The Avengers

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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“In a perfect world, ‘The Cabin in the Woods’ would be a lock for a Best Original Screenplay nomination.” – Joey Magidson, The Awards Circuit It must be frustrating to write for an awards blog (aka an Oscar blog, since the Academy Awards are always the main focus of these sites), and know that the best films of the year are not necessarily the ones that will be nominated. Magidson’s comment above, from his April review of The Cabin in the Woods, sort of sums that up. But at the same time I don’t know if the movie truly deserves the statement. Something to consider, semantically speaking, is that the Academy’s award is not for “Most Original Screenplay” but “Best Original Screenplay.” This isn’t to say that the script, by Joss Whedon and Drew Goddard, isn’t well-written, and you’re welcome to argue its case for a nomination. Is it the best-written original screenplay of the year, though? All my time as a movie lover and watcher of the Oscars, including the past few years of hate-watching, the original screenplay category is one I’ve constantly been excited about. It’s the place where you could find some of the more clever and creative efforts, including a number of films that might not get other nominations. You could find a good number of interesting foreign films outside of the foreign-language award ghetto (such as Bunuel‘s two nominations for writing), as well as an interesting showing of mainstream and blockbuster fare, especially in the […]

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Thor and Iron Man

The first two films to be released in Marvel Studios’ post-Avengers, second wave of interconnected films are Shane Black’s Iron Man 3 and Alan Taylor’s Thor: The Dark World. Through various rumor mills and casting reports we’ve already gleamed a lot about what these two sequels are going to be about, but today Marvel finally released official synopses of the two films, and have effectively removed any lingering doubts. First up is Black’s film, which the studio describes by saying, “Marvel Studios’ Iron Man 3 pits brash-but-brilliant industrialist Tony Stark/Iron Man against an enemy whose reach knows no bounds. When Stark finds his personal world destroyed at his enemy’s hands, he embarks on a harrowing quest to find those responsible. This journey, at every turn, will test his mettle. With his back against the wall, Stark is left to survive by his own devices, relying on his ingenuity and instincts to protect those closest to him. As he fights his way back, Stark discovers the answer to the question that has secretly haunted him: does the man make the suit or does the suit make the man?” While all that stuff about Iron Man having to go on a quest that tests his mettle is pretty vague, that last line of the synopsis about the man making the suit or the suit making the man clearly supports the rumors that have surfaced (due to various casting reports) that Iron Man 3 would largely be taking its inspiration from Warren Ellis’ […]

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Justice League Alex Ross

Development has really been heating up the over that Justice League movie. A few months ago, Gangster Squad writer Will Beall was hired to handle script duties, there was word Warner Bros. was eying Ben Affleck to direct, and then we got a director short list including the Wachowskis, Ruben Fleischer, and, who could forget, Brett Ratner. Today the project became even more real, thanks to a resolved legal dispute. The Los Angeles Times is reporting the studio is gearing up fast for a 2013 shoot and a 2015 release, which would pit the film up against The Avengers 2. After that, mostly depending on whether the film’s a hit or not, Warners would then follow up the film with a reboot of Batman and solo films following whatever heroes they decide to put in the movie. So if any of you have been holding your breath for a Hawkman movie, then perhaps your big dream may finally come true.

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Agent Phil Coulson

If you’ve been wearing a black armband in tribute to Agent Phil Coulson since The Avengers opened last May, it’s time to rip the thing off, because you’ve been mourning a decoy. Well, we can ramp up the theory that we saw a Life Model Decoy stabbed to death by Loki (Tom Hiddleston) in the movie, but we’ll have to wait for the S.H.I.E.L.D. television series to know just how the character survived. Apologies to anyone who hasn’t already seen The Avengers (what’s wrong with you?) and has now been spoiled that Coulson is killed off, but now he’s alive again so I guess it doesn’t matter. At the New York Comic Con Marvel television panel today, actor Clark Gregg hit the stage and then was joined via video by Avengers writer/director Joss Whedon and Marvel Studios head Kevin Feige for the announcement that Gregg will reprise his franchise-connecting role as the lead on the show.

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Continuing a yearly tradition that began at the defunct movie blog Spout, this is my 5th annual list of mostly original yet highly unlikely Halloween costume ideas. You can take any of these suggestions if you want, especially if you want to avoid having the same outfit as another person at the party you attend, and particularly if you want something that needs a lot of explanation — these tend to be good conversation starters for people looking for excuses to hit on you. Mostly, though, the following ideas are not to be taken too seriously. Some are really just stupid jokes. But they’re primarily intended to visually remind us of some of the trends, criticisms, immediate icons and zeitgeist of the past year in film. For instance, last year‘s “Forrest Gump wearing an X-Men uniform” costume illustrated 2011’s penchant for Gump-like revisionist history in blockbuster movies. And back in 2008, there was a costume called “Nuke the Fridge.” Sadly, in looking over 2012 for this year’s ideas, I realized that it’s been a very weak year for movie references worth calling back. Where are this year’s “nuke the fridge,” Antichrist fox, “Why cookie Rocket?” and “Winklevi”? Before too long, I might need to spin-off a TV version of this tradition to make it easier on me and more interesting to readers. Because we all know film culture is dead anyway, right?  

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Reject Recap: The Best of Film School Rejects

Jesus H. Franco, it’s been a busy week here at Film School Rejects. Mainly because of Fantastic Fest, of course. Since the last Reject Recap, we’ve posted 36 reviews of films from the event, plus six interviews, including one with Tim Burton. And we’re not done. The festival may be over, but we’ll still be rolling out the coverage for a couple more days. Obviously, this link to all that content, which can take you in reverse through that which you’ve missed and forward to what will appear (once it appears), is a crucial bookmark for you in these post-fantastic times. Once again, you can easily track through the week’s prominent other features by clicking on buttons around the main page, but here are some links to help you out: reviews (new releases include Pitch Perfect, Won’t Back Down, The Hole, Hotel Transylvania and Hello I Must Be Going); interviews (including Brian DePalma); the Reject Radio podcast (this week was episode 150!); Short Film of the Day and of course your best spot for the most pertinent movie news. Check out our ten best features from the past week plus some other additional reading after the break.

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Joss Whedon

No matter how big he wins, he will always be our underdog. Joss Whedon, the writer who cut his teeth on Roseanne and started cult phenomenons like Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Dr. Horrible’s Sing-Along Blog, seems perennially boned over by The Man who secretly placed a glass ceiling on his mainstream success. That is, until he Hulk smashed through it this summer. For some, it may seem strange to check out filmmaking thoughts from Whedon, since he’s only directed three feature films (one of which has only been at festivals so far), but his success rate across mediums is unreal and his particular talent peerless. Serenity was and is a fan factory while The Avengers found the impossible sweet spot that satisfied fans and the financiers. Not to mention his screenwriting career and Oscar nomination. So here’s a bit of free film school (for fans and filmmakers alike) from Joss the Boss. Maybe we’ll learn who actually calls him that.

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The Avengers

Editor’s note: The Avengers hits DVD and Blu-ray on Tuesday, so we’re reposting this list of scenes we love, originally published the weekend of the film’s release, on May 6, 2012. This week, on a very special edition of Scenes We Love, we explore all that came to pass during Marvel’s run up to the $200 million dollar bohemoth known as The Avengers. As those who follow things like news and film will note, 5 movies came before the keys were handed over to Joss Whedon, who expertly wrangled together the largest personalities in the Marvel Universe to create a spectacular start to the summer of 2012. And while there were so many memorable scenes from each of the films that came before — and many still from The Avengers itself — I tasked myself with choosing just one from each film. Though in fairness, choosing one from The Avengers came with extra difficulty, as I’d rather not spoil any of the big screen fun you’ll undoubtedly have. Perhaps we’ll come back and update the list when The Avengers reaches DVD. For now, here are six Scenes We Love, from Iron Man to The Avengers.

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McConaughey on Wall Street

What is Movie News After Dark? It’s a nightly column that’s comin’ at ya, so you best be prepared. Our night begins with Matthew McConaughey looking ragged on the set of The Wolf of Wall Street, the film project from up-and-coming director Martin Scorsese. It’s not due in theaters until Christmas of next year, but can you already smell the Oscar buzz for Mr. Alright Alright? I can.

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All in all, this was a decent summer. There were plenty of highs and lows, with zero grand achievements for either sides of that scale. We could argue endlessly about what movies lived up to the hype or which ones totally blew it, but where’s the fun in having that conversation for the thousandth time over twitter? What we all should be discussing is the important stuff, like, how sad Damon Lindelof‘s Twitter feed could get this summer or how many ounces of man sweat we think Matthew McConaughey shed in Magic Mike? These are the real topics worthy of discussion, ’cause who cares why Vickers didn’t run a few feet to the right to easily save her life in Prometheus? Or how on earth Batman survived that nuclear blast when we clearly saw him in The Bat before the blast? These are details we all need to let go of. What you all really need to know is who came out as the winners and losers of this summer season, and I’m here to tell you who.

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Avengers Re-Release

Well, it looks like he’s done it. After publicly denouncing the spread of Mike Birbiglia’s Sleepwalk With Me as offensive “to [his] very core,” Joss Whedon asked movie fans to boycott the indie film by requesting it come to their town. While Sleepwalk With Me has yet to expand fully, it did $68,000 in just a single theater last weekend – a fact that most likely burns Whedon to no end. The best per theater average his superhero movie managed was a miniscule $47,000. Point: Birbiglia. So how has Whedon responded? According to /film, he and Marvel are re-launching The Avengers into more theaters this Labor Day weekend in a move that reeks of pure desperation. It’s a Hail Mary pass that points out just how terrified the director is of Birbiglia’s  advancing indie film. It’s tough to see the fight get this nasty – especially when it’s between such good friends. You’ll need to check your local listings for both, but whose team will you be on? Whedon’s, Birbiglia’s or both?  

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Boiling Point

Death is a profound thing. It has long been utilized in the art of storytelling to make the fiercest of impacts. From the first written work of fiction (“Beowulf”) to the works of Shakespeare to the films of Uwe Boll, death has been ever present. When handled correctly, a death can be a haunting memory in a film, a momentous moment that effects the viewer on a very real and very emotional moment. Let’s cut to the jump so we can discuss a lot of spoilery stuff and bitch about how a thoughtless death is cruel to the character and an affront to the audience.

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As those who follow the film industry closely might already know, Buffy the Vampire Slayer creator Joss Whedon released a passion project earlier this summer that went by the name of The Avengers. It was a fairly popular film, playing in over four thousand theaters, breaking a bunch of box office records, and making $1,461,891,916 worldwide to date. That’s not to say that it was a complete success though. It still hasn’t broken every box office record, it still hasn’t made all of the money…and now it may never get to because of a cocky young upstart named Mike Birbiglia. You may have heard of Birbiglia before: he’s a stand-up comedian, a writer, and a radio personality who has turned his memoirs entitled “Sleepwalk With Me” into a modestly budgeted indie film that will be given a limited release with minimal promotion. Enough promotion that it’s likely to ruin Whedon’s chances at being declared King of Hollywood though. As the Avengers director explains in this video, Sleepwalk With Me was only supposed to open on thirty-some screens originally, but due to a dogged campaign by Birbiglia and his dangerous, cult-like following, it’s now set to open on over 80. Simply put, this will help push The Avengers out of some of the 500 or so theaters it’s still playing in, and effectively take food out of the mouths of Joss Whedon’s (myriad) children.

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published: 11.21.2014
D
published: 11.21.2014
B+
published: 11.19.2014
C+
published: 11.19.2014
B-, C


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