The Avengers

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Nobody was surprised to learn this week that ABC officially picked up Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., the TV series spun-off from the Avengers movie franchise. After all, it’s a Disney-owned property and the network is also a Disney-owned company. And, well, it’s a tie-in to some of the highest grossing films of all time. Even if Iron Man 3 had somehow been a box office disappointment (fat chance), the main source of the series is last year’s enormously successful The Avengers. As we learned last fall, the popular character Agent Phil Coulson (Clark Gregg) would even be the lead, meaning he somehow didn’t actually die at the hands of Loki in that movie. Within days of the confirmed pick up for a full season of Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., ABC has now unveiled the first look with a teaser trailer that premiered on the air during prime time this evening. Coulson is definitely at the center of the thing (marketing hashtag is #coulsonlives) as head of an elite yet not super powered team of agents who investigate cases involving the “strange” and “unknown,” stuff that hasn’t been classified by the agency yet. Sounds like an action-packed mix of X-Files and Heroes. It kinda looks more like the (best of the) latter in this promo, which you can watch after the jump.

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Iron Man Question

Robert Downey Jr. isn’t contractually obligated to appear in any more Marvel films as Tony Stark. That’s the only concrete fact as of right now, even as contract negotiations are underway to bring the actor back into the suit for The Avengers 2 and 3. Those seem fairly likely, but it’s unclear how committed to Iron Man 4 Downey Jr. would be. Marvel head Kevin Feige has vaguely promised more stand-alone Iron Man movies, hedging the claim by adding, “Who will be in that movie and who will be a part of that movie? Who knows. And how far down the line will it be? Will it be right after Avengers 2, will it be a few years after Avengers 2? Who knows. For as advanced as we are in terms of the advanced planning that we do, we’re already looking out to 2015, 2016 and that’s further than most people look out. Beyond that, we’re still not sure.”

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iron man 301

Iron Man 3 is a movie I’ve seen, and if you’re reading this I sincerely trust that you have too. Why? Two reasons. First, you should see it because it’s a pretty fun flick. And second? I’m about to unload spoilers below of epic proportions. My review is elsewhere on the site, and you should probably give it a read so you can call me names for the grade I gave it. The movie has issues, and more than that it leaves us with some serious questions. Again, and obviously, there are spoilers below regarding things that happen and who they happen to so tread lightly.

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Brian Tyler

Iron Man 3 hits theaters this Friday, but you can already get the soundtrack composed by Brian Tyler. While the music of the previous two Iron Man movies was rooted in rock and roll, the newest entry  ushers in a new era of Tony Stark, and Tyler rises to the challenge of creating a more epic sounding score to accompany this change in tone. Tyler and I discussed his sound profile for a new era of Iron Man, the process (and importance) behind creating a memorable theme, and the joy of recording in the same studio where an iconic film score was made.

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IntroBadassWounds

So you’ve been shot/stabbed/eaten/burned/dismembered/amputated/face melted by an ancient artifact, what are you going to do next? If you answered, “go into shock while screaming like an asshole” then you’re probably on track. In the movies, of course, that’s a different story – people like to do cool stuff while dying in movies, act all badass for our amusement. Let’s look at 20 such fallen heroes. Spoilers should go without saying. But we said it. Right there. So no one can complain.

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Oscar2013 Stunts

No matter what you think about the Academy Awards (and there is whole wide spectrum of thought as to their relevance and accuracy) there is no question that The Oscars are the pinnacle of filmmaking honors. There isn’t any other organization, ceremony, or statue in the film industry that has quite the prestige. So, it should probably piss you off that The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Science doesn’t offer an award for Stunt Coordinators. Yep, you read that right. They don’t even get awards in that weird little untelevised pre-show thing that they do before the awards telecast. It’s not a passive exclusion either. Each year for more than two decades, the Academy has actively rejected the creation of an award for Stunt Coordinators. So, since The Academy doesn’t do these masters of cinematic mayhem any justice, we’re going to pretend that they do. Like our other Oscar Prediction pieces, we’ll offer some insight into how the (fictional) nominees were chosen and who we think will win (noted in red):

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Best Visual Effects

Best Visual Effects. Over the years, this award has been called a number of things. In 1928, it was given as the award for Best Engineering Effects to the World War I flying drama Wings. It has evolved in the years since, recognizing in equal measure effects that are practical and digital, but most of all that live on the line in-between reality and surreality on the silver screen. It’s the only award category to consistently recognize those pioneers of film who have dazzled audiences with the yet unseen, everything from Stanley Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey to George Lucas’ Star Wars. Perhaps you’ve heard of them. The core criteria for the award is that it’s given to the visual effects masters whose work most exemplifies artistry, skill and fidelity with which the visual illusions are achieved. Each of this year’s nominees has these elements. And each of this year’s nominees brings something unique to the table. We’ve got the year’s highest grossing, all-out superhero explosion; the return of Peter Jackson and his WETA wizards to Middle Earth; Ridley Scott’s return to the sci-fi genre; a classic tale with a digitally saturated twist; and of course, one arty epic that is as colorful a film as was printed on celluloid (or imprinted in ones-and-zeroes) this year. Still, it might be one of the most predictable categories that Oscar has to offer in his 85th edition. The nominees are below, with our pick for winner marked with red…

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Hulk in The Avengers

After conquering the summer, millions of people want to know what Marvel has planned for its next phase and how they’ll manage to pull it off. Iron Man 3 is coming this year alongside Thor: The Dark World, and Captain America: The Winter Soldier hits in 2014, so we’re firmly set for broody post-Avengers insight. Plus, Ant-Man still looms alongside Guardians of the Galaxy and a host of other conceptual character projects — so the comic book brand is looking ahead to its next crop of heroes. But where does that leave The Hulk? That’s the question El Mayimbe was asking over at Latino Review, but instead of talking to himself, he set out to find some answers (which could prove incredibly spoilery). According to his inside source, Marvel isn’t just interested in another attempt at a stand-alone Hulk movie; they’re intent on building their next universes around the character.

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dscal1980

Editor’s Note: Paul DeBenedetto is a writer and comics fan from Brooklyn who used to run the comics blog Wednesday’s Child. He is also a reporter covering the borough of Queens for DNAinfo.com, and his work has appeared online and in print for various local and national media outlets. Given that he knows his stuff when it comes to superheroes and graphic literature, we asked him to whip something up in response to the recent confirmation of Marvel’s Doctor Strange adaptation. Dr. Strange, the Sorcerer Supreme, is officially coming to the big screen. That’s the news Kevin Feige had for MTV’s Splash Page, who interviewed the Marvel Studios president on Friday about their Phase Three films. This next crop of Avengers franchise titles will touch on “different corners” of the Marvel Universe, Feige said, with Doctor Strange being confirmed for release around the same time as the long-awaited Ant-Man movie from Edgar Wright. “Doctor Strange, which I’ve been talking about for years, is definitely one of them,” Feige told Splash Page. “He’s a great, original character, and he checks the box off this criteria that I have: he’s totally different from anything else we have, just like Guardians of the Galaxy. He’s totally different from anything we’ve done before, as is Ant-Man, which keeps us excited.”

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ted_02037204

Once upon a time, the Oscar nominations were filled with titles unfamiliar to the regular Joe. Not unknown, necessarily, but at least not widely seen. But today, thanks to all kinds of home video platforms and theatrical distribution for even the short film nominees, it’s not always so impossible to see everything before the big night. To help those of you wishing to be completists, I’ve listed all of this year’s recently announced Oscar nominees and noted how and where you can see them, whether presently or soon enough. It may not be entirely doable, as some foreign films haven’t officially been released here, including one that doesn’t even yet have a date, and some titles are in the middle of their theatrical to DVD window. But there are a bunch that can be streamed right this moment on your computer via Amazon, Google, YouTube and other outlets, each of which I’ve marked accordingly courtesy of GoWatchIt. Only three are through Netflix Watch Instant, by the way (How to Survive a Plague, The Invisible War and Mirror Mirror). And one short has been embedded in the post. 

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

Happy New Year. Are you still hungover? Did you start a gym membership and spend the last three evenings touring the place, contemplating which machine you’ll eventually saddle up on to fulfill your resolution to get fit? Whatever your excuse for not monitoring FSR every moment of your week, especially Tuesday when you barely got out of bed let alone took a shower, leave it at the door and just enjoy catching up with this first recap of 2013. So far, the only new release reviews are for the VOD and limited theatrical title Crawlspace and the also-limited foreign film Tristana. Obviously, with the holiday it’s been a light number of days as far as content and news is concerned. But it was also a time in which we continued our massive, awesome year-in-review content. This included our annual Reject Awards, our staff picks of the best films of the year, the Internet’s picks for the best films of the year and our lists of the best foreign films, TV shows, trailers, posters and films you didn’t bother to see. We also prepared you for the future with our most anticipated movies of 2013, a list of must-see films in January alone and a look at the short film that inspired Guillermo Del Toro to produce the upcoming horror film Mama. Now, check out our biggest and best stories and original content from the past week after the break.

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Culture Warrior on 2012

In this end-of-year editorial, Landon Palmer discusses the pattern that movies demonstrated in 2012 for telling stories through protagonists defined by their various personality traits rather than through conventional, straightforward characters. In so doing, movies this year showed how our individual identities have become divided within various aspects of modern social life. This trend made some of the year’s movies incredibly interesting, while others suffered from a personality disorder. Landon argues that movies ranging from The Hunger Games to The Dark Knight Rises to Holy Motors alongside cultural events and institutions like the Presidential election, social media, and “Gangnam Style” all contributed to a year in which popular culture is finally became open about its constant engagement with multiple cults of personality. Six years ago, Time magazine famously named its eagerly anticipated “Person of the Year” You in big, bold letters. Its cover even featured a mirror. As a result of the established popularity of supposedly democratized media outlets like Facebook and the home of the cover’s proverbial “You,” YouTube, Time declared 2006 as the year in which the masses were equipped with the ability to empower themselves for public expressions of individual identity. More than a half decade later, social media is no longer something new to adjust to, but a norm of living with access to technology. Supposing that Time’s prophecy proved largely correct, what does it mean to live in a 21st century where we each have perpetual access to refracting our respective mirrors?

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Movie of the Year: The Avengers

“That’s my secret, Cap: I’m always angry.” In the middle of 2008, director Christopher Nolan created a pivot point for superhero movies. Because up to the point when Heath Ledger’s Joker said, “How about a magic trick?” in The Dark Knight, movies based upon comic books had been going in the more colorful direction set forth by directors like Bryan Singer and Sam Raimi. Nolan’s Dark Knight (and the film that preceded it) changed things. And ever since, anyone with the rights to a comic book movie has been trying to capture that same gritty feel, that same realism. Thankfully, the folks at Marvel, who also scored in 2008 with Iron Man, thew that notion out the window. You see, around the same time that Nolan was booting up Batman for Warner Bros. and DC, Marvel was beginning its own journey as a stand-alone studio with a very specific kind of plan. A magic trick of their own, they set out to bring to life Earth’s mightiest heroes with a six-film roadmap that would lead to the most ambitious superhero movie ever produced. A massive risk that would pay off to produce our pick for the Movie of the Year. A movie that yielded the above quote, as spoken by Mark Ruffalo,  which could be seen as the turning point of 2012 at the movies. Every time I experience this moment, there’s no denying that years down the line when we look back at the movies of 2012, there’s no forgetting the year that gave […]

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The Avengers 360 Shot

As the year slowly winds to a close, now it as good as any time to reflect on some of our very favorite scenes, stunts, and effects from the best films of the year, and few projects had quite as many memorable scenes, stunts, and effects as Joss Whedon‘s The Avengers.The Marvel-made universe of The Avengers was so jaw-droppingly rendered that’s not surprising that audiences just sort of wholesale accepted much of what was on screen, getting caught up in the action instead of wondering how the heck they did that. Until now! Industrial Light & Magic has shared a new video (via ComingSoon) that breaks down some of the challenges of the film’s epic final battle and how they crafted them with their magic and/or light. As ILM tells it, the film “posed many visual effects challenges, [and] one of the larger challenges was pulling together the ‘tie-in’ shot during the third act of the film. Rather than frames, this single shot is measured in minutes on screen and is one of the longest effects shots in the film. It incorporates both practical special effects and extensive digital visual effects by ILM. The New York City environment that serves as the setting for this shot (and virtually the entire alien invasion) is computer generated by the visual effects team at ILM.” Check it out after the break!

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The Best Movies of 2012

I watched 439 new-to-me films in 2012 (so far), and the majority of them were new releases. So, it is with no small measure that I say that this has been a spectacular year for movies, both domestic and foreign made, and anyone who claims otherwise is a dipshit. Narrowing the great ones down to just twelve was predictably difficult… so I’ve included twenty honorable mentions. There are still a few high profile films I need to see, most notably Zero Dark Thirty, and I’ve caught the vast majority of the big titles, but stay tuned through to the end of the piece for all the necessary sidenotes. And this should go without saying, but any film critic’s best-of list is essentially nothing more than a list of his or her objectively preferred movies, and what follows below is mine for 2012. That said, the movies listed below are in fact the twelve (correct) best films of the year. In alphabetical order.

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The Best Action Movies of 2012

Movies are many different things to many different peoples. A film may tug at your heart strings, tickle your funny bone, or change the way you look at the world. But sometimes all you want from a movie is an adrenaline shot straight to the heart, a testosterone booster right to the balls, or whatever the female equivalent of getting really hyped up over an action film is. 2012 didn’t see the apocalypse, but it did see a bunch of cinematic ass-kickery, the best of which is counted down here for your pleasure.

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The Avengers

According to USA Today, 2012 is the biggest box office year in movie history (not adjusted for inflation). The numbers aren’t set yet (because, you know, the year’s not over), but if the predictive models hold, the industry will close out with $10.8b and the first year since 2009 that individual ticket sales went up. Unsurprisingly, it was buoyed by big franchise hits — including over a billion coming in solely from The Avengers and The Dark Knight Rises. Another billion was earned from a franchise that was ending (Twilight: Breaking Dawn Part 2), two franchises that were just beginning (The Hunger Games and a rebooted Spider-Man) and a franchise that’s stronger than ever at a half-century old (Bond, James Bond). In the simplest terms, it only took 6 movies to cross the $2b mark this year whereas it took 8 movies to do the same in 2011. That may seem small, but when you’re dealing in the hundreds of millions, it can be the difference between a slump and a reason to buy a sheet cake at Costco for the company break room. Especially when the top movie this year outdid the top movie of the previous by $242m. The whole mess is too complicated to reduce to a single factor. Marvel’s big gamble paid off in a profound way, but there’s also the rebounding economy at large to think about and the general fickleness of consumers. Plus, this raw number doesn’t take into consideration that 50 more movies were released in 2012, […]

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The Avengers

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly news column that was on hiatus, but has now been back for a solid week. And it feels good to be back. As Ernie Hudson might remark, it loves this town. Short on List, Big on Effects – The big Oscar shortlist for Best Visual Effects has come out. And while it includes some of the ones you’d expect – The Avengers, Cloud Atlas, The Amazing Spider-Man, The Dark Knight Rises — there are also a few interesting surprises, including Prometheus, Life of Pi, John Carter and yes, even The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. The question is this: will The Hobbit run away with this one due to a late-year release, or will people remember that ridiculous following shot through the war-torn streets of New York in The Avengers?

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A strange thing happened when it was announced that Disney had purchased Lucasfilm and was intent on continuing the Star Wars franchise: people forgot how shitty Lucasfilm has been. That’s the only explanation for many of the reactions. Our friends at /Film gathered up some celebrity Twitter responses that seemed to be at best cautiously optimistic, though potentially terrified at what could be coming and for the life of me, I can’t figure out why it’s not all ewoks banging drums and fireworks in the sky before a billion tons of metal rains down on the forest moon of Endor.

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As any of us who’ve dressed up as movie characters for Halloween know, it’s the distinctly designed roles that make for the most interesting costumes. Nobody is dressing up as Alex Cross or Aaron Cross this year — not because their movies weren’t popular, but because the characters don’t have a very recognizable look. Peruse the popular suits for sale and clever homemade ideas this year and you’ll find mostly characters who wouldn’t be what they are without the craftwork of costume designers and makeup artists. That’s why I consider theirs the Halloween categories at the Oscars. And yet, the best and most common outfits and frightening faces aren’t necessarily those that tend to be recognized by the Academy. This year’s list of popular movie-related costumes predominantly consists of superheroes, which has been the norm for a while, but there are even more timely examples represented now thanks to the The Avengers featuring so many masked and caped crusaders. Also, we had another movie starring the Caped Crusader. And while once again Linda Hemming will be nominated for a Costume Designers Guild Award for a Batman movie (she was nominated for Batman Begins and won for The Dark Knight), it’s very unlikely that The Dark Knight Rises will earn her a second Oscar nomination let alone win (she won her first time nominated, for Topsy-Turvy).

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