Looper is good. You should go see it. It’s amazing to see Joseph Gordon-Levitt as the young Bruce Willis. A strong performance by everyone involved. SPOILERS AHEAD
Unless you’ve been living under a rock, you’ve heard of The Avengers. After Hulk smash puny wizard by knocking Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II from the top spot for domestic grossing opening weekend, The Avengers is headed for another record breaking weekend. The second weekend will be in the $95-105 million range pummeling current record holder Avatar, which earned $75.6 million in its second weekend.
No film has ever done it faster.
A moneymaker does not an Academy Award make, but Writer/Director Joss Whedon deserves a nod all the same. For at least three categories, including Best Director, Best Screenplay, and Best Picture, here’s why I nominate Joss Whedon for the Academy Award.
BUT BE YE WARNED, THERE BE SPOILERS AHEAD
1. He made the Hulk work.
When most people walked out of Avengers, the name playing across their lips wasn’t Stark or Loki. It was Hulk. Whedon installed a personality upgrade to the big green rage monster. Hulk wasn’t just fueled by the most brutal of human emotions, which seemed to be the trend of the Hulk’s previous two films, Mark Ruffalo’s CGI monster has a sense of humor.
There’s even a moment when he saves Iron Man’s life and practically shouts him back from the dead. There was plenty of concern pre-release on what role man’s bestial nature would play and if Whedon and Ruffalo could pull it off. They did.
2. He got that cast to make that movie
Let’s crunch some numbers.
Gwyneth Paltrow – Winner Academy Award Best Actress, 1999
Robert Downey Jr – Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, 1992; Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2009
Mark Ruffalo – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2011
Jeremy Renner – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 2011; Academy Award Nomination for Best Actor, 2010
Samuel L. Jackson – Academy Award Nomination for Best Supporting Actor, 1995
That’s six noms, 1 win.
If you’re judged by the company you keep, the Avengers is a pretty good crowd to hang around.
What’s even more impressive: find any interview featuring more than one Avenger and you might get an idea of what it was like to work with these guys day to day. They are impressive. They are hilarious. It’s remarkable they got any work done at all. But, you can tell from the linked interview that Joss Whedon can take control and command the personalities.
I have been firmly lodged in the Underworld cult since the first movie. Perhaps it was because I was young and impressionable, but when I saw Kate Beckinsale drop a hundred feet off the roof of some Gothic building in Prague…I suppose you can say you had me at leather trenchcoat.
There’s something about her British accent and ass-kickery, like you took a Jane Austen character and gave her a gun. There’s something about Bill Nighy’s slow, agonizing transformation from corpse to Bill Nighy. There’s something about irradiated bullets.
Ultimately, it’s just that the vampires in Underworld are everything I want a vampire to be. Sexy, lethal, amoral killing machines who regard humanity as something beneath their notice.
So, I donned my 3D glasses and headed out to the midnight showing of Underworld: Awakening.
First things first: turns out I’m not a fan of 3D. Lots of blood spatter and glass breaking, if you’re into that kind of thing.
The movie starts with a recap.
I get it. You’re assuming the people who show up for the blood bath are interested in what happened before, and, for the most part, you are correct. Trust me, the people coming to this movie are familiar with what’s happened. No need to remind us.
In this installment, humanity has discovered the existence of lycans and vampires and sets out to destroy them. The irradiated and silver nitrate bullets that the vampires and lycans used to ravage each other are now in the hands of humanity (whoops!), and the two species of the night are being systematically wiped out. Initially, this is okay. The humans are winning.
Then, you get to Selene. She’s a Death Dealer, trained to hunt down and kill werewolves. Humans don’t really stand a chance. They capture her with a luck grenade, she’s frozen for twelve years, then someone breaks her out.
This is where things got a little uncomfortable. You see, I’m cool with the whole monster fight. In ways, the lycans and vampires are evenly matched. But, when you unleash a relentless vampire on a group of humans, it’s a just not fair.
In one scene, Selene sprints down a hallway, slitting throats the whole way. After a bit of cringe-worthy bone-breaking, they get back to killing werewolves pretty quick.
Story happens. I wasn’t really paying attention to that part. Something about a hybrid and a little girl…I don’t even know.
Good news! The whole ‘silver whip’ as an effective weapon against lycans gets a great scene. We get a hot, new vampire to look at (Theo James), plus a human detective (Michael Ealy) who gets very little character development, but enough to make me point at the screen and say, “More”.
Other good news! Spoiler Alert: Not everyone dies in the end! That has been a trend in the previous movies…everyone except the two main characters are dead by the ending. In this one, New Vampire, Detective, Little Girl, and Selene are all ready to hunt down the fleeing Michael at the end of the movie.
The movie is not perfect by any means (what movie is?), but it was fun. It lived up to my expectation. I am clinging to the notion that maybe, some day, the Underworld franchise will get the story that it deserves (no zombies; please, God, no zombies).
I’m not the first person to love something for its potential.
Storytelling is not confined to the Written Word. We should challenge ourselves to find and hail good storytelling regardless of medium.
And, no, that’s not just an excuse for not finishing a book this week.
So, here’s something else for your enjoyment.
(like there’s humor in a situation)
Hot in Cleveland
I remember seeing ads for this and thinking, “I should watch that.” But, like most series I mentally bookmark, I forgot about it. When it popped up on Netflix Instant Play, I had no excuse any more. Queue it up!
Three vapid LA women on their way to Paris are grounded in Cleveland, where they find life is not the same as it is on the West Coast. They buy a house that comes with a snarky caretaker.
I am a fan of Jane Leeves. I’ve seen every episode of Frazier, and I loved her as Daphne. All right, you guessed it, I love British accents no matter who’s “ew-ing” the U’s, but, hey, that’s good casting.
I’m not a Betty White follower, but concede that she is a great actress and has a knack for comedic timing. The relationship between Elka (White) and Joy (Leeves) is great.
You cannot go wrong with the cast. Wendie Malick and Valerie Bertinelli are playing roles they are perfect for.
Sean Hayes (Jack from Will & Grace) has a hand in the series as executive producer.
I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. Hot in Cleveland took a 30 Rock concept (S1:Ep.20) and turned it into a series.
This is 100% okay. Hot in Cleveland coasts on concept for six episodes. I was starting to think “Okay, I get it. Just one more.” Man cannot live on concept alone.
Boom. Episode 7, everything is a well-oiled machine, and this series hit its stride. It’s nice to see a show that can make fun of the vapid and fast-paced culture of the coasts, as well as the detached and relaxed culture of Middle America. No one is safe.
I started watching season 2 and snorted coffee.
Season 2 begins in a courtroom with Wendie Malick’s voiceover, “In a situation comedy, there are two separate, but equally important, stories.” A Law & Order tribute? Yes. Yes, indeed. A million times yes.
TV Land, hats off to you. Good choice and well done. A hearty Midwesterner cheer for your continued success.
I wasn’t able to finish reading a book this week. I know. I’m disappointed in myself, too.
But, I’m not going to leave you hanging. See, every day, I have a lunch break, and I’ve started watching movies to take up that sweet hour of not staring at a computer.
Since I have no book to review this week, I offer you a different sort of breakdown.
(like someone watches it for you)
I saw this gem nestled in the depths of Netflix Instant Play. I thought I’d give it a whirl. I was mildly interested when it was released, but never got around to viewing it.
Olive (Emma Stone) lets it slip that she lost her V-card. The rumor travels around school, and she suddenly becomes known as the token slut. In order to help out her gay friend, she fakes having sex with him to boost his street cred and make him look straight. Soon, geeks and nerds are paying her to fake erotic entanglements.
It doesn’t work out the way Olive hoped, and she finds she can get hurt, after all.
This movie is solid.
The cast is fantastic.
The plot is clever and quick.
If you have :60, take a look at the second to opening scene.
Everyone knows that one page in the screenplay is one minute in the movie (if you didn’t, hey! you learned something new). That “Pocket Full of Sunshine” scene takes place within the first ten minutes of the movie.
Didn’t that get you hooked?
I mean, that moment when you get an addicting song stuck in your head and it’s…THERE ALL WEEKEND. That moment when you’re about to belt out the lyrics, and the CD skips? Argh! The worst.
There’s a tribute to John Hughes, an interesting family dynamic, teachers who are surprisingly human. Like I said: solid.
Watch this movie. It’s great.
Next week, I promise, I’ll have Scott Westerfield’s Leviathan ready for some breaking down. Unless you think you can beat me to it.