Posts Tagged ‘jeremy renner’

A superhero film usually limits itself to it’s hero and it’s villain or perhaps two or three heroes or a few more villains.  With the limited time frame of a film, it becomes fairly difficult for a film to maneuver the more characters it adds as evidenced by films like the ‘X-Men’ series which showed off a plethora of films although not always the best showcase for all it’s characters.  And so comes the Avengers, a unique endgame that Marvel Studios has been brewing and setting up since Iron Man, combining some of Marvel’s biggest heroes into one film.  The end result isn’t always perfect with a fairly predictable narrative and a flimsy first half, but many will adore the geeky, fun moments that are big on thrills and entertainment value while still retaining heart and character.

The Avengers follows a group of remarkable characters from previous Marvel films including Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson).  Thor’s exiled brother, Loki (Tom Hiddleston) has returned to Earth to find an energy source that could power a gateway between Earth and another realm in an act of war.  Together, the heroes must do their best to put their egos aside and work amongst one another to try and figure out a way to stop Loki before it is too late.

The Avengers does run into a few problems throughout it’s duration due to it’s scope and positioning and doesn’t necessarily elevate the genre to any new heights.  The first is in it’s actual plot structure, which is fairly predictable.  Both as a positive and a negative, the way the plot progresses is reminiscent of a typical comic book hero story which makes the film feel very much rooted in it’s comic book lore but also doesn’t make very many deviations from the standard formula.  The end result is a lack of surprises in where the story actually goes and by the halfway point of the film, most audience members will be able to accurately predict how the film will end and where the characters will end up.  Also, due to the nature of the film being positioned as a tentpole film after all the other Marvel films to date, the first half of the film is most likely going to confuse newcomers and still be somewhat slow even for veterans as the film tries to introduce, reintroduce, and explain concepts without seeming too mundane yet still falls victim to the complicated puzzle it needs to fit together.

That being said, the core film of Avengers is good and entertaining to combine the best of all it’s characters.  On one level, there are good action set pieces that are not just full of explosions and destruction but includes smart opportunities to show off character and create memorable moments.  During these scenes, fans, especially, will enjoy seeing their favorite characters shown off in different ways and with a fairly good sense of distance and chronology, Avengers uses these action moments to create some exciting moments by combining and distancing the heroes in interesting and fun ways.  This positive point leads into another – the actual attention to character and heart.  Not only are nearly all of the characters given a good amount of screentime but each are given something to work with that allows them to (at least) be a little more than just a one-sided character.  Playing with the egos and big personalities of these distinct characters and mixing in their backgrounds create an interesting rhythm that is fascinating to see play out, helped much by all the actors who not only reprise their roles well but at times, adds much more to them whether it is Hiddleston’s much more bombastic Loki to Downey’s snark and clever quips clashing well with Evans straight shooter personality.  These characteristics and growth help to not only flesh out the characters but gives some more emotional weight and thoughtfulness amongst all the fierce action scenes.  Finally, the script itself is full of fun nods and some good humor to round out the package that are full of geeky, fun moments for fans and not tire out the audience with constant explosions and noise.

The Avengers has all the trappings of a big summer blockbuster movie from the good to the bad while retaining it’s character both in it’s comic book roots to the chemistry and fascination of seeing such larger-than-life characters mashed up here as well. Newcomers to this Marvel universe should be aware (although some enjoyment is still present) that there is a bit of a learning curve in understanding the plot and proceedings of the first half along with other weaker elements from a fairly unsurprising narrative arc to a slow build-up.  However, what Whedon and the rest of the crew accomplished must be commended – they created a summer movie of huge action, superhero set pieces with a good heart and care still taken in actually creating some empathy and growth in it’s characters while giving fans a healthy dose of humor and fun.  It’s a movie really for the fans of the series and although that may mean it might not exactly be cinema perfection, it sure as hell means that viewers will get more than their money’s worth of entertainment and some interesting proceedings.  

Director: Joss Whedon
Running Time: 142 Minutes
Rated: PG-13

The Wie muses: *** ½ out of *****


Read Full Post »

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol shouldn’t really be celebrated.  Its the fourth film in a franchise thought to be finished much after the third film and represents the sequel-itis safety net that Hollywood has clung onto in trying to get some financial stability and earnings.  Even more curious for some, Director Bird has never filmed a feature-length high budget action film and although personally, he stands as one of my favorite directors, some questioned whether he was ready for live action.  Well, the core film of Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol really is a success in many ways as a very good action film and as an imaginative ballet of set pieces.  Although it does suffer from franchise fatigue and plot/character qualms, Ghost Protocol is probably one of the best action films of the year and can be wholeheartedly recommended to both series veterans and newcomers alike.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol continues to follow the adventures of Ethan Hunt (Tom Cruise) who has been assigned to a new IMF mission in Russia but rather than being able to choose a specific team, he is assigned members from Jane (Paula Patton), Benji (Simon Pegg) and Brandt (Jeremy Renner).  Together, they need to infiltrate and find nuclear codes that have been stolen by the villain, Hendricks (Michael Nyqvist), before nuclear missiles are shot at the United States.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol falls short in terms of some deeper plot and character intricacies.  For the amount of complicated jargon and supposed plot twists that make up many spy films, Ghost Protocol’s periphery story doesn’t get as much attention or care as the main, central points.  Of course, these plot points and characters are supposed to be smaller whether in scale or depth than the showcase highlights, but here, they feel flimsy and almost unnecessary. Take for example the villain, Hendricks, who is played by a pretty terrific international actor, Nyqvist.  However, his role is diminutive and flat with only one scene given to explain his ambitious evil goals (which even then is shadowed by a separate plot point given to Hunt) and relegated to simply running away or fighting the good guys without a word.  After getting a villain like Hoffman in MI3, its disappointing see such a flat villain. This lackluster treatment also bleeds over to several other subplots such as the one between Hunt and Brandt, which is supposed to feel morally difficult and grandiose but comes off quite the opposite.  Instead of feeling emotionally invested into these subplots or care about their inclusions, they feel unnecessary.

However, the pacing, the main characters, and the set pieces are exquisitely well-done and contribute to making an amazing action film overall.  The main acting crew is nicely grouped together with some standouts like Pegg who, as in many of his other movies, keeps up the film with his hilarious banter and actions.  However, it really is Cruise that holds the film afloat with his charisma and dedication.  Rarely (or seemingly never) using a stunt double or a CG counterpart with an unwavering look to the goal at hand, it may not be an original or unique performance but his confidence sells the high octane scenes.  Speaking of these moments, the action set pieces are definitely another superb highlight.  Director Bird and his crew crafted some truly creative and fascinating moments that feel original and hard-hitting.  Much of this is helped by the use of ‘real’ locations as much as possible and the balance showcasing huge scale, dangerous distance, hard-hitting sound design, and relentless pacing.  The use of IMAX in this respect is fairly a treat to watch as well in scenes like at the Dubai Tower which really induces a sense of awe and danger.  Personally, I thought a chase scene in a desert is quite a highlight that must have been painful to shoot but creates an end product that I’ve never seen done quite in this light.  Finally, there is a fun and classic feel about the style of the film that never feels like its taking itself too seriously yet still exciting to watch due to its high-octane action and fearless acting troupe.  From the very old-school title sequence to the mysterious classic TV-like ending, there was a certain charm that may be lost on some viewers but for those that kind of get the small winks and nods, its a fun touch.

Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol is a great action film that skimps a bit on the character development and various other intricacies but little on its core fundamentals.  There are some legitimate complaints to be had with a fairly substandard villain and some subplots that aren’t nearly as compelling as the rest of the film.  However, as a whole, the film is an action-packed and well-paced film that is imaginative in its scope.  Along with a strong and daring Cruise anchoring the whole operation, Director Bird not only creates one of the best action films of the year but has definitely more than proven he can play with the big boys in both the animated and live-action fields.  

Director: Brad Bird
Running Time: 133 Minutes
Rated: PG-13

The Wie muses: *** ½ out of *****

Read Full Post »