josh: we should save IMs like this and make a movie review blog out of them called Monday Morning Directors
matt: That's a great idea! How do we do dat?
josh: we copy and paste it into a blog and done, so simple
matt: okay then...
josh: Monday Morning Directors url looks good
matt: Claim it! Claim it now!

SPOILERS AHEAD!! The following conversation will divulge major plot details!! You have been warned!!

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

The Avengers (2012)

 Matt: I saw Pirates yesterday, but I think I was still too tired from seeing Avengers to enjoy it that much

Joshua: Avengers wore you out that much huh?

Matt: Yeah I actually found it hard to get to sleep the night we saw it because I couldn't stop thinking about it!

Joshua: Heheh really?  Wow.  Very cool. It was in my head for a few days too, but it sounds like it was more of an experience for you.

Matt: It could just be that I was really lowering my expectations for it, I was so determined to not get over-hyped and then disappointed
But then when it delivered on so many levels... so good!
It was strange, I liked it more and more as it went on... I was a bit dissatisfied with the opening sequence.
I got the impression that Whedon had written Nick Fury's lines as though he was the old, white Nick Fury from the comics. I couldn't help thinking that every line Samuel L. Jackson said in those opening minutes would have sounded better if he was just a little more gruff... This wasn't a fault of the script or the actor, just a perceived incongruity in my mind...
Sam Jackson's "angry" is not really a gruff old man type of "angry"

Joshua: Hm, what part of the opening? With Black Widow? Or the part in the lab? It's been a couple weeks since I’ve seen it

Matt: The very first scenes with Nick Fury, where Hawkeye gets possessed and they have to evacuate the building.

Joshua: Ah, right. Gotcha. It was a bit comic-booky, but hey…

Matt: I think I was still in my "come on, wow me" frame of mind at that point. It was certainly a well-done sequence.

Joshua: Yeah, I know I felt like I had to settle in
Like "alright, what do we have going on here." The tone and all.

Matt: I guess I just expected the story of The Avengers to start with one of the soon-to-be Avengers, not with SHIELD stuff, which has always been a peripheral element in the solo films.

Joshua: Yeah, but they totally set up that it was SHIELD that was starting the Avengers.

Matt: Yes, I realize that the story has to start somewhere, and this was the most logical place to begin - this really was only a slight "huh?" kind of moment for me, not even a complaint really.
The script was great. It never felt like it was "starring Iron Man, and the other ones" - the screen time felt proportioned well, and every character had their own cool moment(s).

Joshua: yeah, you definitely had to get your bearings in the beginning, I agree. I did think that Tony Stark and Nick Fury were the backbone of the story though, not in a bad way.
They are the “A” personality types

Matt: That's interesting; I didn't feel that at all.

Joshua: I felt it WAS evenly distributed between all the characters, but it was Stark and Fury that kinda motivated things and had the most exposition. I liked how Stark was prodding Banner all along. It had a good pay off rather than it being just antagonistic. Stark's whole thing is "be yourself, man".

Matt: Yes, the character interaction was why I think Whedon was a great choice for this movie - his skill writing dialogue really made the out-of-costume scenes just as entertaining as the full-tilt action stuff.

Joshua: Oh yeah. It felt just as cool within and outside the action. And of course Loki motivated things. I like the dichotomy with Loki in that, he was a menacing threat, but also taking on something that WAS beyond his capabilities. Like Baby's Day Out.

Matt: Tom Hiddleston gave another great performance as Loki. It would have been so easy for his scenes to have gone over-the-top, because his actions and goals in the movie are so extreme. But he actually gave a really layered performance.

Joshua: Yeah, he was great. it seemed real.
  I liked the "you have heart" bit and the payoff later with Stark was brilliant.

Matt: Exactly!! I'm not going to say I sympathized with Loki, but as a viewer I believed that HE believed what he was saying

Joshua: Oh yeah, the whole thing coming off the Thor movie was great!
 The "my father never loved me because I was adopted" bit; the jealous brother…

Matt: And then, his speech in Germany about humans' desire to be ruled led directly into the movie's awesome second act, which was just a bunch of non-stop comic-style slugfests!

  Once the Hulk showed up!
  And I loved how Loki tricked Thor into getting in the Hulk cage!

Matt: Even before that, you had Cap vs. Loki, Iron Man vs. Loki, Iron Man & Cap vs. Thor, and that was in the space of fifteen minutes!!

Joshua: And the moment when Banner looks at Black Widow as he's turning into the Hulk, all scared!
 That really cemented the Hulk character for me.
Did you pick up on that the whole thing was Loki 's plan to begin with?

Matt: No that was a surprise for me.

Joshua: That until the Hulk smashed him like a rag doll (my favorite part of the movie by the way) everything was going according to his plan. He knew in order to take over the world he HAD to eliminate the world's mightiest heroes. So, get them all together, set the Hulk off and pick those off during the chaos.
  “Once they are weak, I can bring my army in and defeat them.”
 His whole hologram thing he did was great.
 That was in the comics too yeah? Loki: The master of deception? 

Matt: Yes. It was a pretty great plan, really.

Joshua: When he showed up at the opera calm as a cucumber, full well knowing he'd get caught…
  I also like Thor in this movie a lot more than in the Thor movie
  A little Thor goes a long way.
  I even thought Scarlett Johansson did a real good job. I didn't expect that judging from Iron Man 2.
Hawkeye was awesome. I was a bit bummed that he was a baddie for the 1st half, but his payoff was well worth it. And it made it cool that he knew all the SHIELD stuff while he was under Loki's spell. Kinda like "Damn, you don't want this guy to be under the bad guy's spell."

Matt: Yes, I was glad they gave Black Widow her time to shine at the beginning of the movie - in which she was, indeed, a bad-ass - because I think she really got overshadowed by the other characters when they were all together in the final battle. I actually giggled in the sequence at the end where they show Cap doing all his awesome shield-throwing, acrobatic stuff, and Iron Man shooting rockets and lasers, Thor calling down the lightning, and Hulk just laying waste to everything, and then they have a shot of Black Widow with her two little pistols. I mean, she may as well have been making her own "pyew! pyew!" sound effects, she just seemed so out of place in an apocalyptic battle like that. I think they had to give her the "I figured out how to close the portal" role just to compensate...

Joshua: Right, I agree.
 She did do a pretty wow move when Cap threw her up to catch that speeder going by.
 I did think she had a good emotional bit with Hawkeye, and how she developed a relationship with Banner.
  It was great how as tough as she was, she was shaking after the 1st Hulk bit

Matt: Yeah, it really illustrated how nobody in this version of the Marvel universe has encountered anything like the Hulk yet, and so they're all a bit freaked out because nobody quite knows what to expect...

Joshua: And how he was just like a bomb going off wherever he was. No rhyme or reason just SMASH SMASH SMASH

 Matt: They've just seen video of him ripping tanks apart and think "I don't want to be near this guy when he explodes"

Joshua: So when you see him at the end battle, actually thinking about what he is doing, it was great!
  Yeah, even Stark didn't really expect what happened.
 That part when he was fixing the propeller and gets smacked around by it was great.
  That’s one thing I really liked about the movie also, was how nothing ever worked out smoothly. Even with Loki, his plans ALMOST paid off.

Matt: Yes and that was a nice payoff for the conflict set up by Tony's confrontation with Steve Rogers, where he calls him out for just being a glory-hound, basically.

Joshua: Yeah, and he needed Cap's help

Matt: It was almost like Stark had to prove to himself that he really was a hero.

Joshua: yeah
 There were a lot of subtle side things going on. I need to see it again. I was almost shell shocked by how much was going on, it's hard to retain all the information over time.
Definitely a good re-watch.
I was a little put off how much of a grumpy Gus Captain America was. I get it though. This was basically coming off the end of his movie, where his whole life was taken away from him. So, I guess he wouldn't be in the best of moods, and it made him more likely to have a chip on his shoulder with Stark.

Matt: You know, I talked to someone else on the weekend who didn't really like Cap in this movie, but I thought he was great! Again, I think Chris Evans did a really great job depicting Cap's stoicism and sense of right and wrong. I really felt that in this movie, where they all meet up for the first time, you had to show why people as smart and arrogant as Stark, as strong as Hulk, and as powerful as Thor, could all come to respect Captain America, who is not as strong or smart as any of them - and the reason is his bravery and sense of honor. That he will fight for what's right DESPITE not being the strongest or smartest. And I think the script and Evans' performance showed this really, really well.

Joshua: I agree with that, I think I just had something too specific in my head. But I LOVED how he clicked into gear as a great military strategist, not only with that hysterical bit with the cops, but with the Avengers themselves. And of course when he was kicking butt on screen. Helping Stark keep the Carrier in the air.

Matt: Yeah. I want to mention the humor in the movie, which is one of the things that obviously made it such a FUN, crowd-pleaser of a film. I think it's actually what made the Hulk work so well - they let Mark Ruffalo be the straight man, handling the pathos of the character, and the monster got the laughs. This is something we haven't seen in the previous Hulk films, but I think this is definitely the way to go for any future efforts. Whedon just acknowledged what's great about the Hulk - he has one reaction to almost everything, and that's to SMASH it! I was really glad we didn't get any "Beauty calms the Beast" moment here (like we had in the previous Hulk films), because then you start trying to get the Hulk to emote and I feel that totally weakens the character.

Joshua: Yeah, turns out, the Hulk was my favorite part of the film. I would have liked to have seen more about Banner realizing how to control it. That scene in the hangar/barn with Harry Dean Stanton was cool, telling Banner that the Hulk avoided hurting people. But there needed to be at least one more scene to show Banner's discovery. When Banner said, "That's my secret, I'm always angry" I got chills. And when he came riding in all measly on that motorcycle was hysterical.

Matt: Yes, it seems that Hulk was the breakout star of this movie. Thinking about it, I'm wondering if he actually got more screen time here than in either of his previous solo films!
But to your point, I think the Harry Dean Stanton scene gave us what we needed. I got it; I think the general audience got it.
So what about that credit scene, huh?
And I don't mean the shawarma one (very funny, though).

Joshua: Yeah, that's gonna be cool. So that was APOCALYPSE or DARKSEID? APOCALYPSE, right?

Matt: Are you joking?
  You must be too cool to have gotten it...
  It was a pretty deep reference
  Darkseid is DC, dude

Joshua: Yeah, I thought so.
  I know one was DC and one was Marvel. I’m not all that cool, but I didn't read a lot of those comics.

Matt: It was Thanos. The alien guy says "To face these humans again would be to court Death", and the shadowy figure turns around and smiles - it's Thanos, one of Marvel's "cosmic" characters, whose big thing is he's in love with Death (a female personification of death). So, "to court Death", get it?

Joshua: OOOOOOOoooooooo

Matt: I never thought I'd see Thanos show up in a Marvel movie, so this was a big surprise. When we first saw what was beyond the portal, with the alien leader, I thought, "ooh, that looks kind of cosmic, I wonder if they'll throw in an Easter egg of the Watcher or someone in the background", but then I thought, "nah, that's too out there for the movie universe". And then, BAM! Thanos!

Joshua: Cool. That opens up how a TEAM of super heroes is needed to beat an enemy.
We've kinda seen all that a person can throw out

Matt: So it suggests that maybe they'll do the Infinity Gauntlet in Avengers 2? Since that's Thanos' biggest claim to fame in the comics, and I think we saw the Gauntlet in the background of the Asgard trophy room in Thor?

Joshua: I remember that, yeah
  Someone here at work didn't get the Banner can now control the Hulk thing because of the barn scene.
 I have to think that having one of the most iconic character traits on comic book history - don't make me angry - needs more than one scene to show such a change. And the personal journey that he may have gone through.

Matt: Yeah, but then you get into the question of is this an Avengers movie or a Hulk movie.

Joshua: they gave Thor plenty of time with Loki and him looking at his hammer
  That I don't even know exactly what that was about.
  Just that, what, he's humbled again? Should he pick up his hammer?

Matt: I don't know what you're talking about...

Joshua: After Thor escaped from the falling Hulk cage, he spent a whole afternoon staring at his hammer before he picked it up.

Matt: Aw, you're just a Thor-hater!

Joshua: If basically, Loki's whole plan was that the Hulk will destroy the main threat to his plan working, more time to see how that will not be the case, would be good.
And no, I'm just not a Thor-lover

Matt: I honestly don't think it was a big story point that needed expounding on. Whether you know he's gaining more control over the Hulk or not, after the barn scene, you still got the message when he says "I'm always angry" and turns himself into the Hulk before the final battle.
I really think another scene where he said "I think I'm gaining more control!" would have been too much.

Joshua: Yeah, but my friend here was saying - then why didn't he do that earlier in the movie when he tried to kill Black Widow and everyone on the carrier?
Such a huge emotional realization needed more attention and screen time.

Matt: "I'm always angry" turns it around in the audience's mind, and we realize, "ohh, he could have just exploded when Black Widow found him, or when Stark poked him, but he held it in". I think the idea is, Banner can choose to become the Hulk, but once he's the Hulk, he doesn't quite have control. I think the barn scene was where he actually started to realize he could exert a bit of control - it was still new to him AND to us.

Joshua: ok, I can see that. It worked okay with out it, but on this Monday morning, If I was the director, I would have given that more weight

Matt: He was surprised when Harry D. Stanton told him he steered himself away from people.
  Not "yay, I knew I could do it"

Joshua: Right, but if anyone sneezed during that line, they would have missed it
 I'd be surprised if I saw Harry Dean Stanton after I fell through a barn

Matt: Yeah! I was surprised - I was kind of thinking "uhhh, shouldn't that be Stan Lee?"
  I guess there were too many lines to say.

Joshua: Heh heh. Yeah.
  I also wasn't crazy about Capt's outfit. It was too super hero like. What I loved about the about it in the Capt. America movie was how it evolved with a purpose, and how the final outfit was utilitarian, and military-like. This was just an outfit. It came across as flashy to me. Not enough like a soldier. I am a little biased here though, Capt. America was the main reason I was excited to see Avengers, so I was expecting certain things.

Matt: Yes, the costume on Cap definitely needs improvement. I think it maybe the covered ears? Cap's are exposed in the traditional comic look... Maybe if they bulked up his shoulders a bit with pads or something, just to make his head look smaller?
  I want to say, finally, that this movie, and the Marvel movies in general have done a fantastic job of making these characters likeable, compelling and cool. I've never been a fan of either Thor, Captain America or Iron Man in the comics, but I can't get enough of them in these film incarnations! (Always loved the Hulk though)

Joshua: Totally! I liked Thor here
  It was a great mix for an ensemble.
  I like Hawkeye and Black Widow too, how they held their own among these super humans.

Matt: Yeah, but I still think Hawk and BW would work better in their own, more down-to-earth, street level movie, to work better with their skill sets. They really seemed outclassed here, not having any major power.

Joshua: You know who I thought also did a good job was that HOW I MET YOUR MOTHER gal. She pulled off the tough soldier bit and sold all the exposition well.

Matt: Yeah, Cobie Smulders made a great Maria Hill, a cool character from the comics who I'm glad they included. Oh! what about Coulson?!!
Sad to see him go, but at least he went out a hero.

Joshua: I really liked Agent Coulson, and was REALLY sorry to see him go. But I didn't think it was enough of something to "Avenge." Yeah, we'll miss him, we found out his name is Phil & he's a Capt. America geek, but didn’t, like, 100 other agents die during that battle?

Matt: There's a chance he'll be back, since Tony Stark mentioned a "Life Model Decoy" in this movie (basically a robot doppelganger, for you non-geeks)

Joshua: Hmmm
  That’s a stretch, but maybe

Matt: I would not be surprised to see a Coulson-duplicate show up in a future movie... it would cheapen his death though.

Joshua: ah, yeah

Matt: Well I've said everything I had to say, did you have any final thoughts?

Joshua: All the stuff I mentioned didn't take away my enjoyment AT ALL. I could geek out more about what I like, but the only REAL criticism I have is the way they shot the Alien Leader.
I thought his effects were good and the make up, but the way they shot him, it just felt like a guy in a costume standing there.
He didn't seem larger than life, so the threat just seemed like another army, not a force larger than man can imagine.
They could have sped up the frame rate on the camera to give him a bit of a slo-mo effect, shot him from a lower angle, or not shown so much of him.
He just seemed creepy and not as ominous as he should have.
All in all, it was one of the best ensemble Super Hero movies to date.

Matt: Yeah, I've seen a lot of "Best Superhero Movie EVER!" type-reviews, and I'm still trying to make up my mind if I would go that far. I definitely had a smile on my face for most of the movie, and there was nothing about it that disappointed me. But still... perhaps it's due to the fact that we get at least one superhero movie a year these days, whereas a few years ago, they were more of an event (at least for a geek like me), like "Oh my God, can you believe there's a movie about this character I never thought I'd see a movie of?!!" I remember thinking Spider-Man 2 was just amazing, I was almost moved to tears of fanboy joy while watching that, it just seemed at once a great film but also very authentic and accurate in its depiction of the characters and themes of the comic. Iron Man and X-Men 2 (especially the Nightcrawler scenes), gave me that same feeling. Part of the enjoyment of seeing these films was that sense that, "yeah, they got it right!" which, before Marvel Films came along, was by no means a sure thing. So, I guess what I'm trying to say is, this was a great film, but I didn't come out of the cinema thinking "best ever" just because we've already had four great films featuring the same characters, so I was kind of expecting this film would just be more greatness.

Joshua: I don't think it was the best super hero movie, but it was up there as one of the best ENSEMBLE Super Hero movies. Off the top of my head, this and X-Men 2 have the spotlight.
It’s definitely something I’ll buy for good repeated viewing

Matt: Yes, I, like you, feel like I need to see it again because I might have missed something...
I do know one thing, though... this will be the best BLOG POST EVER!!

Joshua: Yes ... Yes it will.

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Ferris Bueller's Day Off

 Matt: Should we talk about He Who Shall Not Be Named? Of course I'm talking about FERRIS BUELLER!
 Joshua: Yes....
 It's time for a classic. FERRIS BUELLER'S DAY OFF. Every one's favorite High School senior. Everyone of my generation thought Ferris was a righteous dude. Everyone that is, except one man.
 Matt: Yes, we'll get to that in a minute, but first maybe we should explain that one of our readers asked us to review a movie which we had very different opinions of. After wracking our brains, we came up with the John Hughes classic from the 80s.
 Joshua: Thanks reader
 Matt: So I'll confess, I never saw this when it first came out. I just heard all the hype and wondered what the big deal was. Then I finally caught bits and pieces of it on TV now and again, but last night I sat and watched the whole thing through for the first time, so we could talk about it here.
 Joshua: Very good of you sir
  I am a little scared at the moment
 Matt: Oh no
 Joshua: Your past reflections were quite heated and aggressive
  much like Jeanie Bueller
 Matt: Okay, by way of explanation for the readers, I kind of tended to view Ferris as something of a sociopath, who had no real emotional connection to anyone, was really just viewing pretty much all of his relationships as pawns to be manipulated for his amusement. I couldn't see how he was supposed to be the "hero" of the film.
 Joshua: OK, judgmental, but valid
 Matt: Admittedly this was a view based not on the entire film, and also colored by the fact that every person I talked to about the film seemed to react to the character in much the same way as the fictional people around Ferris did in the film. I found that baffling.
 Joshua: lol Matt: Now that I've watched the whole thing, my opinion is tempered a bit.
 Joshua: Making you MORE like Jeanie Bueller
  I'm gonna get you a shirt with her on it
  that says "Ferris can suck it"On the back it'll say "I'll just kiss Charlie Sheen" Matt: And I'll get you a shirt with Sloane on it, since you seem to be in love with Ferris
 Joshua: I realize he's a little prick
  Anyhow, how was your viewing of the entire film?
 Matt: Well, I found it very interesting to watch so many years after it first came out. The tone is a bit strange in a way. Parts of it are slapstick comedy that Hughes would later expand upon in Home Alone, parts of it explore that teen angst/boredom that he developed in Breakfast Club, and then there are huge parts that just seem to be almost a travelogue, or a tourism ad for Chicago, which I found a little bizarre.
 Joshua: Yeah, it is a bit disjointed.
 But I guess, it's what a day off can be like.
  The tone does switch around a bit.
  Some of the Cameron stuff is pretty somber.
  More than it should be I think.
 I have a thought on the people Ferris takes advantage of, but I'll come back to it.
 Matt: The performances are great throughout. Edie McClurg was so fantastic as Grace, Ed Rooney's secretary, and she and Jeffrey Jones made a great comedy team. Matthew Broderick and Alan Ruck were both great. Joshua:Broderick and Ruck are a great duo, the banter between them is pricelessMatt:Broderick really sold the "breaking the fourth wall" stuff, where he talked to camera. That sort of thing seems to be everywhere these days, but at the time, in the days before reality TV, I imagine this must have been quite bizarre and ground-breaking to have the main character of the film suddenly turn to the audience and address them.
 Joshua: Yeah, that was big to us.
  It was really Bugs Bunny like in a way
  It was a smart comedy that played to kids and teens, there wasn't much irony back then.
  There was the Cosby show.
 Matt: Funny you should mention Bugs Bunny... After I'd finished watching it last night, the thought came to me that it felt a lot like a Road Runner cartoon. Ferris is the Road Runner, Rooney (and every other authority figure in the film) was the coyote.
 Joshua: Totally
  He's a bit like Bugs too.
 It's a total wish fulfillment story. He says what we all want to, etc.
  Matt: Yeah, but I think we both got that kind of vibe because Ferris doesn't really undergo any kind of change in the film, which I thought was another of the strange tonal things about it. It's really only Cameron and Ferris' sister Jean who have any kind of character arc/journey in the film. Which mystifies me a little as to why it treats Ferris as the main character.
 Joshua: More so than the story or point of view of this kid getting away with things is - there are a lot of great scenes in the movie.
  All the Rooney stuff is classic
 Ferris running at the end to get home in time
 Matt: Yeah, which makes it more like a cartoon - it's just a series of gags in which you already know how its going to end up - the Road Runner always gets away in the end, and the coyote gets squashed.
 Joshua: Pretty much...Breaking the 4th wall in the beginning and addressing the audience with all the jokes and rules...
  Which is why I was so taken aback by how upset you got about it before lol
  Almost as upset as I get about Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade
  Now THAT would be a blog entry for the ages
 Did you enjoy it overall?
 Matt: I'm not ready to sum up yet... I thought that the 4th wall break was a really sly device to use, actually. The audience is immediately almost drafted, in a way, into the "cult of Ferris" that the entire town of Chicago is in by the end of the film, by the fact that Ferris is talking directly to us. It's about as far from an "objective narrator" as you can get.
 Joshua: Good point
  Later on in life I felt the parade thing was pretty out there
 but he's got us with him from the beginning
  Also, I think the magnitude of that makes the frustration of Rooney and the sister and even Cameron seem plausible -
  The narration is used well, it's always a commentary on something, not "here, this is happening".
 Now that you mention it, the film kind of IS like reality TV!
 He talks to the camera about stuff we can identify with. They go here and do stuff, they go there and do stuff. There's something trying to stop them but it's really not that big of a dealand everyone knows who he is
  just for being him
 Matt: Yeah, that was part of the weird tone... the magnitude of the "Save Ferris" phenomenon got so big that it was obviously comical, but it took so long to get there, it wasn't immediately obvious that it was a farcical sort of element.
 Joshua: Yeah, sort of, all his gadgets and talking to the camera was pretty farcical though.
 Basically, the jokes just got bigger as the movie went along.
  At first it seems reasonably realistic, but by the last third, crazy stuff is going on
  with everybody.
 Matt: I still think Ferris is an implausibly likeable character and a bit of a selfish jerk with essentially no remorse - he even has a line in the film where he tells Cameron something like "you can't respect someone you can take advantage of" - which, when you think about it, is how a con-man must think about his potential victims. I mean, clearly, there's not one relationship he has in the film which he's not using to his advantage.
 I guess that's my biggest problem with the film - it's essentially about a guy who everyone supposedly likes/loves, but we're not shown any "save the cat" moment to justify WHY the other characters feel that way.
 Joshua: I guess it's that he's funny
 He makes us laugh
  That's why we like him
  Maybe in Australia it's different, but here in the States - in the 80's - no one wanted to listen to their parents. No one wanted to be at school and the school administration was the enemy. Everyone looked for a way to get out of everything they didn't want to do. And we all had a friend we wanted to just chill out, or we were that friend who needed to chill out.
 He saves Cameron in a way.
  Cameron would have stayed in bed loathing himself and the world
  Ferris gets him out and tells him not to be a drip
 All the people Ferris takes advantage of need a bit of a kick in the head. His parents are pretty dopey. The principal is a dick. The maitre d' at the restaurant is a real dick. Cameron is even a pessimistic ass.
 Matt: That was the other bizarre thing. As I watched it, I was trying to work out what Hughes was trying to say, and at first I thought "Oh, he's saying Adults are idiots, and the Kids are the real thinkers" - but then every shot of a class of kids is full of slack-jawed, sleepy, near-comatose idiots! So I was a bit puzzled - again, going back to the uneven tone of the film.
 Joshua: It's like in the "why'd you kick me?" "where's your brain?" scene. Until Cameron uses his brain, he will continue to be kicked
  The moral is, use your brain, and you won't get kicked
 Unless you're Rooney
 Matt: It's interesting you feel that way, I wonder if it's because you saw it at a more impressionable age.
 Joshua: 1986
  I was....14
  They were the cool people I was hoping to be in a few years
 Matt: Ugh.
 Joshua: It's basically just a bunch of funny stories laid on a very simple plot
  Kid skips school and tries not to get caught
 Principal tries to make is arch enemy pay but keeps getting in his own way
  More like Murphy's Law gets in the way
 Or Rooney and the sister try to take him down
  Just like Charlie Sheen says to Jeannie in the police station - "what do you care?"
 Oh, and you like him because he gets away with what you want to get away with. You either live through him vicariously, or resent him for getting what you don't have.
 Aside from the Ferris pedestal, there is some GREAT visual storytelling going on.
  It's a good film to study in that way
 I never thought about what you said about it being a precursor to Home Alone - with the slapstick
  I got a question for you when you're ready
 Matt: Yeah, and I enjoyed all the Ed Rooney scenes, that was pretty much the funniest stuff in the movie (that and the two parking guys joyriding in the Ferrari). I just could have used some transformation in Ferris, if he's ostensibly the main character. And as for him getting away with stuff, I think it would have been a stronger movie if he had either had one thing blow up in his face, giving him a moment's pause, or show us a stronger reason WHY he's doing what he's doing. Not just "because he can". Essentially something to ground the character and make him more believable.
  Joshua:I agree,
  I think the Cameron meltdown thing was what that was supposed to be
 Ferris' powers not working on everything
  and then he admits to us he doesn't know what's gonna happen with him and Sloane
  It's a very teen point of view
 Matt: Then I think either the performance or direction faltered a bit there, because he didn't seem really affected by even that, to me.
  So what was the question?
 Joshua: Hang on, what u said is making me use my brain
 I guess in a way, it's everyone else's movie, Ferris is what just takes them there
  They all get on the FERRIS WHEEL and begin to see things from a different perspective!
 That's it, good night everybody!
  Tip your waitressesHoly crap, if that's why John Hughes named him Ferris I'm something else. I guess we'll never know
 Believe me, Ferris peaked in high school. He ended up being Matthew Broderick in ELECTION
 Matt: It's just weird that it's called "Ferris Bueller's Day Off" and not "Cameron Frye's Day Off"... It's almost like saying "Star Wars" is really about Darth Vader's journey, not Luke Skywalker's - oh wait...
  Here's my question...
  By your rationale: Why would we like Bill Murray in Ghostbusters? 1st scene, right off the bat, he's lying to someone and giving someone electric shocks
 Matt: That's a good question. It's kind of the same deal, isn't it?
 Joshua: We do see Venkman lose his job
  They make us laugh
 It's ironic
 Matt: Not to jump onto another movie, but I think Egon and Ray are the more sympathetic characters in that trio. Peter is pretty much the comic relief, who seems to be there just to pick up chicks, whereas the other two are actually there for the ghostbusting... but that's a very apt comparison. I can't think of a "save the cat" moment for Venkman in that movie...
  We like him because he's "the funny one"
 Joshua: He's the motivator. We can go more on that later
  Egon and Ray are socially awkward, they need him to be the bridge
 It's the Marx Brothers formula
 The quiet one, the talky one and the wise ass
 Matt: I heard something a while ago about someone who did an analysis/review of Ferris Bueller's Day Off as though it was like Fight Club - spoiler warning!- as though Ferris was just a side of Cameron's personality, spurring his eventual catharsis through anarchic stunts. I thought that was a pretty clever way of looking at it!
 Joshua: Oooh, that's neat
 What we want to be and what we don't want to be
 Matt: Yeah, exactly. Or looking at it from a Freudian point of view, Ferris is the Id, and I guess Rooney would be the Super-Ego? That kind of fits...
 Joshua: What's Cameron?
 Matt: Cameron is the Ego, which is the identity between the Id, the unbridled pleasure-seeker, and the Super-Ego which imposes rules/consequences/punishment on the Ego.
 Joshua: Ah
  There you go
  The late Mr. Hughes knew what he was doing
 That's probably a good formula to put on any story you try and write
  You are right though. As much as I like the film, it lacks one key element in all supposed great films....
 Matt: Yes, ironically this chat-therapy session has enabled me to work through my feelings of resentment towards Ferris and come to a place of understanding and appreciation of the movie!
 But you were about to say..?
 Joshua: lol. Next time the wife bugs you about watching too much tv just say you're "working on yourself"
  Matt: haha - she watches just as much as me!
 Joshua: I was about to say..... Ferris needed to do something completely out of character in order to achieve something at some point. A big risk-it-all moment. He never did do anything selfLESS. Even for a moment
 Matt: Right. My main problem with the film overall.
 Joshua: Ah, I just thought of what he did
  Sort of
 Through out the film, everything was easy for Ferris. With minimal effort he was able to practically bend every situation to his whim...
  Until the end, when it is physically impossible to get where he needs in time
  His wits will NOT work here
 All he can do is give more effort than he ever has in his entire life
  It's a stretch, but it's there
 Matt: I thought you were going to say when he dove into the pool to save Cameron.
 Joshua: Nah,
  Although his powers didn't work on Cameron, he didn't do anything about it
 Except make the biggest laugh in the movie theatre, "you killed the car"
 Matt: Wait, so how is the "selfless moment" his run back home at the end? All he's doing at that point is trying to save his own skin!
 Joshua: It's not selfless, it's just the rest of the movie he does everything with very little effort because his wits take care of him
 Wits aren't gonna help him run a couple miles in 5 minutes
 Matt: Yeah, I guess that came closer than anything to providing a moment of any real peril for him - but you still knew he'd get out of it.
 Joshua: Of course
 Matt: It wasn't set up, directorially, as a real suspenseful moment.
 Joshua: No
  But it was felt
 It was visceral
 Matt: That is, it could have been stronger if we'd seen, say, Ed Rooney going towards the house sooner than we did, or something...
 Joshua: Yeah, but the surprise of that was better
  Stop being a monday morning direc-- oh wait
  But it was Jeannie who had the turn at that point
 Matt: Yeah.
 Joshua: Ferris was a pretty one-note character because everyone around him did the growing for him
 What we all really "look" for in a movie, is that the emotional beats are there, we may sense something may be missing, but emotionally we are satisfied
 Matt: I thought the Charlie Sheen scene was really weird, in light of everything that's happened with him in the last year in reality. Some of his dialogue almost sounds prophetic...
 Joshua: I know, crazy, right?
 I immediately thought of that when he was going nuts on TV and such
  Wow, a lot of classic flicks that year -
 Matt: So, finally, I just wanted to say that my absolute favorite scene was where Ed Rooney gets on the school bus right at the end of the movie and sits next to the girl with the big glasses. "You want a gummy bear? It's been in my pocket so it's really warm and soft". I didn't laugh at anything in the movie more than that.
 Joshua: lol
 Yeah, that's definitely a Matthew moment
 Matt: You got it!
 Joshua: So I guess the school bell is about to ring on this posting
 Matt: Yeah
 Joshua: I guess, if we can't be Ferris, we can try to be less of a Cameron
  and never be a Rooney
 Matt: I think there's something in that for all of us, isn't there?
 Joshua: Yes there is Matthew, yes there is
  chik - chika chikaaaahh

Friday, August 12, 2011

Captain America: The First Avenger

Matt: Uncle Sam wants YOU - to talk about Captain America: The First Avenger!

Josh: hey

Matt: What's shakin'?

Josh: Nuthin' bacon

Ok lets do this turkey b4 things hit the fan again today

Matt: Well what did you think of Captain A?

Josh: Loved it

I'll start off by stating that ...

Stanley Tucci is to Capt. America what Alec Guiness was to Star Wars.

Having Tucci in the beginning of the film made any cheesy parts play gracefully.

His performance was so dialed down and sincere that anything big had more resonance when it happened.

Matt: I thought you meant in terms of the characters being mentors whose deaths inspire the leads on their journey, but I can see that too.

Josh: All that

On the page, yeah, he was the mentor character that died for the hero to become mature but it was the class that Tucci and Guiness brought to the films that brought weight to a film that could otherwise have been too light or silly.

Matt: I thought this film was the Marvel film that felt most firmly entrenched in the "Marvel Universe" - maybe because it is just the latest, and so was able to incorporate references to stuff we've seen in all the previous Marvel films so far (Iron Man 1 & 2, Thor, The Incredible Hulk).

I thought Howard Stark's entrance at the World's Fair, mirroring Tony Stark's at the trade show in Iron Man 2, complete w/ dancing girls, was great - showing off a prototype of a SHIELD flying car from the comics, in "hot rod red", no less, was a really nice link

Josh: Oh yeah, I didn't realize that was a SHIELD car

Very cool

All the references were great

and I probably missed a bunch

Matt: We also saw a mannequin in a big glass display case, in a red suit, featured prominently in the establishing shot of that scene - that was the original Human Torch from the forties who was an android who combusted upon contact with the air (hence he had to be kept in a glass case) - that was pure fanboy gold right there

Josh: Oh wow

Yeah, my problem there is I'm a geek, but not enough of a fanboy.

I loved how the uniform evolved and how they incorporated the original outfit

Matt: The first appearance of Arnim Zola as a big face on a TV screen was an obvious reference to the way he looks in the comics too - check this out.

So with all these early fanboy treats, I was half expecting to see Namor swim past in the scene where Steve went after the Hydra agent's escape sub!

No such luck though...

Josh: Heheh, yeah right

That's cool

Matt: As to the uniform, I thought it was clever to have the whole USO sequence, because it made the suit which he eventually winds up in seem like a bit more of a natural evolution.

Josh: Yeah, the way he took that dancer's helmet and had the bomber jacket...

Matt: On the other hand, one of the few negatives I found with the film was its pacing - it took a looong time for him to get into the suit and start kicking ass.

Josh: Everything about the Captain that was outside the super powers seemed totally believable. I liked how they spent so much time with the "before" Rogers so that when we saw him as the Capt. we really felt who he was, not just a generic hero. You almost SAW the little guy in the Captain.

I felt it was a big pay off.

If it was too soon it would have felt forced, I like how it was "earned" and every outlandish risk he took was backed up by the grenade scene in basic training.

Matt: Yeah that's true, but I thought the choice to show all this basic training stuff in full and then, once he becomes Cap, skip over his first few missions with a montage sequence was the wrong way to go. I would rather have had more time on him actually smashing Hydra bases and use the montage for the basic training stuff. More of him in the suit AS Cap, please!

Josh: I definitely agree that I wanted more stuff than that montage but I also feel any less of the skinny Steve stuff would have taken some of the heart out of it.

I think Chris Evans did a great job. both before and after the Capt. transformation. He had a lot riding on this, and I felt he had a good balance of poignancy and comic book fun.

Matt: I totally agree with you on the point that for this character to work, you need to see that it's the man and his soul, not the suit and powers, that makes him a hero, and I think Chris Evans did a fantastic job of portraying Steve Rogers' indomitable personality. So I'm with you on that point. I thought the way he played the scene with Steve in modern day Times Square was great, and totally in line with the character we saw as a skinny guy in the alley at the very beginning - even this huge curveball (waking up in the future) wasn't going to scare him

Josh: I thought the FX were great. you could tell in spots that skinny Steve was a bit off, but it was minimal. I was talking about how the composites in Ghostbusters (one of my favorite films) were so bad, and we don't disparage that at all. I'm not gonna mince about something being 95% or so good. I'm glad they did it the way they did, it really made you feel for who he was. and how he was. and who he is.

Matt: Oh my God, yeah! The FX were great, and actually had me wondering "how did they do that?" in some shots, which I haven't done since I was a kid! So "bravo" to all involved on that score.

I wanted to talk about Hugo Weaving as the Red Skull, since we praised Evans' performance.

I thought he was great.

Josh: Oh yeah!

Again, I was glad they spent so much time before we saw him as the Red Skull, so by the time we saw him, we could relate to him.

He has so much power behind his eyes doing almost nothing, it made the makeup really work

Matt: His accent (to my ears, at least) sounded very authentic, not at all the "evil German" cliched accent you'd expect - reminded me of Werner Herzog. A native German speaker may disagree with me, however....

Josh: I TOTALLY thought of Werner Herzog, that's so funny!

Man, we are nerds...

Matt: "Go the fuck to SLEEP"

Josh: Yeah, his acting pulled that off, it could have really come off bad.

Matt: I agree with you about showing him without make-up, but I was also glad they gave the make-up equal screen time - again, Marvel Films really gives the audience what they want in terms of faithfulness to the comics

It was like the comic come to life!

Josh: Yeah, same here, he's the Red Skull 'cause he's got a red skull. I also liked how there was a somewhat ethereal element to his transformation, it wasn't just some gross-out face of a guy whose face came off.

I hated it in Spider-Man and Iron Man how they have the mask come off at the end because it's the climax of the film and we need to see them emote.

Matt: One thing I liked about the film is that it wasn't one of those super-hero films where they felt the need to humanize the villain or show us his complex motivation. It was kind of a throwback to the days when it was fine to say the villain wanted to take over the world, without showing us how "he would have been a good guy if only he hadn't lost his Woobie at age 3". Kind of like a vintage Bond villain or something in that respect.

Josh: lol

Matt: That choice enabled more time to build up Steve Rogers' character.

Josh: Although, Woobies are good motivators and the fact he was a Nazi helped that along

Matt: Well, yeah, I was going to say, it's hard to make Nazis sympathetic, so why even try? That wasn't the point of this story...

Josh: Yeah

I also liked the balance between reality and fantasy that the film had. Since it was a period piece, it had a heightened look that felt romanticised. It was just enough but not over the top. and I think that's what made it really work, like it was from a bygone era. Whereas Iron Man felt very realistic and current. but that is also what Iron Man is. That's another reason I'm really looking forward to THE AVENGERS, Steve Rogers will feel like such a fish out of water, it'll be great.

Matt: Yeah, I was just going to say how I thought it evoked the 40s really, really well. It really immersed you in that world. It worked so well for me that in the scene where Peggy Carter shows up in that red dress in the bar before the mission, after only seeing her in uniform up to that point, I had a genuine "va-va-voom" moment! By today's standards, the dress she was wearing was very tame, but I was so immersed in that world by that point that I actually reacted to her in that dress that same way the characters did!

Josh: Heheh. cool

Everything really felt of the time without being put on. it was great

Matt: Yes, exactly.

Josh: I thought the Bucky character was great. I didn't know much about him other than him being an old man in The Ultimates comic, so he always sounded kind of corny to me. but I thought he was a really great, fleshed-out character, that was pretty cool himself. and not like a lame Fonz wanna-be

Matt: It was a nice touch that they also had him in a practical, "real" world version of the blue tunic he wore in the comic, too

Josh: Wait, which what are you talking about

Matt: On the mission where he died, he was wearing a sort of double-breasted dark blue jacket that I'm pretty sure took its design cues from his classic costume.

Josh: Ah, ok yeah, very cool

I wasn't aware of that

Matt: ...yeah, my brain is a geek knowledge storehouse

It was great the way the script flipped the dynamic between Steve and Bucky once Captain America was "born" - Bucky had become the second-banana (I'm even using 40s-era expressions now! Who'da thunk it?) after starting the film as the top dog…

Josh: That's what I mean, they really made him a cool guy, not a Robin-esque sidekick

I liked that switch too.

It also made Steve not seem like a dork when he was small, just a little guy

An underdog

Matt: Right, exactly

Josh: He was a cool guy himself

Really cool, in fact. That whole "I could do this all day" bit was great!

Matt: There were only a couple of things I didn't like about the film, and they weren't major obstacles to my enjoyment, but one was the actor playing Howard Stark. His accent was all over the place. I just kept thinking "they couldn't find ANY American actor who could play this small role?"

I'm pretty sure he was British

Josh: I was wondering that or was it that he was doing the 1940's thing

I'm usually really sensitive to accent stuff and it didn't bother me but I know what you mean

Matt: Yeah, maybe, but I thought for a character who's supposed to be the quintessential American industrialist... could have been cast better. Not a big deal though.

Josh: Yeah

Matt: I thought the Howling Commandos were kind of goofy, especially Dum-Dum Dugan. He looked ridiculous with those rank stripes on the front of his bowler hat. This was one of those things that worked fine as a drawing but not so much in real life.

Thankfully they were not in it that much.

Josh: Oh, right

I was wondering about that too

Since I wasn't too familiar, I figured it must be a comic book thing

The actors that played them, well at least that guy and Derek Luke, they're pretty big faces to be in such small roles

Matt: That French guy was kind of a cliche too, but that's basically the nature of those characters. They may as well have been called "The Howling Racial/Ethnic Stereotypes"

Josh: LOLOL Hogan Heroes alright!

Matt: Yeah, exactly. The Derek Luke guy was the only one who they broke out of that a bit, with the line about him being from Sacramento. They really needed someone to address Dum-Dum Dugan, "so, uh, what's with the bowler hat?" ... he was like the 40s version of a hipster douchebag.

Josh: lol!

And who lets an enlisted man wear a hat like that?

Matt: Complete affectation... handlebar mustache as well... yeesh

Josh: There was probably more stuff that had to be cut

Maybe there was more stuff that they ended up putting in the montage too. It wasn't a short movie

Matt: Tommy Lee Jones would have set him straight!! He doesn't put up with that crap!

Josh: That's right

Tommy Lee does it again though, huh?

Right out of The Fugitive

Great stuff

Matt: Yeah, he's one of those guys that never overdoes it.

Josh: I only had one real gripe and the more I thought about it the more I think it's okay. It was the kiss. How time stopped on the edge of a cliff for the cheesy romantic bit. BUT I then thought, this is a guy who's never been out on a date, ignored and put down. He finally has a connection with a woman and even though he may not have been expecting it, it may have been the only real kiss he'd ever had, so for him, time did stop in that moment. It affected him enough to be sad about missing a date after being frozen for 70 years.
I also didn't like how the car almost went off the cliff at the end of that scene, the most cliche bit that ever existed. Cap could have stopped the car with his shield or done something. I guess he needed the shield in the Red Skull fight. Whatever, more runway then. anything but that.

Matt: Yeah, I see what you mean, but I think the counterpoint to that argument is that the setting of the film and the style of it was all harking back to another time, so I think I was able to forgive that and see it more as "classic" rather than "cliched".

Josh: Yeah, I know, it's acceptable, it just sticks out to me

The car thing more than the kiss

Matt: Yeah, I admit that it was one of those things we've seen a million times before, and I thought so while watching it, but overall it was a really fun superhero movie. I have to admit, I wasn't expecting a film this good, so it was a great surprise.

Did you stay after the credits to see the teaser trailer for The Avengers?

Josh: Yes!

Matt: And?

Joshua: Looks good!

I thought the boxing scene at the end was really cool

Matt: Yeah, I'm excited!

Josh: And The Avengers looks like a good ride

Now that we HAVE seen all these characters on their own, we know the context of them being together

I gotta admit, I wasn't all that stoked to see it until after I saw Capt. America

Matt: No, I had my doubts, but it looks like it will be a lot of fun.

It looks like they've got Thor in a sleeveless costume like his classic Kirby design.

Oh, that reminds me - still no "Kirby dots" effect in this movie!! Come on, Marvel Films! I want to see what that would look like in three dimensions! The Red Skull's final scene was the perfect place for it, but still no such luck. Oh well, maybe The Avengers will be the one...

Josh: Heheh

I'm looking forward to scenes with Tony Stark and Steve Rogers

Oh yeah, another thing!

When he runs out into Times Square at the end! It was totally like something out of Blade Runner, and it was real!


You look at Blade Runner and say it's cool, but way over the top

But, there it was

Matt: Yeah, that was great. And like I said before, his reaction was perfectly in line with the stoicism we'd seen all through the movie.

Because I would probably lose it at that point if it was me.

Josh: Uh-huh, it was great. I want to see it again

Matt: Yeah, I wasn't expecting such a good movie, I'll probably get it on Blu-Ray when it comes out.

Josh: I'll get the Blu-ray if a dvd comes with it.

Well, there we have it I think

oh wait

The shield was AWESOME. I had a shield made out of thick cardboard as a kid and I used the hell out of that thing. All the stuff they did with it, too, was right on the money, like Wolverine's claws. not too over the top but just the right combination of crazy and cool. What we've been waiting to see since we were kids

Matt: Yes! How could we not talk about the shield? Yeah, it was treated perfectly - the way they introduced it, and even the way they set up the fact that he needed some kind of shield when he was chasing the Hydra agent and used the door from the cab. Then they didn't overuse the effect or the "bit" of him throwing it, so you never got sick of it. It was handled really well.

I don't know about you, but it left me wanting more, I can't wait to see Cap in action again now that we have the origin out of the way. I hope there's a sequel. Maybe they could do the Winter Soldier storyline... (sorry to get all fanboy on you)

Josh: Yeah I always hear about Winter Soldier, but I don't know about him

I'd love a sequel, but I don't know about it in modern day

It was a whole vibe that I liked

I'm looking forward to The Avengers

and I want more

I'm just grateful it was so good

Matt: Yeah, me too. Alright then, I think that's a wrap!