Tag Archives: Joss Whedon

What Joss Did Next…

"Much Ado"

So, how do you follow-up last year’s barely seen, low-budget success d’estime, “The Avengers”?  It came and went from theatres in about a week, hardly made a dent at the box office.   I don’t blame you for never having heard of it.

Ahem.

Luckily, somebody’s decided to let Joss Whedon out of movie jail and given him the chance to make amends for bombing so badly last time out by making something with sure-fire commercial potential – a can’t-miss, four-quadrant, summer blockbuster of a flick.

He’s only gone and made a Shakespeare adaptation!  Why, you’d almost think that he’d just made a billion dollar superhero smash and thus had carte blanche to follow his muse, call in some mates and make the Bard relevant to Generation Twitter.  Such absurdity!  It’s almost as if you have to direct a successful movie version of “Much Ado…” in order to be allowed the keys to the House of Ideas movie toy box…

 

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2012 in review – Reeling in Films

As each year rolls to a close, I find myself desperately Googling lists of films which opened in the year in an effort to determine what I actually saw at the cinema.  You may encounter a similar situation – did I really enjoy that movie this year or did it come three years ago and I’ve only just caught up with it?

That said, I’m pretty sure that I can post a solid top five movies of the year – all of which are mostly perfectly defensible.  Ahem…

1) Brave

Women with bows and/or arrows - you couldn't avoid them in 2012 pop culture

Women with bows and/or arrows – you couldn’t avoid them in 2012 pop culture

I hated “Cars” so much that I purposefully avoided “Cars 2” when it opened last year.  I know people who loved both movies, but I’m firmly of the belief that I’ll only see it when it ends up free to watch on TV.  I’m happy to say that “Brave” reaffirmed my belief in Pixar’s storytelling abilities and seemed, at times, made for me.

Set in Scotland? Check.  Strong-willed heroine with character layers and imperfections?  Check.  Knockabout comedy and thrilling action sequences?  Oh yes.   Amazing voice cast? Emma Thompson, Kelly McDonald, Billy ConnollyCraig FergusonRobbie ColtraneJulie Walters – check-a-mundo.

And how bold of Pixar to essentially pull the rug from underneath you in the cinema and deliver a film which is quite different from the one advertised – there’s plentiful adventure to behold in this film but also a really interesting meditation on family and obligation which the trailers didn’t exactly shy away from but certainly managed to undersell.

My favourite Pixar movie is “Ratatouille” but this glorious adventure runs it a close second – if you didn’t get to see it in cinemas, I heartily recommend picking it up and wallowing in master storytellers weaving a brilliant yarn.  I’ve not loved an animated feature as much since “How To Train Your Dragon”, which is high praise indeed.

"Fanboys?  Let them eat Mjolnir!"

“Fanboys? Let them eat Mjolnir!”

2) “Avengers Assemble”

Joss Whedon – the vindication!  You may have seen this film once or twice.  I saw it three times theatrically, a couple of times since on Blu-Ray (full disclosure – I own two copies of it, as the UK release ditched various features and a Whedon commentary track).  The culmination of the first phase of Marvel’s Movie Take-Over didn’t disappoint, pitting the cast of bickering heroes against a galactic scale threat and finding a way, finally, to bring the Hulk to thrilling life via Mark Ruffalo and some absurdly brilliant CG wizardry.

Whedon’s voice remained undimmed by the demands of the multiple characters – much to the chagrin of his vocal detractors – and he managed to miraculously balance the demands of mythology, actor screen time, the expected summer movie explosions-per-second ratio and his own fan base to deliver a superhero smack down for the ages.  If you ever read comics as a kid, this movie was pitched directly at you and realised in vivid detail those action figure battles you sketched out at eight years old in the school playground.

Plus, you know, Shawarma.

Genre cannon fodder, meet your puppeteers...

Genre cannon fodder, meet your puppeteers…

3) “Cabin In The Woods”

It really is better if you know as little as possible about this film before you see it, such is its puppyish determination to take what you know and love about horror cinema and then twist it, delivering a glorious, genre-warping ride which celebrates the scare-flick even as it places some of its more objectionable stylistic tropes under an exacting microscope.

Best ending of the year?  Quite possibly.

4) “The Pirates! In An Adventure With Scientists”

More jokes per minute than any movie this year and most of them are brilliant...

More jokes per minute than any movie this year and most of them are brilliant…

The latest from Aardman Animation arrived in cinemas in the spring and departed with indecent haste, which says to me that a great many people didn’t get to enjoy this joke-stuffed, superbly inventive pirate adventure and that’s a great shame.  This is a hilarious movie, with fantastic performances from Hugh Grant, Martin Freeman and David Tennant, staggering levels of detail crammed into each gorgeous frame of this stop motion work of art and a really infectious sense of off-kilter humour – it is, in essence, a Monty Python movie for kids and if that doesn’t recommend it to you, I really don’t think that there’s any hope for you.

=5) “The Woman In Black”

What Harry Did Next

What Harry Did Next

A genuine breath of swampy, slightly decaying air, “The Woman In Black” capitalizes royally on our fear of creaking furniture in quiet old houses, of unexplainable noises late at night, of the thing that you glimpse for a second from the corner of your eye and delivers a bone-chilling, restrained journey into terror which eschews gore for melancholy, substitutes atmosphere for flashy jump scares and shows the idiots cranking out PG-13, pseudo ‘found footage’ schlock just how to genuinely unsettle an audience.

Daniel Radcliffe is superb in the lead as haunted young lawyer Arthur Kipps, wrestling bravely with events that he can never hope to understand and confirming that his will be a long and storied career if he continues to make smart choices like appearing in this film.  He’s already an audience identification figure for a generation of movie-goers and this film trades on that, using his iconic, essentially decent countenance to draw us into a Victorian milieu which is swiftly and convincingly drawn as a stultifying and closed-off nightmare – Kipps’ job-stipulated stay in a possibly haunted, rickety old mansion seems positively inviting by comparison.

More scares per minute than any other film in 2012?  I should say so.

=5) “Resident Evil: Retribution”

Evil goes virtual, more like...

Not so much a film as cinematic DLC. Yep, a bit of a tough sell…

Suck it haters!

 

In dispatches, I should also mention the likes of James Bond adventure, “Skyfall”, Christopher Nolan‘s audience dividing but audacious trilogy-capper, “The Dark Knight Rises“, Peter Jackson’s little movie that could, “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey“, genius bare knuckle, sci-fi adaptation, “Dredd”, gleefully daffy TV remake “21 Jump Street”, putative epic sci-fantasy adventure “John Carter”, vamps versus werewolves franchise entry “Underworld: Awakening“, Ridley Scott‘s return to the “Alien” universe in “Prometheus”, addled fantasy revisionism “Snow White and the Huntsman“, mumble-core superhero fable, “Chronicle”  and Sony’s promising, web-slinging reboot, “The Amazing Spider-Man”.

And 2013 brings us a new “Star Trek”, “Elysium”, “Oblivion”, “Riddick”, “Iron Man 3”, “After Earth”, “Pacific Rim”, “Ender’s Game”, “Thor: The Dark World” and “The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug” from merely the Sci-Fi and Fantasy film spheres – there’s a huge movie at the multiplex seemingly every month and I’d guess that I’ll get to see a mere fraction of those titles at the movies next year.

Which is kind of where we came in, isn’t it?

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A Fistful of Princesses?

 

Image

 

This shall not stand!

The Gameological Society – go there, read upon their assessment of games, become informed – have summed up one of the year’s defining news stories with a sweet flash game which allows you to make your own “Star Wars” Episode 7 film.

Despite the nerd-o-riffic dream team of Jane Espenson writing, Joss Whedon directing and Nathan Fillion starring, the above screen grab indicates precisely how successful that particularly geeky brains trust would be in rendering a new adventure set in a galaxy far, far away.

Tis a fix, I tells you – a fix!

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Ant Attack!

Wright here, right now…

Permit me, if you will, a prolonged nerdy squee of joy…

Edgar Wright is directing Ant Man and it now has one of those handy release date thingies – November 6, 2015.   It’s a real thing!

As Empire Online‘s story on the matter so accurately observes, this places the film into wave two of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, with the adventures of Dr Hank Pym/Scott Lang/Eric O’ Grady opening but a few short months after Joss Whedon‘s eagerly awaited sequel, “Avengers Part Deux: Funk Odyssey” (title not yet confirmed, fact fans).

The chatter must now begin about who’s going to be in it – crosses fingers, wishes for Nick Frost – and how it all fits into the increasingly bonkers and utterly cosmic MarvelVerse.  Broadly realistic action adventure along the lines of “Iron Man” or go-for-broke comic freak-out with mind-blasting special effects aplenty?

The genius behind “Scott Pilgrim“, “Hot Fuzz“, “Shaun of the Dead” and lovely, lovely “Spaced” getting to play with all the toys in the toy cupboard?  As previously stated in the “Pacific Rim” post at the weekend – Take my money! Now!

Related Malarkey:

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Alternate “Avengers” Awesomeness Amazes?

“And this is the bit where more amazeballs awesomosity is going to go…”

In the spirit of global collaboration and nerd-sharing, it behoves me to direct you towards io9.com, who currently have an alternate opening sequence for “The Avengers” posted on their site.  It’s a really interesting choice and I can absolutely see why it went the way of all flesh – I can’t imagine many fans digging the ‘unreliable narrator‘/alternate perspective direction that this opening implies, intriguing as it might have been…

If I know Marvel (and their dark corporate over-Mice, Walt Disney) this won’t be up for long but you will be able to peruse it at your leisure in a few weeks when Joss Whedon‘s superhero opus is out on DVD, Blu-Ray, digital download and can settle the question once and for all – how did this film and “The Dark Knight Rises” both manage to independently construct endings which pivot on wide-ranging moral choices selflessly enacted by rakish billionaires who moonlight as technologically advanced fighters of crime.

And no, h8t0rz, that doesn’t mean that Hollywood has no ideas.  Just not that many.

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Gunn Guiding “Guardians”?

 

“Guardians of the Galaxy” – the most out-there choice for a Marvel franchise yet?

If there’s one constant in the choices that Marvel has made for their cinematic offerings to date, it’s the bold and unusual choices they’ve made behind the cameras.

Here to make your Marvel movie that bit weirder – James Gunn

Jon Favreau, Louis Leterrier, Kenneth Branagh – to that list of unexpected shot callers now add Marvel Studios’ apparent choice to skipper their “Guardians of the Galaxy” adaptation – James Gunn.  If you’re a fan of the B-movie-and-proud-of-it likes of “Slither” and “Super”, you’ll be both familiar with his work and perhaps also wondering what the jiggins Marvel’s finest saw in those brilliantly demented, defiantly non-mainstream genre pics which assured them that Gunn is the guy to make their next $200 million sci-fi tentpole flick.

An eccentric choice, certainly, but perhaps Gunn’s uniquely bonkers viewpoint is what you need when your main characters include a sentient space plant and a pissed-off, gun-toting racoon.

I don’t know what’s being placed in the coffee over at Marvel Studios, but long may it continue.

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Joss back for more “Avengers”, shiny awesome badassery to ensue…

“And the awesome sauce shall be liberally sprinkled behind me. Make it so, CG elves!”

Is it Summer 2015 yet?

Disney have announced, via one of those highfalutin financial call things, that Joss Whedon will write, direct, act-out motion capture reference material, pen delightful ditties and liberally sprinkle his particular brand of spectacular nerdery over the “Avengers 2: Thanos Boogaloo” sequel.

Apparently, and who would have thought it, earning $1.5 billion at the box office tends to make you popular and beloved with studios, don’t you know?  It couldn’t have happened to a nicer multi-media hypethenate.

Assembled. Any questions?

Whedon’s deal locks him into Disney’s mousy embrace until 2015 and includes input into the much-rumoured Marvel Universe television drama and other Marvel flicks, which I suspect is the kind of vote of confidence that must be nice to have.

So, Thanos and some galaxy-bestriding, cosmic adventuring, budget-smashing shenanigans then?  Sounds lovely.

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