Advertisements

Tag Archive: The Avengers movie


By Art Schmidt

Marvel Studios’ newest and boldest superhero movie yet, The Avengers premiered on Friday in North America.  To celebrate the superhero team-up movie five years in the making, AMC Theaters nationwide offered an all-day Ultimate Marvel Marathon in select venues, previewed here last week, showing all five previous Marvel Studios super heroes movies, in order, leading up to the midnight premier of The Avengers:  Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, and Captain America: The First Avenger.  I reviewed the movie Saturday here at borg.com, but now I want to share the most excellent movie-going experience I had at the Ultimate Marvel Marathon.

I had been to AMC special events before; they carry the Fathom Events series, including the excellent Lost panel I attended prior to the series finale.  I had also previously attended their all-day screening of the extended versions of The Lord of the Rings trilogy, which was discussed here at borg.com.  So I knew AMC would do this event right, but even I had no idea how Mighty it would be.

Early Thursday afternoon, the theatre was packed and there were tons of fans sporting their hero gear, many throwing props to their favorite heroes from both within the Marvel and DC universes and without (one guy sitting near me had on an Archer T-shirt, which I thought was hilarious.  Several fans were wearing Justice League gear, like silent cries for DC to follow in Marvel’s footsteps and begin work on a similar movie featuring their favorite DC characters.  There were several good costumes floating around, including a convincing Tony Stark in party tux and a great home-made Thor outfit which drew lots of cameras.  The folks at the AMC 30 Theater I attended the event at had things well planned out.  Marathoners had lanyards and special 3D glasses provided, and a limited supply of a free special issue of The Avengers comic book.  There were activities planned including trivia in between each movie and select prizes for the correct answers (posters, additional 3D glasses, and masks).

Before the showing of the first movie, Iron Man, the AMC hostess took a favorite character survey among the “Big Four” Avengers (the ones who have had their own movies thus far) and though it was close between Captain America and Iron Man, Tony Stark pulled it out during the second round of voting.

When the lights dimmed, the surprises were far from over.  Before each of the five movies leading up to The Avengers premier, there were short “debriefings” shown featuring none other than our favorite S.H.I.E.L.D. agent, Phil Coulson.  He provided brief reviews of the movies’ main characters, personalities, and the circumstances leading up to them becoming involved in The Avengers Initiative.  Before Iron Man, Coulson did a very funny bit throwing out a copy of Tony Stark’s own description of himself (in a very thick binder), and then showing Coulson’s own single-page description which was entirely inked over, being heavily redacted by the government.

There were very big cheers when each movie started, and huge laughs during all of the funny scenes in every movie.  The crowd was loud and raucous, and the carnival atmosphere was everything I had anticipated and more.  It was like being in the middle of a gigantic, six-hundred person nerd love-in, and everyone was loving it.  When Stark announced “I am Iron Man” at the end of the initial movie, you couldn’t hear yourself think over the huge cheers.

When Nick Fury came in for his first cameo at the end, the theater filled with an unexpected electricity his final words: “I’m here to talk to you about the Avengers Initiative.”  That scene took on a whole new meaning for the assembled crowd of fans, and the cheers were deafening.

Throughout the showings of the movies, there were big cheers at the first appearance of each of our beloved heroes, and Marvel-ous applause every time a Stan Lee cameo occurred.  When the Hulk kicked a heavily souped-up Captain Emil Blonksy into the tree in response to the “Is that all you’ve got?” the crowd roared the loudest it had thus far.  And things only got better.

The folks at AMC posted pictures on their Facebook page throughout the day and evening which fans happily scanned through on their smart phones in between shows.  The great crowd even made Iron Man 2 enjoyable, with lots of applause and laughs especially at the expense of Justin Hammer, played with gleeful scumbaggery by Sam Rockwell.

The last three films, Thor, Captain America, and The Avengers were all shown in 3D.  Agent Coulson’s debrief prior to Thor ended with the instruction: “The time has come to put on your S.H.I.E.L.D.-supplied enhanced eyewear for three-dimensional presentation”.  Big laughs at that one, like good little Junior Agents, we all did exactly as we were told.

The movie Thor actually played a bit more corny against the others, or perhaps kitschy is the right term, when viewed along with the other films, especially the little New Mexico (?) town that never quite looks or feels quite real (as compared to Asgard, which was incredibly well-conceived and heavily detailed).

And thanks to free refills for large drinks and popcorns, the lines were never short at the concession stands all day long (nor for the bathrooms!)

The debrief prior to Captain America contained more humor, with Coulson beaming like a little kid as he shared with the audience that Captain America was his favorite hero.  “I have all of his trading cards,” he nearly gushed, before quickly regaining his composure and asserting, “But enough about me.”  Little did we know that this bit would play directly into the plot of The Avengers.

Just before the premiere of the main event, at midnight the AMC folks led the entire audience in singing “Happy Birthday” to an audience member who was turning 21 at midnight.  The song was accompanied by huge cheers and applause, and I know we made that guy’s day.

And then the main event started, and it was a great present for us all, birthdays or not.  AMC did this event right, a great movie event for movie lovers, and I’ll be sure to be on the lookout for future events such as this.

(Photos copyright AMC Theaters 2012, reprinted from their Facebook page)

Advertisements

Review by Art Schmidt

Overall this is probably one of the best Marvel Studios has produced thus far.  Despite the multitude of heroes and personalities on the screen, which could have easily lent itself to a convoluted, overly-busy and confusing plot, the movie sails right along with only a few minor bumps in dialogue or story.  The tight script by director Joss Whedon manages to bring out the individual personality of each character, as well as showcasing each ones strengths and, in most cases, their weaknesses, without anything feeling like it was shoe-horned in the middle of a scene or duct-taped onto the end of a conversation.  It all flows exceedingly well, to both Whedon and Zek Penn‘s credit.

Early on, many questioned Whedon’s ability to transform from a televised series format where he’s had his greatest critical and commercial successes with Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly, and Dollhouse, to the big screen, despite having written stories and/or screenplays for several films including Toy Story, Alien: Resurrection, and Serenity.  Well, The Avengers have assembled for what is currently Earth’s Mightiest Movie, and Whedon has answered all of those critics with a guttural roar heard all across America yesterday:

“Joss SMASH!”

Smash, indeed.  It appears some records are about to be smashed, judging by the movie’s world-wide tallies and first-day numbers in the United States.

In fact, it may very well be Whedon’s experience with television’s shorter episodic format that enabled the director to write such crisp, fast-paced exchanges between the characters, expressing multiple points of view in relatively short conversations without feeling pithy or trite.  Of particular note is a scene mid-way through the movie, as the Team wrestles with each other’s hidden objectives and priorities, trying to make sense of how they can possibly agree on even one thing, much less begin to work together.  S.H.I.E.L.D. Director Nick Fury’s agenda is questioned, as is Thor’s long-term plans for his captive brother Loki, played again with devilish delight by Tom Hiddleston.  Steve Rogers (a.k.a Captain America) questions Tony Stark’s patriotism, and Bruce Banner tries to remain out of the fray altogether, because in reality he doesn’t trust any of them.  And it is Banner who aptly frames the team’s troubles with the quip showcased in the previews: “We’re not a team…  we’re a time bomb.”

Of particular note is newcomer Mark Ruffalo, taking up the role of Bruce Banner formerly portrayed by not one but three other actors, the fairly straight-forward scientist on the run character (“David” Banner) that Bill Bixby gave us in the seventies TV series, the brooding scientist with the weight of the world on his shoulders as portrayed by Eric Bana in Ang Lee’s The Hulk, and the mousy, sensitive fugitive we were shown by Edward Norton.

Ruffalo gives us a character more true to the Banner of the comics, nerdy and analyzing, shy around people and reluctant to get involved, with much hand wringing and avoiding eye contact, even when the camera isn’t squarely on him.

The Hulk himself, finally, comes into his own in an odd way, with hints that Banner now has at least a tiny bit of control over the beast.  The CGI Hulk is a rare cinematic treat, fun to watch, exhilarating with his combat acrobatics and both vicious and funny to behold in all his rage.  He definitely grabs both some of the movies best action sequences and its funniest sight gags.  Whereas many studios anymore give away the best parts of their movies in the previews in an attempt to trick an audience into the seats, The Avengers saves the best stuff for the theater, and I won’t be so callous as to spoil one single juicy bit of it here.  I will say that when Banner tells his “big secret” to Black Widow and the rest of the team during the finale, it drew some the biggest cheers of the night.

Although now in an apparently steady relationship with Pepper Potts, played in a few brief scenes by Gwyneth Paltrow with the warmth and grace she brings to every role, Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark is at his most self-centered and narcissistic throughout the entire film.  Which of course is to say at his most fun, especially for the audience.  His cooler-than-thou attitude grates against almost every other member of the “team,” and much of the early in-fighting amongst the team is either attributed to, or enflamed by, Stark’s ingratiating self-importance.  Again, to the audience’s delight.

Despite the excess of charisma, Iron Man does not end up leading the team, of course.  That honor goes to Captain America, although next to the high-flying and alien-smashing abilities of the other “big three,” the star-spangled man in blue tights seems, as times, a bit under-powered.  But the Captain’s confidence and, ultimately, loyalty to his teammates is what brings out his leadership skills, and the others end up swallowing their pride and prejudices and looking to him as their quarterback, their general, their Captain.

Chris Evans does a skillful job of maintaining Cap’s Boy Scout innocence amidst the highly experienced and jaded folks around him, even when faced with deadly threats and other-worldly beings.  Steve just pitches in and helps, whether it’s assisting Iron Man in getting a rotor repaired, sneaking around S.H.I.E.L.D.’s vaults to uncover their secrets, or directing New York’s finest to execute their duty to protect and serve.

“Why should I take orders from you?” one veteran police sergeant asks dubiously.  The response is pure popcorn delight.

Chris Helmsworth recites Thor’s Olde English dialogue with clarity and ease, and though at times you can almost see the words in your head in the fancy font used in the comics, it rolls off of his tongue naturally.  The God of Thunder actually feels more real in this movie than in his own, partially because the other heroes bring him down to Earth a bit (no pun intended), but also because of the balancing effect of the Hulk.

As Black Widow, Scarlett Johansson has enough to do and gets plenty of screen time, even discounting the shots of her character walking away from the camera, but compared to those who have super-natural (or super high-tech) abilities, her martial arts and weapons skills seem flashy but inadequate.  As one of S.H.I.E.L.D.’s top operatives, however, she in right in the mix and given some tough assignments, like dealing with Banner / Hulk and figuring out how to ultimately stop the bad guys at the end.

Hawkeye suffers from a similar fate (played by Jeremy Renner), although his trick arrows do bring some surprises and satisfying butt-kicking moments.  His arsenal isn’t as tricked-out as in the comics, but his skill comes across (especially when he’s eyeing his targets a full forty or fifty degrees from where he’s aiming his bow) and his automated quiver is a fairly neat addition to the Avenger’s arsenal.

Samuel L. Jackson has been playing Nick Fury with his own unique brand of quiet cool through almost all of the Marvel movies leading up the this, and I was looking forward to seeing him in some action sequences in The Avengers.  Though Fury does unleash some on a few bad guys, his role is mostly as the S.H.I.E.L.D. administrator and liaison to those in power calling the real shots.  Too bad, maybe next time.

All in all, the movie aims to please and hits the mark dead-on, with tons of thrills, laughs, great action sequences, characters who sound intelligent and a story that makes sense.  Usually with superhero movies, you’re lucky to get any three of those things and call your money fairly spent.  Well, Joss Whedon and company have assembled the entire team and anyone who enjoys action / adventure movies should walk away with a huge grin on their face.

Be sure to wait until after the credits for a great nugget!  I won’t give it away, but it is unlike any of the others Marvel has planted at the end of the movies leading up to this one.  And joyously so!

With the eve of the opening of The Avengers finally upon us, the movie studios are gearing up for even more summer blockbusters, releasing updated and expanded versions of trailers that have already been playing for months, previewed earlier this year at borg.com in earlier versions.  And each new blockbuster will open on in its own weekend in June, only a month away.

Brave

The best must be the new trailer for Brave.  The downside is that it tends to show so many apparently good scenes that one worries if there will be anything left to be surprised by with the actual movie.  The positive is that Brave looks to be among the best animated films so far, up there with Beauty and the Beast and Up.  The visuals of the characters and setting are simply stunning.  You might watch this trailer if you haven’t yet convinced yourself to see this film when it is released on June 22, 2012.

Prometheus

Next up is the new trailer for Prometheus, a film whose marketing (with the recent David 8 preview) seems to be just getting better and better.  The ships, the future technology, the strange new worlds, all look intriguing.  And if there were any doubt this film will pull a lot from the kind of plot seen in past Alien films, including space horror shockers and blood spatters, it’s all pretty much settled in this preview.  The downside is that the opening scene conversations play a tad like bad SyFy Channel made-for-TV movies.  Will special effects and scenery make up for iffy dialogue?  We’ll find out June 8, 2012.

G.I. Joe: Retaliation

The new trailer for G.I. Joe: Retaliation has several bits from past trailers but reveals more about the plot of the organization called COBRA to take over the world.  The filming and story looks a bit like the X-Men series, which may be a good thing.  Then there is the ninja battle on the side of the mountain–no doubt this new G.I. Joe film will be as much fan as the last.  We like Dwayne Johnson movies.  We hope Bruce Willis is here for more than just a cameo.  This movie will be released June 29, 2012.

The Dark Knight Rises

Finally, there is a new trailer (that makes trailer #3) for The Dark Knight Rises.  Emphasis on the word “dark.”  We have a bad guy, Bane, whose face we mostly cannot see, and so his dialogue seems muffled in the trailer.  We have Anne Hathaway, who we want to love as Catwoman, yet she seems a bit weepy and not very seductive or cat-like.  Her role must be bigger (fingers crossed) than what we’re seeing so far.  And Christian Bale’s Bruce Wayne looks…just like we’ve seen him in the past films, depressed and bedraggled like he looked before he went off to find himself in Batman Begins.  Compared to The Avengers (and there will be plenty of comparisons and contrasts this summer with dueling Marvel and DC movies)–which looks all-out exciting–The Dark Knight Rises looks plain dreary.  Goodbye Gotham.  Goodbye Batman.  Dreary.  This summer blockbuster hits theaters June 15, 2012.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

You have several choices for getting psyched up for Thursday’s U.S. premiere of The Avengers.  You can either stay at home and watch any number of the marathons running on cable, like Superhero Sunday on FX, you can grab your DVDs or Blu-Rays and invite over a few friends with your mega-sized HD or 3D TV, or if you’re up for it, you can take Thursday, May 3rd off work or school and run to your nearest AMC Theater for The Ultimate Marvel Marathon.

Starting at 11:30 a.m. local time on May 3, the day before the May 4 premiere, get set for 12 hours of the Marvel films that set the stage for the new film, and watch the premiere at midnight.  For $40 you get a ticket to all the showings and, on a first come, first served basis, get one of four character themed 3D glasses to watch Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger, and The Avengers and take home with you.

At least one staff writer for borg.com plans to take the 14+ hour plunge and hopefully he’ll share some thoughts on the experience one he comes up for air. 

It all kicks off at 11:30 a.m. and the films will show in this order: Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 2, Thor, Captain America, then The Avengers premiere at midnight.

The movie marathon will be held in the following metro areas: Atlanta, Baltimore, Boston, Charlotte, Chicago, Cincinnati, Columbus, Dallas, Denver, Detroit, Hartford, Houston, Indianapolis, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Los Angeles, Miami, Minneapolis, New Orleans, NYC/New Jersey, Norfolk, Oklahoma City, Omaha, Orlando, Philadelphia, Phoenix, Pittsburgh, Rockford (IL), Sacramento, San Diego, San Francisco, Seattle, Spokane, Springfield (IL), St. Louis, Tallahassee, Tampa, Toronto, Tucson, Tulsa, and Washington, DC.

Seating is limited so if you plan to go get your tickets online early.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

No sign of any new Iron Man suit yet for Robert Downey, Jr., but Marvel Comics revealed some new photos in the past several hours for The Avengers–the megahit where all the key Marvel Comics superheroes finally come together in 2012.  And cooler yet, the Internet Movie Database revealed that Lou Ferrigno will return again as the voice of The Incredible Hulk.  If you have been lucky enough to meet Ferrigno in person, you’ll know this kind of an opportunity couldn’t happen to a nicer guy.

Here are some of the photos released for the new film, to be directed by Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon:

Raise your hand if you are looking forward to seeing anyone in this film more than Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury.  No hands?  I didn’t think so.

Chris Evans as Captain America and Chris Hemsworth as Thor, reprising their roles from two 2011 blockbuster movies:

Scarlett Johansson reprises her role from Iron Man 2 as Black Widow.  Hey, why didn’t we get a Black Widow movie?

Tom Hiddleston stars as villain Loki:

And here is a look at Johansson and new character Hawkeye, played by Jeremy Renner:

More photos can be found at the Internet Movie Database.

%d bloggers like this: