April 23, 2016

Tag Archives: The Avengers

“Ant-Man” is Marvel’s latest success story and one of their better releases

Back when Avengers: Age of Ultron was about to hit theaters, I ranked the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, 11 films at the time. Now, with Ant-Man the latest MCU release coming this weekend, I’m going to go ahead and re-rank Marvel’s titles. I’ll have more to say about Ant-Man than the others, of course, but essentially I’m just slotting in Paul Rudd’s diminutive hero into the old list, particularly since this list will continue to be in flux over the next few years. What Peyton Reed and company accomplished with this one is worth taking note of, but 2016 and beyond offers plenty more Marvel to get excited about. As such, this list will pop up again before long. In the meantime though, it’s fun to see how it looks with a new movie added in.
Quickly, a few initial thoughts on Ant-Man. In short (no pun intended), it’s quite good and works in spite of a tonal oddity. What I mean by that is Edgar Wright’s DNA is still very much there, despite Wright having left the project and not directing it like he initially intended to. His script is still partially used though, so at times this is an above average Marvel flick and at others it’s a really offbeat pseudo Wright movie. The end result is a lot of fun, if slightly quaint by current MCU standards. Rudd and Reed have a blast and it rubs off on you. This isn’t as good as Marvel’s best, but it’s not nearly as far off as you’d think.
Like last time, one thing to keep in mind is that this list is going to change in a hurry. In less than a year, Phase Three will be in full swing for the MCU and Kevin Feige’s big plan for cinematic world domination. That next stage will bring Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange in 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, the untitled new Spider-Man movie (rumored to be called Spider-Man: The New Avenger), and Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel in 2018, and finally Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 and Inhumans in 2019. After that, I’m sure we’ll have an Ant-Man sequel at some point, among others. Basically, expect this list to get updated more than once in the years to come…
Here now are all of the current installments of the Marvel […]

The Ten Best Action Movies of the New Millennium

Who doesn’t love a good action movie? They’re among the most fun that Hollywood has to offer, particularly when they’re of a high quality. Later on this week, a reportedly amazing new one in Mad Max: Fury Road is hitting theaters, so to prep us all for that experience (I see it later on today, so yay for that), I wanted to do a countdown of the recent best that the genre has to offer. Essentially, every action flick since 2000 was eligible, and I whittled that down to a top ten list. It’s hardly the definitely “new millennium action movie” list, but I think it’s a pretty solid one, to say the least. You’ll be able to see the list below, which could very well be amended once Mad Max: Fury Road comes to town…
Here now are my picks for the ten best action films since the year 2000:
10. King Kong – Peter Jackson’s unneeded remake of the classic action adventure turned out to be my favorite version of the story, go figure. The special effects are extraordinary and watching Kong interact with the world through Andy Serkis was a real joy. I may be in the minority here, but I absolutely loved it. It manages to stand alongside the all time classic original.
9. Kick-Ass – It hasn’t quite held up as well as the initial viewing suggested, but Matthew Vaughn’s deconstruction of the superhero origin story is a ridiculous amount of fun. The main pleasures are watching Nicolas Cage not play Batman, along with Chloe Grace Moretz giving a nomination worthy supporting turn as Hit-Girl. That initial magic wasn’t captured by the sequel, but that takes nothing away from this one.
8. Looper – Not only is this a great action flick, it’s also the best film of Rian Johnson’s career so far and a amazing time travel tale as well. It’s nearly perfect, offering up one of the best performances to date from both Joseph Gordon-Levitt as well as Bruce Willis. A modern classic, it basically demands that you honor it for its inventiveness and effectiveness.
7. Black Hawk Down – I’d have put this higher if not for the fact that it’s less fun due to the tragic real life story that inspired it. Still, this is one of Ridley Scott’s best and the most effective war movie since Saving Private Ryan. It’s so visceral and well made, […]

“ANT-MAN” – New Poster

The next evolution of the Marvel Cinematic Universe brings a founding member of The Avengers to the big screen for the first time with Marvel Studios’ ‘Ant-Man.’
Armed with the astonishing ability to shrink in scale but increase in strength, master thief Scott Lang must embrace his inner hero and help his mentor, Dr. Hank Pym, protect the secret behind his spectacular Ant-Man suit from a new generation of towering threats. Against seemingly insurmountable obstacles, Pym and Lang must plan and pull off a heist that will save the world.

Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’ stars Paul Rudd as Scott Lang aka Ant-Man, Evangeline Lilly as Hope Van Dyne, Corey Stoll as Darren Cross aka Yellowjacket, Bobby Cannavale as Paxton, Michael Peña as Luis, Judy Greer as Maggie, Tip ‘Ti’ Harris as Dave, David Dastmalchian as Kurt, Wood Harris as Gale, Jordi Mollà as Castillo and Michael Douglas as Hank Pym. Directed by Peyton Reed and produced by Kevin Feige, Marvel’s ‘Ant-Man’ delivers a high-stakes, tension-filled adventure on July 17, 2015.

“Avengers: Age of Ultron”: Ranking the films in the Marvel Cinematic Universe

Folks, t’s almost time for the Avengers to assemble. Yes, with Avengers: Age of Ultron set to hit theaters domestically on Friday, I wanted to take a look at the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe (or MCU) so far and rank them in order to see the best of the MCU to date. They haven’t made a bad film yet, so that makes this a particularly enjoyable task, basically having to separate the solid from the very good from the great. Count me in for something like that all the time, though today it’s particularly apt to do the MCU with Avengers: Age of Ultron fresh in my head from a recent press screening.
One thing to keep in mind is that this list is going to change in a hurry. In just a few months, Ant-Man will be the other 2015 release from Marvel, and from then on we’ll be at Phase Three of their grand MCU plan. That will bring Captain America: Civil War and Doctor Strange in 2016, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, the untitled new Spider-Man movie (rumored to be called Spider-Man: The New Avenger), and Thor: Ragnarok in 2017, Avengers: Infinity War Part 1, Black Panther, and Captain Marvel in 2018, and finally Avengers: Infinity War Part 2 and Inhumans in 2019. Basically, expect this list to get updated more than once in the years to come…
Here now are all of the current installments of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, ranked:
11. Thor: The Dark World – If this is the worst that Marvel can do, we’re in a good place. Thoroughly acceptable but without much of a spark, this sequel has Thor pretty much doing the same thing as in the first one. The enjoyably larger role for Loki saves it from turning into a slog.
10. The Incredible Hulk – More a byproduct of not knowing how to use Hulk properly than anything else, this shows Marvel as a studio still finding their footing in the world. The fact that it’s more or less not referred to at all in the canon of the MCU should be telling, though it’s not unenjoyable at all. Still, this and the title above are the clear weak links.
9. Iron Man 2 – The one film in the series that got too concerned with setting up The Avengers, there’s plenty to like here with Tony Stark/Iron Man just as fun as always. […]

Marvel’s “Avengers: Age of Ultron” begins to roll out worldwide

All this week, we’ve seen Marvel slowly begin to allow reviews to trickle out about Avengers: Age of Ultron, in advance of the global release this weekend, followed by the U.S. next week. So far, the early word has been pretty solid, with some out and out raves and almost no outright detractors. After how big a smash across the board The Avengers was, seeing the sequel apparently continue the trend is a solid sight to behold. Marvel continues their perfect record and comic book fans get another top tier piece of entertainment to enjoy. The summer movie season is about to begin folks…
You’d basically have to live under a rock not to be fully aware what this film is about, but at the off chance you don’t, I’m more than willing to provide a quick primer. Continuing the Marvel Cinematic Universe and working not only as a sequel to The Avengers but also Captain America: The Winter Soldier, this flick sees the team of superheroes faced with a dastardly Artificial Intelligence named Ultron (voice of James Spader). As such, it’s up to Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Bruce Banner/Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Thor (Chris Hemseworth), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), along with newcomers Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) and Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson), to save the day. Hayley Atwell, Paul Bettany, Don Cheadle, Samuel L. Jackson, Anthony Mackie, Colbie Smulders, and more return as well. Joss Whedon once again co-writes and directs. All told, it’s probably the largest scale comic book film to date.
What Avengers: Age of Ultron is doing now is setting up the next phase in Marvel’s giant plan, culminating in the next Avengers flick, which is a two parter. Sure, it’s a few years before Avengers: Infinity War – Part 1 hits in May of 2018 and Avengers: Infinity War – Part 2 in May of 2019. Those films will basically result in a whole new direction for the company, or at least we assume. At the very least, they will mark Whedon turning over controls of the flagship Marvel franchise to veterans of Captain America: The Winter Solider and next year’s Captain America: Civil War, the Russo brothers, Anthony Russo and Joe Russo. They’ll be the big shepherds from here on out, with Civil War upping the ante presumably from Age of Ultron and whetting the appetite for both parts of […]

Will Comic Con ever launch a Best Picture winner?

Each and every year, it seems like the annual San Diego Comic Con becomes more of a launching pad for future summer blockbusters. Now sure, they also still have comic books and television shows and everything in between (including talks by Kevin Smith), but these days most outlets go to cover the film studio panels, getting early looks at upcoming superhero flicks and the like. Something you rarely see though is prestige pictures getting put forward. Could that change one day though? Could we one day see Comic Con become a place where Oscar hopefuls go to tease voters early? I’m not sure we ever will in that overt way, but I think we’re going to see at the very least nominees come from the Con. With the convention coming to a close over the weekend, this sort of thing has been on my mind a bit.
What do I mean when I say that we’ll at least see nominees from the Con? Take for example how Warner Brothers brought out Christopher Nolan during their panel to talk about Interstellar, their upcoming science fiction epic. Hot on the heels of Gravity likely being the runner up in Best Picture at the most recent Academy Awards, there’s certainly the possibility that this could contend for a win in the top category. Sci-fi seems to be the most likely correlation here, but I don’t think it’s the only one to be found. Perhaps going forward war films can try to take this route as well?
While a superhero flick is unlikely to ever crack the lineup at this point (if The Avengers or The Dark Knight couldn’t do it, it’ll be a while before a new type of superhero movie comes out and can), something based off of a pre-existing property certainly could. If The Hobbit franchise from Peter Jackson had been better received, that’s one example for sure. Also, imagine if Comic Con had been as big as it is now back when David Fincher’s Fight Club had come out? It’s not hard to see that having a big Hall H presentation and wowing the crowd. There’s clearly types of films that can appeal to both a Hall H audience member and an Oscar voter…
Basically, film festivals currently serve the same purpose for prestige fare as Comic Con does for blockbusters. An exclusive group of audience members and journalists see something early (a […]

Do we really have a Summer Movie Season anymore?

Maybe I’m just nuts, but it’s slowly beginning to seem to me like there isn’t really a summer movie season anymore, or at the very least no longer one that resembles what there used to be. I’m sure I’m hardly the first person over the last few years to say this, or even the last year (or even this month, I’m sure), but it appears like a simple fact of the matter. What used to be an important designation that would get audiences excited and symbolize a certain type of studio output has now become antiquated. Blockbusters happen year round, counter programming happens year round, and only really the awards bait type film still has a designated season.
This all began with the summer movie season being extended, slowly but sure. I’ll give some examples below, but it showed studios that it was possible to play popcorn entertainment throughout all 12 months. Even March has gotten in on the action, a time usually reserved as the end of the movie dumping season with January and February. Don’t look now, but February is next in line for this treatment too. It really is a new age at hand.
To me, Godzilla this year signified the end. A perfect July type event movie, it hit theaters in May. That was a real death knell in my eyes, along with The Amazing Spider-Man 2 also avoiding the true summer months. It’s been happening for years now, but it really came to the forefront for me now. It began with the surprising success of 300 back when that was a March release, continued for years slowly with other films testing the waters, and announced itself in a major way when The Avengers opened in the first week of May a few years ago. That was the terminal diagnosis, if you will. Godzilla was just the flatline.
I’m not saying that this is a bad thing. A fun movie or a good movie is just as top notch whenever it comes out, so the aforementioned Godzilla for example didn’t suffer one bit. Nor did The Avengers, and nor will most future releases. Aside from Oscar bait like I said before, almost every other type of movie (give or take overtly Christmas fare, but even then it’s not a hard and fast rule) can now open whenever it feels like and do comparable business. The model has just […]


From Marvel, the studio that brought you the global blockbuster franchises of Iron Man, Thor, Captain America and The Avengers, comes a new team—the Guardians of the Galaxy.
An action-packed, epic space adventure, Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” expands the Marvel Cinematic Universe into the cosmos, where brash adventurer Peter Quill finds himself the object of an unrelenting bounty hunt after stealing a mysterious orb coveted by Ronan, a powerful villain with ambitions that threaten the entire universe. To evade the ever-persistent Ronan, Quill is forced into an uneasy truce with a quartet of disparate misfits—Rocket, a gun-toting raccoon, Groot, a tree-like humanoid, the deadly and enigmatic Gamora and the revenge-driven Drax the Destroyer.
But when Quill discovers the true power of the orb and the menace it poses to the cosmos, he must do his best to rally his ragtag rivals for a last, desperate stand—with the galaxy’s fate in the balance.

Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy,” which first appeared in comic books in Marvel Super-Heroes, Issue #18 (Jan. 1969), stars Chris Pratt, Zoe Saldana, Dave Bautista, featuring Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Lee Pace, Michael Rooker, Karen Gillan, Djimon Hounsou, with John C. Reilly, Glenn Close as Nova Prime Rael and Benicio Del Toro as The Collector.
James Gunn is the director of the film with Kevin Feige, p.g.a., producing. Louis D’Esposito, Victoria Alonso, Jeremy Latcham, Alan Fine and Stan Lee serve as executive producers. Marvel’s “Guardians of the Galaxy” is written by James Gunn and Nicole Perlman and releases in U.S. theaters on August 1, 2014.

Will a Superhero movie ever make the Best Picture lineup?

HOLLYWOOD NEWS®: With The Amazing Spider-Man 2 hitting theaters today, the superhero genre is on my mind. Like with horror films and more often than not science fiction (though Gravity put a nice little dent in that last time around), movies about superheroes or comic book adaptations are basically ignored by the Academy when it comes to the Best Picture race. We all know that Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight came the closest, and once upon a time Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man 2 had a few fans clamoring for consideration, but it just doesn’t seem to happen. With Nolan’s franchise done now and Marc Webb taking Peter Parker in a different direction, I started to wonder if a film of this sort will ever crack the lineup…
In short, no, I don’t think one ever will. There were a few opportunities in the past, but the three instances I’m going to discuss below were the realistic chances. Now, I’d bet against one making it, though I’d love to be wrong. The facts and history just don’t support me having any optimism about it, at least for the foreseeable future.
The Dark Knight definitely came the closest. It was one of the highest grossing movies ever, captured the zeitgeist at the time in a major way, and had the added sympathy of Heath Ledger’s untimely passing. They also happened to really like the film, giving it eight nominations and two wins (Best Supporting Actor for Ledger and Best Sound Editing). They did snub it in the major categories, opting not to nominate Nolan for either his direction or writing, alongside the obvious Best Picture snub. This may have led to the expanded Best Picture field, but it’ll likely go down as the closest a movie of this ilk ever got to cracking the lineup.
The other two examples are from two years ago. Both Joss Whedon’s The Avengers and Nolan’s The Dark Knight Rises had situations that could have translated into those nominations, but neither were able to go the distance, or even make too much of a dent in the race on the whole. That should tell you something about how little Academy members care about breaking this glass ceiling of sorts.
With The Dark Knight Rises, the Academy had a chance to make it up to Nolan and reward him for the conclusion of his franchise. Some had speculated that they would heap awards […]

Paul Bettany will play The Vision in The Avengers: Age of Ultron

One of the biggest box office hits of all time, The Avengers exceeded almost all expectations, so all eyes are on filmmaker Joss Whedon for the upcoming sequel The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Any bit of news that comes out about the film is treated as a major deal, much like any information that leaked about Christopher Nolan’s Batman franchise a few years back. Well, today there’s an interesting bit of casting news/character reveal that’s hit the net, and it happens to surround someone who’s a veteran of Marvel’s universe at this point. Yes, not only is Paul Bettany still the voice of Tony Stark’s computer butler JARVIS, but now he’s going to be playing The Vision as well.
Bettany has yet to be seen in person in a Marvel flick to date, but this news suggests that he won’t be just a disembodied voice helping out Iron Man this time around. This is a good upgrade for the actor, who’s immensely talented but doesn’t always seem to get the right roles. This at the very least suggests a continued presence in the Marvel universe, so expect to see Bettany for the foreseeable future of this franchise.
I’m no expert on The Vision, but apparently he’s a character that’s created by the villain Ultron, though eventually The Vision goes from being an opponent of The Avengers to fighting alongside them at some point. I do know that this is a character that fans have been looking to see join the team, even at one juncture hoping that Clark Gregg’s deceased (or I guess not deceased, if that Marvel television show Agents of Shield is to be believed) would be resurrected as The Vision. Well, that’s not happening, but the character is joining the film in some capacity for sure.
The Avengers: Age of Ultron comes out on on May 1st of 2015, so we’ve got over a year to continue speculating on what this movie will wind up being like, but it certainly seems like Whedon and company are not just resting on their laurels. Stay tuned for more on this one, as it’s poised to potentially become the highest grossing film of all time if things break right for it.

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