Tag Archive: The Avengers


This trailer seemed to come out of nowhere this week with no early hint that a new fairy tale spinoff was in the works.  Although it would make a good Halloween film for next month it will not be in theaters until next January.  Right on the heels of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter, we have a film in a similar vein: Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters.

From a set design standpoint the early part of the movie seems to portray the fairy tale as I’ve seen it in my own mind incredibly well.  It has a great look, like Sleepy Hollow, and the action snippets seem to have a feel of the Hercules or Zena TV series, and maybe draw inspiration from Buffy the Vampire Slayer.

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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)

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!

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

Just in time for the new Avengers movie premiere, Marvel Studios and Profiles in History will be auctioning off screen-used Captain America costumes and shields, an Iron Man suit and Thor’s hammer at its Captain America: The First Avenger auction on April 14, 2012 at the Chicago Comic and Entertainment Expo.

Profiles in History is offering the catalog for the auction for sale for $39.50 and a digital auction catalog is also available online at the company’s website.  The auction will also be available live to online bidding.

Featuring primarily props, costumes, and set pieces from the 2011 release Captain America: The First Avenger, the auction also will be featuring a few lots from Iron Man 2 and Thor.  The auction features four recognizable Captain America supersuits, as well as several other costumes worn by Chris Evans and 11 shield variants.

Supersuits

The key item up for bid is Lot 154, the Steve Rogers Captain America hero costume and shield worn by Chris Evans in the movie, which served as his final superhero suit in the film and is the suit used in all the Marvel posters and marketing. It carries an auction estimate of $20,000-$30,000.

Chris Evans’ Captain America USO costume and shield has an estimate of $4,000-$6,000.

The Captain America costume worn by Evans in the POW rescue scene has an auction estimate of $6,000-$8,000. The lot includes a early style Cap shield.

Evan’s Captain America distressed rescue suit also has an auction estimate of $6,000-$8,000.

Shields

One early style Cap shield from the Hydra factory scene carries a $2,000-$3,000 estimate.  A separate shield of the same design is estimated to sell at $2,000-$3,000.  A similar shield with distress marks from the “Invaders” scene has the same auction estimate.

An unpainted silver prototype shield from Howard Stark’s laboratory has an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

One shield offered is the frozen in ice version, which has an auction estimate of $4,000-$6,000.  Lot 177 is a classic, traditional Captain America shield, expected to sell for $4,000-$6,000.  Yet another battle damaged shield from the final showdown with Red Skull carries an auction estimate of $4,000-$6,000.

A distressed stunt shield of the same type from the show’s final showdown carries an estimate of $3,000-$5,000.

Motorcycles

Do you need a Cap-cycle?  Steve Rogers’ hero modified Harley Davidson motorcycle has an auction estimate of $12,000-$15,000 and a second hero motorcycle from a different scene has an auction estimate of $10,000-$12,000.

Red Skull and Hydra

Various Hugo Weaving’s Johann Schmidt/Red Skull SS costumes are expected to fetch $6,000-$8,000 each. Weaving’s bright red “Red Skull” facial prosthetics—3 in all—are expected to sell for $2,000-$3,000.

A Hydra non-functional mini-tank is expected to fetch $12,000-$15,000. Various Hydra motorcycles carry an auction estimate ranging from $3,000-$6,000. Several Hydra soldier uniforms have an auction estimate of $1,000-$1,500.

Iron Man

The original full-scale Mark II silver Iron Man suit from Iron Man 2 is incredibly detailed and impressive. It has an auction estimate of $60,000-$80,000. Despite its incredibly realistic paint detail, it is not actually made of iron, but it is composed primarily of fiberglass resin.

Thor

Finally, two stunt Thor Mjolnir war hammers are offered at the end of the auction from the Kenneth Branagh movie Thor, each expected to sell between $3,000-$6,000.

As with most Profiles in History auctions, expect the actual hammer prices to exceed the auction estimates.  Usually for entertainment memorabilia auctions of late the hammer prices vastly exceed the estimates.  The bonus of this auction is that there are plenty of costumes, shields, props, heck–even motorcycles–to go around for the die-hard Marvel Avengers fans.

C.J. Bunce
Editor
borg.com

Whether you’re into sci-fi, fantasy, super-heroes, or spies, 2012 is gearing up to be a good year for genre movie releases. What’s our top 10 most eagerly awaited genre films?  Here’s a countdown to the one film we can hardly wait to see:

10.  Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.*  Already in limited release at the tail end of 2011, this spy movie, a remake of the 1974 film based on the novel by John LeCarre, couldn’t have more promise for its all-star cast of Britain’s best: Last year’s Oscar winner for Best Actor, Colin Firth (The King’s Speech, Pride and Prejudice, The English Patient, Shakespeare in Love) Gary Oldman (Batman Begins, The Dark Knight, Harry Potter series,  The Fifth Element) Ciaran Hinds (The Woman in Black, Phantom of the Opera, Road to Perdition, Sum of All Fears), Mark Strong (Sherlock Holmes, Green Lantern), John Hurt (V for Vendetta, Hellboy, Harry Potter series, Skeleton Key, Indiana Jones and the Crystal Skull, The Elephant Man, Rob Roy, Contact), and Benedict Cumberbatch (Sherlock, Amazing Grace, The Hobbit).

9.  The Dark Knight Rises. Rounding out the latest trilogy of Batman movies, this one hints at the death of Batman in the trailer and advance posters.  It’s Batman, so we’re going to see this one, but the franchise is getting a bit stale.  If not for Gary Oldman’s perfect performances in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight as Commissioner Gordon, this one might not make the top 10 list.  Then again, Anne Hathaway as Catwoman is reason enough to see this one.  What we really want for Batman?  A film version of Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.

8.  Men in Black III.  Although we liked him most recently as a codger of an officer in Captain America: The First Avenger, Tommy Lee Jones’s roles seem to be pretty similar.  We were surprised at how good the trailer for the new Men in Black movie looks, even with Jones reprising the role he has played twice.  For Jones and Will Smith to reprise their roles yet again, but with a trip to the past for Smith’s Agent J, this may be the first time we like a genre prequel.

7.  Total Recall.  When there are so many Philip K. Dick stories to adapt for the big screen, it’s a little strange that someone would opt to redo the short story “We Can Remember it for You Wholesale,” when it seems like the original came out only yesterday.  Still, if it’s anything like Steven Spielberg’s Minority Report, and early production photos seem to indicate that to be the case, we may have a really stylistic view of the future coming soon.

6.  G.I. Joe: Retaliation.  It was easy for viewers to laugh off the first G.I. Joe live action movie, G.I. Joe: Rise of Cobra, but we think the movie was a blast, handling both the comic book and animated series universe, the classic story of the original 12-inch Joe action figures, and the small-sized action figures.  With the new trailer just released for G.I. Joe: Retaliation, we’re just as excited to see our two favorite tough guys, Dwayne (formerly The Rock) Johnson, and Bruce Willis taking on the G.I. Joe mantle, with Willis as the original Joe Colton.

5.  The Avengers.  After years of DC Comics movies outdoing their Marvel Comics counterparts, last year the pendulum finally swung in favor of Marvel, with the super Captain America: The First Avenger film matching the first Iron Man in quality.  Finally bringing them together with Thor and The Hulk is way overdue.  But the character we really can’t wait to see more of is Samuel L. Jackson’s Nick Fury.

4.  Brave.  Animated movies tend to showcase female characters as cutesy, dressed in pink, damsels being rescued, usually, by some dim-witted guy.  It’s about time we have an animated film about a gal with a mind of her own, wielding her own sword.  And the fact that she is performed by Kelly McDonald and her cool Scottish accent makes us want to see this film that much more.

3.  Skyfall.  We haven’t seen a trailer for this one yet. Daniel Craig’s Casino Royale was a contender for best-ever James Bond film, but the follow-up Quantum of Solace didn’t really deliver the punch we all wanted. Whatever this new film will be about, we don’t care, as we love Bond and at the end of each movie when we see “James Bond will return” it just starts the waiting again.

2.  The Woman in Black.  In part because we just want to see what both Harry Potter and Daniel Radcliffe do following the end of the Potter series, in part because we love a good ghost story, and in part because this trailer may be the best one released this year, we can hardly wait to see The Woman in Black. Eerie, cool with Radcliffe playing an adult role, we hope this will be as good as it looks.

1.  The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey.  Not since the original Star Wars trilogy had we seen a more significant fantasy series than Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings series.  The original story from Middle Earth has been read and loved more than any of Tolkien’s works, and for it finally to hit the screen is not only a miracle because of production issues, we’re lucky all the original cast members from the Lord of the Rings series are still around and interested in reprising their roles from the Oscar winning series for Best Picture and a roster of other awards.  Although the first trailer released wasn’t all that exciting, since Peter Jackson is in charge again, we’re certain this film will deliver as promised.

Based on trailers and early release photos, we’ll also keep an eye out for the following genre films, although, as noted here previously, we think some of the trailers make us want to avoid a few of these instead of get excited to see them: Prometheus, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, The Amazing Spider-man, The Hunger Games, and Man of Steel.

*Update: Don’t miss our January 8, 2012, opening weekend review.

C.J. Bunce

Editor

borg.com

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