Tag Archives: Scarlett Johansson

Besson dreams of “Lucy”

“I’m very silently judging you”

Suddenly, “Nikita” seems very far away…or does it?

The Hollywood Reporter’s “Heat Vision” blog today reported on director Luc Besson’s next actioner, “Lucy”, which has a plotline so deranged as to makes Besson’s “Taken” series look like the work of Michael Haneke.

Johansson’s character is a drug mule whose exposure to the illicit substance she’s transporting turns her into a one woman take-down machine, impervious to pain and telekinetic to boot.

If you read that log line and said to yourself, “I’d sooner eat my crusty toenails in a sandwich than watch that”, I fully sympathise – but you’re reading the blog of the man who willingly exposes himself to “Resident Evil” movies and counts the “Underworld” franchise as one of his favourite movie jams.

Don't Look Down...

Don’t Look Down…

Taste, or my lack of thereof, somewhat suggests that I’ll be turning out for this movie on opening weekend.  I’m not sure when Besson went from the enfant not especially terrible of French cinema to the guy behind goofy actioners like “The Transporter” films or my favourite of his obscurities as a producer, “Yamakasi”, but I’m not about to deny that I love many of his – shall we say – more lightweight endeavours…

 

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Appropriate Attired Adventurers Assemble!

Well, this is awesome.

Image

Fantasy and SF book blog A Dribble of Ink turned me onto this neat Tumblr – Women Fighters in Reasonable Armour and I’m rather taken with it.  It collates examples of fantasy and SF artwork depicting female characters garbed in attire which is actually practical and appropriate to the ass kickery which they are engaged in.

I’ve blogged about this before in relation to my beloved “Resident Evil” and “Underworld” movie series – and I guess that there’s an tie-in with the current blockbuster “Avengers” movie – in which your strong, competent heroines are togged out in PVC/Leather catsuits or some derivation thereof.  I’ve found it a bit curious, to be honest, with all kinds of mixed messages suggesting themselves:  I love the (mostly) empowered heroines, I’m just not crazy about the ass-hugging camera angles frequently employed to depict them.

It’s that cross-over point between agency and objectification – which I’m sure as hell not smart enough to figure out by myself (there may be that undeniable masculine perspective which is also standing in the way of better understanding).  That said, I feel that the issue goes something like this – the phenomenon of ‘male gaze‘ is the problem in most depictions of otherwise strong female characters in genre entertainment.

Let’s say that two directors on a film both shoot variations on the same scene with a female warrior in an action scene.  The details of the scene are identical, but for the way that the female character is shot – one director frames the female character neutrally, allowing her to proceed through the sequence without the camera lingering on her body or focussing on anatomy in any particular way.  The other guy is Michael Bay.

Rosie Huntington-Whitely - also pictured, Michael Bay's explosive super-ID...

You can begin to see the problem if you took in a screening of the thirdTransformers film – in which Bay’s camera leered so constantly after star Rosie Huntington-Whitely‘s rear end that it was possible to conclude that the director missed his calling in life and might have sought more appropriate employment as a proctologist.

It’s possible to argue that Hollywood’s M.O. is to market around visuals and aesthetics, so can’t do anything but focus on eye candy and create narratives in which the visual shorthand is paramount (no pun intended), but there’s got to be a point in superhero narratives, fantasy fiction and sci-fi stories where common sense prevails and the heroines aren’t attired in costumes which make no fricking sense.

Jim C Hines - making my point about the 'male gaze' in hilarious fashion.

If Hollywood starts insisting that Jason Statham wear armour-plated Speedos as he kicks in henchmen’s teeth and that action heroes have to be dressed in as vulnerable a fashion as possible, I suppose that we might be said to have reached some kind of parity in the depiction of  the genders when every hot dude is being as exploited as much as every beautiful gal.  Over in the realm of fiction, writers have been engaging with the silly archetypes and imagery being used to market their novels – witness io9’s posts on fantasy writer Jim C. Hines, who has been writing a series of blog posts deconstructing some of the tactics used to market books to readers in a charming and self-effacing way.

Sensible armour, worn by a sensible young woman. Almost makes up for Bella in "Twilight" being such a drip, doesn't it?

There is hope, of course – forthcoming summer fantasy blockbuster “Snow White & The Huntsman” goes some way towards depicting a capable heroine who doesn’t have to wear a chain mail bikini to wield a sword and punch undead beasties in the ‘nards, the “Alien” prequel which isn’t, Ridley Scott‘s “Prometheus”, seems to wait a decent amount of time before finding a narrative reason for female lead Noomi Rapace to show up in her pants and even the catsuited heroine of “The Avengers”, Scarlett Johansson‘s Black Widow, might be wearing a catsuit but isn’t striking cheesecake poses, breaking a heel and waiting for her male compadre to save her.

Do these archetypes exist because we’ve established a taste for them as an audience or because we’ve been told that this depiction of heroes and heroines is what we want?

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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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“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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Empire magazine goes “Avengers” cover crazy…

One of Empire magazine's four "Avengers" covers for their March 2012 issue...

Because I’m a massive swine, I’ve not linked to the Scarlett Johansson cover – if you hit up the story on Empire’s website, you can take a look for yourself at the FOUR (count ’em) cover images being used on the magazine’s March 2012 issue.

Yes, I know that it’s still January, but the publishing industry moves mysteriously and is frequently beyond our ken.

“The Avengers” opens on the 27th of April in the UK – if I was the kind of Geek who queued way in advance for movies, you would be reading a blank page now.

 

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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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