the genius billionaire playboy philanthropist.
Back in 2008, Marvel Studios released a film about one genius billionaire playboy philanthropist, Iron Man. For the first time ever, Marvel had creative control over their characters in cinema, and went on to release four more films, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger. Since their first film, Marvel’s plan was obvious. These entertaining blockbusters were setting up for their main event, The Avengers.
Four years later and now finally, that time has come. The Avengers hit cinemas in the UK 26th April, to thousands of anticipating moviegoers. Regarded as one of the biggest movie events of 2012, The Avengers is set to impress a lot of people.
Directed by Joss Whedon, The Avengers stars an unlikely bunch of superheroes that are forced to team-up to defeat the deadly Asgardian trickster Loki, who is now fully equipped with an unstoppable alien army.
The original cast members from their previous movies have returned, apart from Edward Norton, whose role as Bruce Banner has been replaced by Mark Ruffalo. Ruffalo is now the replacement for Banner and the Hulk, who stands beside the legendary Captain America, Iron Man, Thor, Hawkeye and Black Widow.
S.H.I.E.L.D leader Nick Fury has a more substantial role than before, and returns alongside the fan-favourite Agent Coulson. There is a newcomer to S.H.I.E.L.D, Agent Maria Hill, who is portrayed by How I Met Your Mother’s Cobie Smulders.
The story focuses on the return of Loki, who is back to create yet more havoc on Earth. This time round though, the trickster has come prepared. After being lost in space after the events of Thor, Loki returns with the Tessaract (Cosmic Cube) and a fierce alien force.
He is up to his devious ways yet again, and attempts to break apart the superheroes, both physically and mentally. To defeat him, Earth’s bravest heroes’ team up to form the Avengers, a new superhero team to be reckoned with.
Zak Penn and Joss Whedon’s script is the quintessential superhero story, infused with action, comedy and drama. Whilst it was possible for Tony Stark to completely steal the show, each character gets their own respective amount of screen time, which is just enough to showcase their great talents.
Even Maria Hill engages in an exciting turn of events during the first few minutes of the film, which just goes to show that Whedon leaves no character behind.
He manages to encapsulate the look and feel of an actual comic-book, transferring it straight into a blockbuster movie. Explosions feel like they’re ripped right out of a double page spread, fight scenes are captured with great imagination, and the Hulk is the perfect portrayal of his comic-book counterpart.
Thanks to this genius script, cinemagoers will be quoting the film for months to come. The dialogue is typical Whedon, which is very beneficial for a movie of this magnitude. Even the action comes with some great laughs.
Loki’s treacherous ways still impress, but that might be partly due to Tom Hiddleston’s impeccable acting skills. Yes, fan-favourite Loki is still the scene-stealer he was from Thor. He is undoubtedly the best villain to use for The Avengers, as he proves yet again that Loki is the best Marvel villain to date.
Robert Downey Jr. returns as the charming Tony Stark, continuing the role he was born to play. Of course, his super-ego and cocky attitude is present throughout, which is met with great distaste from Steve Rogers. This makes for some engaging conversations between the two legends. Stark brings forth some of the most memorable quotes of the film, but then there’s no surprise there.
Jeremy Renner finally gets to show off his Hawkeye skills in the film, presenting viewers with some great scenes. He is joined by the Black Widow, who is played by Scarlett Johannson. Widow fits the bill nicely, which is a surprising turn after her dull introduction during Iron Man 2. Both the agents’ limits are recognised, but utilised in a manner which is works for the film.
For those who were concerned with Captain America’s new costume and part in the film, there’s no need to fret. Chris Evans fits his new attire nicely, and he fits well within the storyline. His transition from the 40s to modern day is addressed, but it doesn’t hinder the flow of the film. If fans weren’t too enthused by his own film, there’ll be sure to applaud the Captain, especially during the later fight scenes.
Of course, there’s one character in particular that everyone will be talking about. The Hulk has finally received the proper treatment he deserves. Mark Ruffalo might be the new guy here, but it certainly doesn’t feel like it. He brings a lot to the Hulk’s character, which was accomplished with some neat motion capture technology. The Hulk’s potential is finally recognised, as he delivers some of the best action scenes in comic-book movie history.
ILM’s work on the Hulk is ground-breaking, as he fits in with the other Avengers seamlessly. The same can be said for the other effects in the film, as the alien forces look lifelike. A lot of moviegoers questioned the sheer amount of explosions in The Avengers numerous trailers, but there’s no cause for concern. Unlike Michael Bay’s films or the dreadful Battleship, the action is structured and presented clearly.
The running length of the film may seem long at first, but the film doesn’t drag. Every segment of the film doesn’t overrun, and scenes don’t feel out of place. It’s been said that Whedon cut down at least 30 minutes of the film, just to keep everything streamlined. So if there are any fans who are wanting to see Captain America’s transition in further detail, look no further than the DVD/Blu-Ray extended cut.
So, is the film that fans have been wanting? Definitely. The Avengers may be the perfect comic-book film. Whilst it may seem a little extreme to present the film with that title, it should be known that The Avengers manages to impress on so many levels. It is extremely hard to fault the film.
Whedon injects his great talent straight into The Avengers and thanks to him; moviegoers get an enjoyable, exciting thrill ride. It might just be the film of the year, especially for comic-book fans. Loki is a wonderful villain, Stark has the best quotes and the Hulk gets the most satisfying action scenes. It really does meet fan’s expectations, whilst meeting the demands of your average cinemagoer.
What’s next for The Avengers? Well, if the mid-credits sequence is any clue, we’re set for a more explosive, dramatic affair than before. If there’s one problem to be found with The Avengers, it’s that its sequel has a difficult task of improving on this perfect comic-book film.
Cowboys & Aliens was released on 17th August and is directed by the great Jon Favreau, known for his directorial work on the Iron Man films and possibly the greatest holiday film ever, Elf. Favreau now comes at us with an adaptation of Fred Van Lente’s graphic novel, based on the same name. Starring the legendary Harrison Ford and suave Daniel Craig, the film surrounds itself with the concept of two genres finally clashing with each other. The western and science-fiction have finally been blended together for the big screen, in a package which promises to deliver the biggest blockbuster of the year.
It has been a long time coming, but Han Solo and James Bond now star in the same film. Craig plays the unknown gunslinger that wakes up in the middle of the desert, strangely armed with a mysterious alien device. With a severe loss of memory and a nasty scar, he attempts to find himself in the wicked West.
Along his journey of self-discovery he meets a number of characters, including Olivia Wilde’s Ella Swenson, Sam Rockwell’s ‘Doc’ and more importantly, Woodrow Dolarhyde – played by Harrison Ford. During his time in the town of Absolution, he finds himself in the middle of a brutal alien attack. Destroying homes and abducting loved ones, the aliens are a deadly force to be reckoned with, leaving a destructive path wherever they choose. The cowboys soon gather together to find and dispose of this new high-tech threat, by heading north – towards the unknown.
It’s no surprise, but the actors are fitted perfectly for their specific roles. Ford has no trouble playing the hardened bitter cowboy and alongside him Craig perfects the sly rogue. Sam Rockwell presents the much-needed comedy towards the film with an entertainingly funny role, which comes as no surprise. Olivia Wilde unfortunately serves as the slightly uninteresting Ella, whose role takes an unconvincing and unnecessary turn halfway through the film. Look out for other familiar faces though, such as the great Keith Carradine and Paul Dano.
The film boasts a large number of impressive action scenes which are ultimately let down by lengthy scenes of dialogue and uninteresting explanations. When a film boasts such a ridiculous concept, there is no need to explain the developments in such a dire manner. When it also hits a peculiar twist, it almost complicates the film further than it should have. These issues cause a jarring effect on the pace of the story, including the interrupting flashbacks of Craig’s character, which are done in such a manner that would be embarrassing even for television standards.
When the film focuses on its Western roots it works perfectly, but when it begins to focus on its sci-fi elements it lets you down ever so slightly, with ropey designs which never truly differentiate the aliens from any other sci-fi threat. The action scenes are spectacular and it’s incredible witnessing a bunch of horse-riding cowboys fight off against flying behemoths, as the CGI never falters. It’s just a shame that it’s let down with boring exposition, leaving you with just an average popcorn flick composed of just a few great scenes.
Thankfully though, Cowboys & Aliens never really meets the poor standards of Wild Wild West, but then it does unfortunately remind you of the travesty which was that film. For a film which stars ragtag cowboys shooting down aliens, that shouldn’t happen.
It is a massive surprise to see such a film fail on quite a few levels, especially regarding the talent involved. Sure, the roles are perfect and the action is amazing but unnecessary elements break down the flow in an inexcusable manner. It is a shame to see this occur, but perhaps a different cut of the film would have worked to balance out the story properly. All in all, it may be worth checking out Cowboys & Aliens for the great exchanges between characters and the impressive set pieces and action, but don’t expect to be blown away.
It is a shame to see this happen, as this was expected to be Favreau’s return to form. Iron Man 2 received many mixed reviews and this was initially material he should have been perfect for. What went wrong is anyones guess, but at least we finally got Bond and Solo together.
It’s been a nice little fortnight for comics. Duncan Fegredo and Mike Mignola kicked it out the park with their third issue of the Hellboy miniseries, The Fury, ending with a bang. Infused with Fegredo’s amazing art and Mignola’s typically entertaining writing, it made for a great read. This will then followed up with Hellboy in Hell, coming later in 2012.
I’m not too fond of Spider-Island at the moment, as it hasn’t made any significant impact as of yet. It all seems a bit too forced and pointless, and something that would be expected in a What If storyline or something similar to Exiles. It shouldn’t technically rule over most of the Spidey books, but at least this minor event has given us Cloak and Dagger. They have always been an interesting couple to follow within the MU, so it’s nice to see them reappear in this rewarding first issue of the miniseries.
There’s been a fair bit of talk about Fear Itself on this site and issue five recently hit, providing fans with a dramatic brawl between three different powerhouses, Thor, Hulk and the Thing. Immonen yet again provides us with great work, but perhaps this time round a few cracks in the event are beginning to show. This issue was hyped up for its shocking content, which didn’t really make any sense because it was severely lacking some.
Considering that the event has just two issues before it’s finish, it’s a bit of a wonder as to why nothing has really happened yet. You know, it’s turned into that typical Marvel event in which a minor character dies, everything seems hopeless and then suddenly some deus ex machina comes into play. Which is a shame really, but let’s hope that Fraction has something up his sleeve.
Most of the tie-in comics have been okay. Deadpool has been its usual, unfunny fare, whilst others such as Avengers Academy have been improved by the event. One comic that didn’t necessarily need the tie-in treatment may actually be Thunderbolts. It was doing fine before but it’s suffering from a bit of a weak story. This isn’t Parker’s fault, he’s handling the important matters fairly well still. Invincible Iron Man has been great though and somehow it still manages to maintain a certain degree of excellence.
Batman Arkham City #04 – Dini/D’Anda
Flashpoint; Batman Knight of Vengeance #03 – Azzarello/Risso
Spider-Island, Cloak and Dagger #01 – Spencer/Rios
Steve Rogers has always been an icon for popular culture, ever since he punched Hitler on the cover of Captain America Comics in 1941. Since then, Marvel’s patriotic creation has been through many changes. From Joe Simon through to Ed Brubaker, Captain America has been an interesting icon to follow. A few filmmakers have challenged themselves at portraying this character on the silver screen before, including his war serial in 1944 and the awful 1990 adaptation which strangely stars Red Skull as an Italian fascist. It has been 21 years since his last outing and fans have desired something new.
Since Marvel Studios successful Iron Man, Avi Arad and many others decided that a combination of films were to be produced, that would lead onto an epic Avengers trilogy. First came Tony Stark, followed by Bruce Banner and Thor. It made sense, allowing three productions of each main super hero, before culminating into one massive trilogy. Thor was deemed a success financially and somewhat critically, but it was up to Joe Johnston to lead with Captain America – The First Avenger.
A lot of names were tossed around for the portrayal of Steve Rogers but Marvel finally landed with their Captain America. Chris Evans, known for the enigmatic Johnny Storm in Fox’s awful Fantastic Four series was picked up by Marvel. It was an important role for anyone to play, due to the character’s iconic status. Joe Johnston was also picked for directorial duties, whose previous work has included The Rocketeer, Jumanji and Jurassic Park 3. Was Captain America – The First Avenger to be completely set in the Second World War? Was it going to focus on Rogers time in the Avengers? Well, questions were soon answered and costumes were finally revealed.
A weak, admirable Steve Rogers wants to join the forces which fight against the evil threat of the Nazis and their splinter group Hydra, lead by the sinister Red Skull. During his training, he is chosen by scientist Dr Abraham Erskine as an experiment for the Super-Soldier serum. Soon after his strong dosage of the serum, Steve Rogers later becomes a national hero known by all as Captain America. From there on in, he joins his friend Bucky Barnes and the Howling Commandos to finally defeat Hydra and Johann Schmidt once and for all.
The film boasts incredible casting, such as Hugo Weaving, Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones and even Toby Jones. Weaving plays the menacing Red Skull brilliantly, which comes as no surprise. The actor manages to portray villains well and here he leaves no room for error when playing the leader of Hydra. His posture never falters, along with his threatening persona. Tucci is an inspired choice as Dr Erskine, who provides much of the humour for the beginning of the film. The difficult Colonel Chester Philips is Tommy Lee Jones, whose disapproval of Rogers comes off quite convincing.
Toby Jones is the Skull’s right-hand man, Arnim Zola. Look out for the reference towards his comic counterpart during his introduction. Jones manages to set himself aside Weaving effortlessly. The casting choices are pretty much perfect. Dominic Cooper stars as an incredibly assuring father to Anthony Stark, along with Sebastian Stan who definitely requires his own film as Bucky Barnes, the Winter Soldier.
Thankfully, the action including the star-spangled Avenger never falters throughout. Each shield swing is convincing, which almost comes off as a surprise. Hydra’s goons are disposed of with style and fighting grace, whilst Rogers looks perfect in his costume. Perhaps one particular montage scene could have been extended, to at least focus a bit more on what Rogers is capable of. Note that this is only a minor concern, as the film maintains a credible amount of action. Especially during its climax, as brutal fisticuffs are exchanged between Schmidt and Rogers respectively. The Howling Commandos may have been robbed of some action, but then again this is Rogers’ story.
Captain America – The First Avenger boasts its own unique style, which thankfully never gets too camp. It was a huge worry for a film which tackles such material, however Jonhston knew how to manage it to a certain degree. Hydra is one example of this, as their ridiculous costumes fit into the fabric of the film. Captain America’s costume is altered throughout to fit the specific circumstances and yet each change is welcome. The design of the vehicles works well too and certain technology manages to pass off as being somewhat believable even then. This is due to the 1940’s comic book aesthetic though, as these bizarre uniforms fit within the period.
CGI is aplenty throughout the film, even appearing during instances where many wouldn’t notice. The first twenty-minutes boasts an incredible use of CGI, allowing all to witness a convincingly weak Chris Evans. Look out for the neat reference to a particular Golden Age character during the beginning, too. His gaunt frame is unique, as Evans provides some real acting chops during these sequences. All in all, Evans comes off as the perfect pick for Steve Rogers. He possesses the look of an all-American hero, with the brains and brawn to get the job done.
There isn’t much to fault on Captain America – The First Avenger. The vast number of characters don’t get lost throughout the story and Steve’s romance and friendships are believable throughout. Towards the end of the film, the drama is laid on thick and yet it works. It tugs at the heartstrings ever so slightly, fitting well with the heroic traits of the character. The climax is a satisfying end to the film, even if it only ties a few loose ends.
Chris Evans is a charming Captain, which only makes fans clamour for yet more of the Super Soldier. Jonhston brings to the table a believable hero, which fits well for the upcoming Avengers. There’s some heart to this film and it can be seen quite clearly, from the well-thought out beginning to the emotional revelation towards the end. It is a wonder as to where the character can go from here, other than leading the Avengers. Hopefully some focus is put upon Ed Brubaker’s concepts, as a sequel featuring more of Bucky Barnes would fit nicely. Marvel Studios has yet another film to be proud of, now here’s to waiting for the ever ambiguous Avengers film.
This past week saw the second issue of the main X-event going on right now, X-Men Schism and it seems like this might be the event of the year. Fraction and Immonen’s Fear Itself has been delivering the goods but I’ve always had a soft spot for the mutants. With an exciting first issue, there was a worry that the follow-up may disappoint. However, Jason Aaron always knows how to handle the X-Men and with Cho’s artwork the comic manages to impress. It’s still an interesting concept to play with, even if it recycles Sentinels yet again. Aaron is going somewhere with this, so it’s definitely one to pick up. Check it out.
On the subject of recycled material, Uncanny X-Force is still trapped in the daunting AoA universe. With Remender handling the mutants exploits though, there’s no real problem. I’ve ranted and raved on about Uncanny X-Force for months, and for good reason. Remender is great at working with these creations, as Apocalypse Solution and Deathlok Nation has proved.
The new Daredevil series captured a lot of attention from critics last week, as many claimed the new issue was the best read of the year. Whilst this can’t be determined yet, it is still a strong contender. Mark Waid manages a colourful approach to the character, with Riviera providing stunning artwork throughout. Bendis and Brubaker reinvented Matt Murdock brilliantly, but it’s nice to see that Daredevil returns to his roots.