The Avengers

‘Guardians of the Galaxy’ and Marvel’s Third-Act Problem

From its opening credit sequence, which finds Chris Pratt boogeying through an alien landscape to the strains of Redbone’s “Come and Get Your Love,” Guardians of the Galaxy seems the perfect antidote to Serious Summer Blockbuster Syndrome, a blissfully goofy and tartly self-aware slab of sci-fi silliness. Writer/director James Gunn is another of Marvel’s unconventional hires — his pitch-black 2010 comedy Super features Rainn Wilson as a mentally unbalanced would-be superhero who attacks people with a hammer while shouting “Shut up, crime!” — and for much of Guardians’ 122 minutes, Gunn’s grab-bag of quirky characters, genre ribbing, and incongruent ‘70s pop tunes goes over like gangbusters. The trouble is, it’s only irreverent to a point, and when the time comes to wrap things up, Gunn plays it strictly by the book. And this is becoming a real problem in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. … Read More

  • 0

‘Lucy,’ ‘Nikita,’ and the State of the Female Action Movie

There’s a scene about halfway into Luc Besson’s Lucy, which finds Scarlett Johansson’s title character striding down a luxury hotel hallway in slow-motion, a gun in each hand, as the operatic music favored by the film’s supervillian swells on the soundtrack. It’s a scene you’ve seen in a million other disposable action movies, but it packs a giddy, sneaky punch here, and not just because it’s well directed by Besson (though it is), or because Johansson is so exuberantly sexy (though she is). The scene works, jumps from the screen and bounces around the auditorium, because the sight of a tough female action hero is still rare enough to give the audience an extra jolt. Say what you will about Lucy, which is an absurdly silly and sometimes aggressively stupid movie, but it’s at least interested in showing us something new. … Read More

  • 0

‘Ghostbusters’ and ‘Gremlins’ at 30: A Requiem for the Special Effects-Heavy Comedy

We tend to think of the releases of iconic movies as standalone events, like the world came to a crashing halt so everyone could go stand in lines around the block for Star Wars or Jaws or Jurassic Park. But the movies are a business, and rare is the week that doesn’t see multiple releases, which can make for some interesting juxtapositions. (True story: the big movie on Star Wars opening weekend was supposed to be Smokey and the Bandit.) Most of the time, such competition falls into the realm of counter-programming, which was what made June 8, 1984 so peculiar: the two new wide releases of that day were both pitched towards the same general audience, the families-and-teens crowd that had become the bread and butter of the summer movie business. Both would open well — only separated by about a million bucks — and would end up the second- and fourth-highest-grossing movies of the year. More importantly, both would remain beloved pop culture classics, buoyed by a uniquely ambitious mixture of genres that is seldom attempted today. The films were Ghostbusters and Gremlins, and they both turned 30 years old yesterday. … Read More

  • 3

How to Make a Great Superhero Movie: Hire a Comedy Director

If you look up the filmographies of Anthony and Joe Russo, directors of the new (and very good) Captain America: The Winter Soldier, you’re not going to see much that screams SUMMER TENTPOLE ACTION MOVIE MAKERS. Their only two previous features were the mostly unseen Big Deal on Madonna Street remake Welcome to Collinwood and the mostly unloved Owen Wilson comedy You, Me and Dupree. And then you will find lots and lots of television comedy, everything from the monkey-doctor comedy Animal Practice to more acclaimed programs like Arrested Development, Happy Endings, and Community. The natural assumption is that the powers-that-be at Marvel who handed the Russo brothers the keys to Captain America were taking a big chance. But Marvel has reached a point where it’s actually more unusual for them to pick conventional action directors for their films — in fact, what’s making their big-screen efforts stand out from the blockbuster pack is their tendency to place them in the hands of, when you get down to it, comedy filmmakers. … Read More

  • 1

Pharrell’s Hat Will Never Die: Links You Need to See

Welcome to the new week! SO far, what we’ve deduced is that Pharrell’s hat might be receiving new life as we speak, Shanghai is fast developing an obsession with mystery and Kate Middleton once aspired to be a STAAAAAH (that’s “star” for the uninformed and/or unimaginative). … Read More

  • 0

10 Movies You’ve Been Watching in Altered Versions

Some play tennis, some memorize baseball stats, some decorate toilet seat lids. Point is, everyone’s got a hobby, but Christopher Orgeron spent his past two years of free time on a genuinely unusual project: restoring The Dark Crystal to its original, darker version. Wait, you’re thinking. I didn’t know there was an original, darker version of that, especially since the version they released was such hardcore nightmare fuel if you were a small child in the early ‘80s (OK, now I’m just projecting). Well, if you do enough poking around in Hollywood history, you’ll find there was an original, darker version of a whole lot of movies, which studio execs and other muckety-mucks demanded filmmakers brighten up before they saw the light of a projector. … Read More

  • 0

‘Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.’ Is Not the Next Great Joss Whedon Show — Yet

Few shows this fall — or in anything resembling recent memory, really — have premiered with the kind of ballyhoo that’s accompanied Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. A television spin-off of the über-profitable cycle of Marvel film adaptations that culminated in last year’s The Avengers, S.H.I.E.L.D. plays like a direct sequel to that movie, with Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson resurrected for starring role and a “special guest” appearance by Cobie Smulders’ Agent Hill. Most importantly, last night’s debut episode was directed by The Avengers’ Joss Whedon, who co-wrote (and co-executive produces) the show with brother Jedd and sister-in-law Maurissa Tancharoen, with whom he previously collaborated on Dollhouse and Dr. Horrible’s Singalong Blog. Alas, in spite of those credentials and a few other friendly faces (hiya, Ron Glass!), Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is not the Next Great Joss Whedon Show — at least, so far. … Read More

  • 0

Awesome ‘Avengers’-Inspired Magazine and Newspaper Covers

As you’re enjoying that Netflix stream of The Avengers, the first question you’d ask might not be, “How exactly would the New York media cover this?” But luckily for you, graphic artist Kimba McG did ask that question, and the result is her MediAvengers project, in which she works up inventive covers and spreads for magazines and newspapers’ imagined coverage of the superhero crew — from Time and the Times to Forbes and US. Check out a few of her best after the jump, and swing by her Tumblr and Facebook page to see more. … Read More

  • 0
Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 8,500 other followers