Ant-Man

After Marvel’s release of Avengers: Age of Ultron, you can forgive a lot of movie fans that looked at Ant-Man, the movie to kick off Phase Three, as a film that’s easily forgettable or one to be cautious about. Much in the same way as last summer’s Guardians of the Galaxy, the movie turns out to be a surprisingly good one, with Marvel churning out yet another solid, action-packed movie.

You can forgive some fans misconceptions; a film that has been stuck in development for years, to then have its original director and writer walk away from it weeks before production. Not to mention the very idea of a movie about a man who can become the size of an ant making many simply go ‘huh?’

The charming story of Scott Lang (Paul Rudd), a thief who after serving time in jail is simply seeking to become a decent guy to live up to his daughter Cassie’s vision of him, soon finds himself becoming a protégé of sorts to Hank Pym (Michael Douglas) and his daughter Hope (Evangeline Lily) as they attempt to break into their own company in order to stop some of their technology getting into the hands of evil genius Darren Cross (Corey Stoll).

The script is very much structured to introduce filmgoers to this universe, but thanks to where it is placed in the Marvel Canon, it’s allowed to spread its wings, with namedrops of the Avengers, the base we saw at the end of Ultron, and the appearance of The Falcon (Anthony Mackie). This in turn, pushes the movie up so it doesn’t just feel like a Phase One movie. Rudd, Douglas and Lily have a great chemistry and on-screen presence together, but its Michael Peña’s Louis that steals the show; literally every scene he is in has audiences eating out the palm of his hand.

Whilst the character of Scott Lang doesn’t completely capture our hearts like Pratt’s Star Lord in Guardians, it goes as far as it needs for the film to be a success. By the end of the film, moviegoers are looking for the next appearance of Ant-Man, and with the two credit scenes (stay right to the end folks), it very much looks like we won’t be waiting long.

A film that’s proof that you don’t need to be the biggest hero on the block to be a success, and also proof that whatever Marvel touches, will never let you down.

Avengers Assemble

This film was the grand conclusion of Marvel’s Phase one plan after successfully building up characters in various stand alone films. It culminated into a geek fantasy some could have only dreamed of; a strong, stellar ensemble cast including Robert Downey Jr., Scarlett Johansson, Chris Hemsworth and Chris Evans; firm fan favourites from within the marvel franchise including Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson and Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, and to put the cherry on top of the cake – the man to orchestrate this Marvel juggernaut, none other than geek God himself Joss Whedon. This film single-handedly turned him from geek genius to household name, because of the far-reach the movies had. As I was re-watching it the other day, I came to the realisation that this film came out just before Kat and I started this blog. So let’s put this awful blunder to rest and get this review on the road!

As I said above this film’s cast list speaks for itself in terms of star power: returning to their characters are RDJ, the two Chris’s (Hemsworth and Evans), Tom Hiddleston as our favourite villainous Asgardian Loki, Scarlet Johansson as the Black Widow, Stellan Skarsgård as Dr Selvig Samuel L. Jackson as Agent Fury, Gwyneth Paltrow as Pepper Potts and Clark Gregg as Coulson. Joining the ranks for this outing are Mark Ruffalo taking over from Edward Norton’s incarnation as Eric Banner and his giant green alter ego, Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye and Cobie Smoulders as Agent Hill. And each certainly gets their moment in the spotlight, with Whedon combining all the elements into a nice big cauldron pot of goodness, often combining his trademark wit alongside big action sequences.

It takes about 20 minutes or so for the film to really kick into high gear – after the initial pre-titles sequence, we then take a round trip across all our Avengers, seeing them initially recruited and generally introducing them into the plot. Don’t get me wrong it’s all enjoyable but once this is out of the way, the film really finds its stride. Everything from the Helicarrier to Loki’s baiting of the Avengers, which further causes witty in-fighting amongst our heroes which is downright hilarious (“no hard feelings point break, you got a mean swing.”) However the catalyst for bringing this divided group together is the death of one of their own; Agent Coulson, sporting last year’s must have item – Loki’s spear. The death was a hard-hitting one, both on-screen and off as fans had taken the character of Coulson to their hearts after he was created especially for the screen. Of course now, Coulson lives in the TV series Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D, set to premiere on US in September but that’s beside the point.  The event unites our Avengers and they set off to defeat Loki in an all out war on the streets of New York. The action sequences are brilliant, with a lot of special effects crammed in; two particular favourites include Banner’s “I’m always angry” comment and the one long tracking camera shot of each Avenger fighting in the battle, flowing beautifully and ending on possibly one of the most hilarious gags in the film as Hulk punches Thor out of camera shot and sniggers. In the end, even though it sees our heroes standing tall, leaves the team understandably changed forever, with the world also knowing of their existence.

Now that over a year has passed since the film was released, we’ve learned a lot about what Marvel has planned for it’s aptly named ‘Phase two’ plan. It’s already released Iron Man 3, and they have another Thor and Captain America scheduled to be released within the next year. With Avengers 2 scheduled to be released in 2015, we learnt at this year’s comic con that the film will be called ‘Age of Ultron’, slotting another piece of the puzzle into place.

All I know is, Avengers Assemble does not get any older the more times I watch it. The jokes are still funny, the writing and the performances are still fantastically brilliant and I think it may well have been my favourite film of 2012. Shawarma anyone?

Loki: What have I to fear?

Stark: The Avengers. It’s what we call ourselves, sort of like a team – Earth’s mightiest heroes type thing.

Loki (laughs) Yes, I’ve met them

Stark: Yeah, takes us a while to get any traction, i’ll give you that one but let’s do a  head count here: Your brother the demi-god; a super soldier, living legend who kinda lives up to the legend; a man with breath-taking anger management issues; a couple of master assassins and you big fella. You’ve managed to piss off every single one of them

 

My Top 10 Films of 2012

Another year of cinema is over and albeit, I still have a long list of films to plough through from 2012 (in fact many films from across a number of years) however, here is a list of my top 10 films of 2012!

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10. Twilight Breaking Dawn part 2

The final instalment of the Twilight franchise made its way onto our screens in November and it’s fair to say it was probably the best one out of the series. The end battle alone was brilliant, especially the ‘it was all a dream’ scenario that helped create it. The actors all stepped up their game (who would’ve thought Kristen Stewart would be less annoying as vampire Bella). Anyway, because of my support of the previous films, and that end battle sequence this sneaks my way onto my top 10.

“You nick-named my daughter after the Loch Ness daughter!” (Bella, Twilight Breaking Dawn part 2)

amazing-spider-man-movie-poster

9. The Amazing Spider-Man

The re-boot of the Spiderman series starring Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker was sandwiched between the other two major comic book movies of last year and was the weakest of the three movies. That certainly doesn’t mean it wasn’t brilliant though. I mean when you’re up against the juggernaut of Nolan’s Batman series and Marvel’s culmination of their master Phase 1 plan, helmed by the genius of Joss Whedon you know you have a lot to contend with. The film has a lot going for it – the chemistry of real life couple Andrew Garfield and Emma Stone (who plays Gwen Stacy) shines through on screen and Garfield is refreshing as Peter Parker, very different from Tobey Maguire’s version. Add the fact Martin Sheen brings a great performance as Uncle Ben, as well as a great supporting cast including Rhys Ifans and Denis Leary this movie brings intrigue as the mystery of Peter’s parents disappearance deepens. The sequel is set to be released in 2014 and with Jamie Foxx cast as the villain it promises to be one to see.

“We all have secrets: the ones we keep… and the ones that are kept from us.” (Peter Parker, The Amazing Spider-Man)

The Hobbit Review

8. The Hobbit

Peter Jackson returns us to the land of Middle Earth 10 years after the Lord of the Rings trilogy with Tolkein’s prequel and the tale of Bilbo Baggins’ extraordinary adventure. At first this book was going to be adapted into two films, but once filming was complete Jackson changed his mind, stating the wealth of material was enough for three films. The first instalment hit our screens, covering a mere six chapters of the novel, but encompassing a lot of other different sources along with it. It wasn’t as good as The Fellowship of the Ring, and some moments seemed a little self-indulgent, however it was entertaining and certainly took cinema-goers back to the land of Middle Earth. The next instalment comes out at the end of this year, and I’ll be waiting to see the third instalment before making a judgement on the films as a whole.

“I’m looking for someone to share in an adventure” (Gandalf, The Hobbit)

7. This Means War

This romantic comedy had everything – the fabulously gorgeous Reese Witherspoon who was in a bit of a pickle when she inadvertently starts dating two very attractive guys at the same time – it also helps that those two attractive guys are Chris Pine and Tom Hardy, best friends, who are also secret agents. The comedy is funny, sexy and an easy watch for a cosy night in!

“Sometimes falling is the best part.” (Tuck, This Means War)

6. The Hunger Games

The next big movie adaptation series after Twilight, the movie was one of the first biggest blockbusters and made a great start to the franchise. Jennifer Lawrence was brilliant as Catniss, the ‘girl on fire’, continuing her reign of Hollywood domination after X Men First Class. She was joined by Josh Hutcherson and Liam Hemsworth and star power of Stanley Tucci and Woody Harrelson. The movie sparked more intrigue into this already beloved book series, and the box office success ensured that the series got sequels, with the second film due out at the end of this year. Jennifer Lawrence has since gone to show she is not just a pretty face, capable of carrying a successful franchise, having been Oscar nominated for Silver Linings Playbook. Hopefully the next movie will live up to the first movie and help build on the franchise’s success.

“We salute your courage and your sacrifice and we wish you Happy Hunger Games!” (President Snow, The Hunger Games)

 

5. Looper

The sci-fi film starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt opened to fantastic reviews, and it deserved them; a great chemistry between Willis and Levitt, both playing the same character but older and younger versions of themselves. The intelligent writing and plot, and the other supporting cast including Emily Blunt meant that this became one of the most enjoyable movies of the year.

“Then I saw it, I saw a mom who would die for her son, a man who would kill for his wife, a boy, angry & alone, laid out in front of him the bad path. I saw it & the path was a circle, round & round. So I changed it.” (Joe, Looper)

4. Argo

As soon as I saw the trailer for this film, I knew I had to see it. Once I saw it, I thought it was amazing and saw potential for it to triumph at awards season. So far it is doing me proud, sweeping its way picking up award after award. The film itself is awesome, witty, darkly comedic and tense. My top 4 are very similar in their sheer awesomeness and I have my fingers crossed that Argo will triumph at the Oscars.

“If I’m going to make a fake movie, it’s going to be a fake hit.” (Lestor, Argo)

3. Skyfall

James Bond returned with a definite bang in the 23rd Bond film (Daniel Craig’s 3rd outing as 007), as Bond also celebrated its 50th anniversary. The movie helmed by Sam Mendes brought Bond back to its glory and cemented Craig as a Bond to remember. Add stellar performances from Judi Dench who in effect became the Bond girl of the movie and Javier Bardem as a chilling villain and you get Skyfall. Craig is already slated to return for at least another 2 Bond movies and with the same writing team behind those, surely things can only continue to be stronger for the James Bond franchise.

“Some men are coming to kill us. We’re going to kill them first.” (James Bond, Skyfall)

2. The Dark Knight Rises

My top two were very close but The Dark Knight Rises was just pipped to the number one spot. The ending to Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy was one I certainly couldn’t wait for (and the fact the film opened on my birthday also added to the excitement.) Christian Bale, Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman and Gary Oldman returned to the film and Nolan added a couple other powerhouses including Joseph Gordon-Levitt as rookie cop John Blake, Tom Hardy as our villain Bane, completely transforming himself in the process, and the beautiful Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle (aka Catwoman). The film albeit was not as good as The Dark Knight but quite honestly, it was always going to be tough to follow that. However, the film was still a major box office success and an amazing end to the Dark Knight trilogy that Nolan created, giving the Batman series a film to shout about, and restoring some of its darker themes.

“There’s a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches, because when it hits, you’re all gonna wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us.” (Selina Kyle, The Dark Knight Rises)

1. Avengers Assemble

And finally….my number one choice. The first major superhero movie of the summer of 2012 and the culmination of Marvel’s phase one plan. As soon as it was announced that Joss Whedon was writing and directing the film, I knew it was going to be amazing and I felt proud knowing that a wider audience were finally going to see the awesomeness of Whedon’s work. Perhaps I’m biased towards him, but I honestly couldn’t care. The film incorporated Whedon’s wittiness and it matched perfectly to Robert Downey Jr. comedy finesse, add in the likes of Chris Evans, Chris Hemsworth, Scarlett Johansson, and Tom Hiddelston and new to the series Mark Ruffalo (who made a fantastic Hulk) and Jeremy Renner and you have the groundings of a brilliant film. The ability for the cast, crew and Joss Whedon to tackle this mammoth task giving each one of the superhero characters fair screen time, and weave a great plot through the film just proves how awesome it is. It helped that the film did fantastically at the box office, thus giving Marvel the full green light to unleash Phase 2 with sequels for Iron Man, Captain America and Thor leading up to Avengers 2 again helmed by Whedon due out in 2015. The future certainly looks bright (and prosperous) for the Marvel franchise and I will be first in line for all of these movies.

“It’s good to meet you, Dr. Banner. Your work on anti-electron collisions is unparalleled. And I’m a huge fan of the way you lose control and turn into an enormous green rage monster.” (Tony Stark, The Avengers)

 

So there you have it, my top 10 films of 2012 – feel free to comment and let me know what your favourites were and if you agree/disagree!

 

 

Avengers 2 Assemble!!!…And guess who’s coming back to the helm?

That’s right folks, after announcing the obvious -that there will be an Avengers 2, Disney have now confirmed that Joss Whedon will be back to write and direct the film!! This is excellent news, given the way The Avengers performed at the Box Office, Whedon is definitely a good man to put at the helm of the sequel and it just means the world can experience more of Whedon’s utter genius.

Don’t get too excited yet though (not that I am) Avengers 2 has no release date yet, and the earliest it will probably be slated for would be Summer of 2015. Next year with the release of Iron Man 3 sees the start of Marvel’s Phase 2 so we still have plenty to look forward to before the release of Avengers 2

For a little bit more info see here:

Also, it appears that Whedon has agreed to develop a live-action TV series for US network ABC based on Marvel characters – a little bit more info here at SFX 

Stark: “Then tell him to suit up. I’m bringing the party to you” (The Avengers)