Improbable Avengers Astonishes Almost Everyone

The idea of making a strong super hero “team” film like The Avengers seemed just about impossible. By the very nature of a comic book team like the Avengers, it is a rather daunting task to fit all the characters into ANY medium without making it seem cluttered or just like it has too much going on. Films like the much-maligned Spiderman 3 are criticized for having too many villains (at a whopping three), and Avengers is suppose to have seven heroes (if you count leader Nick Fury)? Even in the television version of Justice League, DC Comics’ super hero all-star team equivalent, the storylines tend to have two or three primary heroes and spotlight someone else the next time out. It is just a more logical way to get good storytelling and character development.

Somehow, Joss Whedon managed to give every single character on the team a very fair amount of screen time. You would probably have a hard time finding any Marvel fan who felt that their favorite character was slighted. Robert Downey Jr.’s Iron Man may have gotten slightly more than anyone else, but it wasn’t a dramatic difference, and it made perfect sense considering the success of the Iron Man films and his general star power. Whedon at this point has essentially put his name in the running for the most important nerd writer for his era. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is arguably the best urban fantasy series ever. Firefly is a cult classic and held by many in high esteem among all science fiction shows. Serenity, the film version of Firefly, is often placed very high on lists of the greatest science fiction films of all time, and Whedon’s comic book runs on Astonishing X-Men and the continuation of both Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel have been absolutely thrilling critics since they began. Now he has managed to write and direct what is arguably the best superhero movie of all time— the only real competition for it being Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight.

Saying anything bad at all about the film seems like grasping at straws. Some have criticized that it appeals too much to comic book fans and doesn’t have a lot for non-comic book readers, but the general fan reaction has pretty much put the kibosh on that. Maybe there should have been some memory refreshing in terms of the Tesseract and how it came into S.H.I.E.L.D.’s possession, but eh. Is it really that important? There was some worry about the casting change of Mark Ruffalo taking over for Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, but Ruffalo is actually superior to Norton in the role. Loki didn’t sound like he would the most excellent villain for the film, but he was sinister and pretty brilliant. Does anyone have anything bad to say about The Avengers?


The Dark Knight… Rising?

The first trailer released for the upcoming final chapter of Christopher Nolan’s Batman film trilogy left a lot of movie goers worried about the quality. The newest trailer seems to have completely changed that perspective, as the worried comments around the internet have seemingly shifted entirely to enthusiasm and excitement. Some critics specifically point to Anne Hathaway’s portrayal of Selina Kyle/Catwoman in the new trailer, saying “See, she can do it.” We struggle to see what about this trailer is causing such excitement, though.

Bane as a villain is generally completely boring in the comic source, so it is a major task to turn him into something interesting to watch in a movie. It is easy to see that Nolan and company will at least do a superior to job to Joel Schumacher’s vision of Bane in Batman & Robin, but to say that something will be better than that is not saying much at all. Judging from the trailer alone, he is still not going to be remotely as compelling as Heath Ledger’s Joker, Cillian Murphy’s Scarecrow, or Liam Neeson’s R’as Al Ghul. The costume looks silly rather than sinister. The voice being used alone is enough to cause concern, as it sounds over-produced and just… lacking.

Anne Hathaway may be a little better in the trailer than expected, but it is still hard to expect a lot. She is a fine actress who has performed very well previously, but the role of Selina Kyle just doesn’t seem like the right fit. While Hathaway is a very pretty actress, she doesn’t seem to exude Catwoman’s sexuality. Aside from being highly intelligent and agile, Catwoman has to be able to use her sexuality as a weapon, especially against Batman. Nothing about this trailer suggests that she will live up to the challenge in any significant way.

Further speculation has been launched about Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s role in the film. Apparently there are quite a few fans who are comfortable with a 31-year-old actor playing Robin, a character who is supposed to be in his early teenage years when joins Batman. Even allowing for a little bit of aging for Nolan’s verse, Levitt barely passes for a college age kid, and definitely won’t be able to pull even that off for much longer. Although Levitt is a very good actor, casting him as Robin would be a mistake.

Although the first two films in the trilogy were excellent, The Dark Knight Rises seems to unfortunately be setting up for another let down third movie in a super hero trilogy, following in the footsteps of the borderline god awful Spider-man 3 and the enjoyable but weak third X-Men film. While final judgment must be reserved for when the film is actually released, it does not bode all that well.

We Can, But Won’t, Remember It For You Wholesale

The summer movie season is about to explode, as movies like Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises are come, in the case of the former, as soon as last Friday. It is interesting to see among the list of upcoming popcorn flicks is a remake of Total Recall, an Arnold Schwarzenegger sci-fi film that is ever so very loosely adapted from Philip K. Dick’s “We Can Remember It For Your Wholesale”. The original film was essentially enjoyable for how crappy it was, remembered more for a three-breasted woman than anything else in the film.

The new film stars Colin Farrell, Jessica Biel, Bryan Cranston, John Cho, Kate Beckinsale, and Bill Nighy, in what is a much more impressive cast. Based on preliminary information, it would seem to be a little bit more faithful to the source material, but judging from the fact that the film uses the title of the original adaptation, it is clearly more a remake of the original film than a new adaptation of the short story. The trailer was released a short while ago, and looks decided darker than the original film.

With any luck, the newest version of Total Recall will have the basic feeling of the short story so that it is faithful to Dick’s brilliant vision but still has the pure enjoyment factor of a summer science fiction action movie. Based on the trailer alone, it seems like it will at least be better than the original rather mediocre film, and that the aesethetic of the movie is pretty brilliant. It remains to be seen how good it will actually be, but it is nice to see more pure science fiction as a part of the summer movie season.