Box Office Preview: ‘Avengers’ and Something About a Hotel


The Avengers

As I discussed over at Real Men Read Comics, Marvel has been building towards this one for a long time. After a long wait and perhaps too many attempts to connect the dots, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America, and the gang are coming together on the big screen.

I’ve actually got something nice to say about a new release, maybe even a few nice things. This is groundbreaking territory.

“The Avengers” was written and directed by Joss Whedon. This is the dude who brought us “Buffy the Vampire Slayer,” “Angel,” and “Firefly.” If you don’t know what “Firefly” is, you need to find out. It’s on Netflix instant, so go on, get. I’ll even give you the link. Like his projects, Whedon has built up quite the cult following over the years. And, as if all that wasn’t enough, he co-wrote “Toy Story,” for which he was nominated for an Oscar. That’s right folks, motherfucking “Toy Story.”

“The Avengers” has all most of the stars of the individual films back in their roles. We’ve got Chris Hemsworth as Thor, Chris Evans as Captain America, and most importantly, Robert Downey Jr. in his perfectly sardonic portrayal of Tony Stark/Iron Man. Now, Mark Ruffalo may have replaced Eric Bana, er, Edward Norton as Bruce Banner/The Incredible Hulk, but that’s probably a good thing. If you’re sick of all these different Bruce Banners flying your way, don’t worry, Ruffalo recently signed a six-picture deal to play The Hulk.

Let’s not forget about the supporting cast, rounding out the team are Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, and Jeremy Renner as Hawkeye. But wait, there’s more, Tom Hiddleston will reprise his role from “Thor” as Loki, the film’s main villain. Hiddleston also played a brilliant F. Scott Fitzgerald in “Midnight in Paris.”

One of the ways you know a superhero movie, is great is when the dialogue is better than the action sequences. This is what we got in “Iron Man,” when oftentimes Tony Stark was more gripping with his super suit off than on. You should expect no less from Whedon, and according to Bullz-eye’s David Medsker, the Joss has delievered:

Once Whedon gets the cast in the same room and gives them the chance to interact as people rather than superheroes, the movie blossoms in a strangely wonderful way, one where it’s easy to wish that they would keep talking, rather than ramping up for the butt-kicking that is just around the corner. Indeed, until the climactic battle sequence, the action plays second fiddle to the talking, and as odd as that sounds for a superhero movie, it’s the right call.

If all this wasn’t enough, “The Avengers” has been certified fresh at Rotten Tomatoes, sitting at a 93 on the Tomatometer. For once, I’m actually excited.


The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel

The only other film getting a wide release this weekend is “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel.” Believe it or not, John Madden was actually able to direct a film that doesn’t star Brett Favre. Hold on. I’m getting word that it’s a different John Madden, the “Shakespeare in Love” John Madden. Oh, well things make more sense now.

Kidding aside, this is a film about a group of British seniors, including Academy Award-winners Judi Dench and Maggie Smith, who decide to “outsource” their retirement to cheaper and seemingly exotic India. When they get there, the Best Exotic Marigold Hotel doesn’t look quite as it did in the brochures so both hilarity and drama ensue. The film also stars Penelope Winton, whose interactions with Maggie Smith in “Downton Abbey” are fantastic, so hopefully we get some of that here.

There’s a reason no other movies are being released this weekend, studios were scared of “The Avengers,” and rightly so. But it’s pretty clear that “Hotel” is “The Avengers'” antithesis, and so too is its target audience. That said, with its award-winning cast and 78 rating on the Tomatometer, “The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel” seems to be well worth seeing in its own right.

  

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Tuesday night trailer: “Jane Eyre”

I’m not sure how I’ve managed it, considering I was an English major throughout high school and half of college and all, but I’ve somehow managed to miss not only Charlotte Bronte’s novel, but every film and television version so far of “Jane Eyre.” Nevertheless, after hearing actress Sally Hawkins — who appears for half a second in this trailer — praise the director yesterday in casual conversation at a press day, and seeing the trailer below, I not only am looking forward to the movie, which stars the fast-rising pair of Mia Wasikowska and Michael Fassbender as well as Judi Dench, Jamie Bell, and Imogen Potts, I think it might be time for me to read the book. I’m a sucker for mistreated child stories.

By the way, that director is Cary Fukunaga, who pulled off a very impressive debut with “Sin Nombre.” Promising.

H/t Coming Soon.

  

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Shouldn’t it actually be “9 1/2”?

I guess 2009 is as good a year as any for a movie called “District 9” to be followed by one called “9” and another called “Nine.”

This is the film version of a Broadway musical based on the non-literally autobiographical quasi-surrealist 1963 sensation, “8 1/2,” so named because it’s writer-director, Federico Fellini, had made seven films and a featurette prior. Anyhow, this pretty marvelous new trailer has been circulating for about a day now and it’s time to feature it here.

Combining somewhat staged looking “behind the scenes” footage with clips from the movie, the idea here seems to be to reach out a bit both to putatively musical hating males with some of the most beautiful women in the world including Kate Hudson, Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz and Nicole Kidman. Lest director Rob Marshall be seen as in any way sexist or ageist, we also have seventy-something Judy Dench showing she’s still got the stuff for musicals — she played the role of Sally Bowles in the original 1968 London production of “Cabaret” (though her Sally was closer to the original stories in that she wasn’t a great singer) — and none other than Sophia Loren, still glamorous as heck at 75 (she’s got just a few months on Dame Judi). No bubbi in my family every looked like that.

“Nine” kinda sorta fills up a hole in Ms. Loren’s resume as, rather amazingly, the world-wide superstar and reigning Italian screen queen of almost the entire fifties and sixties never worked with Fellini, her nation’s most influential and arguably greatest director of the same period, though she did present him with his honorary Oscar in 1993.

Anyhow, my nominee for possibly the sexiest trailer of the year or maybe this entire, rapidly ending, decade…

H/t Culture Monster. If you missed the earlier trailer for “Nine,” see it here.

  

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Count to “Nine” with Rob Marshall’s latest

Musical theater not your thing? Yeah, us neither. But then, most musicals haven’t been, uh, endowed with the bevy of babes that makes up much of the cast of Rob Marshall’s “Nine” — a list that includes Marion Cotillard, Penelope Cruz, Nicole Kidman, Kate Hudson, and Fergie — or, for that matter, the combined acting might of Daniel Day-Lewis and Judi Dench. It’s from the guy who directed “Chicago,” so you know your significant other is probably going to twist your arm into seeing it, and you might as well get a taste of what you’re in for with this trailer — which just might leave you looking forward to November 25 (if only just a little). Check it out below, and don’t forget to follow Bullz-Eye’s coverage of “Nine”!


  

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