‘I’m known to be quite vexing – I’m just forewarning you…’
With the Avengers franchise hitting 13 films with Captain America: Civil War, there are understandably questions as to why we keep watching. The fact is that in terms of commercial success, critical acclaim and durability, the Marvel Cinematic Universe is the most successful movie franchise ever.
‘You can fire your arrows from the Tower of Babel, but you can never strike god…’
You either die a hero, or live long enough to see yourself become Ben Affleck…
‘A fourth wall break inside a fourth wall break? That’s like, sixteen walls…’
Despite my undying love for films, we have now reached a stage where the quality found on TV is actually far superior to 90% of offerings churned out on the silver screen. Since running through my top ten favourite shows of 2015 in November, I have discovered a plethora of other top notch shows. Here are ten of them:
Avengers vs Skynet…
The problem that director Joss Whedon faced when following up the inaugural Avengers movie is how to keep things fresh in the face of the series overall approaching double figures. To do this Whedon brings previously unexplored characters to the fore with Jeremy Renner’s Hawkeye and Scarlett Johansson’s Black Widow enjoying much more screen time and a fleshed out back story.
Also helping to bring a different feel to Age of Ultron are new faces Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen as Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch respectively. I have been banging the Olsen drum for ages and whilst I would like to see her take on something more challenging she again impresses here.
Perhaps the biggest ace in the pack for the Avengers sequel however is villain Ultron. Masterfully voiced by James Spader, Ultron is part Pinocchio, part Frankenstein’s monster and part Terminator to create a memorable and powerful antagonist for the Avengers to tackle.
In terms of the returning cast Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth improve in every instalment as Captain America and Thor as they have been allowed to grow into their roles gradually. While series favourites Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo take a bit more of a back seat in Age of Ultron, with Downey Jr seemingly coming to the end of his involvement in the Marvel universe.
It is very discouraging that Joss Whedon has decided to step down from the directing the third and final Avengers film Avengers: Infinity War as his talent in combining so many disparate characters into one finished article is unparalleled and with Ant-Man, Wasp, Doctor Strange, Scarlet Witch, Spider-Man, Falcon, Captain Marvel and maybe ever the Guardians of the Galaxy rumoured to appear it is difficult to see how Avengers: Age of Ultron will not be the last great Avengers movie.
Producer Michael Bay and director Jonathan Liebesman continue to flog dead horses whilst ruining people’s childhoods.
Contrary to popular belief I actually think that Michael Bay did a decent job with the first Transformers movie. It was pretty faithful to the cartoon and the child in all of us fulfilled an ambition to watch robot behemoths battling it out. The problem with taking on the turtles project isn’t just the execution but the source material itself.
Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles had already spawned four feature length movies, various TV shows and endless merchandise before this project begun. There was a clamour to see a return of the Transformers by the time it was rebooted in 2007 but is anyone really interested in seeing the ailing TMNT brand rebooted? (apparently yes according to the box office results).
Anyone hoping for a nostalgia trip back to their childhoods will be bitterly disappointed. Some characters such as April O’Neil and Shredder are unrecognisable from the cartoon whilst others such as Casey Jones, Krang and Bebop & Rocksteady are absent entirely.
The only constant is the turtles themselves who are still stuck in a time warp of pop culture references and horribly dated 80’s pastiche. Even with comedic genius Will Arnett featuring prominently, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles is never intentionally funny and the script throughout is unforgivably cheesy and cringe inducing.
People don’t particularly act in Michael Bay films but even with such low standards Megan Fox continues to be an annoyance and is woefully miscast as April O’Neil while William Fichtner and Whoopi Goldberg look faintly embarrassed throughout.
All this equates to a franchise that didn’t need rebooting filled with rubbish acting and corny dialogue. Possibly the worst reboot of all time.
Colin Firth plays tinker, tailer, soldier and spy as Matthew Vaughn continues his hot streak.
With 2010’s Kick Ass, director Matthew Vaughn turned the comic book genre on it’s head with gritty realism and unfamiliar character arcs and story line. After continuing his good work in that area with X-Men: First Class (one of the finest films in the whole comic book genre), Vaughn has turned his talents to the classic espionage genre and if not reinvigorated it then certainly made it interesting again.
I wasn’t that taken with the Bourne franchise, despite my undying love for Matt Damon, and I flat out dislike Bond films so the only reason I ended up watching Kingsman was for the excellent cast and because of Matthew Vaughn’s track record (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick Ass and X:Men: First Class to date).
Heading up a mostly British cast are Colin Firth and Mark Strong who always collaborate well together and it is nice to see Strong as a supporting hero rather than as a stock British villain. Firth is a touch of class as ever and he has more of a twinkle in his eye in Kingsman than in some of his recent work which has appeared a bit phoned in since The Kings Speech.
Alongside Firth and Strong, relative newcomer Taron Egerton does a brilliant job as the protagonist in what is a tough role to pull off. The cockney wide boy can so easily become caricature but Egerton is equally at home in trackie bottoms or a smart suit and he could be one to keep an eye on for the future.
Slightly worrying is the inability to escape completely from genre trappings with tired plot devices like a ticking clock and also cartoonish villains (Samuel. L Jackson is disappointing as the antagonist) unfortunately present. Another concern is the action genre in general is still guilty of failing to find interesting roles for woman with Sophie Cookson little more than a prop in her supporting role here.
With Joss Whedon, JJ Abrams, Gareth Evans and to a lesser extent Zack Snyder doing great work on similar projects we could be entering a new golden age for big action blockbusters and Matthew Vaughn should be able to pick whatever project he wants next after such a strong start to his directing career.