A Storm is Coming

A bad thunderstorm hit Herkimer this past week which results in me getting caught in a blackout at work.

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The Avengers

The Avengers

The Avengers

And now I am going to do a review (even though it is actually almost three months late and it’s pretty much out of theaters now) of what is not only the highest grossing movie of 2012 (although a certain Dark Knight could change that) but it’s also the third highest grossing movie of all time and the only one in the top 3 that is not directed by James Cameron. So without further ado, here is my long-awaited review of The Avengers!

So what do I think of the movie? It can only be summed up in a few words: Now THIS is a superhero team movie! I mean, the first two X-Men movies were good. I didn’t see the third one but I heard it sucked. And don’t get me started on the not-so-Fantastic Four movies. I really like the way that they used five movies (Iron Man 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger) to set up this movie. Aside from the fact that I did not see the 2008 Hulk movie (the one that is part of the Avengers franchise despite being owned by Universal), I thought that the Avenger-related movies have been handled pretty well. And we’re up to this movie. And as soon as I heard Joss Whedon who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer was gonna direct this movie, I knew this was gonna be in good hands. And it shows.

The main plot involves all the aforementioned superheroes Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, replacing Edward Norton from the 2008 film), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson, reprising her role from Iron Man 2), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are brought together by SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to save the world from the evil Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and a race of aliens who steal a cosmic cube so they can, you guessed it, take over the world.

And of course, like in every superhero team movie, there’s some good conflicts in the film and not just against the evil aliens but also among the heroes as well, the main ones between the squabble matches between Tony Stark (the self-absorbed cocky anti-team player) and Steve Rogers (the humble yet patriotic boy scout); Thor and Loki (adopted brothers but on different sides of the coin); and probably the best in-team fighting in the movie: Thor and Hulk (demigod vs indestructible 10-foot green monster who becomes so whenever he gets a little teed off.)

Now before we continue with the review, I just want to say that I personally haven’t read any of the Avenger-themed comics growing up, except for Iron Man. Iron Man was cool, especially in the early 90’s with the kick-ass Terminator-style artwork and I was a huge fan of War Machine. I was mainly into Spider-Man and Batman (I have already seen the Spidey reboot and I’m planning to go see The Dark Knight Rises sometime this month.) But as far as the other Avengers go, I never really got into Captain America or the others.

There are loads of action sequences littered throughout the film that will practically leave you at the edge of your seat and the climactic battle in New York City pretty much rivals the climatic battle for Metropolis in Superman II. It will blow you away. And while the film was released in 3D, you don’t really need to see it in 3D to know what scenes were converted in 3D.

Now on to the performances. Robert Downey, Jr. is still in top form as Iron Man and Tony Stark. In fact, Robert Downey, Jr. post-drugs is awesome. Chris Evans is still good as Cap, but he’s more like a general in this one than he was in. But to be fair, he’s better as Cap than he was as the Human Torch in the not-so-Fantastic Four movies. Mark Ruffalo pulls off both Bruce Banner and the Hulk (who is easily the best character in the movie) really well, considering that the only real successful attempt to bring the Hulk to life was the TV series in the late 70’s. The 2003 Ang Lee/Eric Bana film sucked and like I said earlier, I haven’t seen the Ed Norton film to give it a good-enough judgment but this is by far the most successful attempt to bring the Hulk to the big screen. Ed Norton must be kicking himself now for not wanting to be a part of this movie.

As far as the non-super powered Avengers go, Scarlett Johannson more than holds her own, proving that she is more than just eye candy for the guys (she takes out three guys while handcuffed to a chair in a hot black dress.) That’s the way you do it. And Samuel L. Jackson is awesome as usual as Nick Fury despite being a little more subdued than usual (mainly because this is a PG-13 movie.) But if there’s one nitpick that I have with the movie, it’s that Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is a little too underdeveloped. He doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time.

Now on to the main villain. For one thing, I like how multi-layered Loki was. He starts out as a General Zod-like character (again another Superman II reference) during his battle with Captain America, mixed with Hannibal Lecter (when he is captured by the Avengers and he does have one scene with Scarlett Johannson that echoes the Clarice/Lecter conversations in “Silence of the Lambs.”) It’s also amusing when he and Tony Stark are talking smack to each other back and forth. But like all villains, he gets his comeuppance in the end and it’s one of the best scenes in the movie so I will not give that away for those of you who have not seen the movie yet.

So basically as far as some closing thoughts on the movie goes, I just want to make a note that I’ve been going to movies since I was 2 years old and never once in my 30-somewhat years of going to the movies have I seen moviegoers on their feet and cheering for a movie than I have for The Avengers. Trust me, it’s that good. If you haven’t seen it yet and by some miracle, it’s still in theaters, go see it. You definitely will not be disappointed.

Blackcat Reloaded

You knew it had to happen, folks. This episode of TAOB is my official “comeback” video. In this one, I talk about where I’ve been and what I’ve been doing for the past year, including how my first year at college went. I also show you a little bit of my college life as well as offer my thoughts on the Boilermaker and I get to show off a little bit of my cooking skills. I also offer my thoughts on the tragic “Dark Knight Rises” mass shootings in Colorado. Yes, folks. This episode’s got it all.

The Amazing Spider-Man

Tobey Maguire, eat your heart out.

I was originally going to begin this new blog site devoted to movie reviews with a review of The Avengers but I was still trying to work out the bugs. Don’t worry, The Avengers review is still coming, but for now I’m going to launch this site with a review of the reboot film, The Amazing Spider-Man.

I primarily reviewed this film as part of my obligations as a die-hard Spidey fan and I had a lot of expectations for this film. And I was not disappointed. This reboot film is, for the lack of a better word, amazing.

A lot of fans were skeptical about doing a reboot of Spider-Man at least five years after the much-maligned Spider-Man 3. But as far as I’m concerned, Sam Raimi and Tobey Maguire should be taking notes. As far as this movie is concerned, this is Spider-Man as he was in the comics.

For one thing, Andrew Garfield (best known for playing Eduardo Saverin in the Facebook movie, “The Social Network”) looks exactly like Peter Parker in the comics. And in costume, he has all of Spidey’s mannerisms (talking smack while kicking some bad guy butt) and I also like the fact that they brought Peter back to his science nerd background (something that was not explored fully in the Raimi films) and showing off his ability to invent stuff (he builds his own web-shooters as opposed to organic web-shooters.)

In fact a lot of the lot of the actors in this movie were pretty good. I thought Martin Sheen was a better Uncle Ben than the 2002 version and Emma Stone (she had me at Zombieland) is great as Peter’s love interest Gwen Stacy avoiding some of the problems I had with Kirsten Dunst as Mary Jane in the other films. (For one thing, Raimi turned the character of Mary Jane, who in the original comics was a party girl, into girl-next-door Gwen Stacy.)

If there was a problem with this movie, it was basically the fact that the main villain of this film, the one-armed Dr. Curt Connors aka The Lizard (played by Rhys Ifans) was a bit underdeveloped but still effective, but in all fairness, the Lizard is a pretty hard character to pull off on screen.

As far as the story goes, I think that the director, Marc Webb (ironic that a man with the last name of Webb would be directing a Spider-Man movie) was actually going the Christopher Nolan route when he rebooted the Batman franchise, making it darker and doing a big story arc with three movies. The story arc here deals with Peter finding out a secret about his parents (who in this film as well as in the Ultimates Universe were scientists as opposed to secret agents as they were in the original comics.) Other than a few liberties here and there, this film is probably the most faithful to the comics than the Raimi films.

My final verdict is that if you liked The Avengers and the Nolan Batman films, you should definitely see this movie, preferably before you see The Dark Knight Rises.

PS: A little spoiler for you. Peter does not tap dance in this movie.

Q & A: Let’s Go Out To the Movies

I figured for this week’s Q & A segment, I would have a theme this week. And the theme is movies. We watch movies every day (TV, DVD, cable, satellite, theaters, Internet, etc.) and we love ’em, despite the fact that there are a few that actually suck. But either way, you can’t deny that they’re an escape from the hell that is real life. So without further ado, let’s begin with the Formspring questions first:

Q: What do you think is the worst movie sequel ever made?

A: Apart from anything having to do with Twilight, there are at least a few of them that I have seen that fit the bill to me: Karate Kid 3 (which I felt was unnecessary), Rocky V (too depressing to be a Rocky movie), Star Wars: Episode I- The Phantom Menace (even though there were some good moments), Star Trek: Insurrection (’nuff said there), Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom (the worst Indiana Jones film ever and too gruesome especially for a movie aimed at kids), and Joel Schumacher’s Batman and Robin (A BAT CREDIT CARD?!)

Q: If you have a secret that you just can’t keep, who do you tell it to?

A: Someone I can actually trust.

Q: What would be your crazy “I just won the lottery” purchase?

A: Too many things to name. Guess I’m gonna have to wait a while longer.

Q: As a kid did you ever get nightmares from seeing a movie you were way too young for?

A: Yes.

Q: What’d you think of the movie “Inception”?

A: I thought it was awesome. Chris Nolan is the man.

Q: Do you wake up early?

A: Sometimes.

Q: Fashion you hate?

A: Anything that looks too dorky.

Q: Ice cream – cone, cup or milkshake?

A: All of the above.

Q: Would you rather have a dragon, a space ship, or a time machine?

A: Either a spaceship or a time machine, but mainly a time machine.

Q: Coffee or Tea?

A: Coffee.

Q: Pen or pencil?

A: 99 percent of the time I use a pen. I don’t use pencils that much except for Scantron tests at school.

Q: Top 10 movies of all time?

A: I assume by this Rotten Tomatoes.com means my top 10 favorite movies of all time. But anyway, my top 10 favorite movies of all time are as follows:

1. Titanic
2. Pulp Fiction
3. Taxi Driver
4. Rocky
5. Terminator 2: Judgment Day
6. The Dark Knight
7. Star Wars: A New Hope (the original Star Wars)
8. Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back
9. The Shawshank Redemption
10. The Avengers

…with an honorable mention going to “Raiders of the Lost Ark,” probably the greatest action-adventure movie of all time. Actually I’m thinking about doing a Top 20 video on my favorite movies of all time and this question pretty much set that in motion.

Q: Do you like Batman?

A: Hell, yeah! Can’t wait for Dark Knight Rises. Bane looks really awesome in that movie and since it’s Chris Nolan directing there’s no chance that Bane will be screwed up (unlike what Joel Schumacher did to him in “Batman and Robin” for that matter.) And as I think I mentioned before in previous videos, Batman is one of my all-time favorite comic book heroes (second only to Spider-Man.)

Q: Do you guys think there should be a “Legend of Zelda” movie?

A: As long as they don’t screw it up like they did the Mario Bros. movie. But then again, I’m not really a Zelda fan. Never played it. I was more of a Mario fan and as far as them making the Zelda movie goes, I really don’t care either way. If it looks good, I’ll see it but otherwise, I really don’t care.

Q: What’s the most you’ve ever paid for a movie ticket?

A: $8.50 and I think that was at the Marquee Cinema in New Hartford. Now it’s up to like 10 bucks and an extra 4 bucks to see a 3D movie there.

Q: What is the best fictional vacation spot? Narnia, Middle-Earth, Pern, Oz, etc…

A: I heard Pandora is nice this time of year.

Q: How tall are you? Have you ever wished to be a different height?

A: 5’11” and no, I don’t wish to be a different height.

Q: Would you be a good babysitter?

A: No.

Q: How many times have you seen your favorite movie?

A: Numerous times.

Q: Are you addicted to Skyrim?

A: No. I don’t play Skyrim. I can’t really afford to play video games.

Q: Are you sarcastic often?

A: Me? Sarcastic? Nooooooo… well, actually yes.

Q: Front, middle or back of the movie theater?

A: When I was a kid, I usually sat in the front, but as an adult, I usually sit in the back.

Q: What’s the best holiday movie?

A: That’s a no-brainer. A Christmas Story, of course, followed by Christmas Vacation and It’s a Wonderful Life.

Q: Favorite Spider-Man villain?

A: Venom all the way!

Q: What’s the funniest thing you’ve seen online recently?

A: The Nostalgia Critic. I started watching him earlier this year and I’ve been hooked ever since.

Q: Funny or Die.com wanted me to check out 12 comedies that they thought were made to sound like intense dramas. Which one looks the most serious?

A: I would have to go with “Up” on this one. That was really good.

Q: Would you rather take a picture or have your picture taken?

A: Doesn’t matter. If I didn’t enjoy taking pictures, I wouldn’t be doing this whole Internet gig. Lol

Q: What was the last film you saw that inspired you or moved you?

A: Rocky.

Q: What’s your favorite way to work out? In the gym, playing a team sport, taking a class or some other way?

A: In the gym.

Q: Are you shy?

A: I can be.

Q: Oday ouyay eakspay igpay atinlay?

A: Say what?

Q: Love or Sex?

A: If I can have both then I would say both, but if I had to choose only one I would have to go with sex.

Q: Can you flare your nostrils?

A: (Flares nostrils) Yeah. Does that answer your question?

Q: Which are scarier: bats or rats?

A: Neither one really although bats can be annoying when they buzz over your head all the time.

Q: Would you prefer to be a movie star or musician?

A: Movie star. I can’t sing to save my life.

Q: Is it hard for you to admit when you’re wrong?

A: Sometimes.

Q: Who knows you best?

A: Not many people.

Q: Who would you say is the sexiest women alive?

A: Finally! Someone asked the magic question! In fact I’ll do better than give out one answer. I’ll give you a top 10 list:

1. Sofia Vergara
2. Jennifer Aniston
3. Jennifer Love Hewitt
4. Scarlett Johansson
5. Katy Perry
6. Natalie Portman
7. Jessica Biel
8. Mila Kunis
9. Jennifer Lawrence (the chick from “The Hunger Games”)
10. Jennifer Garner

Honorable mention goes to Kelly Clarkson. And the reason I gave out a top 10 list for this answer is for a question like this, one answer just simply isn’t enough.

Q: What do you think of Emma Watson?

A: For those of you who don’t know who Emma Watson is, she was Hermione in the Harry Potter movies. I think she’s a good actress and she’s also pretty hot. I can’t wait to see what she does in the future. In fact, I read an article recently on her latest movie called The Bling Ring. And it’s a true story based on the whole Hollywood robbery crime spree that affected many Hollywood celebrities, most notably Paris Hilton and Lindsay Lohan. Not that Paris and Lindsay are saints, mind you. But I saw Emma in her costume for the movie and oh, my god. She is so hot. Them Potter kids are growing up so fast.

Q: What do you think of Nicki Minaj?

A: Less said about her, the better.

Now let’s move on to the Meetme.com questions:

Q: Have you ever have a hard time meeting someone in your town?

A: Yeah.

Q: How many people does someone have to sleep with before you consider them promiscuous?

A: I don’t think that there’s any real set number. It all boils down to behavior.

Q: Do you believe in karma?

A: Yes.

Q: If you had to give up sex or meat for a year which would you choose?

A: I wouldn’t give up either one.

Q: How many movies do you think you’ve seen in your lifetime?

A: Quite a bit. Not sure about how many I actually saw in theaters. I lost track after 2003.

Q: How do you feel about dating when there is an age difference?

A: Depends on what the age difference is, though I wouldn’t have any problem dating someone older than me unless they’re either old enough to be my grandmother or younger than 18 because they’re not worth going to jail for.

Q: If someone was hitting on you and you weren’t attracted to them, how would you handle the situation?
A: Just say the magic phrases: “Not interested” or “You’re not my type” and walk away.

Remember, if you want to ask me questions and don’t have Formspring, you can ask your questions in the comment section below the video or here on the blog. Remember, no offensive questions or comments will be accepted.