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The Avengers: Believe the Hype
Fling a bunch of superheroes together and you either get the New Year’s Eve of superhero films or you get a slice of unbridled awesomeness. Thankfully, The Avengers, which crams Captain America, Thor, Iron Man, Black Widow and Hulk into one film without short-changing any one character, falls squarely into the latter camp. In fact, it’s mayor of that camp.
Exhibit one of its awesomeness: Scarlet Johansson’s Black Widow gets an introductory scene that is more badass than her entire Iron Man 2 arc and in fact, she’s one of the most awesome characters in the film. Exhibit Two: Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts, with her entire three minutes of screen time, manages to come across as smart, hilarious and generally super cool; three things that can’t be said about her roles in both Iron Man films put together. Exhibit Three: Hulk, who was previously so mistreated by Hollywood that he needed a reboot instead of a sequel, is the most badass superhero in the line-up. Although Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, in all his power hungry, revenge seeking insanity, is a joy to watch.
The film’s plot is rather simple. Loki (Hiddleston), Thor’s (Hemsworth) brother, is out to take over the world and has assembled an alien army to do so. All he has to do is get his hands on the Tesseract - a super powerful energy source - and use it to open a portal through which his army can join him. Nick Fury (Jackson), director of S.H.I.E.L.D. decides to reactivate The Avengers initiative and calls on the world’s superheroes - Iron Man (Downey Jr), Captain America (Evans), Black Widow (Johansson), Hulk (Ruffalo), Thor and Hawkeye (Renner) - to counter this extraterrestrial threat. Despite the fact that they can barely stand each other, they’re forced to put their planet-sized egos aside to save the world from Loki’s dominion.
We could go on and on about everything that makes this film far superior than all the other superhero films that came before it, but it can really all be summed up in two points: the dialogue, and the visuals. The dialogue here has Joss Whedon written all over it. Seriously, anyone who’s watched one episode of Buffy, Angel, or Firefly will recognise his voice from the very first one liner. The relentless onslaught that follows only solidifies his status as the king of quips. This film is so hilarious, that you’ll frequently miss jokes because you’re laughing too hard at the one before. And no, they don’t all come from Iron Man. It also has to be said that the actors really prove their comedic skills here whether with outright jokes or more wry material.
As for the visuals, they’re Transformers good. It rivals anything Michael Bay has put out in sheer thrill factor alone. The main difference though, is that there’s space to breathe. In between all the mayhem and destruction, the characters get time to take a moment, get back on their feet, trot out an epic one liner then throw themselves back into the fray. It’s awesome! The combination of The Avengers’ skill sets makes for really interesting fight scenes where the characters’ personal fighting styles and weapons of choice come together in really exciting ways.
You don’t need to have seen each character’s films before seeing The Avengers but a basic knowledge of the superheroes is actually recommended - Thor and Loki in particular as it’s their relationship that drives the story. While not technically a sequel, it does tie all of the characters’ previous story arcs together and relies to an extent on the fact that the characters have all been established already.
As far as remakes are concerned, Paul Feig’s reboot of the 1984 supernatural comedy classic, Ghostbusters, is one of the better ones out there. Arriving twenty-seven years after the release of the first sequel, the Bridesmaids director has been given the honours of reintroducing the story to the modern audiences of today. The result? An entertaining and an admittedly funny reboot which, although nowhere near as spunky as the original, still has its own charms to lean back on.
The story begins with Dr. Erin Gilbert (Wiig); a respected physics professor who is only days away from receiving tenure at the Colombia University. However, she is soon pulled back into her previous life as a paranormal investigator when her old friend Aby Yates (McCarthy), who has decided to re-publish the book about ghosts they wrote together many years ago without her permission, returns to her life.
Worried what the release of the book might do to her academic career, Erin decides to confront Abby. However, she soon finds herself joining her old friend - and Abby’s new research partner, Jillian Holtzmann (McKinnon) - on a paranormal investigation at a reportedly haunted-house, during which they experience their first ghost-sighting.
Unfortunately, their encounter is labelled as a publicity stunt, forcing the three ladies - who soon welcome MTA employee, Patty Tolan (Jones) into their team - to create a plan of capturing ghosts as proof they exist. Meanwhile, creepy hotel janitor, Rowan (Casey) has been busy planting devices around NYC with the intention of opening the portal between the living and the dead.
Those who were not exactly on board with the idea of the all-female remake might not be completely taken in by Paul Feig’s latest attempt of bringing a modern twist to the beloved ghost-chasing franchise. However, the story’s amusing and refreshing stance, as well as its energetic vibe and slick special effects, are, overall, strong – the sum of its parts are, at least.
Stepping in for an all-male lead cast are four undeniably funny female comedians who show the willingness and the confidence in carrying the movie. Offering plenty of laughs and ghost-ass-kicking skills, McCarthy - delivering a pleasantly reserved performance - and Wiig are the strongest of the bunch with Jones and McKinnon falling as a close second. Unfortunately though, pointless cameos from the original cast never really resonate and actually distract and Casey’s villain is not as, let’s say, villainous as the story demanded him to be. In addition, the running gag on Hemsworth’s version of a dumb-blonde secretary is funny but, wears out thin pretty early on.
Nevertheless, Ghostbusters still manages to deliver. Embracing the spirit of the original whilst playing with its own modern bearings, the story serves to be a solid and thoroughly enjoyable take Ivan Reitman’s supernatural classic that even most of its hardcore haters might find hard not to love.
Unnecessarily complex and generally lacking in excitement, The Legend of Tarzan is the latest attempt to reignite interest into what still remains a household name. Unfortunately, the legendary fictional characters to exist fails to really register with modern movie audiences in part due an overly complicated and overstuffed premise which never managed to translate into entertaining spectacle it should be..
The film is set in 1980 and it begins several years after Tarzan (Skarsgård) - now going by John Clayton III - has decided to leave the jungles of Africa behind for a life as a British aristocrat, alongside his wife, Jane Porter (Robbie). However, he is soon drawn back into his former habitat when he receives an invitation from King Leopold II of Belgium to return to Congo as a trade emissary for the House of Commons.
Accompanied by American statesman, George Washington Williams (Jackson), the Lord of the Apes soon finds out that his travelling companion actually wants his help in investigating the rumours that King Leopold is using slave labour to colonise the country and exploit its resources.
After agreeing to the mission, Tarzan, Jane and Williams make their way to Congo but soon cross paths with Captain Leon Rom (Waltz); a ruthless leader in charge of overseeing King Leopold’s operations whose devious plan - involving tribe leader Chief Mbongo (Hounsou) - forces Lord of the Apes to strip back and return to his feral form.
Scripted by Adam Cozad and Craig Brewer, there are far too many illogical hurdles and obstacles thrown at the story which, when stripped down, is the kind of classic hero-coming-to-the-rescue tale you’ve seen before. Set against a flimsy premise, the film boasts a needlessly complicated and a confusing two-way narrative storyline; one exploring the origins of our hero and the other celebrating his superhero abilities in a standard damsel-in-distress setup, all while trying to give weight to the plot with the real-life historic events involving Washington’s investigation into Leopold’s involvement in Congo during the 19th Century.
Directed by Harry Potter’s David Yates, the action sequences are executed well and there is a certain visual slickness in the effects. However, moments of less sophistication and a lack of creativity seep into the mix - the 3D is once again completely unnecessary - giving the movie a seemingly fake and unpolished feel.
Performance wise, all eyes are on Skarsgård, who proves to be a physically fitting choice for the role. However, his inability to evoke many emotions proves to be rather damaging to the picture which, in the end, is not anywhere near as adventurous, funny or exciting as it thinks itself to be.