SUNDAY RUNDOWN – THAT’S WHAT SHE READ

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I’m not going to lie, this has been a terrible work week. The girl who is responsible for out rotas messed up everyone’s holiday so we’ve been pretty short staffed this week. As it’s the school holidays that means we’re extra busy so we’ve all been feeling the strain. It’s times like this when everyone starts to feel unappreciated and used. There’s a very bad atmosphere in the branch right now and it’s not a great place to be. It’s also meant that I’ve been super tired and not really in the mood for reading much this week. So I’ve barely got any further with my reading. And it doesn’t help that I’ve officially got 3 books on the go. Even though student me was more than capable of reading three books at once, it seems that 30 year old me is only just able to cope with one. But I really don’t see why I care so much. I think starting Instagram has made me more competitive about reading quickly but this also means I’m more likely to read badly. If I’m focusing on quantity rather than quality then I’m not giving each book my full attention. So I’m vowing to give up on yearly book quotas and just focus on getting better at the basic act of reading.

Currently Reading

  • Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen
The only bit of reading I’ve done this week has been to get a few more chapters into this book. I’m reading my old university copy so it’s both lovely and cringe-worthy to read my old notes. Some of them of so silly that I’m a bit ashamed.
  • Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets by JK Rowling
I’m gonna just say it. I hate The Chamber of Secrets. If I decide to get back to this then I might skip a few chapters until Harry and co are back at school. It’s just too boring at first.
  • The 7th Function of Language by Laurent Binet
It’s frustrating that I really want to finish this but that I need to focus on Sense and Sensibility. I’m going away for a few days next weekend so I’ll take this with me and see how it goes.

Recently Purchased 
  • Jane Austen Collection (Arcturus Classics) by Jane Austen

I couldn’t resist this hardcover boxset of Jane Austen novels when I found it pretty cheaply. I’m not exactly her biggest fan but these covers are to die for. You may have seen them grace my Instagram recently and I can promise you that you’ll be seeing them time and time again. 

  • In Cold Blood by Truman Capote
I bought this book for three reasons: 
      1. I have an upcoming Instagram prompt that I need it for. 
      2. I really have wanted a copy of this for ages. 
      3. The new eau-de-nil covers for Penguin Modern Classics are just gorgeous. 
I mean, for a book with pictures of two murders on the front, this is one beautiful book. I’ve spent all day filling my virtual basket with more of the new green backed classics and watching the as the total racks up to an insane amount of money. I’ll probably just buy them sporadically instead of all in one go.

Recently Watched 
  • Netflix Binges: Futurama, Veep
I’m quite enjoying my subscription to Now TV. I miss Netflix, obviously, because their original content is pretty damn good for the most part. However, there are plenty of shows I’m finally getting the chance to rewatch or start from scratch. I’ve only seen the later seasons of Futurama once so I’m not as familiar with them but there are some great episodes that I’d forgotten about. I’m not as big a fan of the series of specials but season 7 onwards has some gems. Then there’s Veep which I’d never seen until now. I love it. It’s got everything great about the Thick of It but with Julia Louis-Dreyfus being awesome as an added bonus. I’ve also got my eye on Silicon Valley but have yet to start that binge.

  • Baby Driver
An ex-colleague and I have a standing arrangement to get together at least once a month to go to the cinema. She and I have pretty similar taste in films but she desperately wants to see Valerian. I managed to convince her that Edgar Wright’s new film was the better choice. Come back Tuesday to hear my thoughts.
  • Rough Night
Had been quietly tempted by this because of my love of Kate McKinnon. I should probably stop basing my film choices solely on my love for the actors involved. I reviewed this for my last Tuesday’s Review.

  • Very Bad Things
There have been plenty of comparisons between Rough Night and this 90s dark comedy. So I decided to revisit it to see what all the fuss was about and so I had something to talk about for TBT this week.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Rough Night (2017)

bullshit, drugs, films, fucking awful, fucking ridiculous, Kate McKinnon, meh, Scarlett Johansson, silly, women

There’s a lot to be said for my love of Kate McKinnon. I was almost 100% sure that I didn’t want to ever watch Rough Night but every time I saw the trailer I couldn’t help but think “Kate McKinnon though…”. So I decided to just go with it. Best case scenario: it’d be the new Bridesmaids. Worst case scenario: well, I’ve seen both of the Sex and the City movie and it’s got to be better than that, right? Don’t even ask me how that happened but it did. When you’ve seen those films and Mama Mia it becomes really difficult to imagine a film that I can hate quite as much. With every second of SATC2, each cell in my body started to shrink into itself out of anger and embarrassment; embarrassment for the people who made it, the people who liked it and for me, for making the decision to watch it. The good thing about writing this blog over the years is that I have a different range for what is good and bad. It’s like studying novels of sensibility during my Masters degree. I suddenly found a new appreciation for all of the books I thought were rubbish because they all had something more than just countless stupid young women fainting at the slightest sound. Once again, provided nobody in Rough Night fainted in the arms of their creepy uncle/step father then this definitely wouldn’t be the worst story I’ve ever experienced. So that’s something.


For one moment back in 2011 it seemed as though the world was finally ready to accept that women deserved to be given the chance to be a outrageously funny as men. As though everyone else was as sick of seeing the guys from films like The Hangover get into drunken capers and were as desperate to let the ladies have a go. Unfortunately, the change never really happened and the path towards gender equality in terms of comedy films has been a slow and painful one. It’s not as if people haven’t tried. Hell, Paul Feig is and Melissa McCarthy are trying desperately to make the raunchy female lead comedy land. It hasn’t quite worked in the way we wanted. Look at the internet’s reaction to a female only Ghostbusters for fuck’s sake. Clearly, that glass ceiling is still as thick as ever.

But that doesn’t mean Hollywood isn’t willing to give these types of films as chance when they arise. The latest is Rough Night from the writers of Broad City and boasts a great cast of female talent. It is also, in its basic form, like a female reworking of the 1998 Jon Favreau film Very Bad Things with a slight hint of The Hangover. A while ago I read a comment on the internet, probably YouTube, that was basically an outcry from some guy about remaking Very Bad Things with women. Now I can just about get that people were worried about Ghostbusters because it’s such a classic. But Very Bad Things? Nobody is worrying about that reputation being ruined. I mean it’s not exactly gone down in cinematic history. Who’s thinking “oh, I vividly remember watching Very Bad Things for the first time and don’t want my important memories to be destroyed”? Yeah, no one.

But, as it happens, Rough Night actually builds on the Very Bad Things legacy by being forgettably bad. The film is set around one night on the bachelorette party of wannabe Senator Jess (Scarlett Johansson). It is being planned by her college roommate Alice (Jillian Bell) who is feeling neglected by her old friend. Joining the pair are their fellow college friends, Blair (Zoë Kravitz) and Frankie (Ilana Glazer), who are battling with their messy romantic past as well as problems in their current lives. A random element turns up in the shape of a woman Jess befriended during a year studying in Australia. Pippa (Kate McKinnon) is a bit of a weirdo and instantly puts Alice’s nose out of joint by appearing to be much closer to the bride-to-be. After a night of cocaine, drinking and choreographed dance routines, the group return to the house they’ve rented to carry on the fun. Blair orders Jess a stripper but, a ridiculous accident, causes his untimely death. The ladies are then left with a body on their hands.

From the outset, Rough Night is desperate to prove that these women are ready to party and there is no underlying sense of judgement going on. The women are all allowed to enjoy their night out without the audience getting the feeling that it’s wrong. It also helps that the characters naturally fit together on screen. Their attempts at typical lad banter feels more natural than it does in a lot of these types of films. Rough Night isn’t a terrible film and there are plenty of funny moments. However, most of these moments are the smaller, throwaway gags that get lost in the mess. The rest of that mess is catered to specific criteria set about for commercial purposes. There is the generic slapstick silliness from the trailer and the cringey attempts to bring big laughs to all the idiots that are rushing out to see this film. It’s mostly just a big miss and the best moments are brushed aside for supposedly “guaranteed” laughs.

Rough Night isn’t the worst movie of this type around and, thanks mostly to the cast, manages to create some positive and memorable moments. However, it is a film that is clearly at odds with itself. It is written by clever writers who know how to bring the humour out of weirdness and stars actors willing to get a bit freaky. However, it ends up playing too close to the stereotypical humour of these R rated comedies. It’s a bit too big and brash to really work completely. Everyone is working overtime to make it come together but it’s a runaway train of outrageous comedy. As the narrative moves forward and more insane subplots keep popping up it just gets out of hand. Rough Night is trying so hard to be The Hangover that it’s forgotten the heart that made Bridesmaids so appealing. It’s so annoying in it’s desperation to appeal to everyone that is forgets to be funny or sweet. Although, there are some positives to take away. Most notably the relationship between Blair and Frankie, which is played out more naturally than most same-sex romances you see on screen anymore. This film could have been good had it focused a bit more on emotions and character than on trying to compete with the guys.

TOP 10 WEN-SDAY – RANKING MCU MOVIES

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Tomorrow I’m watching Spider-Man: Homecoming and I couldn’t be more excited. I’ve enjoyed the majority of Spider-Man films that have been released, probably only really excluding Toby Maguire’s third outing, but none of them have really done fantastic things. I think Andrew Garfield was perfectly cast but the stories just didn’t cut it. Toby Maguire was fine for the time and his films are still astonishing in terms of that era. However, his portrayal of Peter Parker just seems flat nowadays. With this film being the third time a new actor has taken up the spidey suit in 15 years, it’s starting to feel like every young-ish actor will eventually get the chance to play him. Still, I have high hopes for Tom Holland. His brief appearance in Civil War was an absolute treat within all of the heavy shit going on and proved that a solo film could be full of geeky fun. To get myself in the mood for watching this new film I spent today watching some past Marvel films: namely Civil War and Ant-Man. Both were great, obviously, but it got me thinking about my ranking of the films in the MCU. It’s something I’ve tried to avoid doing because it’s such a changeable thing. However, with another Top 10 Wen-sday upon us, I decided it was time to give it a go. Expect this to have changed by tomorrow.
Fifteen: Iron Man 2

Iron Man 2 was the first of man disappointing MCU sequels and it is still the worst of the bunch. I understand that it had a lot to live up to because Iron Man was the film that gave the MCU life. Still, this is just a lacklustre film. It is only saved thanks to Robert Downey Jr’s charm. The film offers us two underwhelming villains (wasting the talents of the wonderful Sam Rockwell) and spends too much time showboating to offer anything real. It’s just dreadful.

Fourteen: Thor the Dark World

I think I always look favourably on The Dark World because it contains Tom Hiddleston’s face. Ever since his brief romance with Taylor Swift I’ve kind of gone off the guy. I know it’s fickle but how can I be a massive fan of someone who made that choice? Anyway, as such I now no longer see all of his films through rose-tinted glasses and can see how awful this film really was. The dark elves are not fleshed out in the slightest and Thor becomes a supporting character in his own film. This was a let down from start to finish.

Thirteen: The Incredible Hulk

Before Mark Ruffalo came along I was more than happy to have an Edward Norton shaped Hulk. I mean, yes, you couldn’t have got much worse than Eric Bana (who I assume was only hired because of his name) but Norton brought depth to the character of Bruce Banner. He wanted to explore the pain and suffering that lay behind the huge green rage monsters and it was a welcome change. The problem that this film really faced was that it’s just not going to be easy to make a solo Hulk film. This is something that has become more apparent as time went on but, clearly, having a main character who is silent and ragey most of the time just isn’t a workable formula.

Twelve: Avengers: Age of Ultron

I so wanted to love Age of Ultron. It had everything: Avengers had set us up with a great team full of banter; we were going to see Vision, Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver; and it had James Spader as the voice of Ultron. How could it go wrong? Well, apparently quite easily. Age of Ultron was exciting, maybe, but it was a huge mess of a film. The narrative was all over the place and it was basically just a Michael Bay-esque feast of explosion porn. With every viewing this film pains me more. Not just for how bad it is but for how much it let me down.

Eleven: Captain America

I realise that Captain America is a much better film than I give it credit for but, personally, I just didn’t love this film. I admit that I liked it much better on my second viewing for my TBT post but I still find it difficult to get too excited about Steve’s first outing. Hayley Atwell is amazing and there are some great moments but it all feels a bit rushed. Considering what followed in Steve’s solo outings, this film just doesn’t quite cut it.

Ten: Thor

As with above, this is primarily on personal taste and I’m sure most people would have this film higher up. I get it. Thor isn’t the typical Marvel film but I adore it. Kenneth Branagh may not be the most obvious choice to direct a comic book movie but I loved what he did with Thor. He turned it into a Shakespeare play and I think it worked. He was on firmer ground and Tom Hiddleston excelled at playing Loki as though he was Edmund in King Lear. It’s not perfect and there are some incredibly dodgy moments but Thor always makes me feel full of joy. I don’t care if I’m the only one.

Nine: Iron Man 3

I kind of wanted to put Iron Man 3 higher up the list because of how badly it treated The Mandarin character. That would have been petty though because, all in all, this is a pretty good film. Shane Black did a great job co-writing the script and directing the whole thing. It’s funny, exciting and dramatic. A huge improvement on the second film in the series. Black and Robert Downey Jr. have a great working relationship and Tony Stark is at his best. There were a few moments I could have done without but, for the most part, this was a winner.

Eight: Ant Man

It might just be because I’ve only just finished watching this film but Ant Man is much better than people give it credit. Paul Rudd is fantastic in the role of Scott Lang and there is plenty of fun to be had. It takes a character that nobody really wanted a film about but shows just how good of a decision it was. Yes, I still wish Edgar Wright had directed the story that he had wanted but this definitely showed the potential of the more random Marvel characters.

 Seven: Iron Man

When Iron Man came out way, way back in 2008 there wasn’t an MCU and Robert Downey Jr. was that drug addict from Ally McBeal. This film changed everything for the better. Downey Jr. became a household name and the MCU kicked off in style. This was a brash and exciting film that showed comic book movies could be a spectacle and also a really good film. As important as this film may be in terms of historical importance, it has to be said that it has been overshadowed by future releases. It’s still a great film but there are now better ones out there.

Six: Dr Strange

I can’t say that I was exactly overjoyed to hear that Dr Strange was coming to the big screen because I didn’t know enough about the character. Then I heard the immortal words: Benedict Cumberbatch. I will freely admit that my interest in the film was mostly linked to the face of this great actor but I think that’s reason enough to watch it. There are some fantastic moments in this film and breathtaking sequences where the laws of physics are just ripped to pieces. It’s a visual feast but I wanted this to be better. Dr Strange feels as though it wasn’t give the freedom to be everything it could be and was forced to fit into a Marvel template to keep everyone happy. I hope future films are given more of a chance.

Five: Guardians of the Galaxy 2

The second Guardians film was a great continuation of the series but it made the same mistake that most sequels tend to do. It wanted to make thing bigger and better. Yes, this still has the same funny and relaxed feeling that the first one did but there was something confused about it. The effects were too big and the fights too confusing. However, this was an emotionally charged film that finally added some consequences to the MCU. I adored this film but I wish it had been slicker.

Four: Captain America: Civil War

Again, it might be because I watched this today but Civil War is a fantastic film. It is the film that Avengers 2 wishes it could have been. Watching this film makes me truly sad that the Russo brothers weren’t allowed to direct Age of Ultron because it would have been a massive improvement. Yes, it still runs into the same problems as Ultron has because it deals with so many characters. Yes, the narrative isn’t exactly wonderful considering the comic book story it comes from. And, yes, the villain’s plan doesn’t exactly make sense when you think about it too much. However, this has some of everything. It had the fun and banter of The Avengers, the darkness of Winter Soldier, and the emotional conflict that has followed Steve through all of his films. It could have been better but it was pretty damn good.

Three: The Avengers

This was the film that nobody thought would be possible; something that gathered together every big name in the MCU up until that point and made them work together. With that many egos in one room, how was anyone going to be able to come up with a decent story. Thankfully, somebody agreed to let the legendary Joss Whedon have a crack and he managed to make it work. This was a funny, clever and exciting film. It knew what it was and it worked with it’s problems not against them. It gave us more of Tom Hiddleston’s Loki, which cemented him as best villain in the MCU, and gave us our first glimpse at Thanos. As with all Marvel films, the evil minions could have been better and it could have been a bit slicker but this is still one of the greatest film the MCU has produced.

Two: Guardians of the Galaxy

The best thing about Guardians was that it was such a breath of fresh air. It came after Thor: The Dark World and Winter Soldier had given us a supremely grim and dark set of Marvel films. It seemed to be following the Batman trend that dark and gritty was better when it came to superhero films. Guardians was always going to be something of an underdog because the source material wasn’t as well known to the general movie going public at the time. So it decided it wasn’t going to take itself too seriously and, boy, are we glad. This was the first comic book movie in such a long time to have a real sense of humour about itself. Director James Gunn managed to create something so full of joy that was also exciting enough for comic fans. This had it all.

One: Captain America: The Winter Soldier

I know a lot of people would put Guardians as their number one because it’s so watchable. I agree that it’s great but, in my heart, I know that Marvel as never been better than in Winter Soldier. Of course, it isn’t as fun or light-hearted but it’s really well crafted and it totally changed the landscape of Marvel’s future. It ramped up the emotional side thanks to Steve and Bucky’s friendship and it gave us the delightful Anthony Mackie as Sam Wilson. It may have followed the Marvel staple of having a huge object fall to Earth in it’s finale but this film was so close to perfection. It deserves the top spot.

TBT – Captain America: The Winter Soldier (20

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After seeing Wonder Woman last week I claimed it was my favourite DC movie so far. It definitely is but, considering that it’s only the 4th, that isn’t really saying much. It’s not like the mind fuck of trying to work out which is the best Marvel movie. Most of the time my favourite will be whichever was the last film I saw but that’s only because my attention span is the same as a bloody goldfish. It also comes down to what you consider important for making a good film. I mean, a well-made film isn’t necessarily going to automatically entertain you the most. And, likewise, a super fun film isn’t necessarily going to be good. In a job interview a few years ago, whilst discussing this blog, I was asked what my favourite film was. Now, this is a terrible question to ask anyway but in an already stressed environment I almost collapsed. I ended up by garbling an answer like “I know it should be something classic like Citizen Kane but it’s probably more like Space Jam.” It’s a cop out but I think it raises a good point. The films that regularly grace the top of ‘the best films ever made’ lists aren’t necessarily the ones that you watch about 7 times a year. So do I chose something like Thor that I know isn’t the greatest but is so much fun to watch? Or do actually pick the greatest film in the franchise? Well, it’s been a while since I’ve seen that one so it’s probably time I revisited it. Oh, and fancy that, it happens to be Thursday too.

Oh what a difference a film makes. Before I saw Winter Solider I had very little interest in both Steve Rogers and Chris Evans. Now, he’s one of my favourite heroes in the MCU and my love of Chris Evans is threatening to overthrow my love of Chris Pratt. Hemsworth is still top and, I’m afraid, Chris Pine never really stood a chance. This was never a race for the top Chris spot in my heart but it was all about second place. The first Captain America film felt like a super rushed effort to get us to The Avengers before people got too distracted. It wasn’t a bad film by any stretch of the imagination but it certainly felt a bit too retro and hokey. So, as excited as I was to see Bucky return as the Winter Solider, I wasn’t exactly on the edge of my seat waiting for the sequel. What a fucking idiot I was back then.

The Winter Solider is, hands down, the greatest Marvel film that has ever been released. Don’t get my wrong, others come super close but this was the greatest all round film to come out of the studios. It was so unexpected. Not only did it completely change the tone of the character after the first movie but it broke the dreaded sequel curse that had afflicted both Iron Man and Thor. Yes, it might not have the relaxed and silly feel that Guardians has and or the great dialogue of Joss Whedon’s The Avengers; what it does have is everything else. It has a narrative that feels contemporary and relevant… or as relevant as a comic book movie can be. There are some great performances and a whole host of great new characters. It has action, excitement and emotional struggle. Cap has lost a lot of the campy feeling that weighed down the first film and is finally ready to show you what he can do. Turns out it’s fucking great.

After the events of The Avengers, Steve is trying to get to grips with the modern world whilst also helping out with any mission SHIELD needs his help with. Until Nick Fury discovers that the agency has actually been infiltrated by HYDRA agents. Turns out the group that Steve thought he had died stopping way back in the War have actually survived and waited until the perfect time to strike. They have possession of an algorithm that can reveal the identity of anyone who would potentially stand in their way and plan on unleashing deadly weapons to take them all out. There’s also the case of the mysterious super soldier that HYDRA seem to have at their disposal: a mam known only as the Winter Soldier. Cap must find out who he can and can’t trust as he tries to prevent the Nazi group carrying out their plan for mass murder. Thankfully, he has Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) and new friend, Sam Wilson (Anthony Mackie) by his side, as well as a few more familiar faces.

The Winter Solider is a fantastic narrative that offers a suspense-filled political drama and an action-packed superhero movie. It also features plenty of soul searching for Steve as he comes face-to-face with people from his past. The story feels a lot more grown up than the Nazi chasing plot of the first film and, because it is based in the contemporary world, feels more relevant and cutting edge. There is plenty of action to keep you involved and the tension builds until the epic finale. Although, I will admit that there are certain issues and Winter Solider isn’t immune to the MCU’s final showdown rule where a huge structure falls to the Earth and causes untold amounts of damage. The narrative is full of great ideas but there is a lot going on. Certain sideline characters are introduced clumsily and not really given time to shine. There are a lot of parts to juggle and a lot of exposition to get in. However, for the most part, the film handles itself incredibly well.

Winter Solider is not the perfect film but it is the closest that Marvel has come to perfect. The Russo brothers do a great job taking over the reigns and allow the character to step out of his previously camp light. This is when Captain America stopped being a throwback and started being relevant in the landscape of contemporary film. It was a partnership that worked so well that the brothers returned to direct the equally great third film in Cap’s series, Civil War. I know there will always be disagreements about what is the greatest Marvel film but, for my part, The Winter Solider never fails to entertain me. And that’s all the really matters.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Ghost in the Shell (2017)

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Ghost in the Shell has certainly made an impact, one way or another, since its release. The film was already under an immense amount of pressure to follow on the popular Manga and Anime film. Hollywood don’t have a great track record when it comes to re-imagining foreign cinema at the best of times but when you add the whitewashing controversy it makes it worse. Much has already been said about the casting of Scarlett Johansson in the role of Motoko Kusanagi. In interviews before the film came out Johansson promised that she would never play a character of a different race but the film continued to face criticism for her placement in the role. Figures from Ghost in the Shell‘s opening weekend suggest that American audiences can’t forget about the issue and are avoiding the film at all costs. However, there is less controversy in Japan with most people not seeing an issue with Johansson’s part and audiences have praised many aspects of the new film. I don’t really want to go too far into this issue because much better people have said much cleverer things than I could. I agree that there is an issue within Hollywood as a whole with whitewashing but there are interesting arguments both for and against the casting of a popular, White actor in the role of Major. The question I’m most concerned about here is: has Ghost in the Shell shot itself in the foot by making this decision and is a gem going to end up being something of a failure?

The new Ghost in the Shell takes moments from the 1995 anime but reworks it into a new and original narrative. There are many traces that are similar but it makes things a bit more Hollywood. It still takes place in a future where humanity is using technology to upgrade their bodies. People are enhancing their physical forms without any fear of reprisals. However, there are those who fear these changes and worry what it will do for humanity and individuality. Major Mira Killian (Scarlett Johansson) was the sole survivor of a terrorist attack that killed her family and left her on death’s door. The only chance for her survival was a secret project that implanted her brain into a robotic body. Instead of Artificial Intelligence, the mechanical body is controlled by Mira’s ‘ghost’. A year later Major is working as part of a counter-terrorist group, Section 9. They end up tracking a terrorist known as Kuze who is hacking both robots and the enhancements of people to gain information about Hanka Robotics, the company that saved her life.Whilst she and her team are following their leads on the terrorist, Major starts to realise that Hanka haven’t been completely honest with her.

Ghost in the Shell has many scenes that will be instantly recognisable to people who have the seen the original anime. It lifts moments directly from the film and utilises them in its own story. It also melds the villain from the previous film, the Puppet Master, with another character from the manga, Kuze. The end result is an interesting but fairly underwhelming story that skips many of the intricacies that made the original source material so great. The terrorist storyline is fairly gripping as it is essentially just an edited version of the original film. However, the writers have decided to give the film an emotional side by having Major take a trip down memory lane. There is, apparently, a worry in Hollywood that film’s won’t reach an audience unless it tugs at your heartstrings in an incredibly sentimental and obvious way. The final scene of the new film is, frankly, horrendously twee and doesn’t really fit with the rest of the film. But it fits the standard desire for closure that studios think we all crave.

Ghost in the Shell isn’t a bad film but it is a bad update. It is far less subtle than the original and doesn’t take enough time to deal with the existential crises that littered the source material. Major is supposed to constantly question her existence and wonder about her humanity. How can a human brain in a mechanical body be human? How much of her soul is left? It is a great discussion and adds much needed complexity to the story. The new film glosses over that in favour of more fighting, special effects and spider tanks. Now, I’m not naive enough to think that this film could have been made without fighting, special effects or, indeed, spider tanks. However, it would have been nice if it could have been more faithful to the original and given the characters some depth. The result is a superficial affair that, I have to admit, I cam super close to falling asleep in.

That’s not to say I didn’t enjoy it at all. Ghost in the Shell is absolutely stunning to behold and every scene is breathtaking in its own way. The rendering of the futuristic world is super cool and there is something interesting to look at wherever you turn. It’s a brilliant job but it’s still not enough to hide the fact that, underneath, there isn’t much going on. It doesn’t help that the cast are given such a small amount to work with. I know the controversy is nothing to joke about but it is Scarlett Johansson who carries this film through. Her performance, though hampered by a shitty narrative, is still pretty special. The way she carries herself as the character and takes the robotic nature of her movement into account is great. It would just be nice if, as well as acting like a robot, she was asking the right kind of questions. It’s a good job the visuals are as amazing as their are because, without them, audiences wouldn’t make it through.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Captain America: Civil War (2016)

Chris Evans, comic book, films, Marvel, Paul Rudd, review, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson

There was plenty of ridiculous drama that went into me finally getting to see the third film in the Captain America trilogy that I’m loathe to bring up. However, I have no other way to introduce my new topic so I’m going to retell the whole petty tale. I have a friend whom I love unconditionally but she’s a huge fucking drama queen. She’s recently got into a new relationship and is, obviously, all about spending her time with her new boyfriend. As such, she’s difficult to tie down for cinema trips. I’d promised her I’d watch this film with her because her new man isn’t much of a film lover and hates comic book movies. Problem is, she won’t commit to a date because she doesn’t know when he’s free. Considering how desperate I was to see this film I got understandably annoyed about her unwillingness to pick a date. Not a problem you might think, I can go without her. Unfortunately, if she ever got wind of the fact that I was contemplating going with someone else then she’d start thinking I’d replaced her with someone else. You see, fucking drama! At 28 I really don’t have time for that school playground bff bullshit so I’m incredibly unsympathetic about the whole thing. Which is exactly why I snuck off to the cinema with a mutual friend behind her back and why I’ll never tell her I’ve seen it. I love my friends to the ends of the Earth but nobody keeps me from the MCU.

Marvel films seems to understand Captain America more than any of its other heroes. He’s the only hero who’s sequel was better than the first and is the only one that has the strongest overarching narrative. These films are built on the friendship between Steve and Bucky and it is Cap’s struggle to save his best friend that has made these films worth watching. Civil War marks the culmination of everything Captain America and Winter Soldier have been preparing us for. I love you Peggy but we all know that Steve’s real OTP is James Barnes.

Civil War pretty much picks up after the events of Age of Ultron where the new Avengers are on a mission in Lagos to prevent Crossbones high-tailing it out of town with a vial of some deadly disease. In the drama Scarlet Witch (Elizabeth Olsen) inadvertently creates chaos trying to stop Captain American (Chris Evans) being blown up. As this is just the latest in a long line of destruction for the super team politicians of the World unite and attempt to restrict the movements of Earth’s heroes. Unfortunately, the pals don’t all agree to the Sokovia Accords, named after the country that suffered during the battle with Ultron.

Cap disagrees with government control and refuses to sign the accords, something that Iron Man, Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) has an issue with. Cap and his ever loyal sidekick , Falcon (Anthony Mackie) are told to hand in their guns and badge and leave the super life behind. Unforunately, that is exactly the same time that a bomb explodes at the UN causing the death of the King of Wakanda supposedly by the Winter Soldier (Sebastian Stan) himself. Captain goes against the government to find his friend first and discovers that Bucky has been set up.

This starts an increasingly ridiculous situation that pits superhero against superhero to either protect or capture dear old Buck. Both Iron Man and Captain America have their followers who are fighting for various and, quite often, flimsy reasons but, provided we see a massive punch-up, I guess it doesn’t matter. Team Cap includes: Bucky; Flacon; Scarlet Witch; Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner); Ant Man (Paul Rudd); and ex-shield agent Sharon Carter. Team Iron Man is made up of: Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson); War Machine (Don Cheadle); Vision (Paul Bettany); and the mysterious Black Panther (Chadwick Boseman). I have an issue with the need for people to take sides but I can’t deny it creates quite a spectacle. The airport showdown is, quite possibly, the greatest scene in the MCU so far.

Captain America: Civil War makes me feel quite conflicted if I’m honest. I totally enjoyed it and the fan girl in me squeed for the full 3000 hour run. However, I felt like it was trying to do too much to the extent that things weren’t as good as they could have been. The airport battle was fucking intense but getting there was difficult and never felt like the logical end to the events on screen. It was never explained in such a way that didn’t make it all feel like a massive stretch. Motivations aren’t clear and most of the choices just don’t make sense for the characters we know and love. I mean I still have no fucking clue why Hawkeye is even fighting. Didn’t he retire? Why does he give a shit?

Plus, there was the desire to introduce so many recurring and new characters that it seemed a bit messy and bloated. It’s a long film and there were time when it felt like it was dragging. Although, I don’t really know what I’d want to lose because Spider Man and Black Panther were two of the best things about the whole thing and I’m super excited about their solo outings. I just wish the whole thing about the Sokovia Accords had had been cut out and it came down to a fight centred on Cap and Bucky’s friendship. I mean that’s essentially what the trilogy has been all about and is the only real reason that Steve would turn his back on his fellow Avengers. The government twist just made things messier.

Still, this was the film that Avengers 2 should have been. It was a great meeting of so many characters and was funny, dark and emotional. The actors all did a great job. Paul Rudd managed to be funny during the most intense moments and Tom Holland looks set to be a great Peter Parker. Robert Downey Jr. and Chris Evans manage to play their familiar roles with added depth as both Tony and Steve find themselves going down dark paths due to recent events. Tony’s continued declining mental state is both devastating and fantastic to watch. In terms of the characters coming together Civil War gets it right and it feels like it makes amends for the sequel to The Avengers.

However, it tries to do too much and include too much. The overall big baddie is pretty unnecessary and there are a few plot twists that I think we could have done without. Still, despite all of my natural criticisms, I couldn’t help but love this film. It shows that Phase 3 is going to be wild. Thanks to the plot looking at the consequences of extreme power, it shows that we are moving into more grown-up territory and a more mature MCU in the future. It explores some great ideas and, at the end of the day, gives the audience what it wanted from this story. Super heroes beating the shit out of each other. And, if I’m honest, it fucking rocked.

Tuesday’s Reviews – Hail, Caesar (2016)

Channing Tatum, Coen Brothers, films, George Clooney, Jonah Hill, Josh Brolin, review, Scarlett Johansson, Tilda Swinton

One of the things I have managed to achieve with my week off is to manage to watch the latest release from the Coen brothers. I have generally mixed feelings about them as film makers but would put myself, largely, in the fangirl camp. I argued with my friend over our differing opinions of Inside Llewyn Davies because she’s wrong about it being shit and won’t see reason. Still, I haven’t always found it quite so easy to love them. Either a rewatching is in order or I just didn’t understand A Serious Man enough to come out of it feeling inspired. I mean I didn’t hate it but I can’t say I loved it as much as most people seem to. I mean there were very few reviews for Hail, Caeser! that didn’t reference the earlier film. I get the connections between the two but it did have me worried that I could be wrong about my excitement to see it. Still, with such a great line-up of actors and their long time collaborator Roger Deakins on board, I figure it’s got to be great, right?


Hail, Caesar! is set in the Hollywood of the 1950s, a time when studios were more concerned with quantity than quality. The Coen brothers have avoided falling into the trap of looking back at this era of filmmaking through rose-tinted glasses. They use their trademark gifts for satire and parod to create a witty yet realistic portrayal of that period of film history. Whilst the pair celebrate everything good about filmmaking, they also cast their critical eye over every aspect of the industry. The egotistical creators and the voracious stars are all based on historical figures and their leading man, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), is based on the real life fixer for MGM from the 1920s onwards. The real Eddie was responsible for ensuring that MGM’s image remained family friendly.

Like his real life counterpart, Hail, Caeser! follows studio fixer, Eddie Mannix (Josh Brolin), as he rushes around the lot trying to stop problems before they can create issues for the studio. We first meet Eddie as he is taking the first of a number of confessions and it’s clear to see that he is a man struggling to keep his faith in the Lord in line with his faith in the film industry. It quickly becomes evident why Eddie is having doubts about his jobe as the fires that he spends his days extinguishing are morally questionable and outrageous. They can range from tracking down a young actress who has been talked into an illicit photo shoot, arranging for a pregnant star to adopt her own child born out of wedlock, and helping ensure that a country bumpkin Western star is transformed for a period drama.

However, Eddie’s biggest stress comes when the studio’s biggest star, Baird Whitlock (George Clooney), is abducted from the set of the Roman epic “Hail, Caesar!”. Mannix must bring the star back whilst preventing twin gossip columnists (both played by Tilda Swinton) finding out the truth. When he later receives a ransom note, it becomes clear that there is something deeper going on as a mysterious groups called The Future declare responsibility for the crime. Turns out that Baird was kidnapped by a group of angry screenwriters who have become students of Communism and are protesting Captiol studios as a tool of capitalism. Although, don’t think that this is the Coen’s own protest against Hollywood. The group are ridiculed just as much as the industry they are fighting against.

Really, Hail, Caesar! is a bit of a mishmash of stories and, at times, ends up looking like a good old fashioned revue. The Coens take great pleasure in letting their audience see behind the scenes of the process of film making. They take us through the artificial sets used to create the Roman epic, let us into the editing room to see the film reels, and let us see the frantic exchange between a director (Ralph Fiennes) and an actor who is out of his comfort zone (Alden Ehrenreich). Then they move out of the real world and let us view the final product as they were intended. It is when we see glimpses of the various movies as movies that we can get lost in vintage Hollywood glamour. These moments are engrossing and fabulous but the Coens are, as always, clever about limiting their time. They can’t let us have too much of a good thing after all.

It is Brolin who carries the majority of the film and Mannix is a true Coen creation. Almost taking the role of Noir leading man, Eddie is a man with a purpose, a fedora and a lot weighing on his soul. He is also incredibly endearing and thoughtful in the midst of the lunacy of the rich and famous. It is his loyalty to the studio that causes him stress and gives him pleasure. He is lost in the fantasy of that world whilst being the only person keep it grounded. Mannix is the very image of the industry’s self-aggrandisement but his alternative faith still leaves him able to question his actions. He is a wonderful creation and Brolin commands the screen in a quietly, brilliant way.

Mannix is the sane one in a sea of idiots but, just like the sullen fixer, these idiots are great at their craft. Alden Ehrenreich as Western star Hobie Doyle shines off the screen as a gymnastic cowboy and, despite her personal troubles, aquatic star DeeAnna Moran (Scarlett Johnansson) is quite the talent. Channing Tatum has the dance skills necessary to prove that his Gene Kelly alike is a worthy talent. Even the dense Baird has the acting chops necessary to pull of the Roman epic of the title. Hail, Caesar! may ridicule many aspects of the supposed Golden Age of cinema but there is a genuine respect beneath the scorn. With their cinematographer, the great Roger Deakins, the pair have recreate the tone and aesthetic of this era and, despite the darker and Noirish undertones, everything is played with a playful touch. The brothers revel in the absurdity of the industry at that time but, with their series of impressive pastiches, celebrate that bygone age. It’s not a film for everyone but, if you’re a Coen fan, then it’s everything you could wish for.

Avengers: Age of Ultron (2015)

Chris Hemsworth, comic book, Joss Whedon, Mark Ruffalo, Marvel, review, Robert Downey Jr, Scarlett Johansson
avengers_age_of_ultron_poster
Those of you who have been paying close attention to my Twitter for the last 12 months will know that I’ve been fucking excited about Avengers: Age of Ultron: it’s been my not so secret obsession since James Spader was announced as the voice of titular nemesis. As it happened, it took me a week after its release to finally get around to seeing Age of Ultron and I did so well at avoiding spoilers regarding the shocking ending. That was until the day I had arranged to see it when my fucking dick of a colleague ruined it for me. I haven’t yet forgiven him and its not an exaggeration to say that I probably never will. He fucking knew I was scheduled to see it but still he blundered on, determined to ruin my viewing pleasure. This meant that I was a little underwhelmed when leaving the cinema because I saw through all of Joss Whedon’s intricate plot weaving to the closing act that I knew was heading my way. It was a fucking travesty. However, in the time since my viewing, I’ve had time to calm down and reflect properly on the latest massively multiplayer Marvel movie.
 

Age of Ultron doesn’t waste any time getting us right back into the action. It’s been 3 long years since the World’s Mightiest Heroes were last seen out together and we pick up right in the heart of battle. Yes, no slightly tedious semantics about how the team pair up again in this sequel: we know who everyone is, what they can do and, in many cases, what they’ve been up to in the interim. So fuck the heart-warming reunion; let’s pummel some bad guys. Following on from the aftermath of Winter Soldier, the Avengers are trying to breach a Hydra research facility to get back an all too familiar mind-control staff. Taking place in the fictional eastern European city of Sokovia, the opening action scene is, quite frankly, fucking incredibly. I didn’t even mind the awkward inclusion slow-motion and 3-d friendly visuals. The scene works well by moving between the team one-by-one, neatly allowing each to do their thing before moving along to the next.
 
 
The opening sequence also gives us our first real look at the twins, first introduced to us in the credits of Winter Soldier, and their freaky superpowers. Quicksilver (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) uses his immense speed to expertly fuck with Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Scarlet Witch (Emily Olsen) uses her psychic powers to just fuck with everyone’s head. As villains go, they have an awful lot of potential to actually beat the most powerful group of heroes in the world. Out for revenge against Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) in particular, Scarlet Witch implants a vision of death and destruction in Iron Man’s head and leads us all on the road to ruin. Wishing to put “a suit of armour around the world”, Stark and physicist Bruce Banner (Mark Ruffalo) begin experimenting with artificial intelligence: a seriously dangerous move that could have been avoiding if anyone in the Marvel Universe watched a fucking movie from time to time. As such, Ultron (James Spader) is born and he’s not happy with his creators.
 
 
With more than a few knowing nods to Frankenstein, Ultron is born due to his creator’s out of control ego and takes on many of the worst aspects of Stark’s personality. With his tough robotic body, Ultron makes it his mission to destroy the Avengers and bring about “peace in our time”: unfortunately that peace can only be found once mankind is wiped-out. Picking up the Maximoff twins as allies, Ultron looks set to become a real threat once he gets his nifty new body. Age of Ultron just seems more sure of itself than The Avengers ever did. Something that can be seen within the numerous action sequences. The visual effects are fantastic and the way the action moves between each member of the team is much less chaotic than in their previous outing. As further proof that we’re on surer ground here, the fight choreography brings greater emphasis to the group’s teamwork. It finally feels like we’re watching a real unit working together to save the world.
 
There is a real sense of camaraderie oozing out of every scene and its a fucking joy. Something that is even more apparent in the script which features the traditional Joss Whedon style quips and banter that so wonderfully juxtaposes the ensuing mayhem. Everyone gets a chance to make with the funny but in the Whedonesque way that never breaks up the tension or the action. Like The Avengers before it, the film is so much fun that it almost feels wrong. Whedon’s greatest asset will always be the way in which he throws himself into every project with such joy, energy, and care. It’s impossible not to get swept away by it.
 
Although, Age of Ultron does have its flaws. Just as The Avengers was the first step into Marvel’s Phase Two, the sequel has the daunting task of helping to prepare us for Phase Three. As such, Marvel crams so much extra stuff into the film that it often feels a bit too bloated. We see references to a fucking cavalcade future Marvel films: Captain America: Civil War; Thor: RagnarokBlack Panther; and the two-part Avengers: Infinity War. The Ultron plot was enough for the audience to get their head around without glimpses into the fucking future clogging their brain space. Still, Whedon manages to bring his unique style and vision to the film and ensure it never fails to deliver on the one most important thing for a comic book movie: fun. Despite my spoiler-inspired negativity post-credits, I’m happy with the way the film worked out and am happy with the new faces to the Avenger’s line-up.

Her (2013)

Amy Adams, Joaquin Phoenix, review, rom-com, Scarlett Johansson, sci-fi, Spike Jonze

There is a face that people always make when you bring up Joaquin Phoenix’s name in conversation. Over the years the actor has built up quite a reputation for being wacky and abrasive. This is mainly thanks to his infamous appearance on The Late Show to promote his mockumentary I’m Still Here. Regardless of the way he has behaved in recent years, I still like Phoenix. He is a careful and considered actor who sometimes gets a little carried away with his roles. It takes a certain type of actor to basically front a film on his own and I was looking forward to seeing how Phoenix coped with it for Spike Jonze’s fourth film outing. So despite all of the groans I heard when discussing my excitement for this film, I couldn’t wait. 


Spike Jonze is the kind of director who is known for creating worlds that show an uncanny relationship with reality whilst remaining ever so slightly bizarre and mystifying. (See Being John Malkovich and Adaptation for more proof.) In Her, Jonze goes one step further by tweaking a whole film genre. At its simplest layer, her is a romantic-comedy but following the emotional connection between a man and his computer. Jonze does a fantastic job of creating an unconventional movie romance that is funny yet heartbreaking, terribly sweet but utterly sincere.

Joaquin Phoenix plays Theodore Twombly a lonely man struggling after the breakdown of his marriage to Catherine (Rooney Mara). He becomes withdrawn from the world around him and guards himself from more emotional pain. As a technological whizz, Theodore invests in a new artificial intelligence operating system to provide himself with a virtual companion that has the ability to change and grown thanks to its experiences. The OS, calling itself Samantha (voiced by Scarlett Johansson), becomes a huge part of Theodore’s life and she begins to understand him better than any real person he encounters.
Her is Jonze’s first self-penned feature film and is beautifully crafted. It is set in a not-so-distant future version of Los Angeles in a kind of technological Utopia. Whilst dealing with such an odd concept the film manages to provide both a look into the future and remain convincingly contemporary. The future of Jonze’s her isn’t the blindingly bright one of most science-fiction films but offers a beautifully muted palette and equally muted occupants. With much of the exterior shots being filmed in Shanghai, the world around Theodore is a clean and safe urban environment inhabited by the young, beautiful and affluent.
Yet the aesthetic harmony of this setting does not overflow into the people who live in it. Despite this
technologically advanced haven, this is a society plagued by lonliness and Jonze makes it more than clear that Theodore isn’t alone in his emotional abyss. His friend and neighbour (Amy Adams) finds herself going through a divorce and ends up turning to her ex’s OS for friendship and support. This is a time in which technology offers a valid alternative to human contact. This film evaluates society’s dependence on technology and its deepening effect on modern relationships. Samantha may very well be a far-fetched idea but we see some familiar alternatives referenced on screen. In the earlier part of the film Theodore reaches out to the World Wide Web for companionship and partakes in cybersex with a woman who quickly turns out to be highly disturbed.
For further proof we need only look at Theodore’s work for beautifulhandwrittenletters.com which requires him to craft emotional outpourings of other people’s feelings for their family and friends. This is the way that love works in the world that Jonze creates: real love is painful and hard so feelings are outsourced to a stranger instead of coming from the heart. Jonze is suggesting that technology probably isn’t the solution to answering people’s emotional needs. Though Theodore easily falls in love with Samantha during their communication and experiences together there are the inevitable complications with this virtual relationship.
Although despite all of these complications, the greatest success of Jonze’s tale is that the romance between Theodore and Samantha is never played as anything other than serious and pure. Every aspect of the blossoming connection is dealt with carefully so that something that always feels a little bit iffy ultimately comes across as something sweet and rather beautiful. I mean it is highly doubtful that any director other than Jonze would have been able to make a sex scene between a man and his operating system feel anything but uncomfortable and seedy. Of course the decision to fade to black to avoid the awkward Joaquin Phoenix masturbation moment was a shrewd one. It is an odd feeling watching the blossoming relationship between a man and his operating system but there is never a moment when you aren’t drawn in by it. You happily follow the pair on all of their bizarre dates where Theodore, through his phone’s camera, shows Samantha the world around them.
Phoenix and Scarlett Johansson provide incredible performances in order to truly sell the relationship as it was dreamt up by Jonze. Phoenix may not be the name at the top of everybody’s list of actors to almost single-handedly sell a film but in herhe does so with subtlety and depth. He easily inhabits the role of Theodore and his portrayal of a man in such emotional pain that he clings to the inhumane embrace of Samantha is sweet and soulful. The journey that Theodore takes from melancholic withdrawal to an embrace of life is a touching one and without Phoenix in the driving seat this film could easily have derailed.
Of course without the right woman Theodore would never have struggled out of his emotional despair and if there was ever going to be one woman who could mend a broken heart simply with her voice it’s Scarlett Johansson. She gives the role the benefit of her unbeatably husky voice. Samantha is seductive, funny and confident yet still learning and vulnerable: there is no way that anyone in Theodore’s position would fail to fall for her with or without the physical presence of Johansson to back it up.
Although, Samantha proves to be too strong a presence for the vulnerable writer: she pushes Theodore well out of his comfort zone and into a complicated and passionate relationship when you suspect all he really needed was someone to talk to. Samantha’s programming ensures that she evolves with every new experience and she quickly outgrows both Theodore and the initial concept. Towards its denouement, the slick and inventive narrative begins to descend into familiar romantic-comedy territory. The ending feels slightly flat and unsteady when compared to the well-constructed moments that preceded it. Not terrible in its own right but still not up to the standard that the film set about promising us. This isn’t exactly Jonze at the very top of his game but, as a whole, heris a wonderful film. It is sweet, soulful and smart despite the unavoidably questionable nature of the plot. Paddling in the realms of science-fiction, Spike Jonze offers us a funny and touching analysis of modern human relationships. Just as Theodore fell for Samantha, I can confidently say that I love her.

Marvel’s The Avengers (2012)

Avengers, Chris Hemsworth, comic book, fucking awesome, Joss Whedon, Mark Ruffalo, Marvel, review, Robert Downey Jr, Samuel L, Scarlett Johansson, Tom Hiddleston

I have eagerly awaited the release of The Avengers for about 3 years now and there was very little chance that I would walk out of the cinema without a great sense of glee. To say I had high expectations from Joss Whedon’s turn within the Marvel universe is a disgraceful misrepresentation of my pre-Avengers state of mind. I avoided any review or article that I felt would potentially spoil my viewing and resigned myself to watching the trailer repeatedly for the months before release. I was on fucking tenterhooks.

Thanks to the necessary task of ringing together a fuckload of existing characters, the plot takes a bit of time to get going. The film mainly shows the team coming together and is a lot less focused on big action pieces. It isn’t until well into the film that the super group really get to show off their skills and even then the display isn’t that spectacular. Now I didn’t mind the sedate opening sequences or the elongated sequence where Iron Man and Captain America mend things but  Whedon could have done with fleshing out his villains more. This is a comic-book movie afterall. It’s nice to know why we hate the people we really want you to punch in the face.

Although, as you would expect of Whedon, is is the script that’s the key here; it is funny, dramatic and sentimental. There was always a danger that putting such larger than life characters together in one room would create issues and, more likely, the overpowering talents of Robert Downey Jr. would overshadow the newer members of Marvel’s cinematic family. Whedon does a good job of raining in Stark just enough to allow the group to bounce off one and other and create enough tension.

Downey Jr flourishes within this setting. Playing off the already theatrical and narcissistic Iron Man with the nostalgic Captain and Asgardian Prince creates some truly amazing moments of dialogue. Chris Evans and Chris Hemsworth continue in the much the same vane that we have seen in their previous outings as Captain America and Thor respectively. They both do a good job of portraying the fish out of water within the situation. However, I think their role as outsiders could have been utilised to greater effect.

It is Mark Ruffalo’s turn as Bruce Banner that is the biggest revelation of the film. This is the third actor to take on the scientist in recent years and he is simply marvellous. Ruffalo gives the Big Green an even bigger heart and he brings a vulnerability and humour to the character that neither Eric Bana nor Edward Norton managed in their films. His blossoming friendship with Tony provides some wonderful scenes and some exceptional dialogue. He provides some of the most tender and emotional scenes and garners many of the biggest laughs. So much so that it is the Hulk that comes out on top of his fellow Avengers by the end credits.

Jeremy Renner, as Hawkeye, unfortunately gets little to do here but the moments where he is deeply involved in the plot show a great deal of potential for a rather dismal character (I’m sorry he’s hot but being able to shoot arrows at people is neither an awesomely useful or very unique ability.) In the same way Black Widow (played by a rather uncomfortable looking cat-suited Scarlett Johansson) gets very little to do after her first fight scene. She is, like Renner, used to bring extra sex appeal and very little else. She shows off some kick ass moves but this is overshadowed by the many gratuitous shots of her in her skin-tight costume. Consider the directing choice that caused her face-to-face with Loki to be shot from a camera placed at arse height. I’m not entirely sure that scene tells us anything more about Black Widow other than the fact she is rather pleasing on the eye.

The Avengers themselves are such a powerful force both physically and in terms of their screen presence, that every other character is sort of thrown into the shadows. Well all but one. 2011’s Thor introduced us to Loki and set out his path to become the God of Mischief. The Loki we see in The Avengers is something else entirely. Tom Hiddleston is obviously in his element playing the disgraced (adopted) son of Oden and is just phenomenal. Every line is venomous and he has truly perfected the look of madness and pure evil. It is no wonder, then, that it is Loki who has come out of The Avengers with the biggest army of supporters. Yes he’s trying to take over the world but he’s both very beautiful and vulnerable.

The best moments obviously come when the Avengers are doing what they do best. It was always going to be difficult to spread the time between six individuals but the end result is a necessarily confusing, loud but incredibly exciting battle for the earth. Whilst it is uncertain whether Whedon will actually come back to direct a second outing for the super group I certainly hope he does. This film wasn’t perfect but it was certainly worth the wait for those of us who have been desperate for this day to come.