The Avengers (2012)

I have to admit, I’m a bit jealous.  See, I’m not a Marvel Comics fanboy and the success that their high quality movie versions of their characters are enjoying makes me – a DC Comics fanboy – insanely jealous.  See, I know that if there ever were to be a Justice League movie, well DC Comics would have to have some sort of alternate (read: inferior) version of Batman, because it’s quite clear that the Christopher Nolan Batman isn’t in a world populated with heroes.  And while I enjoyed Green Lantern there are loads of others that didn’t.  Not to mention how every Superman movie that has come out since Superman II has been pretty craptacular.  Marvel went and signed Joss Whedon to direct The Avengers, so there went the best hope for any Wonder Woman movie, and there aren’t even any rumours that I’ve heard about a Flash movie.  So yeah, super jealous because DC can’t get their cinematic shit together.  Moving on.

In the next couple days, my reviews for the rest of the movies that are part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe will be posted (except Captain America, as that one was already posted) and what you’ll find is that they’re all pretty damn good movies.  For the most part.  The sum of them all is The Avengers, and honestly, you couldn’t find a better director than Joss Whedon to helm this ship.  Whedon has an affinity for the characters that he’s been reading for decades, and if we’ve learned anything from Whedon’s fanbase, it’s that he can make us feel in a way that most directors/writers take for granted.  When Wash dies in Serenity, he wasn’t the only who felt like they’d been impaled, and that was because of the heart that Whedon instills in his characters.  So the whole time watching Avengers, I was wondering which ancillary character was going to bite the dust so we could truly feel like This Means Something.

Another trademark Whedon-ism is the wry sense of humour that characters have in the face of insurmountable odds, and that humour is very much evident throughout the entire film.  I’m pretty sure every character, from Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) to Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) to the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) hell, everyone of them gets a laugh in the movie.  Of course, front and centre is the most fleshed character out of the Avengers team (so-far), Iron Man/Tony Stark (Robert Downey, Jr.), but this movie isn’t his.  It’s not Captain America’s (Chris Evans) or Thor’s (Chris Hemsworth).  In fact, I think that the Big Bad of the movie, Loki (Tom Hiddleston), might have had more screen time than anyone else.

The movie doesn’t really have to waste time with showing the origin stories of all these heroes, because they have their own series, just like in the comic book world.  It’s the story of a bunch of combustible elements coming together to form a super power to combat the end of the world.  Honestly, I would have to say that this is the greatest comic book movie of all time, and that’s mostly because I think the Christopher Nolan Batman films can actually hold their own as non-comic book movies.  The Avengers movie and the Marvel Cinematic Universe has a lot of fanboy pandering to them, but it’s all great popcorn, summer blockbuster fun.  The Nolan Batman films, well they’re exploring areas outside of the comic books with the implication that they take place in a very realistic world.  Nolan’s Batman would never be in the Justice League.

Anyways, The Avengers is pretty much what any comic book nerd dreams of: the action on the screen taken directly from the pages of their comic books.  The heroes they love, the villains they hate, they’re all expertly interpreted into a new medium and it’s a goddamn great movie.  I don’t even think you’d need to see the other Marvel Cinematic Universe movies to completely enjoy the movie, but they would certainly add more depth to the experience.  Also, the 3D was much like Toy Story 3, not invasive and all OMG LOOK IT’S 3D so I strongly recommend seeing it in a theatre when you can.

5 / 5

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Zodiac (2007)

After watching David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo yesterday and watching his Zodiac film today, I can see why he was interested in making TGWTDT.  It was probably a slam dunk for him, considering he’d already made practically the same movie.  Both movies contain large casts and attempting to unravel a decades old mystery.  One is based on TRUE LIFE EVENTS and the other was adapted from a dead Swede’s work of fiction.  INTRIGUE~!

Honestly, Zodiac is near perfection, a wonderful .. well, “wonderful” seems like a poor choice of a word to use to describe a movie about an unsolved series of murders from Back in the Day.  It’s a Fincher film, so it’s darkly humourous, and pretty much dark all around.  The blacks are so black.  It’s been written by many writers better than me (me card read good) that Fincher is pretty much a perfectionist, and every small detail in the film is perfect, right down to the smallest role.  The numerous leads are note perfect, and the supporting cast features maybe Familiar Friends of Fincher, all top notch, though I will give out huge props to John Carroll Lynch (biased note: he has the same birthday as me) because the way he acts during his entire less than 10 minutes of screen time, man, he should have gotten an Oscar nom for that.

It’s so near perfect that it’s maddeningly frustrating that it isn’t.  You want the movie to reveal this one little detail that was missed decades ago, have everyone slap their foreheads and the mystery solved.  And … it might be?  With a nearly three hour running time to get to such an unsatisfying conclusion, oh man, it’s just.. I can’t think of the perfect analogy or metaphor for it, other than maybe something to do with getting dry humped but not getting off.  YOU KNOW WHAT I MEAN.  Maddening.

4.5 / 5

Where the Wild Things Are (2009)

Thanks to my ex-girlfriend, I’ll always have a bittersweet attachment to this movie, and to anything Maurice Sendak-related.  She had a kid, an insane 3-year-old named Emmit or Emmet, some variation or another.  He was a total Max, roughhousing and yelling and such, and my desire for order and teaching him discipline and that he can’t always get his own way, well that led to my downfall.  One of the last bits of communication from my ex was a text saying that she was watching Where the Wild Things Are and bawling her eyes out.  Combine those emotional feelings I have towards the movie with the way the actual movie makes me feel and I’m just glad I don’t have beer now.  I’d be a wreck.

Spike Jonze had made two wonderful films before this one, the amazing Being John Malkovich and the bizarrely meta Adaptation.  The latter is harder to love for me, but the first is just, well, wonderful summed it up enough.  Jonze was personally selected by Sendak – the author of the book that inspired many a childhood miscreant – to adapt his much beloved tale to the screen after it had been tumbling about in development hell for decades.  After much wrangling with Warner Brothers over the content of the movie, artistic integrity won out and Jonze was given more money to complete the movie the way he envisioned it.

And what a vision it is.  My first impression of Max (Max Records) was that there was no way I was going to be able to tolerate that child for the length of the movie.  He was an attention whore, constantly demanding his mom (Catherine Keener) to play around with him, since it appeared Max didn’t have many, or possibly any friends.  One night Max loses control and takes off, soon arriving in a distant place populated by, well, The Wild Things.  And then the movie takes you on an emotional trip, exploring childhood issues galore, with monsters that would look out of place in anything but a Spike Jonze movie.

I loved it.  I thought it was just an epic expansion of Sendak’s rather thin book, and it captured so much spirit, so much life and so much childhood heartache that I don’t care who you are, if you don’t like this movie well you’re kinda dead inside and I’m sad for you.  There there.

5 / 5