White House Down -
This movie suffered from coming out at the same time with Olympus has Fallen, a movie with a very similar premise but generally a much worse film. However White House Down is every the insanity and tension of an 80's action film with the politics of left wing America today. The closest comparison is Die Hard, battling a force greater then you in an enclosed space with a loved one in the balance. The difference being, the rather lofty task of being as charismatic as young Bruce Willis is split between President 'No I swear it's not Obama' Jamie Fox and the every man, ex-service man Channing Tatum.
If you are an action movie fan, rent it and give them some money cause this is Roland Emerich's most enjoyable film since Independence Day.
Beautiful Creatures -
Time for the YA romance adaptations... and there were a LOT in 2013. I still haven't managed to catch up on them all yet. However Beautiful Creatures was the stand out for me. It's, not without it's problems. The climax in particular is, rushed and awkward. The idea that men area able to chose their path while women are chosen for light or dark by... something... the moon, I think? Irritated me, however the movie does it so they can deal with the concept. It's always difficult to criticise the 'we are using misogynistic ideas for tension... but we keep pointing to them and saying they are misogynistic, that makes it ok right?' Still, this is a beautiful film. I hadn't considered how seenic that area of America was before. On top of that it gets bonus points for having the couple TALK about their problems and agree to work it out together.
The Host -
So... here's the Stephanie Meyer drinking game. Take a shot every time:
- A female character tries to Martyr herself
- A male love interest is physically or emotionally abusive (or becomes the love interest after doing so)
- A far more interesting plot/character/idea is brought up briefly only to be glossed over
- Finish your drink after 15 minutes of characters doing NOTHING
That all said... I was actually hoping for something more terrible than what the Host was, being a connoisseur of bad movies. The Host's biggest crime is being dull, being very safe with a concept that is crying out for a better writer. That said, I think there is a dramatic improvement between the Twilight Saga and the Host... so hey, at least she's learning.
Dhoom 3 -
How have I lived my life for so long without seeing a Bollywood film?
The sheer campish brilliance of a film that will mix genres depending on scene, have actors give their all in every moment with the occasional musical interlude. Dhoom 3 is the first fully Bollywood film that was made and marketed with a clear goal of an American audience. The villain is amazing while the hero's fill the typical buddy cop roles of straight guy and funny guy. If you are looking for a well made, utterly shameless movie in its enjoyment.
More quick bits will come later, in the mean time get yourself to a TV and put in a copy of White House Down or Dhoom 3.
Ok, I should explain where I am coming from with this film.
I did not want to see this, I'd heard good things but personally can't stand a lot of movies that focus on the issues of AIDS, homophobia and drug dealing. I always feel uncomfortable when these issues are explored. I don't have a great frame of reference, I have a few friends who are in the LGBT community and have experienced homophobia but never when I've been around. I am too young to have lived through the massive AIDS scare and even though I know it still exists, it just doesn't affect my life. On top of that, when I heard drug dealing I pretty much shut down, I hate the way the movies moralize and are rarely anything more than a PSA.
However, my boyfriends family had tickets to the moonlight cinema so, I decided to give it a go.
I have never been so glad I gave a movie a chance. Everything that I usually hate about these kinds of movies is skimmed over for a well built character drama and a battle against a failed system.
Honestly, it reminds me most of Erin Brockovich as a film. Which I did like although
I feel it was quiet flawed, you were also always aware you were watching a movie.
Dallas Buyers Club's strength is how real it feels, everyone is believable as a person not just a character. Matthew McConaughey has been having a fantastic time in films of late, the last few years he seems to have been able to break away from his type cast as 'past boyfriend you probably broke up with for very good reasons, but you'll get back together with by the end of the movie'. And I am glad because he was fantastic in this, I've also heard amazing things about him in Mud (2012), and his brief role in Wolf of Wall Street. Both of which I haven't seen yet.
Jared Leto was also amazing as his transgender business partner, McConaughey was able to stand out more because his character had an arc, it was his story. The weakest role was probably Jennifer Garner, she was the one most obviously acting.
I'd heartily recommend seeing this, I can't say how accurate a true story it is, after all every film based on a true story has to be changed to some degree.
The acting is excellent, the cinematography great and the script tight.
The idea for Her is one that is so easily messed up, a man falls in love with his operating system. To many it sounds silly, a comedy or an exploration of madness perhaps; but a legitimate romance?
Her deals lightly with that idea, Theodore Twombly (played by Joaquin Phoenix) does experience confusion, insecurity and judgement for being in a relationship with the A.I. Samantha (Scarlett Johansson). However that is not the focus, the movie is not about people's perception of A.I's as much as it is an exploration of love; as well as a coming of age story. Not for Theodore, but for Samantha.
I should clarify something for those who aren't familiar with the technology this films relies on. An A.I (Artificial Intelligence) such as Samantha is implied to be one that has reached the singularity. The Singularity is the point as which intelligence can augment itself. That is to say, an A.I can increase it's own intelligence. Her's interpretation of this is that an A.I past the point of singularity can experience emotions (a similar idea is being played out in Transcendence to a very different effect). It is so complete a being that the only distinction between it and a human is that it evolves and changes so much faster than us.
In the world of the movie, Samantha is completely capable of love. She does not pretend, and although her knowledge is already greater than a humans and is exponentially expanding it is without experience. Which is what Theodore is able to provide. Samantha is continuously growing throughout the movie and I simply can't say where that journey takes her.
The movie subtly makes assertions throughout the movie that love, that is the love between humans, already has an artificial element to it. Theodore's job, which I won't spoil, is all about how a little bit of artificial helps make the 'real' love so much more powerful.
This film is unyieldingly uncomfortable to watch, even before the concept of true A.I's are introduced. It will make you squirm in your chair but never look away from the screen, and that's part of it's power. It isn't interested in romanticising human to human or human to A.I, or even A.I. to A.I. Every relationship has fights, has uncomfortable silences, has pain and then has those beautiful moments when things just go right.
This film is about growth, about change, and most of all about love.
Go an see it, because even if you don't come to the same conclusion of the movie. This film, may become reality. It is estimated that we will be seeing true A.I. within 50 years. It raises ideas and concepts worth discussing and thinking about.
On top of that, you will simply be seeing one of the best films of 2013/2014. As well as some of the finest acting from Johansson who brings across her performance solely through voice.
For those interested in the Singularity - this is an easy video that explains it and was my introduction to the concept.
Hey everyone, welcome to a new section. Just a thought posts will be my own personal opinion about trends and idea's rather than my critiques and opinions about particular works. I encourage everyone to challenge me on these thoughts and if you have any suggestions for academic research on them, please comment. I'd love to read it.
Hero's weakness and gender, what exactly do I mean?
While working on some of my own novels and reading a few others I noticed a number of trends about what weakness audiences will and won't accept from their hero's, and that these fell along gender lines. Male hero's are allowed to have certain weakness, and female's their own, often regardless of the character of those individuals regardless of gender.
Males are allowed to be sexually tempted by the villains, give into anger, and pride. Females are allowed to be afraid, be too weak to handle things on their own, and to be hampered by love.
When they are laid out like that... it's more than a little troubling the implied gender expectations that are suggested by this. Males are allowed no emotions but anger and controlled by their penis. While women are weak timid bound by their emotions.
It is so ingrained in the population that when a gender defies the typical weaknesses or characteristics they are called 'coded' in the opposite gender.
In the Hunger Games, Katniss is often talked about as being 'coded' male, exhibiting male traits while Peets is 'coded' feminine.
Coding refers to how to audience interprets the traits, it's usually more clear when referring to sexuality as homosexuality for a long time wasn't allowed to be displayed at all and therefore a number of tricks and troops were created to bring across the idea of homosexuality.
So if you were to have a male who exhibited the feminine 'weakness' of fear, what would you expect? One of 2 things happen, either they are a physically imposing man who shouldn't be scared and pretends not to be till the perfect comedic moment. Or they are physically weak and the fear is genuine and always there for them to overcome. So they are either physically more feminine or the fact that they aren't fitting into their 'male' role is played for laughs.
How deep this coding runs is problematic to discuss as there doesn't appear to be a clear solution, and it can easily be argued that the discussion in itself is causing the problems.
If Katniss having male traits is a problem because it says that females have to adopt male traits in order to be taken seriously as an action lead, than couldn't it be said it is unfair to judge her as a representation and not just as a character. After all there are people who biologically are female but whose personality is "male". However Katniss isn't a person, she is a character and thus the way she is presented to the audience is reflective of society.
Katniss isn't the problem though, we need Katnisss in films/books/games and all types of media. But we also need more than her. We need hero's who are taken seriously representing all kinds of people.
We are a long way away as a society from not thinking in terms of gender coding at both a conscious and subconscious level. Thus in the meantime...
We need more Buffys, more Shaggys, and more Frodos. Characters that mix and blend gender expectations within them.
We need our Arwens, our Peetas and our Mrs Brisby. Characters who coded female.
We also need our Batmen, our Wolverines and our Katnisss. Characters who are coded male with their strengths and weaknesses regardless of their biological gender.
As we slowly work to see more variation in our characters we need to keep the discussion going, we need to make sure that those who are coded female don't just play the role of support to those coded male. I see this as the real danger, that the display of any feminine traits means a character is automatically relegated to sidekick, comedic relief or love interest.
Thor 2, I'm pretty sure I saw it... I remember all these fantastic scenes with Loki... and some form of floaty evil thing that took over Natalie Portman....
Thor 2 is not very memorable is the point I'm trying to make.
It is both plodding and rushed, shallow and for the most part unemotional. There are some really great scenes but they appear far between and are not enough to save the rest of the movie, but let's look at why, because this movie was enjoyable at the time.
I really loved Thor, I considered the first movie to really be a stand out for the Marvel movies. Formulaic yes but also with it's own very unique charm and humour. The lighting was bright and the humour was cute, it trusted the audience to get the jokes without explaining them, the characters were respected by the story. All of that is lost in the new one. Thor 2: the Dark World is unsurprisingly visually a much darker movie, but not only in the dark world. Even the gold of Asgard feels dulled, the bright desert is replaced with a dower looking London so the dark world doesn't appear darker in comparison. It's more Thor 2: The Dark everything.
The humour... ohhh the humour. Do you remember Eric Selvig? The intelligent mentor to Natalie Portman who was off beat but clearly much more aware of what went on in the world, he had had dealings with SHIELD in the past? Well now he's naked... and crazy, and wearing no pants because it helps him think. All with the weak explanation that he had a God in his head... oh well... I guess we can expect Hawk-eye to run into battle in the next Avengers movie is baggy y-fronts as well? No? You just wanted to take your humour tips from the parents in Transformers 2? Well when you do that... amazingly, it ends up not being funny. The only genuine moments of humour come from Loki but I will get to him later when I discuss what actually did work in this movie.
The characters in the first movie were all well defined, deep? Not really, but well defined yes. Why then is Odin, who sent his eldest son to Earth to get him to understand that being king sometimes means not going to war rather than fighting for the sake of fighting and that all life is important not just Asgardian life being such a war hungry a**hole. Odin continues to ignore Thor's plea to listen to alternatives to war even though it will destroy Asgard and refers to Natalie Portman as a goat at the dinning table. What really frustrates me is that this would not have been hard to fix... all Odin had to do was listen to Thor's plan properly and then after consideration say no. Because Thor's plan was fucking stupid. 'I know this guys defeated hundreds of Asgardian warriors and I wasn't even able to stop him breaking into our palace and killing my mother but if I take the one thing he needs to destroy the universe, and fight him alone with only the help of treasonous brother... I'm sure we can win'. Guess what... he doesn't win.
The movie is also so dark I could confuse it for the washed out colours of a DC movie. Now one would assume that Thor: The Dark World would of course be more visually dark to match the content, but everything is dark. London is dark, Asgard is dark, almost every location is darker than the first one so the actual 'dark world' has no visual impact at all. It ends up being Thor: The Dark Universe... with one world that is a lot more sandy. Part of the charm of the first movie was the visual brightness, there is no better way to describe it but Thor felt like it was directed by Gilderory Lockheart. Thor 2... does not.
Enough beating the movie for a moment though, lets look at what did work. I'm not sure if the plan was always to focus on the emotional journey of Loki or if his popularity after the Avengers pushed the film makers to have the entire movie orbit around him. Regardless, Tom Hiddleston's performance is really what saves this movie. Loki's character and his relationships with his mother and brother are the emotional heart of Thor 2. His mother, the warrior Queen Frigga also has one of the best scenes sacrificing herself but going out with an epic one on one battle. This is undermined somewhat as you discover that Natalie Portman was just hiding in the next room... thank Christ the dark elf never looked around the fucking door. I had thought he was able to sense the Ether at all times, but my mistake.
I know, I know... I said I would stop beating on this movie so let me wrap up my final point. I don't think this movie is bad, I wouldn't even go as far as saying it isn't an enjoyable movie. But it is, in my opinion, the weakest of the current Marvel Universe films (those in cannon with Avengers that is). I complain because I love the Marvel movies, and I don't want to see them starting to slip into weaker patterns to push out more movies faster.
Worth seeing, but understandable if you wait till the DVD.
I have returned! I am sure the 5 friends I force to read this are thrilled.
Having finally finished University I feel it is time to really commit to keeping this blog going, as well as getting under way with my novel writing; you will be hearing more about that early next year. And as such, we are introducing the Quick Bits! This is a quick update on the media I have been consuming, what I am looking forward to and what I've had to spit back up. So let's get started!
Trading in Danger by Elizabeth Moon -
I really loved this book, I found it a quick enjoyable read that was very welcoming as an introduction to Space Opera. I hesitate to call it a great book, with the exception of the main character all the characters are very one note and there is a lot of unnecessary detail and events that while I enjoyed, I can see other people having problems with it.
The Other Boylen Girl by Phillipa Gregory -
Inspired by the video podcast book club, Vaginal Fantasy with Felicia day (and 3 other lovely ladies) I've been dipping my tow into the waters of the highly criticised romance genre. Unfortunately I started with this book. I did not like it, I did not finish it, I didn't even get halfway. I don't like leaving a book without giving it a fair go but honestly this book reveled in all the tropes that have so far turned me off romance books.
Thor: The Dark World - Thor 2
Eeeehhhh... While I did enjoy this movie, especially the performance by Tom Hiddleston it was just really cold compared to the first one. It lost the whimsy and characters of the first movie and felt the most formulaic of all the marvel movies to come out of late. I am planning a full review so more details later but I think I can chock this one up to the change in Directors from Kenneth Branagh and Josh Whedon to James Gunn and Alan Taylor.
Catching Fire - Hunger Games 2
Yes, yes... all of the yes. This movie tackled the difficult task of holding the audiences interest between first and third movies. The aesthetic still felt consistent, the actors played their part well although one of my friend felt that Jennifer Lawrence 's facial movements were over the top for emotions. If you enjoyed the first one, you will like the second one and it will get you pumped for the third. A larger evaluation of consequence in YA inspired work will be coming soon.
Superman VS Batman - (still in production)
To say I am mixed on this movie is an understatement. I hate that the next movie DC is making does not star ANY of the other superhero's and instead is just rehashing the only two characters they seem comfortable in showing. However they have suggested that this movie will also cameo Wonder Woman as a lead in to her own movie, FINALLY!!!!!! On top of that the 4 possible laddies they have released for the role are all strong looking woman who I feel would fit the part well. However, apparently they have asked Frank Miller as a consultant... and I do not want him consulting anywhere near the character of Wonder Woman... it has also been said they have gotten Scott Snyder to consult and I am loving his work with the Batman comics at the moment.
I am terra-cited for this film.
More quick bits will come later as well as a few full on reviews.
When I first saw the trailer for this movie an immediate comparison was drawn in my mind. Van Helsing. Supernatural lore turned into action flick with modern(ish) weapons. It is a comparison I have found hard to shake both before and after seeing the movie. I had thought that Hansel and Gretel appeared to be taking it self more seriously which I believed would be its downfall. The weakest points in Van Helsing where when it would switch swiftly between action one liners and flowery dialogue trying to fit the time period more, the moments when it appeared as though it wanted to be smarter than it was.
Hansel and Gretel is one of the stupidest movies I have seen in a while. It is also one of the most successful, well written movies I have seen in a while. It was not written deliberately 'bad' however it is deliberately 'stupid'. The modern dialogue never ends and thus never feels out of place, the weaponry is never explained by some kind of 'Q' monk character it just is there, and the 'twist' this is how the bad guy is related to the good guy completely contained, explained and foreshadowed.
I don't feel the need for movies to have to 'say something' or to forever change the landscape of cinema. Any more than I expect it of every book I read or every comic I read. There will always be room in entertain for things that are just stupid. Not bad, mind you. Normally when things are stupid, they are also bad. Usually leaking with plot wholes, weak characters or offensive stereotyping. This is a good stupid movie. Effort was put into this, they wanted to make a fun movie and they did that. If you're looking for the textbook definition of a 'popcorn' flick this would be it.
For the squeamish, there is a lot of blood... none of it looks real though. It is the horror equivalent of a five year old spraying the walls with tomato sauce, and than throwing spaghetti at it, and than more tomato sauce.
I understand giving this one a miss till the dvd or a good torrent, but if you have the time and the spare cash there are worse ways to spend a couple of hours. 6.5/10
I've been taking a break from movies, comics and books of late. Working on a few projects of my own, but whilst I've been doing this I've been expanding my music tastes. So consider this a list of people its worth checking out. Some you may remember, some you may never have heard of... and some you may be shaking your head at that it took me so long to find, but these are just a few of the people flooding through my speakers.
A while ago my friend had a speakeasy themed party, the music selection was planned to be jazz. Prior to the party I started doing a little digging on some singers. I came across Peggy Lee singing one of her most famous songs... one I had only know from Jessica Rabbit's seductive version in Who Framed Roger Rabbit. Peggy Lee singing 'Why Don't You Do Right?' sent a shiver down my spine and I quickly sought out her greatest hits. Personal favorites at the moment include...
'It's a Good Day'
'Hallelujah, I love him so'
There's always a particular anarchist delight to be found in taking something classical and playing with it. However rather than simply taking the violin and playing famous rock songs such as David Garrett (my second favorite violinist after Lindsey) she brings a whole new energy to it. It can be easy to bring a personality out through vocals, its something that is much harder to do with an instrument. If you haven't seen her work yet, check her out. Even if she doesn't end up being your cup of tea its always good to give some attention to people who use their skills in different ways. Current favorites...
'Zi Zi's journey'
'Song of a Caged Bird'
Hunchback of Notre Dame Soundtrack & Prince of Egypt Soundtrack
I decided to group these together since they are both animated kids movies that, in my opinion, are highly underrated. They are not perfect movies, Hunchback in particular suffers from its... *cough* *cough* comedy relief Gargoyles, however I find the soundtracks to be great listens. If you haven't seen them I'd recommend checking them out, the visuals are actually quiet spectacular. Current favorite songs include...
'The Court of Miracles'
'Through Heaven's Eyes'
Nat 'King' Cole
Unlike Peggy Lee, I had heard the name Nat King Cole before I went searching for jazz singers but I'd never really know his work. Nat's voice is... comforting, I know that's not the most exciting way to describe a singer but it's the word I keep coming back to for him. Don't like it? Give him a listen and come up with something better :P
'Send for Me'
'Those lazy-hazy-crazy days of summer'
This one may be familiar to players of the game Fallout New Vegas
Whilst formally resigned to it's own section at the back of the book store I have been noticing an unyielding prevalence of romance novels in the best seller sections of late. The most inescapable being 50 Shades of Grey. This has been confusing me and the more I thought about it the more it has been making sense as well as infuriating me; I decided I needed to sort out why.
Firstly I believe the reason for the sudden influx of romance novels of late can be traced down to one source. Twilight... Why do I keep finding reasons for getting annoyed at this book. Twilight had revitalized and revamped romance and, whilst not creating, popularizing the 'paranormal romance' genre. Walking in Dymocks the last few days I saw; to my despair, that the paranormal romance section had ballooned to the size of the now joined Fantasy/Sci-fi genre. I don't believe this will be a permanent change; just like all trends it shall ebb and flow into a new one but the fact that paranormal romance is even separate from romance whilst fantasy is now lumped together with Sci-fi is somewhat baffling to me. This is for a very simple; and yet very complex, reason. The internal conflict is dramatically limited in paranormal romance, and yet comes from an almost universal source. And this is 'temptation'.
Before I dive into an analysis of temptation in literature I should first mention my utter distaste for using the word 'universal'. I'm saving my analysis of motivations and internal conflicts in works for a later date as it is truly to large to cover here.
Temptation is something that can be understood simply; a short term benefit for a long term risk. In romance this comes down simply to the more attractive but unstable partner vs the stable yet dull partner/life. Novels using temptation are a way for us to experience the riskier option without the consequences affecting us in real life. So far so good. I don't personally have a problem with romance novels although due to the ease of writing a 'temptation' plot I find a lot of the genre to be... simple at best and laughable at worst. However it still does allow some more conflicts and is not completely limiting.
Paranormal romance however takes this to the furthest level. Not only does it have to rely on temptation we are always aware of what we will be getting and what we will be giving up as a consequence. I cannot, at all, take the paranormal romance genre seriously. I don't mean to offend anyone who does; nor am I saying that any book writing in the genre is automatically worthless. My personal distaste for it comes from a very strong belief that the inherent promise of paranormal romance's temptation is a lie. You will be transformed into an ageless, unchanging frozen moment in time. Just because you biologically do not change does not mean that you are not changing. I'm willing to accept that it is perhaps more difficult for the world to inflict change upon you as you are no longer human but you are not in complete control of events. Things will still happen around you and they will have an affect on you. The point is you are not always going to be the same person as you are when you are 'changed/transformed/having given into the temptation' nor is your partner.
People changing is the inherent risk in romance, both in novels and in life. The chance that this person will not be the same person, five, ten fifty years down the road of being together is not even really a chance... it's a given. Real romances and the best love stories are the ones that cause you to believe that even when the couple change they will love the new partner as much as they loved the one they used to be and not just because of what they used to be. To me; this fact makes the temptation element in paranormal romances simply not worth it. Should the you drift apart in a romance novel you can find something new and meaningful in your world or with other connections such as friends or family. In paranormal romance you are completely isolated; not just from your previous life but from the world. Interview with a Vampire did a fantastic job of displaying and showing this isolation. This forces you to be completely dependent upon the other person for companionship and turns your secluded lovers nest into a personal prison you cannot escape as there is a world outside that you have no bearing on, no real understanding of and no way to enter.
Essentially I find paranormal romance as a genre to be incredibly limited as the core driving force appears to be so cemented in the idea of temptation in a form we have seen hundreds if not thousands of times before in basically every media there is. Why then, can I understand how Twilight has caused such a insurgence of the genre and appears to have given it more of a legitimacy to readers (except of course those who hate Twilight).
It's because the more I thought about it, the more I realized how incredibly innovative Twilight is for the genre... and yes, I do mean that sincerely. I was thinking over how I have defined temptation and how the paranormal romance genre uses it and I came to the startling revelation of Twilight's reversal of it. It is still very much focused around temptation; but it's not really the main character Bella who is being tempted; I don't think she is even being motivated by romance. Should Edward not have been in the story and Bella simply come across the other Cullens I think she still would have made the decision to become a vampire. The transformation simply does not hold the weight it does in other books; it is clearly established that you can be a vampire without completely loosing your humanity as you do not have to take human life to survive. You are not isolated as the vampires often form clans or in the case of the Cullens a 'family', as well as there being a structure to the vampire world that creates it's own sense of being an existence despite whatever the humans may be up to. It is even shown how the vampires are able to live, partially mind you, in the human world before moving on to another area.
If Bella is not being tempted than who is? Well, Edward is. And we; through projection onto Bella, are turned into the tempters ourselves. Other works have of course included the supernatural being falling for the mortal being, an example very close to the form of Twilight is the Nic Cage movie City of Angels. Yet then, we have the supernatural changing for the mortal. In Twilight the mortal is still the one who changes but the temptation is the supernatural; who has to chose if they corrupt the mortal to gain them for 'eternity' but force the one they love to give up their life for it. Now, disclaimer time. I am simply looking at the plot elements of Twilight, and based on what I'm saying you would think I recommend Twilight as it truly does bring an interesting new dynamic to a genre deeply routed in the traditional and cliched till it has become mundane. I am not. I do think there are some interesting ideas in Twilight that can be discussed and used to shape other ideas but any novelty with the plot is completely undermined by the terrible characterization. By having Edward being so controlling; no doubt a consequence of Stephen Myer being under the misconception that Heathcliff is a 'romantic' character. And Bella being so needy and co-dependent, we are left with a temptation that holds no weight. Edward's claims of not wanting to ruin her life come off as hallow when he controls her so much and she so willing lets him.
Paranormal Romance appears to be fading more into the background. With the last Twilight movie coming out soon I believe there may be a last small resurgence of it copy cat books however even fans are starting to become sick of it. No matter how much you enjoy a style, flooding the market with copy-cats works shall always make it become tiresome. Now being replaced by Twilight fanfiction... sigh. For better or worse it appears as though Romance shall now have it's time hogging the best-seller list; whilst I personally feel it's for worst it shall pass. All genres will time and time again return to the spot light after a sudden popular title inspires it's army of clones and I shall personally sit by and bide my time till Fantasy comes round again.
I would normally warn whether or not there are spoilers in the revue when it comes to a blockbuster new release such as this but I truly can't. The fact is there is nothing to spoil, not a single surprise or unexpected moment; save for the teaser at the end of the credits which I will not explain but suffice to say there is much sequel baiting in it.
Now don't let all that distract you, this is a good movie. I enjoyed the hell out of it! The action scenes were clear and exciting, the dialogue tight and characters engaging. The actors all took their parts on exceptionally well and what normally is a granted in comic book movies; that there is something to be angry about from a feminist point of view does not hold true here. I will talk in detail about each of the good qualities in the movie without revealing too much detail of what happens, but first Ill explain my lack of enthusiasm at the start of this review.
Marvel's movies will most likely never have any great spoilers, they are incredibly safe and formulaic. Again this is not to deter you; movie formulas exist because they are popular and engaging, and Marvel pulls it's formula off without falling into cliches or being stuck in tropes. I find it difficult to write about the Marvel formula as it is hard to pin down, but I think it can be summarized as getting all the basics right and overlaying that with characterized humor. All in all, Marvel movies are very safe.
Now back to the Avengers. First of all it is not necessary to see previous movies to understand this, if you must see any than I would recommend Iron Man and Thor; it assumes you know the back story of Iron Man and the conflict between Thor and Loki comes off a bit underdeveloped if you haven't seen it before.
Looking to each of the elements of the movies success, firstly the action. The third act is well paced and they really give each character time to show off their skill set. Black Widow less so but they had already given her a lot of time during the movie for solo fight scenes and martial arts isn't as fast paced as the others so it makes sense. However, the final fight is still incredibly formulaic, the hero's emerge kicking ass. Things get difficult, the last reluctant member shows up. They kick more ass until eventually the numbers appear overwhelming and it leads to slow motion panning shots of each of the hero's as they look over the devastation with a realization of 'if we are going to go down, we are going to go down fighting'. And finally the self sacrificial moment that results in a scare... Now before you complain of spoilers I would ask who here really thought Marvel would kill off one of the main six? Hmmmm? Nobody. That's what I thought.
The dialogue and the characterization, now here is where Marvel is really excelling. They are nailing down the most recognizable, merchandisable and easy to understand aspects of the personalities. The genius play boy, the honorable solider, the troubled assassin and her mentoring figure, the inexperience but good-hearted king, and the tormented reason vs emotion. They don't leave it just at this and expand all of these basics to their next logical conclusion, and understand how these would play off each other. Not just to how to arrogance of Tony Stark would conflict with the moral sense of Captain Rogers but how someone who clearly believes in personal freedoms and liberties and enjoying them, such as stark would want to help someone who has to repress his emotions such as Bruce Banner. They then capture the humor that rests in these conflicting personalities and bring it through, not as one-liners but believable (to an extent) dialogue.
How does this movie portray women? It doesn't, it portrays characters, some of whom happen to be women. I knew this movie was on the right track when it introduces Black Widow captured and tied to a chair, she is threatened with torture and death... she is not threatened with rape and this really does make a huge difference if shows that those who have her captured realize that she is an enemy, a danger to them and takes that seriously. It wasn't till later that I realized just how well it portrayed women, aside from one line in this scene 'this is not how I wanted the night to end. BW: I know how you wanted this to end', aside from this one line which suggests a sexual trap she was using there is not a single line of dialogue that needs to be changed if this was a male character again with Agent Hill. They have written the female characters well but how have they actually portrayed them in the shots. A common complaint against comic books and the movies based off of them is that women are forced into awkward poses to try and show off as much as they can in a sexual way. There was a poster for The Avengers which received a fan make over.
I love this work and it really does show what is often a key problem, woman are shown as sexy AT THE COST of their skills, bad-assary and character. Now that said I have no problem with a bit of fan service as long as it does not take place of character development. Black Widow's tight skin clothing makes sense for her role as an assassin. She doesn't have it unzipped for show as it would be impractical and unprofessional. There is one scene where she is talking to Loki and the shot does unquestionably bring her rear end into the shot, but it's not forced it doesn't maker her seem weak as she is holding a strong pose. Marvel is also very aware that their market is growing with these movies, young men are no longer the sole (or majority) audience, and they have adjusted their fan service and it has certainly come across in movies such as Captain America or Thor. Women and gay men like a bit of a show as well, and on that note... Thor... just, just DAMN!
I heartily recommend this movie, I don't mean to bash it as I call it safe because it is still incredibly well done and engaging.
Write something about yourself. No need to be fancy, just an overview.