Tag Archives: Joss Whedon

Avengers: Age of Ultron

There were high expectations from Marvel and director Joss Whedon following on from 2012 mega hit The Avengers. But would too much hype mean all my expectations will be crushed Hulk style?

Having grow tired and concerned over whether the Avengers can stop every battle coming their way Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jnr.) convinces Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) to help create an A.I that will help defend Earth. Unfortunately his creation Ultron (voice by James Spader) decides the best way to save Earth is to destroy the Avengers and humanity. Teaming up with a pair of gifted twins (Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Elizabeth Olsen) they plan to bring the Avengers down and the world to its knees.

While the film doesn’t reach the dizzy heights of the first Avengers movie it’s still a great summer blockbuster. Theres some nice character moments to develop members of the team like Black Widow (Scarlet Johansson) and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner). While there isn’t as many Whedon-isms as I would like there are still some very funny one liners. There was a surprising amount of swearing in the movie and a lot of innuendos. There was some hilarious moments such as the Avengers trying to lift Thor’s hammer. I loved Chris Hemsworth’s worried expression as Captain America (Chris Evans) nudged the hammer. The film also had some nice emotional scenes such as the Avengers coping after having been given a massive beat down by Ultron and the twins. Ultron made for a good villain even if he isn’t as awesome as Loki. We also got plenty of drama as the Avengers came into conflict over Tony’s actions, building up some nice tension between iron Man and Captain America which shall continue into the next Captain America movie.

Not everything worked. The middle of the movie dragged a bit for me. I didn’t believe the romance between Banner and Black Widow. They have better chemistry as friends. I wasn’t completely sold on the twins Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch either. Quicksilver suffered from the fact that X Men: Days of Future Past did the character so much better. Scarlet Witch just felt a bit undeveloped but could be more interesting in future installments.

There are fears that Marvels run of movies will become stale, but while they continue to make enjoyable summer movies and have a great team of actors and directors, I think they still have a way to go before we start seeing a real dip in quality.

Rating 4/5 – not quite the smash that the first film was but still a great superhero movie

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In Your Eyes (2014)

Joss Whedon may be busy with a new Avengers movie on the way and Marvel’s Agent’s of S.H.I.E.L.D due to return to our screens soon but he still managed to find the time to write this supernatural romance.

Dylan (Michael Stahl-Davies) and Rebecca (Zoe Kazan) live on opposites sides of the country but have sporadically been able to see through each others eyes since they were kids. They are also able to experience and feel what the other is going through. One day they realise they are able to communicate with each other, and relieved that they are not going crazy, strike up an odd friendship which grows into something more deeper.

The words supernatural romance may conjure up images of a Twilight type movie-fear not though, as this is a sweet little film about two people with an amazing connection. While it is unashamedly romantic, the film also has a good sense of humour, especially when Dylan and Rebecca first start communicating openly with each other. The direction by Brin Hill also bring a dreamlike quality to the couple’s interactions making their encounters more intimate.

Stahl-Davies and Kazan have a lovely chemistry with each other that doesn’t feel forced. Its even more impressive when you realise they hardly share the screen with each other, yet you are convinced by their growing relationship.

It is perhaps a slightly cheesy affair, and the plot is predictable. The outside forces stopping Dylan and Rebecca being together are underwhelming and clichéd. These villains are also more two-dimensional than the well-rounded protagonists, with Rebecca’s husband being particularly underdeveloped and there mainly to bully poor Rebecca. Its to Kazan’s credit that Rebecca doesn’t comes across as a weak damsel in distress but just a vulnerable young woman who finds strength in her friendship with Dylan.

In Your Eyes was co-produced by Whedon and his wife Kai Cole’s production studio Bellwether Pictures. Having previous released Whedon’s Much Ado About Nothing, I look forward to seeing their next project.

Rating 3.5/5 – romantic and cute feel-good fare

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Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D

I knew I was going to love the first episode of Marvel’s Agent of S.H.I.E.L.D as soon as it was announced. I’ve missed having a Joss Whedon show on my screen and I loved the team up of Whedon and Marvel in the Avengers movie. I spent the first half hour geeking out over reference to the wider Marvel universe and going insane whenever another actor from the Whedon universe appeared (“There’s Gunn! Oh my god there’s Shepherd Book!). Now that I’ve had the chance to calm down I thought I’d give my opinion on how this tv spin-off has worked.

Well there was plenty of the Whedon wit that I love so much, some good twists-I had no idea the damsel in distress was the doctor, and Centipede sounds like an interesting villian. I also hope we see more of J. August Richards’s troubled Mike and Cobie Smulders’ agent Maria Hill. But what about the agents of S.H.I.E.L.D? Its only the first episode so some had more focus than others but here’s my opinion of them so far.

It was great to have a familiar face in Clark Gregg’s Agent Coulson. Although it’s an ensemble show, Coulson proves to be a great focal point for the audience. Many of the show’s funniest moments come from Coulson, highlights include his overly dramatic entrance, and stabbing agent Grant Ward with the truth serum. The show quickly whizzes through his death in the Avengers film, Fury faked his death to inspire the Avengers. However it appears Coulson is unaware of the real circumstances of his ‘death’, which will no doubt lead to much angst later on in the series. So what is his secret? At the moment I’m thinking clone but its way too early to tell.

Of the rest of the cast, Chloe Bennet as hacker Sky also impresses. She’s funny, smart and somehow manages to have glossy hair, flawless skins and great clothes all while living in a van. Only on tv.

Brit Scientists Fitz-Simmons make for an adorable pair. I like their enthusiasm for the job and their bickering and talking over each other like a married couple. In the wrong hands they could have been annoying but I found them endearing. As Joss Whedon projects always involve the death of the nicest, sweetest character (alas poor Tara, Fred, Wash etc) I’m predicting one half of Fitz-Simmons will bite the dust somewhere along the series. I’m leaning more towards Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) with Fitz having a breakdown and avenging her death. Ian De Caestecker was great in tv shows The Fades and The Secret of Crickley Hall, so he definitely has the acting chops to handle such emotional arcs.

Ming Na-Wen as Melinda May was unfortunately not used that much in the first episode so its hard to tell what she’ll be like, however she showed great promise. It’ll be good to know why she gave up field work for a desk job. She also seems to be the show’s kick-ass female (another requirement for any Whedon show) and had a great fight scene. Hopefully we’ll see more of her in the next episode.

Grant Walt was the least interesting of the main characters, coming across as a bit dull. Howeverhints at his mysterious family history could provide some interest in the future. Actor Brett Dalton also showed some great comedic skills when he was hit with the truth serum so maybe his character will improve soon.

All in all a promising start. Lets hope it continues onto the next episode.

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Much Ado About Nothing

It would be an understatement to say I am a huge fan of Joss Whedon. Buffy The Vampire Slayer is one of my favourite all time shows, and I am always excited when a new Joss Whedon project comes out. So when I heard he was making a black and white version of Shakespeare’s Much Ado About Nothing (filmed in 12 days during a break from The Avengers) using a load of actors from various other Whedon projects I could not wait to see it. But how will he do without his trademark snappy script?

The main plot follows Beatrice (Amy Acker) and Benedict (Alexis Denisof) , two people who would make a great couple if only they didn’t hate each other. The subplot revolves around Beatrice’s cousin Hero (Jillian Morgese) and Benedict’s friend Claudio (Fran Kranz) who fall madly and quickly in love but fall foul of the evil Don John (Sean Maher) in a complicated plot against his brother Prince Don Pedro (Reed Dimond).

Much Ado about Nothing has such a fun playful feeling with some snappy insults between characters that suits director Whedon well. It also allows him to show his skill as a director as he expertly manages his cast, most of whom have been coming to Whedon’s house for years to perform readings of Shakespeare’s plays. He stages all of the film at his own house (built by his wife Kai Cole) and uses the setting perfectly. He is also able to transition easily between the funnier scenes and the dramatic ones.

The acting is brilliant. The leads Acker and Denisof throw their all into their barbed insults while also displaying  the vulnerability of the characters. They both also handle the physical comedy well, adding some slapstick humour to the proceedings.

The rest of the cast is excellent so it’s difficult to pick any stand outs, though it’s nice to see Fran Kranz who normally plays the comic relief in films like Cabin In The Woods and Dollhouse to show his versatility in playing a more romantic role. Fan favourite Nathan Fillion also gives a hilarious turn as Dogberry-the incompetent man in charge of the Night Watch.

As this film was on a limited release in cinemas it took me a while to find a place to watch it, but I am so happy I did. You don’t need to be a fan of Whedon or Shakespeare to watch this film, just a fan of good cinema.

Rating 4/5

Don’t be put off by it being in black and white, this brilliant adaptation deserves to be seen

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