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I’m breaking up with movie trailers.

From the popular webcomic at xkcd.com.

“Spoilers” may follow for those who have not seen the films (or more specifically, the trailers) of the Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises, Cabin in the Woods, and Source Code.

There have been two movies in recent history that I’ve avoided trailers for at all costs: Source Code, and Cabin in the Woods. I really do mean “at all costs”. My parents and girlfriend can attest to the fact that when a commercial for one of these movies would come on TV, I would either (a) run out of the room or (b) close my eyes, plug my ears, and hum just to be sure to not hear anything. Now, I’ll be fair and say you would know that something strange or different is going on in these movies after the first scene, but experiencing the movie as a whole for the first time in both cases was incredibly enriching on a level that most people don’t get to enjoy. The marketing machines within movie studios just want to take the big blockbuster moments or the quirky ideas behind these movies and plaster them all over billboards to make people who are otherwise uninterested realize there’s something going on in these films that they’ll want to see. After the jump I’ll discuss more.

Seriously, spoilers may follow for things you might not want to know. Specifically for the Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Come back and read after you see those unless you don’t care about being spoiled.

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The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Spider-Man was never one of my favorite heroes. Yeah, I watched the Saturday morning cartoon when I grew up but I never read any of the comics and didn’t particularly love the character. But I walked out of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man (2002) desperately wanting to be bitten by a radioactive spider. I think The Amazing Spider-Man succeeds in some areas where Raimi’s film did not, and fails in other respects. For now, I’ll keep things spoiler free and short but I’ll keep spoilers under the jump and I’ll markedly notate when the more in-depth discussion starts. Essentially we get a retelling of the Spider-Man origin that is fairly ubiquitous after Raimi’s 2002 film. However we get a new villain this time (one alluded to with Dylan Baker’s Dr. Curt Connors in Spider-Man 2 and 3), a refreshing cast, and a bit of a shift in the mood of the film. Oh, and it was filmed in 3D.

I’ll sum my thoughts up quickly here for those who haven’t seen the film yet. I loved the cast. I originally thought Sally Field and Martin Sheen (Aunt May and Uncle Ben) were strange fits for a comic book movie, but they certainly pulled it off. Dennis Leary (Captain George Stacy) also did a great job in a role not as outwardly comedic as I’m sure he’s used to in recent years. Of course, Emma Stone is a great Gwen Stacy and Andrew Garfield seemingly embodies Peter/Spider-Man more than Tobey Maguire ever did in my eyes, not to mention their on-screen chemistry is greater than anything we received in the previous films in the franchise. Director Marc Webb continues to gain my complete faith after 2010’s (500) Days of Summer with a lot of brilliantly shot/staged/envisioned scenes. There’s a scene in the first hour post Peter/Gwen flirting that I think very well may be my favorite scene from the movie and it’s safely rooted in Webb’s music video past. Lastly because of the lack of J. Jonah Jameson we get that initial wonder from the public about Spider-Man. They know and feel he’s doing good at a certain point in the film and it’s great to spend time with Spider-Man as a hero before JJJ tries to paint him as a menace. There’s a really beautiful sequence which illustrates this, and while it doesn’t top the train/Jesus allegory scene in Spider-Man 2, it definitely put a smile on my face.

On the flip side of the coin, there were a few things I didn’t like. I generally have no love for the Lizard. I wasn’t a big fan of him on the cartoon so it’s not a big surprise that I’m not a fan of him here, but I think there are good reasons to why I don’t care for him. It’s not the serviceable performance from Rhys Ifans or the adequate computer generated imagery of the villain, but writers Vanderbilt, Sargent, and Kloves did little to nothing to make me care about Dr. Curt Connors. There are maybe two or three scenes that inform the tortured figure that is Dr. Connors but it’s few and far between for any sort of effective connection that the character could actually carry with the potential he has. There was also a little bit of carbon copy for a few details in the film from Raimi’s film, which is to be expected because it’s a re-telling of a story, however Webb’s film handles these moments in a seemingly less-compelling fashion and, despite the movie’s darker/moodier tones, it manages to gloss over a few moments that could’ve been quite powerful. While Danny Elfman’s score for Raimi’s Spider-Man was really nothing to write home about, Horner’s score for this film is even less so in my opinion. Nothing in Elfman’s score sticks out in my mind but there’s a few moments in Horner’s that just stood out like sore thumbs to me and felt quite cartoony to the film’s detriment. For a few last thoughts, there were some special effects that needed more time in the oven (including and not including the Lizard), the lack of J. Jonah Jameson was heartbreaking, especially without J.K. Simmons reprising the role, and the 3D wasn’t terrible but it didn’t serve the high-pace action of the film very well. Spidey fights fluidly some of the time but he’s very quick and his spider-sense creates some jarring experiences with the 3D.

All in all, it’s a good film — solid direction, great cast, but missing some essential elements to be a great film or in my top 10 at the end of the year. It’s not my favorite film in the franchise (Spider-Man 2 is just that good), but I could see its sequel becoming my favorite given the right writing team (which it doesn’t have at the moment with Vanderbilt returning and Kurtzman/Orci tweaking but that could change). NOTE: There is no AFTER-credits scene but there is a MID-credits scene. Don’t leave till you see the names scrolling up the screen instead of appearing centered on the screen. Go check it out and then read on below the jump if you’re seeking more discussion.

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Thor (2011) – The Road to the Avengers

This article is part four of an ongoing feature on my blog, “The Road to the Avengers“, which hopes to convey my thoughts on the current films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, culminating on my thoughts of The Avengers when it is released on Friday, May 4th.

Let me preface this by saying I’ve got no prior attatchment to the character of Thor. I knew he existed before the film, but that’s about the extent of my involvement in the comic book character that is Thor. Thor is a fantastic film, it was a great return to form after Iron Man 2 disappointed fans like myself. After this most recent viewing of Thor, I could not help but feel how I did after seeing it in theaters — it’s a great movie, but it didn’t strike me quite as well as Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk did. I think for this article I will adopt a similar format as I did for Iron Man 2, I believe I was more successful in conveying my thoughts that way:

  • What I liked about Thor
  • What I liked a bit less about Thor
  • The film’s ties to The Avengers

Read more after the jump.

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Iron Man 2 (2010) – The Road to the Avengers

This article is part three of an ongoing feature on my blog, “The Road to the Avengers“, which hopes to convey my thoughts on the current films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, culminating on my thoughts of The Avengers when it is released on Friday, May 4th.

I had terribly high hopes for Iron Man 2 coming off of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk when I saw it in theaters two years ago. I recall walking out of the theater thoroughly entertained but the more I thought about the film the less satisfying it felt. Was it simply the fact that Iron Man was no longer fresh and ripe for the picking? I don’t think so. The film has some fundamental flaws. The action and special effects are top-notch, but some of the elements that made Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk so brilliant were simply not present in this highly anticipated sequel. I’m going to take a different approach to this article and break it into these sections:

  • What I liked about the film
  • What I disliked about the film
  • What I feel could’ve been done differently
  • The film’s ties to The Avengers

Check it out after the jump.

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The Incredible Hulk (2008) – The Road to the Avengers

This article is part two of an ongoing feature on my blog, “The Road to the Avengers“, which hopes to convey my thoughts on the current films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, culminating on my thoughts of The Avengers when it is released on Friday, May 4th.

The Incredible Hulk takes the brunt of the critical hate in the Marvel Cinematic Universe. The majority of the complaints boil down to “all action, no story”, but I respectfully disagree. But what makes me appreciate the film so much more than the critics out there? Louis Leterrier’s film does ramp up the action compared to Ang Lee’s more introspective origin story but I find it hard to say that the film has no story. Before I really delve into the critical perception of the film, I’ll talk about my thoughts.

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Iron Man (2008) – The Road to the Avengers

This article is part one of an ongoing feature on my blog, “The Road to the Avengers“, which hopes to convey my thoughts on the current films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, culminating on my thoughts of The Avengers when it is released on Friday, May 4th.

Iron Man (2008) came out of nowhere for many people. While comic book fans know Tony Stark quite well, Iron Man had never enjoyed the kind of success that, say, Superman, Batman, Spider-Man, or the X-Men had enjoyed up until 2008. However, the film released with an electric buzz, drawing even those with no love for comics into the theater for the thrill ride. Its success makes sense, looking back at it. Iron Man is a perfect vehicle for sleek, sexy technology (special effects) and the casting of Robert Downey Jr. ensured we’d be in for a ride with a charming and witty Tony Stark.

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The Road to the Avengers

As Friday, May 4th draws nearer, I’m feeling the need to go back and take a look at Marvel Studios’ previous releases. Some may not know that Iron Man (2008), The Incredible Hulk (2008), Iron Man 2 (2010), Thor (2011), and Captain America: The First Avenger (2011) all take place in the same cinematic universe, dubbed the “Marvel Cinematic Universe”. The culmination of this plan that has been at least 7 years in the making comes on May 4th, in the form of The Avengers (2012). In any event, here’s a little blog programming for the next week or so:

Sunday, April 29th – Iron Man (2008)

I’ll talk a bit about the successes of the film, how it was received, and how it fared against The Dark Knight back in 2008. Clearly the two movies aim at somewhat different audiences and play to completely different strengths, despite some of the parallels that can be drawn between Batman and Iron Man.

Monday, April 30th – The Incredible Hulk (2008)

By RottenTomatoes.com standards this is the Marvel Studios film with the least amount of critical acclaim. I’d like to try and delve into why that is, but it may be difficult for me because I enjoy the film a lot and tend to disagree with the consensus on this one.

Tuesday, May 1st – Iron Man 2 (2010)

Iron Man 2 is my least favorite of the five. It’s certainly not a terrible movie, it’s quite palatable and somewhat fun to watch, but it falls far from its predecessor. I’ll talk about why that is, and what I’d do differently, despite the fact that I’m not a professional writer.

Wednesday, May 2nd – Thor (2011)

I fall in the middle of the spectrum on Thor opinions. With little prior investment into the character and mythos of Thor, I’ll speak of the newcomer’s experience while watching the movie. There were a lot of people that absolutely loved this movie, and there were some that thought it was terrible. I think there’s an interesting discussion to be had about Thor.

Thursday, May 3rd – Captain America: The First Avenger (2011)

As with all four of the main franchises leading up to the Avengers, they all have their own feel to them. Iron Man’s playboy sensibilities certainly come out in his films, the Incredible Hulk is incredibly brooding, and Thor feels like quite the fish out of water. Captain America’s filmmaking has a very distinct and deliberate feel to it, and I’d like to share my thoughts on why it may be the best personification of a Marvel character on film.

Friday, May 4th – The Avengers (2012)

I don’t quite know what I’ll talk about with this film as I haven’t seen it yet, but by the time you read my article, I’ll probably have seen it twice, so look back here on the 4th or 5th to see my thoughts on The Avengers.

With all of the films, I think it will be interesting to take a look at the groundwork they lay for the Avengers and since this will be my first time watching all of them within close proximity of each other, I’ll be able to quantify my feelings for each and rank them more accurately than I have in the past. As always, feel free to comment, let me know if there’s something specific you’d like me to talk about in the articles. Onward, to the Avengers!