Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (6/27/12)

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Earth’s mightiest heroes must team up to defend the Earth in Ultimate Avengers.

During World War II, Captain America fights nazis who end up being aliens. An explosion blows him into the ocean and freezes him. He is thawed out around 70 years later by Nick Fury of SHIELD. Bruce Banner (The Hulk) is working on recreating the Super Soldier Serum that turned Steve Rogers into Captain America, something Banner thinks can help him control Hulk. The aliens, Chitauri, attack Earth and SHIELD assembles Thor, Wasp, Iron Man, Ant Man, Captain America, and the Hulk to fight them off.

If you’re wondering why my synopsis for Ultimate Avengers sounds so dry and lifeless, you probably have no interest in watching this animated film because I treat the story with as much finesse as the film does. For those of us that watched the live-action Avengers on the big screen, the plot here is largely the same only devoid of any life (that’s not an animation pun). Nothing here is new or exciting and even the art style and animation brings nothing new to the table.  That is not to say it’s bad, it’s just uninteresting.

Unless you’re a huge fan of Marvel’s characters or the Avengers in general, see the live-action Avengers instead. For some reason, though sharing much of the plot, the live-action version is much more enjoyable. If you still want an animated Avengers fix, watch the surprisingly good Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes series and skip Ultimate Avengers.

I give it 3 seriously, watch Avengers: Earth’s Mightiest Heroes out of 5.

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The Avengers (5/12/12)

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The Avengers is the culmination of several Marvel Comics movies from the past several years, bringing Iron Man, Captain America, Thor, Hulk and more together on the big screen.

I think at this point every movie blog I follow has had coverage of The Avengers in some form so this may be a partial retread for most of you.

If you have seen either Iron Man film (Robert Downey Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Captain America (Chris Evans), or to a lesser extent, The Incredible Hulk (played by Mark Ruffalo for The Avengers, but Edward Norton in the original film), then you are likely aware of some of the setup for The Avengers. Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), head of S.H.I.E.L.D., which is essentially a heavily funded black ops organization, has recruited some of Earth’s mightiest heroes to locate the Tesseract, an all-powerful cube stolen by Loki (Tom Hiddleston), Thor’s brother. The team first has to come together, then has to defeat Loki, who has used the Tesseract to call upon the Chitauri, an alien race that wishes to destroy humanity.

The main draw to The Avengers is the fact that Joss Whedon both wrote and directed it. Whedon is beloved in the nerd community for helming the ill-fated sci-fi drama Firefly as well as Buffy the Vampire Slayer TV series. Whedon makes the action tight and the script fun, there is obvious love for the material here. I have two fairly big issues with the film on a whole. First, the run time, which clocks in at just under 2 1/2 hours. There is a lot of material packed into that time frame, which leads me to my second gripe…The pacing of the first half of the film. For awhile there I had completely forgotten about the Tesseract and the Chitauri threat because the plot was idling around the Avengers internal conflicts. It’s necessary to the story, but could have really been trimmed of some fat.

Once the second half picks up the film grabbed me and didn’t let me go until the credits rolled. The nerd in me wanted more as soon as it was over but once the thrill of the theatrical experience wore off I was less enthused about the film. That’s not to say it’s bad, I guess all the hype about how great it is propped me up for a bit of disappointment. However, The Avengers is proof that Marvel Comics films can still be a lot of fun without needing to take a dark edge like Nolan’s Batman films to be good or successful. I will say that I look forward to the inevitable Avengers sequel very much.

I give it 4 many faces of Hulk out of 5.

(In case you are wondering, 1) Avengers 2) Incredible Hulk 3) Hulk 4) Incredible Hulk (TV series))

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Iron Man 2 (3/23/12)

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Iron Man 2 could easily be shrugged off as ‘just another superhero movie’ but it’s actually quite fun to watch. Surprisingly so, even.

The film picks up immediately where the first film left off, Tony Stark (perfectly played by Robert Downey Jr.) is feeling the backlash from the press conference where he declares himself to be Iron Man. The government wants his technology, but he is unwilling to just hand it over to them. A rival weapons technology company head, Justin Hammer (Sam Rockwell) wants the tech as well. All of this while Russian rival, Ivan Venko (Mickey Rourke), has a bone to pick with Stark. Without knowing too much about Iron Man’s comic lineage, I found the plot easy to understand even if I didn’t get all the sly winks that Marvel likes throwing into these films.

The action in Iron Man 2 is great and the special effects are superb. The acting is actually mostly pretty good, though at first some of the casting seemed odd to me. Mickey Rourke seemed to speak with a weird mix of New York and Russian accents and Scarlett Johansson’s performance is largely lifeless. Luckily, RDJ steals the show and is a joy to watch.

With the upcoming Avengers film I have been trying to catch up with Marvel’s superhero films. While I enjoyed Captain America, I enjoyed this film more. After seeing Sam Rockwell in action, I decided to watch something of his immediately after watching Iron Man 2 (more on that later) and I wouldn’t mind reading a few comics as well.

I give it 4 Howard Stark is on Mad Men out of 5.

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