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Posts Tagged ‘The Avengers’

I personally don’t feel like I’m qualified to define what makes a movie the “best”.

Film, like all art, is subjective. Saying something is the “best” implies (at least, to me) something everyone agrees with. Well, I don’t think I can defend what I think is the best, but I can easily defend what I LIKE.

Earlier last week I wrote a statement that read “Sometimes I judge a movie because I think the 9 year old version of me would flipped for it.”  I want you to keep that in mind when you look at my top ten favorites of last year.

Wow, last year. 2012 was quiet a year for movies. An abundant of riches of a wide array of films. While figuring out my top ten, I seriously had to make some hard decisions.

First, I’m gonna give you my top four runner ups. Trust me, some of these jumped back and fourth in the top ten. All of these I saw only once, so in due time, when I see them again, maybe one of the top ten movies will be bumped off.  Any other year they would have easily been in the top ten, but man, it was just that kind of year for me. So, starting with…

Les Miserables– Stunning performances from Hugh Jackman, Anne Hathaway, Samantha Barks and Eddie Radmayne, the film really brings the famous Broadway musical to big epic life. The songs and numbers are spectacular, but sadly Russell Crowes performance as Javert isn’t perfect (though I don’t hate like the rest of the internet does) it does hold back the film to go higher on the list. That being said, I still have the songs and numbers stuck in my head so I can’t wait to revisit it again.

Argo– Ben Affleck gave me the kind film that I miss seeing. Smart, tense, mature and exciting. The final sequence was tension filled to the brim. This is my favorite of Afflecks directed films, and I can’t help to think he’s only getting started.

Wreck-it Ralph– The Pixar film I didn’t get this year (sorry Brave…you looked very pretty though!) The film surprised me how emotionally invested I got with Ralph and more surprising…Vanellope Von Schweetz. Sarah Silverman gives one of her best performances voicing Vanellope, and her story really surprised me.

Cloud Atlas– It’s big budget art, and I have to respect that. I love the fact that I know that I lot of people hated it as much as the people who loved it. I couldn’t help but be impressed. The scope, the performances from Tom Hanks, Bae Doo-Na, and Ben Whishaw. I also dearly loved how they edited this film. It constantly challenges you to pay attention, to not look away. Look away, you might miss something.

Ok…here we go, my top ten….

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10.) Chronicle

Surprises are nice. I love surprises. Surprises for films being released are hard to come by nowadays. When I saw the trailer to this, I had very little interest in watching another found footage movie. Here comes the surprise, it’s not. It’s wants to be better then that. It’s got characters I legitimately give a damn about.  It’s wonderfully directed. It’s smartly written. The acting is great. It’s a fresh take on the this subgenre of “superpowered” people movies/tv shows we’ve been getting lately, and most of us didn’t knew this thing existed until a few weeks before it came out. It’s made $64,314,970 in the US and Canada alone. Like I said, I love surprises.

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9.) The Raid: Redemption-

Straight up, no bones about it, this a modern action movie classic. BRILLIANT! AMAZING! FIGHTS! A simple (but effective) story. Great directing and editing. The score kicks ass. Oh, and did I mention how GOD DAMN AMAZING THE FIGHTS ARE?!?! This is pure adrenaline movie making, the kind that they don’t make as much as they used to.  You see this if all you want to see is spectacle and action, and you will NOT be disappointed.

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8.) Moonrise Kingdom

While I always like Wes Anderson films, I haven’t always loved every single one. This the first time I truly connected with one of his movies since Rushmore, which is my all time favorite one of  his. The quirks that makes Wes…well…Wes, truly shine, making this strange coming of age/love story  a special movie.  Jared Gilman and Kara Hayward give remarkable performances as Sam and Suzy. Loved Edward Norton, Bill Murray, Frances McDormand and Bruce Willis.  Loved the music.  It’s the most Wes Anderson-y movie that Wes has made, and I loved every second of it.

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7.) The Cabin in the Woods-

Being too clever can be a dangerous thing for a film. It can sometimes feel like the filmmakers are trying too hard to impress you as oppose to just tell the story.  So when a movie does BOTH, it’s an exciting thing. Director/co-writer Drew Goddard and co-writer/producer Joss Whedon (hmmm….that name sounds familiar) crafted a movie that feels both familiar yet different. OH, and it’s gory, hilarious, exciting and so much fun. This has to have one of the best third acts of ANY movie this year. Just a blast. We horror fans should feel so lucky to have this film.

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6.) Skyfall

The Bond film that reminds us all why we go and watch Bond films. It blends the aesthetic that made the Daniel Craig era of Bond so appealing to the new fans yet brings back the fun of the original films. It’s also one of the most BEAUTIFUL looking films of the year, thanks to Roger Deakins amazing cinematography.  Javier Bardem also kills as one of the best Bond villains in the series history. I now can’t wait to see the next Bond. A great film to celebrate the 50th anniversary.  Now…..BRING BACK BLOFELD!!

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5.) Sleepwalk With Me

Hilarious, real, and mature. Writer/director/star Mike Birbiglia crafted a first film that many would call Woody Allen-esque. I won’t, I’m calling it Birbigliastic….or not, you can ignore that. As I wrote in my Blu Ray review of the film: “Birbiglia crafted a film that wonderfully balances the humor and the drama. It feels so effortless clever in how it allows us to understand Matt (the character that Mike plays) and really get into his headspace. It would be very easy to accidentally have us dislike Matt, what with the some of the choices he makes throughout the film. Thankfully, the smart writing from Birbiglia (along with co-writers Ira Glass, Joe Birbiglia and Seth Barrish) never falters, and I remained invested with Matt’s story…even when he messes up.” Since owning the Blu Ray I realized I ended up watching it 4 times that week.  I look forward to Mikes next film, especially since his first film that is as good as this.

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4.) Django Unchained

Quentin Tarantino makes movies. No shit right? But you don’t understand…he makes…MOVIES. Movies that know how to BE movies. Films that firmly live in the fictional world they live in. Characters that move to music that, while they shouldn’t know there’s music, seemingly feels like they DO know there’s an awesome song being played for them as they walk and stand. Characters that know what they should be doing in the genre they’re in, but refuse to act the typical way they are suppose to act in the genre of film they’re in.  Tarantino writes dialogue you wanna memorize. He makes films that you wish had a 100 sequels/spin offs, just so you can spend more time with the characters. He helps give actors memorable roles that they clearly are having fun playing.  He creates soundtracks that you wanna own. He creates moments that he knows will get a crowd excited. Tarantino makes MOVIES, and I love him for doing so. Django Unchained is no different. He made another badass film, and I am dying to see it again.

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3.) Looper

Had the film been ONLY about Bruce Willis chasing Joe Gordon-Levitt in the near future, that would have been enough. BUT, it’s not just that. It ask big questions about morality, and it does so in the only way a Sci-fi film can. It does it originally too. Writer/director Rian Johnson continues to make films that are more then what it seems and he never fails to impress. The big winner for the film to me is definitely  Joseph Gordon-Levitts incredible performance as Joe. Never being a parody of Bruce Willis, he brilliantly takes the essence of Willis and creates a character that is all his own. Add that to the great storytelling, action, and exciting world building that Johnson crafted, Looper is another unique notch in Johnsons film catalog.

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2.) Beast of the Southern Wild

This film lives in it’s own world. It’s a larger then life fable. It’s emotionally gut wrenching. It’s sensational filmmaking that takes you on a trip. You will meet characters that are fascinating, strange, but utterly compelling. You will see one of the most charismatic performances of the year from the 9 year old actress, Quvenzhane Wallis. You will hear a score the tells as much story as the images on the screen (and it’s my personal favorite score of the year, give a little listen to it here.) After I saw the film, it didn’t leave me for days. If you like to watch movies to be transported, then I suggest to take a trip to this film.

and finally my number one pick is….

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1.) Battleship-

Now, I know…this film gets a lot of shit, but …hear me out. I truly thinkBWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

I couldn’t do it! I can’t keep a straight face about that. Ok…for reals, my number one is pretty obvious…..

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1.) Marvels The Avengers

This movie is the film I’ve dreamed of seeing since childhood. I got into movies the same time I started reading comics. I grew up watching/reading the good and the bad superhero stories. I love this genre too much. This movie bottles what makes reading all those comics that I’ve read and finally put it on the big screen. This film is pure joy to me. Any flaws it has in it’s script, it goes away by charm and personality. As a Joss Whedon fan, I’m happy to see him make something that connected to not only the comic fans, but to everyone else too. I’m happy to see a cast that brings it’s “A” game. I’m happy that it’s hopeful and bright. It’s a crowd pleaser that makes watching a movie in a room full of strangers a great experience. I love it when you and the rest of the audience is laughing together, clapping together all because your sharing this one big movie. It’s the reason why I saw the thing 10 times (?!) in the theaters this year. I want to relive that excitement again and again. Those are the kind of movies I grew up loving, and I am glad to know I can still feel that way about seeing a flick.

Whew….2012. That was quiet good. So 2013, lets see what you got, but I’m not gonna lie, 2012’s movies were quiet a doozy.

And there were so many more that came out that I HAVEN’T seen but I still want too:
Jiro Dreams of Sushi, Jeff who lives at Home, The Master, End of Watch, Seven Psychopaths, Lincoln, The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Holy Motors, Silver Linning Playbook and Zero Dark Thirty.

This list could STILL change.

2013, not to put any pressure on ya, but you have a hard act to follow.

How about you guys? What’s on your list?

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I love superheroes as far back as I could remember.

Before I could read, I watched a lot of  superheroes cartoon/movies/tv show. That was how I was introduced to them. Lord knows how many times I used to rent this Hulk cartoon on VHS when I was a kid…

I’d watch any version of superheroes. That crap live action Spider-Man show from the ’70’s? I’d a seen it all. That bad Captain America movie?

I’d rented it a dozen times…knowing that it wasn’t that good.

Hell I even own a bootleg copy of the Fantastic Four movie in the early ’90s…

And when I FINALLY started reading comics, oh boy, did it get worse.

But, why? Why do I love this genre so much?

There is the big question right? We’ve been fans for so long, you take for granted that loving superheroes is part of the DNA of our fan culture.

For me, the answer isn’t so easy. It’s not just one reason, it DOZENS of reasons. First you get drawn to the costumes and powers. A power fantasy of looking cool, and having abilities we all wish we had. Then the battles! Screw guns and regular fisticuffs,  nothing gets more epic then seeing Superman fight someone like the Hulk and witness something awe inspiring.

Then, it’s knowing that the superheroes in these stories are doing this to save US. They don’t have the luxury of having a simple day, they have to fight to ensure that everyone else can  survive to have to those days. It’s that superheroes have this incredible self sacrifice that is inspiring, and it makes you want everyone else in the world to have that same ideal.

That’s why I keep reading and watching superhero tales.

I’m inspired to watch heroism at it’s finest, and to see some kick ass throw downs.

That’s part of the reason why I loved last years Captain America: The First Avenger so much. It’s about a man who, even before he got the powers, was a great man who wanted to do what’s right. Plus, he looked cool throwing that shield.

So, you can imagine that watching a film like The Avengers is only going to make me giddy.

The Avengers isn’t just one of the best superhero films ever made, it’s also the first film that truly nails the the blending of comic book storytelling with filmmaking.

The movies opening is a great example of that. The way that writer/director Joss Whedon wrote, shot and his editorial decisions dictated a  tone and pace that is very much a comic book style of story telling. With out spoiling anything, the way the opening scenes uses a narration that overlaps with simple images feels like reading a comics page. It evokes the pacing of seeing a single panel and reading a word box narration.

The action feels the same way.  Let me tell ya, this film will ruin every other Alien Invasion scene in movies for me from this point on (looking at you BATTLESHIP). Its not just enough to see the destruction, I now really want to see some heroes fly in and and fight back. Which brings me to the fights. Oh man, the fights. The one on one battles between the heroes, the sequence on the Hellicarrier and of course the epic finale 20-30 minutes are just breathtaking. Impacts, hits, punches, laser blasts, everything  is seen clear and crisp. Whedon knows exactly when to speed up the action,  and when to slow down. It’s these moments where it felt most like looking a splash page in a comic, or looking a dynamic fight sequence in a 3 page battle. It wasn’t just great action filmmaking, it’s true superhero comic action on screen.

As a Joss Whedon fan going back as far as 1997 , watching this film felt like Whedon’s graduated. He brought it his all, and for the first time, regular audiences can finally “get” Joss’s sensibilities. I guess it needed to be in a context that they where comfortable with, and after watching the Marvel Studio films for the last five years, audiences where ready.  They just needed to enjoy the story that Whedon fashioned. As Whedon fans, we knew he was not only going to bring in the action, but also the story, characters, humor and the drama. Glad the rest of the world can finally see what we always knew.

It’s been forever seen I’ve seen a true crowd-pleaser,  and every time I’ve seen it ( 3 times as of this writing) the audience is there with the film. It’s the kind of filmmaking that audiences love going to the movies as a big group for. The big laughs and the huge applause from the audience is the kind of magic that makes going to a movie theater fun.  It’s the feeling that audiences got when they first saw Stars Wars and Raiders of the Lost Arc for the first time. (Note: Before you go crazy, I’m not saying The Avengers is THAT great, but the elated joy and entertainment the audience got after leaving the theater was just as close.)

But it isn’t just the spectacle that the audiences are eating up in this film, it’s the characters too.  The film is full of great character interaction, great work from the cast from the previous films, and (of course) Whedon’s script getting every single character right. Of course Cap’s ideals and Tony’s ego will clash, but it’s going to be fun to see them learn how to get along. Thor feels responsible for Loki’s action,  yet no matter how crazy his brother gets, he loves him and wants him back home. Black Widow being insanely scared of the Hulk. Tony and Banner being friends because  of their amazing scientific minds.  Agent Caulson’s admiration of Captain America. Hawkeye’s relationship with Black Widow, and the history they share. It’s just a ton of fun seeing this group together. The fact that we take our time seeing this group interact, means when this moment happens in the film….

…it’s earned, and it never fails to give me goosebumps every time I see it in the film.

Going back to that “comic book” feeling, the moment that made me truly realize I’m watching an “AVENGERS” movie is the moment when Captain America faces off with Loki. Seeing Cap talk Loki down and fighting him made my brain go “Oh wow….it’s really happening. This movie really exist!” Why? Because this is the first cross over moment in the film. When the main bad guy from one movie is facing down the main good guy from another.  It would be like if Hans Gruber from DIE HARD is facing Rambo. It only got better when Iron Man flew in!

Ah, and Loki. After the Thor movie, I declared that Loki was the best Marvel studios villain by far. It wasn’t just Tom Hiddleston’s wonderful nuanced performance, but it was the fact that Loki had a strong motivation. His reasons for turning on his family and his fellow gods just made all the sense you when you find out about his backstory. I love were we find him in AVENGERS. I love how much more twisted he got. I love that he actually has a pretty solid plan and for the most part , it’s working…but as Agent Coulson said, Loki’s one weakness is that he has no conviction. Having Loki being too arrogant is a great way to give another layer to the bad guy.

I also loved how Nick Fury was used. Sam Jackson must of had a blast making this, because he wasn’t just used to be a badass (which he was) but he was the one character that had faith for this group. I loved that Fury had to fight for the idea of this group.

Can I also say thank you to Joss for giving me back the real Black Widow? The sexy assistant/ass kicker in Iron Man 2 was ok, but I would like to thank Whedon for giving me back a Natasha that speaks Russian, has a black past, and giving Scarlett Johansson more to do. Whedon gave us a much more rounded character this time, and I thank you.

Is there something I’m missing?…..

Ah…of course….HULK smash.

Ruffalo had a lot to prove here. The poor guy had to come into this film pleasing a group of people still hurt that Ed Norton isn’t coming back (Eric Bana who?). Thankfully, Ruffalo was spot on. I loved his nervous gestures, his sarcastic tone and his “keep to himself” nature. Whedon gave him a lot to do, and when we find out how dark Banners past gets, it’s surprisingly tough.  Also, this movie Hulk is flat out the BEST LOOKING Hulk from any of the movies. Never feeling like he’s made of rubber or plastic like the previous movie Hulks, he’s got a great design, and when he starts fighting (oh the nerdgasam I got when Hulk started fighting Thor…) it’s so damn entertaining.  I also think it’s pretty safe to say that the Hulk STOLE THE SHOW for a lot of people, and for good reason.

Are their issues I have the film? Small ones, to be sure, hell, some are nitpicks. I wished Hawkeye wasn’t in the “state” that he was in for most of the movie since he’s the one member of the cast that I felt we haven’t got a true sense of his character (though in defense of that, he do get little bits here and there that I like.) The plot is too simple and generic, and there are plenty of moments of “well, isn’t THAT convenient”  in the movie. But, WHO CARES! Say the plots to Raiders of the Lost Arc, Star Wars, Die Hard, Jaws, E.T. and many others and they all have their fair amount of issues…but why do we love those movies? The characters, the humor, the earnest drama, and fun.

For me, this was the comic book superhero film I’ve dreamed of seeing since I was a kid. Look back at the videos I posted in the beginning of this review.  See how far we’ve come?

That’s why I kept watching those bad Marvel movies as a kid. It was “enough” till the day they finally got it right.

After watching The Avengers, I wish I can tell the kid 7 year old version of me…dude….they FINALLY did it. And man, your going to LOVE it.

He then will be heartbroken to find out he has to wait 21 years to see it, but….still, I thik it’s well worth the wait.

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