Tag Archives: Mark Ruffalo

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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“The Avengers” – the Fluffrick review.

"The Avengers" - they're Earth's mightiest heroes, you know...

‘Joyous’ is the first word which comes to mind when discussing Joss Whedon‘s landmark superhero action adventure extravaganza, “The Avengers” (I can’t be bothered with that goofy UK re-titling – if there’s genuinely anybody in the country who could confuse these Marvel superheroes with John Steed and Emma Peel, the odds are quite good that they’re not in the demographic for this film anyway.  “The Avengers” it is, then).

Take a bow, folks, take a bow...

It’s a two and a half hour thrill ride quite unlike any of the other Marvel comic adaptations – the ensemble nature of the story makes it different and the dynamics brought to the film by the actors involved also help in that regard.  What’s actually different about this film is the scale of the piece – its bloody massive and fully deserves what might seem an excessive running time to fit everything in.  There’s no bloat here – not at all.

I wouldn’t dream of spoiling things for you, but I will say that your enjoyment of “The Avengers” is going to be very dependent on which of the team is your particular favourite – unsurprisingly, Joss Whedon gives Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow some decent stuff to do, but I was surprised by how well he balanced screen time for the principal characters and the supporting cast.  I’m a Tony Stark guy myself, but I really warmed to Mark Ruffalo‘s Bruce Banner/Hulk and the prospect of a movie starring the latter would really sit well with me after this film.

Whedon’s often been criticised for not filling the screen in the same way as some feature directors do – ‘he’s a TV director’ is often the cry, but it’s one which I feel could be reasonably silenced by the way that Whedon works with his director of photography Seamus McGarvey in this film.  If you’re still of the opinion, after seeing this film, that Whedon doesn’t know how to stage large-scale action sequences or throw special effects around with abandon, perhaps you might want to see the film without the chip on your shoulder and the blindfold over your eyes.

It’s a spectacular film – you wouldn’t really it want it to be any other way, but it genuinely feels appropriately big, thrilling and eye catching, all without some of the hand-held camera work and distracting editing which blights a lot of would-be action flicks.  You can see what’s happening, know where the characters are on-screen and have a sense of what’s happening from moment to moment which seems as though it should be a bare minimum or sign of competence for a film maker but sadly seems to be an increasingly forgotten art.  Thank Whedon for that.

I didn’t want to do spoilers, and this isn’t a spoiler in the truest sense of the term, but there’s one shot in the movie (in the climactic battle) which takes Whedon’s love of long takes and extended camera shots and runs with it – you’ll know it when you see it, because you’ll be grinning like a loon as you watch your every comic book team fantasy put on-screen seamlessly.

It’s not perfect – the initial coming together of the team takes a while to reach a point which really drives the plot forward – but “The Avengers” gets so many things right that it feels churlish to moan about little things.  I’m confident in saying that your inner Leonard, Sheldon, Howard, Raj and Penny would find something to enjoy in this film – it’s catnip for comic book fans, just plain exciting for regular citizens and a sterling effort by all concerned.

Joss Whedon – you’ve done us all proud and I thank you for it.

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“Avengers” premiere – early buzz leaking out…

Yep, not enough awesome in that pic.

So, there’s this small superhero flick opening in a few weeks – you may have read the odd post about it on this blog?

“The Avengers”  (or “Avengers Assemble“, if you live in a small and confused island in Northern Europe) had a glitzy premiere in Los Angeles last night and has prompted very positive early reactions from the jammy sods press types who were lucky enough to see it.

My personal highlight of the Tweet-fest,  from noted contrarian and geek critic Devin Faraci of BadAssDigest

“AVENGERS is good enough to make me forgive IRON MAN 2“.

Yoink!  Not that “Iron Man 2” was that bad – that Monte Carlo fight scene kicks all kinds of booty – but it’s probably the biggest misstep in Marvel movies to date.  Another movie in a young series which ends with an extended action sequence which plays like a rejected pitch for a Rock ‘Em Sock ‘Em Robots movie is not my idea of moving the franchise forward – I’m guessing that the team dynamic of the Avengers squad may have something to do with Faraci’s reaction.

Joss Whedon, nerd-father rising. Haters to the left, if you please...

Your actual, proper reviews are still embargoed but I don’t see that state of affairs continuing much longer if this early buzz is any indicator…

 

 

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Superhero Bits & Bobs, for Easter 2012

Hulk crave delicious Empanada yet realises cholesterol is an issue...

The Irish Avenger’s YouTube channel has two new tv spots up for Avengers Assemble – look for the extended Captain America and “Team” spots for more awesome Cap and Hulk action.  He’s also helpfully got the clip of Black Widow escaping capture in a fashion so Whedonesque it brings tears of joy to the eye.

The pic above is new, too – don’t you just love how the CG artists have managed to invest the digital Hulk model with Mark Ruffalo‘s salt-and-pepper hair colouring.  That’s bloody art that is…

Now that The Hunger Games opened and made a few bob – $269 million in the US, at last count – Fox are understandably eager to exploit her rising fame and exercise their option to cast her in the now-greenlit “X-Men: First Class” sequel, per this story on SuperHeroHype.

Matthew Vaughn is directing again, so expect the X-folk to interact with historical events and all the female characters to walk around in lingerie for a good portion of the running time.  Feminism, eh, Matthew – what is it all about?

AMC’s Film Critic blog has an interesting list of the best comic book movie trailers – whilst there are some solid and expected choices listed, I’d like to put my two pence in for the non-DC/Marvel likes of “Scott Pilgrim Vs The World” and the “Hellboy 2” trailer (the former for being amazeballs, the latter for establishing that “Hellboy 2” was a real thing and still chock full of visually arresting Del Torian surrealist gloriousness).

"Joss, are you sure this is my most heroic side?"

The “Captain America” sequel has a release date – April 4, 2014 and follows on from this summer’s “Avengers” movie  in a contemporary time-frame.

Finally, Slashfilm offers a review of Morgan Spurlock’s “Comic-Con Episode Four: A Fan’s Hope” documentary, which was already on my radar due to it being produced by Joss Whedon and now looks like that rare thing – the nerd doc which gets things right.  Imagine that…

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“Avengers” Assemble new trailer…

Is it the end of April yet?  No?  Oh well, I suppose that I’ll just have to make do with this new trailer for Joss Whedon‘s upcoming “Avengers” movie.

Hulk like trailer! Trailer full of Hulk Win! Hulk smash aliens good!

Of course, you’ll be noticing the odd title change that the film’s had in Europe – presumably so as not to convince the three people who went to see the ill-advised Ralph Fiennes/Uma Thurman “Avengers” movie back in 1998, the Marvel film is now “Avengers Assemble” in my neck of the global woods.

Well, at least they're not calling it "Super Happy Marvel Team Up Explosion", I suppose...

So, why not head over to our friends at The Mary Sue and get your face smacked up by the new hotness?  If you have Fan/Nerd/Geek Squee, prepare to unleash it.

Guys, what was that thing about Joss Whedon randomly killing us off for giggles?

Once you get past all of the urban combat stuff which looks neat but uncomfortably close to the mise-en-mayhem of Michael Benjamin Bay, there’s a bunch of new stuff in this trailer which had me air-punching and chuckling at the massive scale madness and the toys that Whedon has to play with.

Hawkeye, in the air, shooting arrows at suckers, like a boss...

There may well be a distinct lack of posting on April 26th, by way of an advanced heads-up – it appears that I’ll be too busy picking my jaw up off the floor to do much in the way of blogging…

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New “Avengers” trailer, anyone?

First things first – it’s in German.  So, if you’ve ever entertained the notion of Scarlett Johansson having an even huskier, European accent – your Christmas has arrived early.

For everyone else, there are a few different sequences herein than seen in the earlier teaser trailer – the aforementioned ScarJo meeting Mark Ruffalo in pre-Hulk mode is new.

Scarlett. What else do you need to know?

There’s also a good sense of how sensitive, thoughtful, character-centric geek auteur Joss Whedon gets down when given the opportunity to blow things up:

Stitch that, Michael Bay!

There’s some seriously nice eye-candy for most viewers of this trailer, whether your taste runs to hot Nordic dudes swinging their hammers:

Imagine a Captain Hammer vs Thor battle. Oh, the possibilities....

Or bad-ass captains of industry out for a night flight:

This is, I believe, the Mark 3,987 Iron Man suit. Give or take.

It’s all kinds of sweet, even when you can’t understand a bally word those nice German voice over actors are saying.

I won’t lie – I’m super-hyped for this one.

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“The Avengers” trailer.

"The Avengers" trailer is here...and it's awesome.

Happy Tuesday, Geek/Nerd Nation.  The rumours were true and we have a lovely HD trailer for Joss Whedon’s forthcoming “Avengers” movie to enjoy.

Explosions? Oh yes.  Ms Johansson looking unflappable amidst a symphony of chaos and/or mayhem? Check. Robert Downey Jnr getting all the best damn lines?   You know it.

I’m a Whedon devotee, so I should recuse myself from comment but suffice is to say that this Marvel movie looks like an unending banquet of awesome sauce, served with wafers of fried gold and a complementary bottle of whup ass.

Nice Nine Inch Nails song, too.

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