Tag Archives: Kick Ass

“The Avengers” – a reading list


Just seen “The Avengers?  About to see “The Avengers” for the fourth or fifth time?  Not entirely sure who these “Avengers” folks are and just what all the fuss is about?  Don’t worry about it – Den of Geek has your back.

DoG’s writer James Hunt has compiled a handy cheat sheet for reading material which might tickle your fancy after viewing Joss Whedon‘s face-meltingly awesome superhero adventure and I heartily concur with some of Hunt’s choices.  Just be forewarned that the list can be considered rather spoiler-filled if you’ve not yet seen the film and have been observing radio silence prior to its release.

Right off the bat – check out “The Ultimates volume one and two.  You’ll find them very familiar if you’ve seen any of the Marvel Studios films.  Whedon’s film feels like a cover version, to some extent – bits and bobs from the original comics appear in the film, but he hasn’t slavishly copied anything and invents some other plot strands which are as satisfying as the ones weaving their way through Mark Millar‘s story.   Whedon’s tone is also distinctly different from Millar – compare Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Hit Girl from Millar’s “Kick Ass” and you might sense that the two writers approach an empowered heroine from distinctly different viewpoints.

The Whedon run on Astonishing X-Men is also worth your time – it fell victim to scheduling delays, which rather rankled, but was quality storytelling for the most part from a writer who genuinely loves the comics medium and its history.

If you fought the action in "The Avengers" was nuts...

I was really into the Marvel event “Civil War”, which would arguably make a better movie than comic – the spectacle and hero against hero conflict is inherently dramatic and there’s a chance to fix the somewhat underwhelming ending of the story if it gets a big screen makeover, too.  You can almost see the roots of this story being set down in “The Avengers” – I’ll not spoil your experience of the film by saying any more…

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David Cameron – cinematic visionary?

Would you buy a summer blockbuster from this man?

Oh blimey, he’s at it again.

When he’s not burbling on about his grand plans for Britain to reclaim the moral and ethical high ground by becoming a Big Society (a notion so vague that I’m not sure even he knows what it actually means), British prime minister David Cameron has designs on telling the UK’s film industry how to suck eggs.

In a story best outlined in Empire Online’s post today, Cameron’s upcoming visit to Pinewood studios (home of the Bond series and just about any big film made in Britain during the last thirty years or so) saw him giving words of advice to the film industry.

If you guessed that those words included ‘entrepreneurial’, ‘commercial’ and ‘mainstream’, give yourself a pat on the back and wonder for a second just why it is that Cameron seems to believe that he knows better than people who, you know, make movies for a living.

Whilst he’s welcome to his opinion (and that opinion, unusually,  isn’t wholly devoid of worth), the fact of the matter is that the film industry can’t just up and decide to suddenly make successful mainstream movies  with a 100% hit rate – if there was some magic process that writers, producers and directors could follow which miraculously won the hearts and minds of audiences with pitch-perfect precision, don’t you think that they would be using it and that the UK would have a studio system and intellectual property/franchise pipeline that would rival Hollywood?

“The King’s Speech”, lest we forget, is about the furthest thing from an obvious hit that I can imagine – a period piece about a member of the royal family with a speech impediment isn’t the sort of movie that most people would rush out to see on the basis of the premise alone, unless they were history nuts, royalists or just really wanted to get out of the house for a few hours.

Similarly, I don’t think anybody could have predicted that “The Inbetweeners Movie” would have given the final “Harry Potter” film a run for its money at the UK box office last year – a gross-out teen comedy based on a tv series isn’t a sure-fire prospect and yet it was a runaway hit over here in 2011.

The business of deciding what kind of project has potential commercial appeal is a fraught one and anybody who tells you that they have a certain formula for generating popular film or TV series probably has some magic beans which they’d quite like to sell you.  If Hollywood can’t get us to go to movies like “The Green Lantern” – a supposed ‘sure thing’ comic book adaptation from last year which disappointed many, with a complement of big special effects, attractive lead actors and more explosions during it’s running time than Blake Lively’s had hot dinners – with all of the money, media and power that it wields, what chance does a nascent British film maker stand?

I’d quite like the UK film industry to be in rude enough health to be able to greenlight more genre films along with the smaller, more idiosyncratic fare which we’ve been so good at in the past but the fact remains that we don’t have the system currently operating which would allow that.

For every commercially savvy producer turned director like the helmer of “Kick Ass”, Matthew Vaughn, there’s a number of equally gifted film makers who have to head overseas to make their movies because that’s where the money is.  We have actors, writers, producers, craftspeople, directors and facilities like Leavesden and Pinewood but we don’t have the studios and distribution network which can spend money to make and then push the final film into the market place – it’s been a problem since the 1980’s and  it hasn’t gotten any better in the meantime.

Until David Cameron manages to sort out that slight wrinkle in his otherwise brilliant plan, his advice on how the UK film industry can improve its lot frankly carries no more weight than my musings do.

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