Tag Archives: The Avengers

Dispatches from Cinematopia: And So Begins the Summer of My Discontent – Men In Black III and Prometheus

As I had mentioned before, I was cautiously optimistic about Summer 2012 films.  Sure, I loved The Avengers.  Maybe that lulled me into believing that this would be a completely kick-ass summer for movies.  Then I saw Men In Black III and Prometheus.  You hear that sound?  That’s me, banging my head on my desk.

Now I should have stuck to my initial assumptions about Men In Black III.  That is was going to be 1) As craptacular as MIB II, 2) A movie that didn’t need to be made, and 3) Horrible based on the trailer.  Even though I had these assumptions, the film got some decent reviews and somewhere in the dark, jaded film-goer’s heart of mine, I hoped that it would be as good as the first Men in Black.  Let me return a minute to MIB II, a film that was so bad that it diminished my enjoyment of the original.  How many films manage to that?  This one did.  It’s almost as if I was a little embarrassed to even enjoy the first film after laying eyes on the disastrous sequel.  So, here along comes part 3.   I won’t belabor the plot points since it has been out for quite some time, but it was pretty lame.  Biggest issues:

  • Why is Will Smith still playing J as some punky 20-something?  It just felt sad.
  • Tommy Lee Jones totally phoned it in.
  • Jemaine Clement and Emma Thompson were totally wasted.  I like both of these actors, but they were given hardly anything to work with
  • Oh and enough with all the aliens.  At least make them important to the story.  But that would be too difficult since it’s much easier to CG a bunch of creatures than actually write them into a coherent story.
  • Speaking of story, it was completely predictable

One shining bit:

  • Josh Brolin playing a younger Agent K.  He was great though the screenplay got a bit carried away with all the name calling: Slick, Cochise, etc.  We get it.  Enough.

I didn’t walk out of Men In Black III angry.  Just a bit disappointed, though I should have just trusted my instincts.  Now Prometheus . . .

Oh what can I say, aside from, “WHY?!?”  I know.  I shouldn’t have had such high expectations.  I should have learned my lesson by now.  But I love Alien so much and the trailers for Prometheus looked so cool.  And Michael Fassbender.  And Noomi Rapace!  Alas,  none of it mattered.  Prometheus felt incomplete and ill thought out in terms of story and plot.  I won’t even go into all of my issues.  It makes me too depressed.  I really, really wanted to like this movie, but instead I felt a bit punk’d.  So much pseudo-coolness but for what?  Characters that behave ridiculously?  A story that is at best meh and at worst incoherent?  Viral marketing videos that were far, far better than the film itself?  Sigh.

Well, at least there are still some other films that I am looking forward to this summer (I’m looking at you, Dark Knight Rises).  I’m going to dial down my expectations, but all I have to say now is – Moonrise Kingdom, you better not let me down!

Dispatches from Cinematopia – The Avengers Assemble!

Like so many other people, I saw The Avengers last weekend.  I went in pretty cautiously optimistic , because I have to honestly say I wasn’t too excited.  I know.  I should have been itching to see this film.  Joss Whedon? Of course.  The Avengers? Well yes.  But for some reason I had been left cold by the trailers.  Perhaps it had to do with being utterly disappointed with Thor.  OK to be honest, I saw Thor opening weekend in 3D (ugh) after a couple of Mint Juleps (getting my Kentucky Derby on), so maybe that had something to do with it.  I also was pretty lukewarm on Iron Man 2. If you asked me what it was about, I couldn’t even say.  It was THAT forgettable.  I did like Captain America a fair bit.  But then again, it could have just been Chris Evans’ abs blurring my perception.

The trailers did little to whet my appetite as well.  I just couldn’t get excited about The Avengers.  Despite this, I wanted to see it to make up my mind before the hype machine went into overdrive and my expectations grew.  And guess what?  I liked it.  No, I LOVED it.  Maybe it was due to the fact that I saved my Mint Juleps until AFTER the film this year.  Or maybe it was just that good.  So good, that about 30 minutes in, I thought, “Hmm when can I watch this again?”  This truly was the culmination of all the other Marvel films that came before it.

Some of my favorite moments were those when  Mark Ruffalo (Bruce Banner/Hulk),  Robert Downey, Jr (Tony Stark/Iron Man) and Chris Evans (Steve Rogers/Captain America) were in the same scenes.  Ruffalo and Downey killed it with their jargon-y banter while Evans plays Cap with an earnestness that I adore.  The fact that all three are easy on the eyes is not to be underestimated as well.  I feel like Chris Hemsworth makes a decent enough Thor, but in my opinion, he was given little to do in the film besides look good.  The same could be said for Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow.  I’m not a huge fan of hers, but I felt she was OK in the film.  I’m guessing that Whedon had to dial down his desire to make her the ass-kicking hero of the film.  As a fan of Jeremy Renner, I had hoped for a bit more Hawkeye, but overall I enjoyed his performance.  By the time he had his hero moments, I felt he had been Legolas-ed (hang around until there is something awesome to do with a bow and arrow).  I don’t want to leave out Clark Gregg (Agent Coulson), Tom Hiddleston (Loki) and the always entertaining Samuel L. Jackson (Nick Fury) as they were all pretty damned awesome.

The strength of this film (and what I often find lacking in other blockbuster type films) is that it had a snappy, well-written script.  Thank Odin for that!  I know I should have trusted that Joss Whedon would deliver, but as I get older my tendency is to not get my hopes up, else I’ll be disappointed.  Of course my expectations are rather high for Prometheus.  Maybe too high, but if The Avengers is a harbinger of what’s to come, I have a good feeling about this summer.

Hate Expectations – My Turbulent Relationship with Movie Trailers

Once upon a time I enjoyed watching the trailers before a film.  They were tiny teasers of a film.  Not too much was given away, but it piqued your interest just enough to make you excited for the film’s release.  Watch a trailer from the early 80s to see what I mean.  Trailers have become spoilertastic, often giving away much of the plot before one even sets foot in the theater to see the film.

Needless to say, I was surprised and a bit saddened when I read about a recent UC San Diego study by the psychology department which concluded that people enjoyed stories with a twist ending more when they knew the outcomes. Do we not want to be surprised at what we watch or read? The largely negative audience feedback on The Cabin in the Woods aligns with this conclusion. Many people (not me) felt tricked or misled by the trailer and marketing of the film. I say, watch the trailer again and tell me you thought it was a straightforward slasher flick. If so, you must have been seeing what you wanted to see. I did have a large issue with a scene in the trailer that proves to be quite spoilery, but other than that I enjoyed the film. Perhaps more on that in another post at a later date.

Sometimes, trailers don’t spoil by giving away too much, but rather by giving away too little. I know, I said earlier that trailers should pique interest, but stay with me here. I like to call these trailers, “Whizz-Bang” trailers. Most of them are for action, scifi, or horror films. They usually consist of quick cuts and literal sensory overload of CGI. Think of the trailer for Transformers: Dark of the Moon – yeah that kind of trailer. The ones that have all kinds of cool CGI visuals without context, assuming that audiences will want to see it based on that alone. And maybe for some people that works. But for me, it usually means I quickly dismiss the film from my future viewing options (unless others really want to see it . . ahem Transformers: Dark of the Moon).

Considering this, I would like to offer John Carter as a film I nearly missed seeing based on the terrible trailer.  Knowing what I know now, maybe if the trailers had centered more around the adventure aspects of the story, it would have gotten through to more people. Instead, it seemed to alienate most potential viewers. It wasn’t kiddie enough to be a family film, and not adult enough for the rest of us to care (even with the Andrew Stanton pedigree).  Admittedly, my expectations were quite low.  The film  was deemed a flop within hours of its release and was widely panned by critics, but it was really the trailer that had almost sealed the deal. Oh and pretty much anything 3D is a turnoff for me. Higher ticket prices, often post converted prints, and a general sense of vertigo.  No thanks.  Gratefully my local theater almost always has 2D screenings.

So in spite of all of this, on the recommendation of friends, I went to see John Carter in 2D. I really could not believe how much I enjoyed it.  It hearkened back to the old fashioned adventures I enjoyed as a child and still enjoy to this day.  Sure it was pulpy, but that was part of the charm especially if you know anything about Edgar Rice Burroughs‘ work.  I remarked to my husband during the credits, “It’s sad that we likely won’t see another John Carter Barsoom film for awhile, yet we are guaranteed 2 more in the Hunger Games series.”  I don’t mean that as a total swipe at Hunger Games. I read the books and thought the story was OK and the movie was about the same. More than anything, I felt like I had almost been hoodwinked into avoiding this fun film by the horrible marketing and bad word of mouth.

I fear what the summer holds – The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, & Prometheus are coming out soon and although I won’t be covering my ears and closing my eyes (as a friend did for all the Inception trailers), I will hopefully see them relatively unspoilt.  (Hmm after seeing the Prometheus trailer again over the weekend, I’m not so sure.)  Will they live up to the hype of the trailers? Will they be spoiled by overzealous marketing campaigns?  I guess we’ll know in a few weeks.