Tag Archives: samuel l. jackson

Spider-Man: Far From Home Gets Its First Post Endgame Trailer. Spoilers Within!

Spoilers within the video!

The new trailer for Spider-Man: Far from Home is here and not only are there some spoilers for Avengers: Endgame, there’s an interesting reveal within!

Our friendly neighborhood Super Hero decides to join his best friends Ned, MJ, and the rest of the gang on a European vacation. However, Peter’s plan to leave super heroics behind for a few weeks are quickly scrapped when he begrudgingly agrees to help Nick Fury uncover the mystery of several elemental creature attacks, creating havoc across the continent!

Spider-Man: Far From Home is out July 2nd.

Movie Review: Captain Marvel

Captain Marvel isn’t here for your sexist bullshit. In fact, the latest addition to the MCU gives absolutely zero f@#ks about your agenda or preconceptions as it just unleashes its first Omega-level hero on an unsuspecting and unprepared world. While the script and directing are a little clunkier than other recent MCU masterpieces, I don’t think Ms. Carol Danvers would want us ranking her or pitting her against her fellow heroes. And any problems with the pacing of the first act are more than made up for with a hugely satisfying, explosive finale.

Here’s the deal, geeks– we’re spoiled rotten with the likes of Black Panther and Thor: Ragnarok . When something doesn’t quite measure up to those levels, it’s easy to dismiss or criticize. While I have a lot of measured criticisms of the film’s pacing and action choices, the best thing we can learn from Captain Marvel is she’s not here for your approval. She’s not here to smile at you. She’s not here to be compared to your other films and heroes. She’s here to kick ass and save the world. And that’s about it.

But as a film critic, critique I must, but making sure we don’t fall prey to easy sexist traps that have largely infected a lot of mainstream publications’ reviews of this. I’m especially looking at both right wing rags like the National Review and a lot of the (fragile)-white-male-dominated online geek press. Let’s get over ourselves and just enjoy this movie, because (shocking, I know!) not everything needs to be made for us.

Our titular hero (Brie Larson) begins the film as a warrior for the Kree Imperium with the codename Vers and a case of terrible amnesia that she can’t remember anything before six years ago. Alongside Yon-Rogg (Jude Law) and a team of Kree elite commandos, they are engaged in a long-term war against the Skrulls, a race of shape-shifting aliens. When she encounters Talos (Ben Mendelsohn), a Skrull leader, she begins to have strange flashbacks leading her to believe she had a life on Earth. where she then finds herself stranded in 1995 Los Angeles. She teams up with a young SHIELD agent named Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to stop the Skrull infiltration of Earth. Or so it would seem. . . as the shape-shifting abilities of the Skrulls and their conflict with the Kree are much wider than we thought, and this bleeds into major pieces of the broader MCU.

Fans are going to get a lot of service here, which is one of the main problems with any sort of prequel: the need to explain how everything came to be. The movie keeps poking and prodding at the broader universe, including multiple gags where they seem to be joking “Oh, so that’s how Nick Fury lost his eye.” It’s similar to the old episode of Harvey Birdman: Attorney at Law where they explain the origin of Stephen Colbert’s Phil Ken Sebben and his iconic eyepatch injury where for several minutes straight he’s pointing sharp objects at his eye. We get the joke.

But the fanservice that does work is the tie-in to the broader MCU. No spoilers, but the payoff by the end, once we know what is actually happening? It’s like finding that one puzzle piece which reveals what the larger section is all about. It should go without saying, but remember to stick around through the credits for both a mid-credits scene that directly ties into Avengers: Endgame and a post-credits scene that bridges Captain Marvel to the events of The Avengers.

Oh, and Stan Lee. The opening for the film and its iconic Marvel comics image flip has been replaced entirely with Stan’s cameos, and a small dedication of the film to Stan the Man himself. This film also contains one of the most interesting Stan Lee cameos ever. It’s a little mindbending and I’m going to need time to wrap my head around it completely.

But perhaps what’s most surprising is the underlying meaning the film brings. Brie Larson’s cold, dispassionate delivery and demeanor makes it harder to connect with our hero, but that is entirely the point. This is what we tell women to do to succeed in a man’s world: don’t be emotional. Be sexy and available, but not too much or you’re a slut. But especially as a member of the Kree Starforce, she’s told to act without emotion. This is what war does to our soldiers. This is what war does to us.

The saying goes that the first casualty in war is the truth. And so we are challenged by this film to confront some uncomfortable truths about the stories we tell ourselves about war and ourselves as warriors. The overwhelming feeling I’m left with is this: maybe the United States of America are the Kree. Maybe we’re animated by hatred and xenophobia more than we’d like to admit. Maybe we empower genocidal maniacs (like a too-briefly appearing Ronan the Accuser) through our war-mongering.

And what snaps our hero out of it? Learning her human past. Reconnecting with her best friend and flight partner Maria Rambeau (Lashana Lynch), the real secret weapon of this film. Rambeau shows us — and Carol — that she can be maternal and nurturing while also being a badass hero in her own right. It’s the quieter moments in Captain Marvel that work the best, which is maybe why we don’t give it the praise it deserves. Everything we’re criticizing the film for is actually a criticism of what patriarchy and war do to women, do to us. Maybe we should focus less on comparisons to Thor: Ragnarok and focus more on what the deliberate choices the filmmakers made in the first half of the film as a mirror of everything that’s wrong with us.

And then there’s that 90’s soundtrack. As a child of the 80’s and an adolescent of the 90’s (Go Team Xennial!!) there is nothing more precious to me than bands like Garbage, REM, and Nine Inch Nails that put me right back in that time and place. There’s also a surprising amount of pop R&B for a nice counterbalance. Watch for an article about the soundtrack coming soon, but beware– while some of the songs are not spoilers, per se, I think you miss out on the nice reaveals of a couple of them, especially a late scene with the Kree Supreme Intelligence and a climactic battle scene set to a specifically iconic mid 90’s bop that is going to drive the haters absolutely mad.

Speaking of? Haters– die mad about all of it. Take your lame attempts to tank the Rotten Tomatoes score and go die in a fire. Captain Marvel is definitely worth seeing, seeing on a giant screen with an amazing sound system that really lets you feel the groove of Elastica’s “Connection.” So go do it, and don’t let reservations that “Oh, but it’s not as good as Black Panther” worry you. Did that keep people from seeing Aquaman? Stick around for the finale– and maybe let Carol Danvers’ words resonate with you as she emancipates herself from Kree control and directly gives a giant middle finger to toxic masculinity that could’ve come out of the pages of a Riot Grrrl alt-weekly.

I can’t wait for Carol Danvers to show up in Endgame. She’s going to save everyone. ‘Nuff said.

3.75 out of 5 stars

Movie Review: Captain Marvel Takes Off But Doesn’t Quite Soar

Captain Marvel
Captain Marvel (2019) poster CR: Marvel Studios

The first sure to be blockbuster of the year, Marvel‘s Captain Marvel is an entertaining film that never quite reaches its full potential. Based on the comics character, Captain Marvel is a new take on the classic character of Carol Danvers. Here, she’s a Kree warrior, part of their Starforce, doing battle with Skrulls, a race of shapeshifting aliens who infiltrate societies before destroying them.

The film is an interesting one that even as I write this, I’m still trying to digest and process. There’s lots of good. There’s lots of bad. And a whole lot of middle ho-hum. In the growing library of Marvel films, it’s somewhere in the middle as far as quality.

The film acts as a prequel in a way, taking place in the 90s and introducing the character of Carol Danvers who we haven’t seen up to this point in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The film feels like a piece of the bigger puzzle, never quite standing on its own, and at times stretching for winks and nods to make the fans happy.

Directed by Anna Boden and Ryan Fleck with a “story by” and “screenplay by” Boden and Fleck (Meg LeFauve and Nicole Perlman get “story by” credits and Geneva Robertson-Dworet gets “story by” and “screenplay by” credits) the movie has a lot going for it but also has some misfires as well.

Breaking from the usual narrative structure, the film is one of discovery where the “hero” attempts to figure out their “human side” as opposed the regular schmo discovering they’re a hero. With lots of action sequences, the film is Carol, played by Brie Larson, attempting to discover her past and stop the Skrulls.

Larson has the interesting task of playing a human trained by the Kree, an emotionless warrior race focused on logic. Warrior Vulcans in a way. That results in a character who doesn’t smile and doesn’t have the usual emotional latching on points we’ve seen as part of Marvel’s formula. Instead that role is given to Samuel L. Jackson‘s Nick Fury who becomes Danvers’ partner in crime as she attempts to complete her mission and discovers there’s so much to it and her. In this role reversal, the hero is the “straightman” with the sidekick the joker.

And that’s one of the interesting aspect of the film, it’s focus on Larson’s Danvers being “too emotional.” Part of the undeserved hate against the film is Larson’s lack of smiling in promotional material. She’s not supposed to, she’s Kree, they don’t show emotion. And that aspect brings out the film’s underlying theme of toxic masculinity and how women are treated in society. We see through flashbacks and other scenes Danvers is held back and told to not be emotional. One can just look at the reaction to female politicians to see there’s messed up societal standards when it comes to that.

The film, in many ways, feels like a woman attempting to break free from expectations. She’s also told this growing up. She’s trained to use logic over emotion. Not letting emotion get the better of her. And then eventually, saying screw that to unleash her inner awesome that she’s bottled up. It’s a middle finger to the “traditional norms” that today are being confronted in so many ways.

And that as a viewer had me experience something I haven’t before, trouble connecting with the hero. As a straight, white, man, I’ve never had someone tell me not to be emotional (beyond not crying) or I couldn’t do something due to my gender (I have had that due to my height but then I’d just get angry and go off, so once again, emotional for guys is totally ok apparently) so to see Carol being told over and over to not be angry or she couldn’t do something because she’s a woman, it’s an experience I’ve never had. And it made it hard to connect and enjoy her journey. I have no doubt that many others who will see this film will be able to relate to her experiences and will enjoy the film in a whole other way than me (this is also a good thing, not everything she be geared towards my demographic).

But, that disconnect between myself and the main character, the lack of quips of the hero, made me rely on the action for enjoyment and there the film is all over.

The direction of Boden and Fleck is too choppy at times relying on quick camera cuts making it difficult to follow exactly what’s going on. It’s not until the big CGI finale does the camera slow down, allowing the audiences to take in more of the action and enjoy it. Early fights are difficult to tell exactly what’s happening and it’s hard to tell if this is by choice or due to the difficulty of the setting. It’s most prevelant in a scene taking place on the metro.

The film also lacks the “f@#k yeah” moment until 3/4 of the way in. It’s a long wait for the hero to really come forward and show her inner awesome. It’s also a complete change from previous Marvel films which feel like they’re almost built to show off the character’s abilities in set time frames in a set narrative beat. The lack of that for most of the film is a change which honestly I’m still not completely used to. Compare this to Wonder Woman which gives us the beat on the beach, No Man’s Land, and the end of the film. It’s a different type of narrative that stands out from the at this point rather formulaic Marvel method.

The film being a prequel helps and hurts it. It uses that to get long time Marvel fans interested with the inclusion of Fury (how did he lose the eye!?) and Clark Gregg‘s Coulson. Reveals are a plenty tying the film in nicely to the Marvel Cinematic Universe but at times these reveals feel forced and a bit unnatural. Also, some of those reveals don’t feel like much as far as payoffs.

The supporting cast is other really good or rather wasted. Ben Mendelsohn as Talos steals the show with a fantastic performance (though Skrulls with British accents are weird, don’t know why). Jude Law as Yon-Rogg plays an emotionless Kree well and unintentionally adds a “good” moment when he gets his considering his not great past with women.

While Djimon Hounsou as Korath has much more screen time than he did in Guardians of the Galaxy his inclusion is still a bit head-scratching. Lee Pace as Ronan feels like he’s only included to tie the film into what has come before. Annette Bening‘s role is an interesting one and the less said the better but… I want more Annette Bening.

The rest of Starforce are solid with Gemma Chan as Minn -Erva really standing out. Lashanna Lynch as Maria Rambeau brings a lot of heart to the film and we better see more of Akira Akbar who plays her daughter. That combination had me excited for what could come.

The film is an interesting one and its themes and the topics it touches upon are ones that can be debated for some time. Beyond the toxic masculinity, there’s the obvious look at the war machine and deeper concepts whose discussion would spoil parts of the film.

There’s a lot done right here and in many ways breaks the Marvel mold and formula. It’s a film I have no doubt will have an audience that will celebrate it and enjoy it and even before opening has its haters. I’m somewhere in between. I can appreciate what it does and attempts to do and also see its flaws. I also recognize not all films are for me and this could be one of them.

Overall Rating: 7.0

Movie Review: Glass

Anyone who expected better as a follow-up to Split, well, you get what you deserve. While Glass isn’t quite as terrible as that garbage, this is the proof of the adage that you can add as much mayonnaise as you want to chicken crap, but you’re never going to make chicken salad out of it.

Glass tries to borrow from the good will we have from Shyamalan’s Unbreakable by pitting its protagonist David Dunn (Bruce Willis) and antagonist Elijah “Mr. Glass” (Samuel L. Jackson) against The Horde/The Beast (James McAvoy). At the center of all of this is psychiatrist Ellie Staple (Sarah Paulson) whose name couldn’t be any more indicative of her place in the movie– to staple the disparate elements together. Shyamalan no doubt thinks that this is “symbolic.” It’s about as deep as the film goes in its symbolism.

On the plus side, the film does have both Willis and Jackson. The film even lifts entire scenes from Unbreakable and puts them in this movie. Unfortunately, we get too little of them– Jackson plays catatonic for fully two-thirds of the movie. Willis just isn’t given that much to do, except to play hero.

They’re also joined by David’s son Joseph (Spencer Treat Clark) and Elijah’s mother (Charlayne Woodard) reprising their roles from the original cast of Unbreakable, and Casey (Anya Taylor-Joy) returning from Split. These five actually do their best and are mostly watchable. And that is where the good will for this film ends.

For a movie with so many women in it (and Shyamalan pointing out how he oh-so-progressively gender swapped Staple’s character. . . ugh), it’s amazing that the film still fails to pass the Bechdel test. Every single female character in this movie only serves as an adjunct to male characters.

Those who thought McAvoy was good in Split were and still are wrong. Shyamalan learned nothing from the criticisms of that film and, indeed, doubled down on some of the more problematic elements. Since Shyamalan lifted pieces of Unbreakable and Split into this film, I’m going to do the same with quoting my review of Split and McAvoy’s acting, because nothing has changed:

McAvoy’s performance is also. . . just. . . not good. A lot of what he does makes the audience laugh– and not in a good way. Because we are not laughing at a joke or a funny person. We are laughing at a person suffering from a serious mental disorder. That is not ok. And even if it was, so much of what McAvoy is doing is jarring and borrows from the “Master Thespian” school of scenery-chewing “ACT-ING!!!” McAvoy is better than this. And him as a goat-footed faun or a guy who can bend the path of bullets are more believable. At least X-Men doesn’t pretend its superpowers are anything but myth and fantasy.

He does, however, go hard AF in this movie. Some of the scenes where he becomes The Beast, shot in full daylight instead of being obscured by the darkness of Split, are actually kind of cool. If only this movie made a lick of sense on a narrative or thematic level.

Unbreakable was a good movie. It was a love letter to comic books and posits that our stories of super-heroism are based in reality. Glass adds literally nothing to that except to repeat the conceit several times. I also have a hard time taking any film seriously that wants to talk about comics on the meta level who keeps saying “limited edition” in their dialogue when they mean “limited series.” Unbreakable worked, partially, because the superhero explosion hadn’t happened yet. It was a novelty. Glass plays like no one has touched a comic book since 2000 or the world hasn’t changed. Your insights aren’t new or interesting or unique.

Add to that numerous plot holes and a “twist” ending that isn’t really a twist because you see it coming miles away, and this is just unsatisfying. The movie also teases an ending (with a not-so-subtle Die Hard homage) that it then doesn’t do at all. It’s not misdirection. It’s an excuse to do a smaller-scale finale. And actually, the final showdown is one of the parts of the film that works best, but the tease of something else entirely is just annoying.

It’s clear there’s a market for this schlock because so many people went to see (and apparently enjoyed?!?) Split, and those people deserve this movie the same way people who enjoy eating fast food deserve it too. But it’s objectively terrible and we shouldn’t pretend otherwise. The nicest thing I can say about Glass is at least it wasn’t as bad as Split.

1 out of 5 stars

The First Trailer for Kingsman: The Secret Service

Based upon the comic book from Mark Millar and directed by Matthew Vaughn, Kingsman: The Secret Service tells the story of a super-secret spy organization that recruits an unrefined but promising street kid into the agency’s ultra-competitive training program just as a global threat emerges from a twisted tech genius.

The film stars Colin Firth, Michael Caine, Taron Egerton, and Samuel L. Jackson. It hits theaters October 24, 2014.

NYCC 2013: Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury Wax Figure Unveiled

Madame Tussauds New York and Midtown Comics unveiled Samuel L. Jackson’s wax figure as Marvel Comics superhero Nick Fury on Thursday at the 2013 New York Comic Con, at the Midtown Comics’ booth #1736.

Madame Tussauds artists worked closely with Samuel L. Jackson to create his spot-on wax figure when it launched in 2000. It took three months for a dedicated team of studio artists to transform Jackson’s figure into Nick Fury, replicating his distinctive look with a custom-made long leather trench coat and signature eye patch.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury will go on display at Madame Tussauds New York starting October 14.

Photo credit: Ron Gejon/Midtown Comics

Photo credit: Ron Gejon/Midtown Comics

NYCC 2013: Madame Tussauds New York & Midtown Comics to Unveil Nick Fury in Wax

Madame Tussauds New York and Midtown Comics will unveil Samuel L. Jackson’s wax figure as Marvel Comics superhero Nick Fury on Thursday, October 10 at 3:30 p.m. at the New York Comic Con, Midtown Comics’ booth #1736.

Madame Tussauds artists worked closely with Samuel L. Jackson to create his spot-on wax figure when it launched in 2000. It took three months for a dedicated team of studio artists to transform Jackson’s figure into Nick Fury, replicating his distinctive look with a custom-made long leather trench coat and signature eye patch.

Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury will go on display at Madame Tussauds New York starting October 14. The figure celebrates Marvel’s highly anticipated Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D television series which premiered last month on ABC and Nick Fury made an enthusiastically-received cameo appearance last week.

Madame Tussauds New York is an interactive “must do” attraction, providing guests with unique opportunities to create memories with some of the world’s biggest icons. Prominently located in the heart of Times Square, Madame Tussauds New York is open 365 days a year at 10 a.m.

Midtown Comics opened its first store in 1997, and is now an industry leading retailer of comic books, graphic novels, and manga, with its online store as well as three landmark NYC locations in Times Square, Grand Central and Downtown and comic boutiques in the historic FAO Schwarz toy store on Fifth Ave., and in Toys R Us in Times Square, NYC.

Around the Tubes

Did you listen to our live radio show last night? If you missed it, you can catch the archive and listen on the go. Also, tomorrow is new comic book day, what’s everyone getting?

Around the Tubes

The Mary Sue – Real Talk With Glenn Close: She’s in Guardians of the Galaxy for the MoneyWell, that’s honesty.

Bleeding Cool – Space Mountain To Be Disney Comics’ First Original Graphic Novel By Bryan Q Miller And Kelley JonesHuh.

ICv2 – Batman Pieces Auctioned I totally have that in my couch cushions.

ICv2 – Samuel Jackson in ‘Secret Service’ It’s a race to see how many comic franchises actors can be in!


Around the Tubes Reviews

Comic Vine – The Bunker #1

Movie Review – The Avengers

Jon is the latest contributor to join Graphic Policy.  Expect many more reviews to come.

The Avengers started life as a marketing gimmick.

Desperate for another super-hero title to part kids from their hard earned nickels, Stan Lee commissioned Jack Kirby to throw together Marvel’s B list characters in a single series. Eventually the team uncovered  Captain America, frozen in a block of ice, and the comic book incarnation finally surpassed it’s lackluster origins with a few rare moments of brilliance. In the movie version Captain America has already de-frosted before the opening titles, but even the living legend of World War II can’t help this cinematic turd from falling flat on it’s face.

The story begins with Loki, last seen causing mischief in Thor, being sent by a race of mysterious aliens, to recover The Tesseract, the cosmic McGuffin featured in Captain America, and lead an invasion of Earth. It all goes down hill from there as Samuel L Jackson assembles his team of super heroes to save the world. They fight with each other for a bit, have their asses handed to them by the enemy, finally get their act together and, SPOILER ALERT, they save the day and go out for swarma. It’s  enough of a  plot for a 24 page comic or a two hour film but after being bloated to two and a half hours by unnecessary complications and a lot of superfluous thud and blunder (much like modern comic book story arcs),  it becomes a real chore to sit through. By the end I was squirming in my seat, waiting for it to be over so I could eat and wishing I had mowed the lawn instead of going to the movies.

Of all the elements of storytelling that Avengers fails at, characterization is perhaps the weakest link.  Loki’s motivation is muddy and his intentions seem a little unclear from the word go. He’s also much too active in battle and doesn’t display any of his trademark tricks, preferring to slug it out with all comers, and relying on a form of alien mind control that’s so effective it can be undone with a bump on the head. Several characters do things that are just plain dumb just so that the plot can move along (trusting the guy whose been Loki’s puppet for the entire movie to fly a jet into battle is a good example). The dialog displays Joss Whedon‘s usual flair for the sarcastic, and adequately differentiates the characters from one another, but the actors don’t quite manage to pull it off and it winds up coming out flat. That’s not to say that the acting is bad.  Everyone except Scarlett Johansson (who seems painfully aware that her role exists solely to get some feminist cred while showcase a good looking butt in black leather) does a competent job.  I think part of  the problem is that  Whedon’s genius as a director is his ability to cast actors that work well in an ensemble and to pick people who can really make the words sing. It’s hardly surprising that the one stand out performance is delivered by Mark Ruffalo in the role of Bruce Banner, Whedon’s one major casting decision. It’s a shame that he wasn’t the point of view character for the entire narrative, as he is at once a likeable every-man and a deeply troubled, compelling individual with a problem that many in the audience can understand and sympathize with.

The Avengers lacks the emotional core that is essential to all of the best stories. It is a turgid behemoth of the movie that we are conditioned to believe is fun because of it is full of  bright colors, big explosions and beautiful people. I really hope that Whedon decides not to return for a sequel, though the sad irony is that Disney will probably give him helicarriers full of money for Avengers 2, but not a penny for more Firefly.

Overall rating: 6.5

Movie Review – The Avengers

Ron is Graphic Policy’s newest contributor…. WARNING SPOILERS!!!!

Hello all.   Brett has asked me to write up a review of The Avengers for you all, and I accepted the request with some cautious optimism.  As this is my first official review, I may ask you all to be kind in your criticism, as my writing can be confusing, and my opinions can sometimes be narrow (whether right or wrong).

As a quick background, Brett & I have been friends for the greater part of 14 years since college.   Our comic book geekdom knows no bounds when we get going, and I always graciously defer to his knowledge, as he (to me) is a far better authority when it comes to the subject matter.  But, without further adieu, on with the review.

To preface this, I made sure to see the movie twice to try and really hone what I am feeling about the movie.  My first experience was in IMAX 3D.  We sat about dead in the middle row, in the middle of that row.  The experience was overwhelming, as I’ve found in the past with some movie moments in IMAX (ask my wife about Quidditch matches during Harry Potter movies; hold onto your lunch!).  Initially I enjoyed the movie overall before really digesting it a second time.  There were highs & lows, but until I went a second time, I didn’t really gain true understanding of how I felt.

My second viewing was in Digital Real 3D, with the new D-Box experience.  If you’ve never had the opportunity to sit in these seats, allow me tell you what they are.

The corporate jargon:  http://www.d-box.com

Personal Opinion #1: D-Box are seats that move to the movements & actions of the movie you’re watching for a 4D experience.  The movie houses literally program the seats to move precisely by the frame, so it is virtually a way to feel part of the action as it happens.  The Pro: It is really neat at times.  You can feel helicopter blades pulsate, you can feel the banking of turns when Iron Man is flying, you can feel jarred when something spooks you, and you feel HULK SMASH.  It is definitely an experience.  The Con: It does take some getting used to.  It’s a bit jarring at first, as your body is not used to what is happening.  But by the end of this 2.5 hr epic, your body is one with the seat, and you enjoy it.  Oh, then there is the cost.  I shelled out $19+ for the seat.  Keep in mind this is Movie cost + Real 3D + D-Box experience.  I would only spend this on a movie you know will give you a rush.  Something with action, or a horror movie that you can feel nervous heartbeats & scary jolts.  For something with lots of dialogue, you’ll be sitting in a non-moving seat for a premium price, but I digress.

Personal Opinion #2:  After Real 3D and IMAX 3D experiences back-to-back, may I suggest you go to Real 3D 100% of the time vs the alternative.  I’m sure there will be backlash from this statement.  But let me tell you.  The glasses are better (you don’t get those crazy lines that distort the image if you turn your head that can get you all sorts of messed up).  The image is clearer (keep in mind movie houses film in HD formats that fit wide screens.  Now they have to digitally manipulate that image to a MUCH LARGER IMAGE… the result is more grainy due to the initial resolution getting stretched out) which makes the 3D more impactful.  And lastly, IMAX can be overwhelming if you don’t sit far enough away.  You make even miss subtle periphery things of note as your eyes can only absorb so much.  Trust me, you want Real 3D.

Haha, told you.  I rant.  I’m one page in, and NOW I’m getting to the movie.  WELL, I suck… and you’re along for the ride.  Just as The Avengers was 2.5 hrs, and you may have looked at your watch early, you’ll be here for the long haul and hopefully won’t look now until the end!

The movie is a sequel of sorts.  By that, I mean, the plot assumes the following:

  1. You’ve seen, at minimum, Captain America and Thor
  2. If you haven’t, these questions MAYplague you
    • Who are some of the pivotal characters?
    • Loki?
    • Dr. Selvig?
    • I’m assuming you can figure out the title characters from those movies
  • What is The Tesseract?

If you’ve done that homework, you can SORT OF get by.  Do yourself a favor and take in Iron Man 1 & 2, as well as The Incredible Hulk so that some of my rants make sense.

In any case, LONG story short: Loki shows up. He steals the Tesseract to bring an army from across the Universe to Earth to take over as its ruler.  The rest is putting the Avengers together, some minor battles, and the epic conclusion.  Seems pretty simple for such a long movie, right?  Well, before I get into the plot problems from a comic stance, how about from a directorial/producer stance.

  1. Explaining Loki, the Tesseract, & how Thor arrived are just some examples how the script and Joss Whedon (the director who has done such “fine” work as Buffy the Vampire Slayer (TV), Angel (TV), Firefly (TV), etc – lots of TELEVISION work, but minimal big-screen experience on his resume) tried to throw a bone to the unknowing portion of the audience, and explain away some things that were otherwise ignored.  Part of me thinks Jon Favreau (director on the Iron Man movies; executive producer for The Avengers) may have spoke up & said, “You may want to explain that a bit more,” and this is what we got.
  2. More holes from previous movies:
    • The Bifröst bridge was destroyed in Thor
      • Explain away his returning by a one liner: Loki – “Your father must have used a lot of dark energy to send you here to stop me”; it’s a plot-line cop-out
    • Um, Loki was tossed into the Abyss… how did he return?  How did he get out?  Is the abyss just another dimension where the Chitauri live and they helped him out so that is why they are doing this together?  That’s a pretty long assumption.
  3. Common frustrating action movie stereotypes:
    • The Loki chase seen in the beginning: REALLY?  I mean, could it be any more stereotypical?  A truck seen in a tunnel as the antagonist taunts from the back of his ride.
    • When Hawkeye is asked by Loki about what the Tesseract told him – the dramatic opening of his bow for no good reason… really?!
    • The team bursting at the seams with rivalries, only to come together when they’re needed most… really didn’t seem like they were apart that long… oh wait, it really was a few hours
    • Did you really need Agent Coulson to spell out his death as a rallying point?  We get it, they’re upset.  You could’ve spelled out some of the other plot portions than that one Joss
  4. Black Widow just did not feel right from the first scene on… not BAD, but not on.  I felt her character with Favreau at the helm in Iron Man 2 was far better, and suited as a secondary role.  As her role progressed in this movie, it never really grabbed me.  I mean, she’s scared after the Hulk confrontation… but shouldn’t she be a tough-as-nails spy who has experience everything?  Subtle detail, but really emphasizes a character flaw.
  5. Dr. Banner felt like he was directed to be overly UN-emotional, almost shy to a fault in his interactions, so as to not “unleash the fury”.  I really felt someone told Mark Ruffalo (the actor portraying Dr. Banner/The Hulk) to be different than Ed Norton’s version, who was more stressed about his condition and controlling it.  Mr. Ruffalo’s/Mr Whedon’s interpretation was so unemotional, it felt detached & uninterested.  There were some dialogue moments that were very good: in the lab with Tony Stark & then with everyone; oh wait, they wanted to show growing emotion (or did they want to show Loki having God-like influence on the situation?).  But that didn’t make up for the numerous interactions he had from about a ½ hour into the movie.
  6. Who the heck are the Chitauri and why do they want anything to do with Humanity? And how do they know Loki?  What is this all about???  Seriously, what is their motivation for helping him and coming here?!  More-so, why are the so hyper-focused on The Avengers and not the planet?  I mean, they weren’t even a team until recently, and Loki’s quarrel is with Thor and the planet he loves so much.  I digress, who are the Chitauri?!
  7. Oh, the Chitauri are a race of aliens who are helping Loki for complete Universe domination, so he can rule humanity… I guess.  They also have laser-shooting speedsters that fly, and their biggest part of their invasion is a large flying snake/eel that carriers regiments of ground troops on its side.  Otherwise it flies aimlessly destroying things and chomping on stuff.
    • This is where I need more Michael Bay and less small-screen Whedon thinking.  (Ok everyone groaning, I get that Bay really mucked up the Transformers battle scenes to the point of confusion, but you have to admit they are epic and world-destroying scenes).  We have THE AVENGERS fighting an alien race set to take over the world with lazer bikes and snakes…
    • Oh, when one snake dies, the idea of bigger is 3 snakes… Joss, you couldn’t come up with something bigger and more insurmountable by our heroes?
  8. Lastly, did anyone else figure out the Chitauri were nothing more than a race of Borg-like individuals electrically tied to a mother ship?  Borg meets Independence Day.  So the Chitauri can’t live without whatever energy is powering them… huh… weird way to stop the battle, but it makes Tony finally… OH (my ADD is kicking in!)
    • ANOTHER STEREOTYPE: Tony Stark (the character with the narcissus complex) actually (almost) lays his life on the line, flying the nuke through the portal to save the world.  Oh, sorry Pepper didn’t  take your call either. Don’t get me wrong, I liked this scene, just a pretty easy plotline to write
    • And another assumption moment for this point: The Chitauri used to have possession of the Tesseract, which has powered their Borg-like race, as well as the staff they give Loki, which allows him to find it as well as why the gamma signatures are the same… huh, another long stretch Mr. Whedon.

And while my rants are on the movie specifically right now, I’d like to bring up some geeky questions that seem odd.  I will not elaborate for those of you who aren’t familiar with the lore that has built up this franchise since the Silver Age of comics; I don’t have the time.  Feel free to do the comic industry a favor, and read up on this.  Your curiosity will be rewarded.

  1. Why is the Tesseract not “The Cosmic Cube”, which it looks like, and is minorly being used as
    • Loki really could’ve taken over the entire planet without an army with it; just saying
  2. The Chitauri:  Are they supposed to be the Skrulls?  Even comic book aficionados are perplexed by this… they look like them, act like them, but they are called something else and we weren’t really given much to work with

My other plotline inconsistencies would fit here too  (Bifröst Bridge, Abyss, Loki’s seemingly underutilized powers).

You may think I hated this movie with all these criticisms.  You would be wrong.  I think this was a “GOOD” movie.  It’s written as the first summer blockbuster.  It’s for enjoyment and less thinking.  Watch and enjoy.  To be honest, there were other moments that were cheesy, but added to the lightness of the movie:

  1. Hulk punching Thor in the last battle
  2. Black Widow stating that “That, in no way, resembles a party”
  3. Hawkeye stating to Black Widow “You and I remember Budapest very differently”
  4. Loki still listening to Thor after Iron Man knocks him off the hilltop
    • This was a little too cheesy, but it was made up for with the action that commenced, and Tony’ s  Shakespeare reference

On a quick aside, and take it for what it’s worth, but Samuel L. Jackson plays Nick Fury as one would suspect. His quick one-liners are humerous.  You will either laugh or be upset because it’s not original for him, other than the eye patch.

Speaking of character interpretation, I cannot imagine Tony’s smugness being portrayed any better than Robert Downey Jr.;  excellent character portrayal.  Also, Chris Hemsworth as Thor simply shines.  Another fine interpretation.   Chris Evans’ also does a fantastic job as Captain America.  These heroes make for the lion’s share of dialogue thankfully, with the exception of Scarlett Johansson’s lackluster performance in this rendition of Black Widow.   Lest I forget Tom Hiddleston as the archnemesis Loki.  He continues his dominating performance from Thor into this movie.  A jealous, conniving God of mischief who’s sadistic qualities knows no bounds; just an excellent job.

From a technical standpoint, the CGI used in creating The Hulk in his scenes was extraordinary.  The D-Box addition made for some amazing moments of smashing and destruction.  Probably the best use of the monster in film thus far.  I say that, in no way, to state that The Incredible Hulk was lesser.  I just state it because it is a highlight of the movie, and really they are engaging moments.  Whedon, to his credit, sets us up with so much non-emotion from Banner, that when he becomes “The Other Guy” it is impactful and you get a sense of how important his sheer strength is to the team.  That is something to be commended.

In conclusion, it is well worth seeing.  If you can handle some slow dialogue in the beginning as the team forms, as well as the gaping holes that, to the common viewer who is less critical, will not take away from the movie’s meaning, you are in for a treat.  I  encourage you to see the digital Real 3D, and if you can, try to experience the D-Box seating.  For the traditionalist, they’re just more gimmicks that allow a studio to be liberal when it comes to good plots & writing.  But for something more experiential, these add layers that enhance the movie just enough to get through the movie remembering more than a bad line here & there, but the fact you jumped from shock as Hulk jarred the seat as he threw something straight at you.   I encourage you enjoy this one, and I hope it’s soon. By the time The Dark Knight Rises arrives, this will feel less than what it could’ve been, but thoroughly enjoyable at the time.

Overall rating: 7.5

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