Avengers: Age of Ultron Press Conference

Avengers: Age Of Ultron Press Conference

On Tuesday director Joss Whedon assembled with the cast of Avengers: Age of Ultron to discuss the new Marvel movie. On hand to discuss the film were Robert Downey Jr., Mark Ruffalo, Chris Evans, Scarlett Johansson, Jeremy Renner, Elisabeth Olsen, Aaron Taylor-Johnson and Paul Bettany…

On on Avengers: Age of Ultron as a sequel…

Joss Whedon: There are restrictions, but a lot of the questions have already been answered, so you know going in what you have to work with. It’s a bit of a comfort actually.

On what excites them about coming back for the second instalment…

Jeremy Renner: I’m excited about hanging out with these degenerates.

Mark Ruffalo: Coming back to the world and seeing where these crazy people that we’re playing are headed. And knowing that Joss is going to take us there, to his own twisted psyche.

Robert Downey Jr.: Probably my first costume fitting; me surrounded by many full-length mirrors.

Chris Evans: Marvel has a done a great job at bringing a lot of the same people together, not just in front of the cameras, but behind the cameras. Coming back to as a group, it kinda feels like a family of familiar faces. It’s like a high school reunion or something.

Scarlett: Johansson: I would say I get most excited about reading Joss’ script. It’s the big pay-off after a long wait.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson: I’m just excited to be a part of it.

Paul Bettany: Box office bonuses!

Avengers: Age Of Ultron Conference

On a possible Black Widow film…

Scarlett Johansson: She’s a very slippery fish for her job, but when you get her, Natasha, she’s in herself, which is kind of cool… A Black Widow movie? That would be cool. I am always happy to put the catsuit back on.

On story arcs in Avengers: Age of Ultron…

Robert Downey Jr.: Hawkeye has a heck of an arc this time.

Aaron Taylor-Johnson: It was great to dive into Mark Ruffalo’s character, to see such a sensibility in that beast.

Elizabeth Olsen: My favourite moment is the first time we watch Black Widow talk down the Hulk.

Avengers: Age Of Ultron European Press Conference

On the possibility of a Hulk movie…

Mark Ruffalo: [to Joss Whedon] Do you want to tell them?

Joss Whedon: No, you go.

Mark Ruffalo: I can’t.

Joss Whedon: Sorry, it’s too amazing!

Avengers: Age of Ultron is out in cinemas from 23rd April 2015.

Film Review: Foxcatcher


Director Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher is a subtle but incredibly effective film. Great performances and strong direction make for a memorable film.

Olympic wrestler Mark Schultz is asked to train at a new wrestling facility built on the estate of wealthy heir John du Pont. Training for the 1988 Olympic Games in Seoul, John requests that Mark bring his brother, revered champion Dave Schultz, and the rest of the team to his estate where he acts as sponsor to the team…

Foxcatcher is a slow burner with a lasting after effect. Based on real events, the film is meticulous in its character development and build up. The narrative unfolds at a glacial pace, allowing the characters and set up to breathe. Character development in Foxcatcher is never rushed, a factor which allows the feeling of unease to grow.

The crux of Foxcatcher takes a while to develop; those unfamiliar with the story may not know quite where the film is heading for a good portion of the duration. The effect of Foxcatcher, particularly the climax, is that it stays in the mind long after the film has ended. The themes of dependence and control become more potent as the film continues.

Bennett Miller’s direction is strong, in both the action sequences and the character-driven scenes. The atmosphere generated in the film is pervasive. The unnerving feeling grows as the film progresses, thanks to Miller’s careful crafting. Foxcatcher’s  great score also adds to this atmosphere.

Steve Carell delivers a memorable performance as John du Pont; portraying the unease and instability of the character in a most convincing manner. Channing Tatum is decent as Mark Schultz, but it is Mark Ruffalo who really impresses in his supporting role.

Foxcatcher‘s dependence on character and mood really pays off. The end product is a film which will stay with viewers after the credits have rolled.

Foxcatcher was screened at the BFI London Film Festival in October 2014.

Film Review: Thanks for Sharing

 Thanks for Sharing

Stuart Blumberg’s Thanks for Sharing is a drama that does engage viewers, but perhaps not to the extent it hopes to.

Although he seems like a regular guy on the surface, Adam faces a continual battle. Along with other members of his support group, Adam struggles on the road to recovery from sex addiction…

Thanks for Sharing attempts to imbue some humour into the subject of sex addiction, whilst still underscoring the impact of such a condition. The success of the film is that it can switch between drama and comedy in an instant. The story is serious for the most part, with occasional bursts of humour.

The three main characters in Thanks for Sharing work to exhibit various stages of addiction; although some are more interesting than others. The film shows the pitfalls and the triumphs of recovery. The grey area makes the film feel more authentic.

The main issue with Thanks for Sharing is that it lacks catharsis. Perhaps this is intentional; an attempt to mirror the tribulations of recovery. Nonetheless, from a viewer’s standpoint this means that the film is not as satisfying as it could be.

Another problem with the film is that secondary characters are not as engaging as they could be. Although Adam is a likeable protagonist, it is more difficult to empathise or engage with to the same extent characters such as Phoebe or Mike.

Blumberg’s direction is solid. Thanks for Sharing is suitably paced. The soundtrack, however, is a bit hit and miss. Performances are good. Mark Ruffalo is believable throughout, as is Patrick Fugit as Danny and Josh Gad as Neil. Gwyneth Paltrow’s Phoebe is as aggravating as the actress herself.

Thanks for Sharing works well in some aspects, although it is patchy overall. Not must-see cinema, but not a bad watch either.

Film Review: Avengers Assemble

So many things could have gone wrong with Avengers Assemble. Thankfully all fears can be allayed as Avengers Assemble is a fantastic film.

Nick Fury is the director of S.H.I.E.L.D., an international peacekeeping agency that includes some of the most deadly agents on the planet. When the future of humanity is threatened by Loki, brother of Thor, Fury assembles The Avengers. Together, these superheroes must defend the planet…

With their after-credit stings and references to other characters in the Marvel sphere, Thor, Captain America: The First Avenger et al. were all building to this point. Avengers Assemble does not disappoint; it will likely be remembered as one of the most enjoyable films of 2012.

Joss Whedon and co-writer Zak Penn have created a film that hits all the right notes. The story is well crafted; it is a simple enough premise that offers universal appeal. What works so well is the way the various characters come together. Each of the Avengers is offered sufficient screen time so that it never feels as if one is taking precedent.

Avengers Assemble is well paced and never drags, despite its almost two and a half hour running time. The final third is particularly successful, which is testament to Whedon’s directing skills. The film is peppered with humour. This works exceptionally well, with the comedy providing an effective balance for the critical nature of the action.

Production values are faultless. Costuming and production design highlight the more fantastical elements of the film. The effects are great, especially in the opening sequence and the final showdown. The Hulk’s transformation also appears more authentic than in some of the previous incarnations. The score compliments the film perfectly.

Mark Ruffalo is excellent as Bruce Banner. Playing the role for the first time, Ruffalo appears natural, and is well cast. Robert Downey Jr. brings the charm and humour as Tony Stark, much like the previous two Iron Man films. Tom Hiddleston makes a fantastic antagonist as Loki, reprising his role from Thor.

Avengers Assemble is a must-see for those who love good blockbusters. Marvel fans should be thrilled by what Joss Whedon has created.

Trailer Round-Up

This week saw the release of the first trailer of Frankenweenie, one of my most anticipated films of the year. Also included is the new Avengers Assemble trailer, Neighbourhood Watch and The Dictator.


I used to be a huge Tim Burton fan. I even wrote  a dissertation on his films. More recently, like many, I have found the proliferation of remakes a little tiresome. Although it is also a remake, at least Frankenweenie is Burton remaking his own work. The original short film can be found on The Nightmare Before Christmas DVD. From the above trailer, Frankenweenie looks like quintessential Burton, with a noticeable reference to the Universal Frankenstein films. Frankenweenie is released on 5th October 2012.

Avengers Assemble

The Avengers has had a name change; it is now Avengers Assemble. The full trailer was released earlier this week, and gives us an insight into the film’s plot. Avengers Assemble features Mark Ruffalo as Hulk, the third actor to play this role in the last nine years. Nevertheless, there is continuity with Robert Downey Jr., Chris Hemsworth, Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson all returning. Avengers Assemble is out on 26th April 2012.

The Dictator

This trailer has been floating around for a while, but with Sasha Baron Cohen’s Oscars appearance I thought I would share it. The Dictator features Baron Cohen doing his usual caricature thing. This time, however, the subject matter is more resonant with current affairs. No doubt there will be thematic parallels with the Middle East uprising. The Dictator is released on 16th May 2012.

Neighbourhood Watch

Neighbourhood Watch is a new comedy starring Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn. Not sure where Owen Wilson is on this one. Instead, Jonah Hill and Richard Ayoade round up the leads. The film is the first major Hollywood role for Ayoade. The film is about a neighbourhood watch group seemingly overstating their importance in suburbia. Neighbourhood Watch is out on 24th August 2012.

Film Review: The Kids Are All Right

The Kids Are All Right effectively mixes drama and comedy, producing a film that explores family dynamics without pushing any kind of agenda.

Joni and her brother Laser decide to contact their biological father, behind the backs of their two mothers. After Paul enters their life he becomes more ingratiated with their family, revealing the cracks in the relationship between Jules and Nic, as well as the issues with their children…

The premise of the film is fairly simple. A newcomer enters the lives of an established (and a little stuck-in-a-rut) group, disrupting their lives and causing them to reflect on the dynamics of their structure. The Kids Are All Right moves beyond this basic plot by portraying complex and three-dimensional characters with complicated relationships.

Jules and Nic are depicted as a couple who are still affectionate, but their relationship is a little tired, having been together for so long and raised two children together. Although at first it seems like a case of opposites – Jules is free-spirited while Nic is more controlling – as the film progresses, it is clear that there is so much more to them than this. They are much like any married couple, having their quirks and niggles. The fact that they are same-sex partners is only significant to facilitate a requirement for the sperm donor. The Kids Are All Right is not a film concerned with gender or sexual orientation; the focus is firmly on the family unit.

Paul is a laid-back, carefree guy, who seems like the antithesis of Nic in several ways. He appears to genuinely want to spend time with Joni and Laser, yet at the same time seems unsure of what he wants in life. Mark Ruffalo is entirely appropriate for the role; he is wholly believable as the relaxed Paul.

Annette Bening as Nic also shows inspired casting. She is convincing portraying all of Nic’s emotions, and has great chemistry with Julianne Moore as Jules. Mia Wasikowska is great as Joni, she effectively displays the placidity of the character, whose emotions are bubbling just under the surface. Josh Hutcherson is also persuasive as Laser, a teen longing for a father figure.

The Kids Are All Right exhibits a very Californian feel to the entire movie. As well as the settings, which include plenty of outdoor scenes, the music and natural lighting add to this atmosphere. There are some beautiful images in the film, which director Lisa Cholodenko wisely keeps in frame to background a very character-driven film. The shooting style works well; a shot of Nic on the couch while the other characters cook in the kitchen together really exemplifies her isolation from the group at that time.

Pacing is good, and the film keeps a regular supply of laughs in amongst the drama. Overall, The Kids Are All Right is a relatable film, with good performances and story that is both realistic and engaging.

The Kids Are All Right is being screened at the British Film Institute’s London Film Festival in October 2010.

Film Review: Date Night

The lure of leads Steve Carell and Tina Fey is undoubtedly the biggest draw of Date Night. Sadly the film does not live up to expectations, despite good performances from the popular comedy actors.

The main problem with Date Night is that it simply isn’t that funny.  There are good one-liners and funny incidents, however it is not the laugh-a-minute extravaganza you would hope for. Likewise, there is not much wrong with the actual narrative, but the film is let down by poor writing.

The plot itself is incredulous, but that is to be expected from a film of this nature. After taking another couple’s reservation on their weekly date night, Phil and Claire Foster land themselves in a whole heap of trouble after a case of mistaken identity. The pair must go to substantial lengths in order to get the criminals off their backs…

Fey and Carell have good chemistry, and are believable as the married couple stuck in something of a rut. Furthermore, with a supporting cast that includes Mark Wahlberg, Kristen Wiig, Mark Ruffalo and Taraji P. Henson, it is a shame that good performances are let down by a lacklustre script.

The action sequences are orchestrated with some aplomb by director Shawn Levy. Likewise, the more serious conversations between Phil and Claire add some earnest to an otherwise far-fetched story. But for all the craft that has gone into making Date Night, it cannot escape from the fact that the film fails as a comedy. Not worth the price of admission.