Take notes, Sam Raimi! Take notes, Tobey Maguire! THIS is Spider-Man!
Take notes, Sam Raimi! Take notes, Tobey Maguire! THIS is Spider-Man!
In this classic vlog from 2012, Blackcatloner talks about how he spent his Christmas and shares a customized Christmas carol from Utica.
The 12 Days of Utica Christmas song was written and performed by Dave Wheeler and Keith James. I will be posting the video below this one and for more like that, their channel is http://youtube.com/TownsquareUtica
Anyway, here is the video for the 12 Days of Utica Christmas if you want to watch it after watching my vlog:
Anyone remember when the world was supposed to end last Christmas?
Well, I figure today for a change of pace that I will do a written movie review blog instead. And it’s also about time I did a review of a James Bond movie. And what better movie to do a review on than the new Bond film Skyfall. Skyfall is the 23rd installment in the 50-year-old franchise that is directed by Sam Mendes, the man who won an Oscar for directing the 1999 film American Beauty but is probably better known as one of Kate Winslet’s ex-husbands. He seems like an odd choice to direct a Bond movie, but he pulls it off really well and the end result is one of the best Bond films ever.
But before we begin, let’s take a look at the last film, Quantum of Solace. Though while I thought the movie was good, I did have a couple of problems with it. For one thing, it was too short and the theme to that one was uninteresting. Nevertheless, it was still pretty good despite its flaws. Daniel Craig was just as badass here as he was in Casino Royale (his debut movie as 007) and the acting was still pretty good. However, Skyfall is a big improvement.
The movie begins with Bond (once again played by Craig) nearly getting killed while on a mission to obtain a document that has the identities of MI6 agents who have infiltrated terrorist organizations around the world. If the document falls into enemy hands, their identities would be compromised leaving them vulnerable to assassination attempts.
The enemy hands this time around is Silva (Javier Bardiem), an ex-MI6 agent who is out for revenge against M (again played by Dame Judi Dench) for betraying him to the Chinese government years earlier where he was subsequently tortured by the Chinese (apparently someone was pissed he married Penelope Cruz. :D) And when MI6 agents begin getting killed after being exposed by Silva, M is put under an investigation headed by Ralph Fiennes, who starts out as your typical arrogant bureaucratic jerk but plays a much bigger role by the end of the movie (I won’t spoil it here.)
Meanwhile, Bond who had been in hiding since his “death” resurfaces to resume his duties. However, his gun arm is kind of shaky as a result of a shoulder wound he got at the beginning of the movie. Despite that, M clears Bond to pursue Silva. And here is where we are introduced to the new Q (played by Ben Whishaw) who is a quiet, sarcastic 20-something computer geek as opposed to a cranky old man that he was in the original movies. And yes, folks. This Q does make some new toys for Bond though not as extravagant as they were in olden times. This time, 007 gets a customized Walther PPK gun which can only be fired by him. “What did you expect? An exploding pen?,” Q quips to Bond during their first meeting. Points if you can guess which Bond film the exploding pen appears in.
Back to Javier Bardem’s portrayal of Silva. I got to say that he is one of the best Bond villains to come out of the franchise in years. He plays the character as really creepy and psychotic that you got to take him seriously. In short, he is basically the franchise’s version of Heath Ledger’s Joker in The Dark Knight. Among some of his highlights includes a scene where he interrogates Bond and he’s checking to see if he has a wire and well, I’ll let the picture right next to this paragraph speak for itself. And when he does allow himself to be captured by MI6 agents (and the movie ventures into Chris Nolan territory) and where he masterminds yet another terrorist scheme from the confines of a glass cell (which seems to be the in thing for big movies these days.) Hey, it worked for the Joker, Loki from The Avengers, Bane in The Dark Knight Rises, and for the main villain in the upcoming Star Trek Into Darkness.
What ensues after that is some real suspense-filled edge of your seat thrills as Bond and Silva play a game of cat and mouse that ultimately ends up at Bond’s childhood home, Skyfall presided over by Albert Finney (in a role that was rumored to have been offered to Sean Connery which would have been the icing on the cake commemorating the 50th anniversary of the franchise by seeing the original Bond interact with the current Bond.)
The Bond girls this time around are Naomie Harris who starts out as Bond’s partner at the beginning of the movie and also has a major twist at the end of the movie which I will not spoil and Berenice Marlohe as the mysterious Severeine who has a secret past and is actually the girlfriend of sorts of Silva.
This movie is nothing short of awesome. This definitely ranks among the best of the Bonds that deserves to be named along with movies like From Russia With Love, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service and Casino Royale. It’s also one of the best spy thrillers ever. And that’s saying something. Plus I love the awesome theme song from Adele which is actually a drawback to the Shirley Bassey themes from previous films. Craig is still as badass here as he was in his previous two Bond movies and here’s hoping he still has his edge being that he is signed on for at least two more Bond movies. And if those two are as good as this movie was, then the Bond franchise will definitely have potential to make it to its 100th anniversary.
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.