This is a special review from long-time X-Men Ultimates and Comic Book fan Douglas Godhino.
In the early 2000s, Marvel Comics decided to reboot all of their key intellectual properties with the best new writers of the time and dubbed it the “Ultimate Universe.” Although critics met the idea with a mild groan at first, once the comics found their stride, they became strong critical and commercial successes. In fact, many of the recent Marvel films are based on the Ultimate Universe.
I was about 12 years old and having just moved to the suburbs with nothing around but a local comic book store at the time, I read these comics with almost religious fanaticism. Needless to say, I’ve been pretty excited for every Marvel movie that has been released – with some disappointments, of course. (I am looking at you Fantastic Four).
Written by Mark Millar (of “Wanted” and “Kick-Ass” fame), “The Ultimates” is the update from the original 1963 comic “The Avengers.” The writing is undoubtedly more sophisticated with the reboot and made a whole new generation of kids love the marvel characters. 10 years later, it looks like Hollywood is finally cashing in on the series’ potential.
Lead by comic book writer and film director Joss Whedon, “The Avengers” is the comic book movie event many have been waiting for. Linking characters from the “Iron Man” films, “The Incredible Hulk”, “Captain America: The First Avenger” and “Thor”, “The Avengers” is a rare movie event that has astronomical expectations laid out for it. With recent news of the film breaking international box office records and many positive reviews, it seems that all the hype has paid off (for once!) and Marvel fans don’t have to make apologies for the film version of their beloved comic books.
This is a great action film – perhaps not as cerebral as “The Dark Knight” series but it’s definitely a cut above the “Transformers” series in many ways. The action is more compelling because the characters are more compelling and, furthermore, there is a lot escalating tension – the fight scenes are the big payoff and beg to be seen on the big screen. What’s even better is that the film doesn’t take itself too seriously (as perhaps “The Dark Knight” series does at times.) This movie has some great comedic moments mixed into the dialogue and action.
The movie even pays some fan service – for me, it was seeing Thor and The Hulk clash; the two most powerful characters in the Marvel Film Universe (so far) go toe-to-toe. In “The Avengers”, there are many tumultuous relationships between the heroes. This isn’t the Avengers from the 1960s (and thank goodness for that) – these characters are more complex and empathetic. With any group of overachievers, a clashing of egos is immanent and keeps the story interesting.
Speaking of the 1960s, Captain America isn’t the Boy Scout from that era. Although he’s new to the 21st century (having been cryogenically frozen in an iceberg for several decades), Cap seems to realize that America has become more cynical and he’s less naive. This is also true for the entire film. The original “Avengers” was originally conceived in the 1960s – a time after World War II when the newest technology that was known and feared was radiation. This served as a bottomless well for comic book writers like Stan Lee to draw from when giving character’s origin stories. For example, The Hulk was poisoned from gamma radiation and Spider-man was bitten by a radioactive spider. Surely, these things would have felt out of place in a 21st century telling of the stories.
Brilliantly adapted in “The Avengers”, genetics takes the place as a modern fear and the “Super Solider Serum” is one of the main dilemmas in this series (as well as the renewable energy problem.) Instead of Gamma rays being responsible for The Hulk, crafty scientist Bruce Banner has used himself as a test subject and that goes horribly wrong. These elements are seamlessly integrated into the story and tell of a more relevant mythology.
Of course much of this information is given in the aforementioned films but, for those that haven’t seen those films, this movie is still easy to follow and a real joy. It’s great to see that Joss Whedon got this right and that care is going into The Marvel Film Universe; if you have even a tiny bit of nerdiness in your DNA, you’ll have lots of fun watching this movie.
As long as quality is of paramount concern, there’s no reason why these films can’t flourish even more. Oh, and remember how every film had a short teaser after the credits? Well this film is no different – teasing what the next avengers movie will likely have as a villain.
Comic books have served as both inspiration and a basis for films for several decades. It has only been in the last ten or so years that better directors whom are also comic fans have begun to produce film with the depth and intensity that was so well represented in the comics. Plagued by cheap production, bad writing and even worse acting, the genre was considered too niche for any serious consideration. Even the late 70, early 80’s version of Superman was plagued by a desire to make it camp, as the inclusion of late comic Richard Prior in third installment. This, despite the quality and success of the Indiana Jones series, had been the prevailing attitude for the studios. Indiana Jones, while not being a true comic to screen adaptation, still employed the same style and structure as comics and early serial films. Those of us that were fans were waiting for someone to live up to the promise and memory of what we read as kids. And then came the Batman.
Tim Burton created one of, until that time, of the most honest and well done adaptations of Batman, and set about getting the studios interested in making more. The only problem was, most of them suffered from a basic misunderstanding of the source material they were drawing from, angering fans of the comics and confusing the general audiences. Enter Men in Black, X-Men series and a re-boot of the Batman as a dark, brooding hero. With these films came Oscar caliber actors to the subgenre, as well as quality direction and production. Over the next decade, more time, energy and creativeness was devoted to the entire category of comic to film adaptations.
Thor, Captain America, The Hulk and Iron Man are all recent films that serve as a back-story to this film. Not only are they all well done films in their own right, but the stars of those reprise their roles for this film. This is rather unusual by itself, but add to it the idea that sequels for The Avengers, Iron Man, Captain America and Thor are already in the works, and you have a unique occurrence. A modern version of the serial films. By making each hero’s story available in individual films, you free the main film from trying to give each character’s entire back story while moving the plot forward
Writer/Director Josh Whedon, himself a comic book writer who added to the Marvel Universe, is also the creative mind behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Firefly andDollhouse. This is a man thoroughly versed in the material, and his body of work shows an understanding of how the elements needed to make The Avengers universe come alive, work and mesh in a believable and visually appealing way. Together with fellow writer Zak Penn, they combine their love of the Marvel Universe with the original stories by Stan Lee and Jack Kirby and the films already made with the returning stars. It is the strength of these original stories that made them popular and the fact is that they are still being read nearly 50 years after they were first created. This is an important film in the super hero genre, as moving forward, this film transcends its humble origins to capture onscreen what so many reading the comics imagined it could be.
Bright and bold in its direction , the story opens with The Avengers as simply individuals, not affiliated or concerned with anything except their own lives. Events find the Earth at risk, by Loki (Tom Hiddleson) and his cohorts, Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), head of S.H.I.E.L.D, an international peace keeping agency, begins to recruit the various heroes to battle the villain. Tony Stark/Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Bruce Banner/The Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Steve Rogers/Captain America (Chris Evans) and Thor (Chris Hemsworth) all take different routes, but eventually join forces to become The Avengers.
The route they take is unique to each character, and shows not only their abilities, but how those abilities are integral to their personalities. While some may initially be overwhelmed by the amount of hero’s being assembled during the first part of the film, by the time the team really begins to assemble it is clear whom all the players are and what the roles must play. Josh Whedon chooses to give enough information about each character that viewing the other films is not needed to understand them. While this redundancy can slow a film down considerably, in this case it is tempered with action to keep the pace of the film always moving forward. Never forgetting the humanity of the characters while allowing for each to have a set piece to exhibit their unique abilities shows a more mature and dramatic flair than the camp versions that were so often made. The dialogue is sharp and intelligent, has some good jokes without being overly camp and allows the range of the actors to come through.
And action, lots of bold action.
A real emphasis on their abilities as unique, both in look and substance, is what sets this film apart. In particular, the meshing of Mark Ruffalo the actor and the Hulk is quite outstanding. Not only does the Hulk look like Mark Ruffalo, but he also carries the actor’s expressions and mannerisms. Both the actor and the effects team worked hard to achieve a level of transition between the two that is simply seamless and quite believable. For the first time, the Bruce Banner/Hulk appear as a single entity separated by angry transformation, as opposed the typical Jeckle and Hyde conversion that has been used until now. Robert Downey Jr also deserves mentioning as Tony Stark, the irreverent super genius that has some of the best lines in the film. Reprising this role for the third time, in an ensemble cast, could have found the character stale or lost in the crowd, but Downey manages to always stand out and excel at this particular role. And Samuel L. Jackson, well, he does what he does best, which is be Samuel L. Jackson.
The visual effects are top notch. Bright and clear, the effects only enhance what is being played out onscreen, and are never done for the sake of adding some neat effect. Rather than emphasize what is possible with effects and CGI, they mold the effects to make the unreal believable, and the impossible possible. This is what good effects are about, enhancing a film, making a scene more engaging and allowing the fanciful to be seen. In all ways the mixture of film and effect is seamless and in many ways, unobtrusive to the story being told. Whether it’s Iron Man flying, Hulk transforming, an explosion during a battle, a flying alien or the mess leftover from a battle, the effects serve to make the imagery believable. And there is plenty of mess being made during the fights and battle that take place.
A face paced and intelligent movie that makes more of the several individual films and the comics that inspired them. It is both a well done action film and the next step in the evolution of the super hero comic to film adaptation.
A new benchmark in the genre has been set. A super charged, action packed, well executed film designed and presented to both the fans of the original comics and those that love action films. Being both, I cannot simply just recommend this, but rather tell fans of either they must go and see this at once.
I am not sure about the release of some of these pics for the upcoming Spiderman movie. The costume looks really cheap for some reason. I am hoping that they fix it up in post-production because I am really wanting this movie to do well.
It has a great cast, potentially a great director and they seem to be doing everything right in a reboot of this manner.
The powers that be have released another picture. It is not bad. Not great, however, I do not hate it as much as I hate the Green Lantern costume in its current form.
So here first is the pic of Spidey:
And now here is the press release:
CULVER CITY, Calif., February 14, 2011 – Columbia Pictures announced today that the title of the next Spider-Man film will be The Amazing Spider-Man.The studio simultaneously released a photo of Andrew Garfield as Spider-Man, the first shot of Garfield in the famous full mask and suit.
The film, which is now in production and is being shot entirely in 3D, will be released on July 3, 2012. The film stars Andrew Garfield, Emma Stone, Rhys Ifans, Denis Leary, Campbell Scott, Irrfan Khan, Martin Sheen, and Sally Field. The film is directed by Marc Webb from a screenplay by James Vanderbilt and Alvin Sargent and Steve Kloves based on the Marvel Comic Book by Stan Lee and Steve Ditko. Laura Ziskin, Avi Arad, and Matt Tolmach are producing the Marvel Entertainment production for Columbia Pictures. The executive producers are Stan Lee, Kevin Feige, and Michael Grillo.
source - Deadline.com.