Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. S01E08 – The Well

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Now this is what I’m talking about!

Jonathan Frakes directs this week’s episode which comes in as my favorite of the series following the pilot.

This week’s episode, The Well, takes place during the clean-up following the events of Thor: The Dark World (which admittedly I still have to get out and see), so our team is in England, when word comes of a strange attack that they are asked to investigate, all while Simmons (Elizabeth Henstridge) is debating about talking to her mum and dad about her traumatic experience a couple of weeks ago.

It seems a group of angry gang, using Norse (Asgardian) mythology as their jumping off point, have discovered one part of a three-part staff, known as the Beserker Staff.  The pieces of the staff fire up your rage and strength by making you relive painful memories.

PETER MACNICOL

With these new enhanced abilities, the gang is rampaging, proclaiming their own godhood and becoming a bit of a threat.

To properly understand what is going on Coulson (Clark Gregg) leads the team to the foremost leading authority on Norse mythology, Professor Elliot Randolph (Peter MacNicol). Things get bizarre for Skye (Chloe Bennet) and the rest when they learn that Randolph is in fact Asgardian, but doesn’t know Thor (Chris Hemsworth) – who apparently according to Skye and Melinda(Ming-Na Wen) is dreamy.

Trouble sets in, when Ward (Brett Dalton) is exposed to the powers of the staff, forcing him to recall a painful memory that drives his rage, jeopardizing his place on the team, but also making them their best defense as they race across the globe to recover the final piece of the staff.

Finally Ward becomes a bit more than the group’s grumpy action guy, and we get a bit of a look at whet’s going on in his head. I also loved the final moments of the episode in the hotel with the open door…

CHLOE BENNET, CLARK GREGG, MING-NA WEN, ELIZABETH HENSTRIDGE, IAIN DE CAESTECKER

Course, the episode’s tag, with Coulson and Tahiti (It’s a magical place) hinted that we may get some resolution on that by season’s end, and I’m willing to bet it will not only shake up Coulson, but the rest of the cast as well.

My favorite character is quickly becoming Melinda, and I can’t wait to learn more about her. What painful memories she holds, that she says she sees everyday… something with Coulson perhaps?

I know they had to craft a few episodes and set things up before the good stuff came along, but at this point, we’re three-quarters of the way through the season, and this was the first episode that really got me going. Sigh. I wish the whole season could have been like this.

Still, if this is the level we’re looking at for the remainder of the season, then the remaining eps should be something pretty awesome. I do hope Joss comes back and writes a couple of eps as well. It was his name and the Marvel Universe that drew me in originally. So I would like to see more of the two together please!

What did you think of this week’s episode?

Marvel: Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. airs Tuesdays on CTV.

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Tim’s Top 12 of 2012

12 is my lucky number, so I figured that would be the number of films I pick for my favorites of 2012, it kind of works, because then that would be one each month, though, for anyone who reads my blog, you’re well aware that I’ve seen a lot more than 12 movies this year!

the-expendables-2-poster12) The Expendables 2 – It’s loud cheesy 80s action fun with some of the biggest action icons to have ever been assembled for a movie – of course it’s going to end up on my list. For sheer mindless, good-times entertainment, this is a film series that after 2 films cannot be beat, and with rumors of a third one in prep (with Jackie Chan joining up) it looks like they may be around for a while as well. This time around Stallone and his band, including the ever-cool Jason Statham, is joined by Liam Hemsworth, Jean-Claude Van Damme, Chuck Norris, and expanded roles for Bruce Willis and Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The action is loud, noisy, bloody, and oh so much fun!

Seeing this in a theater with a bunch of people who love action movies as much as I do was a lot of fun, not to mention stars Terry Crews and Randy Couture were in the audience with us.

I will be the first one to say this series of films will never win any of the big industry awards, but that doesn’t change the fact that they are just good fun, and I cannot wait for the next one!

hermaster11) Her Master’s Voice – This was the first documentary that I saw at 2012′s Hot Docs, and I think because of that it will always have a special place in my heart. We chatted with the film’s subject and director, Nina Conti, about ventriloquism, her mentor, her sidekick Monkey. Up til that point I had never seen any artist lay themselves out so bare in front of the camera, all of her armour comes down as she carries on conversations with herself though her puppets.

The film follows Nina on her journey to Kentucky to an annual ventriloquist convention, while standing at a cross-roads of her life, deciding whether she still wants to carry on with her act, or leave it behind. When news of her mentor’s passing and his gifts to her sets her on an emotional journey of self-discovery, we are taken along for the ride, and see every moment of pain, joy, tears, and hope.

This ended up being my favorite film at Hot Docs because it was something truly heartfelt, and ventriloquism and puppetry has always had a special place in my heart.

Hitchcock-poster10) Hitchcock – I always find behind-the-scenes movies to be fun, especially when you have such a fantastic cast as Anthony Hopkins, Helen Mirren, Danny Huston, Scarlett Johansson, Toni Collette, James D’Arcy, Jessical Biel and Michael Wincott. Combining a mature love story with the creation of one of Hitch’s most popular films, Psycho, the craft pays homage to Hollywood of yesteryear and made me nostalgic for a time that I never knew.

I have also never seen Ms. Johansson better in any film she’s done, she simply embodies Janet Leigh, and brings her to life right before your eyes. Course everyone has to be at the top of their game when you put to heavy hitters like Helen Mirren and Anthony Hopkins on the screen.

The film chronicles the love story of Hitch and his wife Alma while he struggles to make a film that none of the companies wanted to see made. They all thought it would be just another run-of-the-mill horror film… but what happens when one of the world’s best directors makes a horror film.

I’m looking forward to reading the book it’s actually based on, but this film was just a sheer delight.

american mary9) American Mary – I chatted with the Soska Twins briefly after one of the screenings of this year’s Toronto After Dark Film Festival, and I couldn’t rave enough about their genre-defining body modification horror/thriller. It ended up on this list because it was one of the films that I was really anxious about seeing, because I was worried about how graphic the film would be. Despite it’s visuals, the film has a restrained beauty that verges on the brilliant. I remember walking out of the theater completely stunned and amazed by what I had just seen. I had done a complete 180 from my expectations and perceptions of the film. Any movie that can do that to me is worth noting.

Katherine Isabelle is simply amazing, and stunning in her role, and watching her transformation from naive med student to a modification artist is a treat to watch. The Soska Twins now have a permanent fan in me, and I can’t wait to see what they come up with next.

Brave8) Brave – Oh, Pixar. How I love you. I look forward to each year’s new film and it is very rare that I am disappointed by them, and even their lesser films (I’m looking at you Cars 2) can entertain. This year’s effort took us to the wilds of Scotland, with a stunning story of a mother, Elinor (Emma Thompson) and a daughter, Merida (Kelly MacDonald), queen and princess respectively, and their relationship. I didn’t even know that going into the film, I just knew that Merida was a headstrong girl, who wanted to decide her own fate, who didn’t want to be told who to marry… And I knew there was a big dangerous looking bear.

What I didn’t know about it, made the film that much more enjoyable when certain events kicked in. Pixar has always been a master of character-based animated stories, making sure that the quality extends not only through the art of the film itself, but also through the story and the characters that inhabit the world they have created.

Pixar films always tend to be a highlight of the year for me.

life_of_pi7) Life of Pi – I loved this book when I first read it, it was an incredible journey, and was understandably anxious when I learned they were adapting it to the big screen. Ang Lee however was not only faithful to the novel, but did some of the best 3D work I’ve seen in a movie yet. The tiger, Richard Parker, is brought to life with amazing realism, combining live-action and CG work, blurring the lines between reality and fiction. It’s amazing to see this lumbering beast surviving alongside fellow traveller Pi (Suraj Sharma) as they struggle to live on the high seas, hoping against hope for rescue, battling the elements and each other.

The story is personal, while being epic at the same time, and all the green-screen and CG work that went to stranding Richard Parker and Pi on the ocean makes the film look amazing! There are so many picture perfect moments in this film, a movie that is filled with humour, heartbreak, and ruminations on storytelling itself.

rosalind6) The Last Will & Testament of Rosalind Leigh – Everyone knows the story how Sue and I came across the booth for this film at Fan Expo and were taken in first by the poster, then the trailer, and the photo area. After we approached the director Rodrigo Gudino about a chance to see the film, both of us were struck by this beautifully crafted and creepy film.

Aaron Poole is on-screen for nearly every moment of the film and does so by himself, all though there is a haunting voice-over narration by Vanessa Redgrave, and it’s also one of those films that surprises you by the end of the film, allowing you to see everything that has gone before it in a whole new light.

A fantastic effort from the founder of Rue Morgue magazine, that deals with ideas of faith, love and family surrounded by creepy-ass angel statues…

cabin5) Cabin In The Woods – Drew Goddard and Joss Whedon turned the horror genre on its head with this brilliant film. Taking the traditional horror trappings of the remote cabin, and the stereotypical characters one finds in that vein of horror film. Once the film kicks into gear, there are nods to almost every horror genre, as well as characters.

The film features Chris Hemsworth, Anna Hutchison, Kristen Connolly, Jesse Williams, Whedon alumnus Amy Acker, Tom Lenk and Fran Kranz. It also features Richard Jenkins and the awesome Bradley Whitford.

And despite the subject matter, and the amount of blood spilled the film ends up being more of a comedy than a horror, and every moment of it is entertaining. For anyone who knows and loved their horror films, this and the number 3 film on my list should be viewed and enjoyed often.

avengers4) The Avengers – The Marvel universe comes to the big screen, combining the already established box-office successes of Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr), Thor (Chris Hemsworth) and Captain America (Chris Evans), adding Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner), Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson), and the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo) into the mix under the able hand of famed geek writer-director Joss Whedon. The film is a giant, comic book action adventure set to Geek Overload!

Commanded by the fantastically cool Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson), Earth’s mightiest heroes take on an alien invasion, led by Asgardian Loki (Thomas Hiddleston), who makes a fatal mistake when he confronts fan fave, and recurring Marvel universe character, Agent Colson (Clark Gregg). Their next team-up is a few years off yet, but at least we’ll have new individual adventures from Tony Stark, Cap and Thor soon…

paranorman3) Paranorman – This film was a sheer delight, in that I just didn’t expect it to be as amazing as it was. I’m a huge stop motion animation fan, and add to that a fun story that features zombies, a witch’s curse and a message that doesn’t hit you over the head repeatedly, and you have a family film that is truly suitable, and enjoyable, for the entire family.

And oh! the in-jokes!!

The ring-tone, the hockey-mask, the sight gags, and on top of that, it really is a great story filled with great characters, some laugh out loud moments.

The effects on the witch towards the end of the film, are some of my favorites, a brilliant combination of practical stop-motion and CG effects.

Of course knowing it was being released by Laika who also gave us the exemplary Coraline, I should have realized that it would be as amazing and as enjoyable as it is.

skyfall2) Skyfall - Daniel Craig’s 3rd outing as James Bond ends up being one of my Top 5 007 films of all time. Directed by Sam Mendes, and featuring a fantastic score by Thomas Newman, and a powerful title track by Adele, Skyfall ends up being one of the best looking films I have ever seen. The cinematography is top-notch, and there are character changes and introductions, putting familiar pieces back on the secret agent board. Daniel Craig is top-notch in this film, bringing that dangerous edge which defines his Bond.

The film starts on an epic scale, and races towards a small, almost intimate climax in northern Scotland. There are some fantastic stand-out sequences, and Judi Dench has so much more to do this time around as her entire department is put on trial while she is targeted by Javier Bardem’s Silva.

Fantastic fun, and hopefully they get back on the track of releasing a Bond film every two years, and Craig will stay with the role for a few more years yet.

hobbit-an-unexpected-journey-poster1) The Hobbit – I was so happy to step back into the world of Middle Earth. Tolkien’s world is brought to life once again by Peter Jackson, creating a place I would happily call home. Expanding on the text of the original novel, and incorporating the legend and lore that was happening at the same time as Bilbo’s (Martin Freeman) expedition with Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage), Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and company to the Lonely Mountain. Is it as great a film as the original trilogy? No, but it still stands head and shoulders (which is tough for a halfling) above a lot of the other films I’ve seen this year.

As of this writing, I still need to see it in the 48fps frame rate (another excuse to see it of course) but I simply delighted in seeing familiar places, faces, and setting out on a whole new adventure. Ian McKellan brings Gandalf back to the screen, and the Shire made me weepy again.

For me this was a pitch-perfect film that I loved.

What were your favorite films of 2012?

Wallander S01 E01 – Sidetracked

I think I may have found my next detective series on Netflix, which is good what with me being almost finished with the Jesse Stone movies.

I am turning to Wallander, the BBC series, which is based on a collection of Swedish novels by Henning Mankell. Adapted from the Swedish TV series that the novels inspired, the British adaptation stars the immensely talented Kenneth Branagh as police inspector Kurt Wallander in the small city of Ystad, Sweden.

Wallander is a bit grizzled in appearance, has a strained relationship with both his daughter (Jeany Spark) and his father (David Warner). He’s good at what he does, but it also has a profound effect on him, almost to the point that he is ready to give up his career.

The film opens with a spectacularly sequence – a gorgeous field of yellow flowers, and a young woman running through it, carrying something in her hand. The farmer who owns the field calls in the police, unsure of how to handle the situation, let alone get close enough to talk to her, and Wallander arrives.

As he approaches the girl, and identifies himself as a police officer, she lifts the item, and we see it’s a canister of gasoline with which she doused herself, and lights herself aflame, a red bloom of flame racing skyward amongst all the yellow.

And with that, we are plunged into a mystery, filled with gruesome ritualistic  murders, fraud, white-collar crime, art theft, government, prostitution, domestic violence and abuse and dirty cops.

Branagh bring a vulnerability to his performance that shows in his eyes, as his character attempts to deal with the brutal and growing murders, and the realization that his father is ill.

Tom Hiddleston (directed by Branagh in Thor) appears as one of Wallander’s colleagues, Martinsson and this may very well be where Branagh decided to cast him as Loki.

I like how the mystery is framed, and written, all the answers are there, as long as you pay attention to it. I had a dawning realization of who it was just minutes before Wallander, so I knew by that point I was quite involved in the story.

And I happily have 8 more episodes to get through.

Much like the BBC’s wonderfully updated Sherlock, each season is 3 episodes long, each one running 90 minutes, and if the rest of the series is up to the caliber of the first episode, then that will be time well spent in my book.

The cinematography, filmed on location in Sweden, is lovely, the acting is top-notch (it is Branagh after all), the story is involving, and full of twists, turns, and revelations.

I will be happily settling in for the rest of the series…

Have you seen it?

Or have you seen the original or read the books?

The Avengers

There’s not much I can say for The Avengers that hasn’t already been said over the weekend.

For me it has already entered the pantheon of greatest comic book movies of all time. It’s fun, loud, funny, exciting, and for me, it actively conveyed everything that not only a comic book movie, but a comic book should be.

It played to the small moments, but didn’t let you down on the big ones.

Under the hand of writer-director Joss Whedon, the story tells of the first gathering of earth’s mightiest superheros, Captain America, Iron Man, The Hulk, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye.

Joss, who will not only bring his legions of fans to this movie simply because his name is on it, also brings a fantastic cast with it, and a story filled with fanboy moments and big sweeping action scenes.

In fact, the final action sequence which sees our heroes facing off against an alien invasion, assisted by Loki, first introduced in Thor’s film, made me think of nothing but big splash pages in comic books. The action would sweep and follow one character then once another passes through the frame our attention would sweep to them, and follow them as well.

I was worried that Mark Ruffalo would be lost when he becomes the Hulk, but once the transformation is done into a CG character, you can still see him in there. Hulk also has some of the best moments of the film, and got applause, cheers and laughter from our audience.

Each character has their moment, in fact more often than not they have a number of them, not one actor, or character is treated better, or given more screen time than any other, which leads to the feeling of a true collaboration. Which is something I think all the actors got.

Watching them bicker, take shots at one another, and push one another’s buttons and then transition into colleagues when an attack begins verges on the awesome!

That is the beauty of Whedon’s writing, he services the characters with bright and sharp dialogue and then gives us huge action sequences, which now that he has a company behind him that believes in him and a budget as well, totally pays off!!

We know that Iron Man 3 and Thor 2 are already in pre and I’m delighted that Shane Black who worked so well with Robert Downey Jr in Kiss Kiss Bang Bang  is in the writer-director’s chair.

But that also means that the next Avengers outing is at least 2 years away if not more. If Paramount knows what they are doing though, they’ll sign Joss now, and won’t pressure him to work quickly to meet a release date sent by a company.

They need to take their time, and craft a strong story, don’t blow it Paramount, Marvel and Disney… you guys have a tent-pole series that has a depth of history and great stories, as well as characters. Do it right folks.

And for those of you who know nothing about going to a Marvel movie… make sure you stay for both of the tags during and after the credits… that last sting is brilliant!

A lot of summer blockbusters can be forgotten moments after you see them, which also encourages a lot of people to just wait for a home video release, this one, you should see this on the big screen!

It’s worth it and so much fun!

Ad let’s be honest, I’ll be seeing this one a couple more times before Prometheus keeps along…

Avengers…. ASSEMBLE!!!

Jack Ryan

Tom Clancy books were just a part of my teen years as Stephen King novels, Star Trek, and classic 80s movies (course how was I to know they were going to be classics when I was watching them? I just knew I loved them.

I got into the books with the first paperback edition of The Hunt For Red October in the mid-1980s through a schoolmate I’ve sadly lost touch with, Michael Hay. From then on, until I left home for University, my parents, specifically my mother, knew what book to get me for Christmas, the latest Clancy techno-thriller.

Paramount Pictures has had an on-again off-again relationship with Clancy’s main protagonist, John ‘Jack” Patrick Ryan since the 1990s. In the course of 12 years, Hollywood’s version of Jack Ryan had four adventures, and changed his appearance three times. In the same amount of time , Bond did the same, but had a lot more adventures… just saying.

Despite that, I honestly believe that each and every one of the films were solid entertainment.

I rewatched them recently, just to revisit them, sue I know that Chris Pine is tapped to play Jack in yet another incarnation

They also recently announced that Kenneth Branagh, fresh off of his blockbuster take on Thor, and his turn as Sir Laurence Olivier in My Week With Marilyn, would be taking the helm behind the camera.

I like this idea, Branagh is a strong director, and has made some fantastic films (remember Dead Again?) and Chris Pine is a making some serious headway in Hollywood, because of Star Trek (2009) and seems like just a hard-working good guy.

I love a good techno-thriller, and honestly don’t believe there are enough of them. The combination of action, politics, and spy work, has always entertained me (take a look at Spy Game, and though not necessarily a spy/techno/thriller – Sneakers).

Paramount’s first incarnation of Ryan’s adventures was a big-screen adaptation of The Hunt For Red October, which featured Alec Baldwin as Ryan, Sean Connery as Ramius, the captain of the defecting Russian submarine Red October, Sam Neill as Ramius’ first officer and an all-star supporting cast including Stellan Skarsgard, Tim Curry, James Earl Jones, Scott Glenn and Timothy Carhart.

Directed by John McTiernan (Die Hard), Red October is one of those movies that I would throw on the television on a regular basis when I was working at a video store, I love the dialogue, the pacing, and a stirring score by Basil Poledouris.

Two years later, Paramount brought forth Ryan’s next adventure in Patriot Games, though in the world of the novels, Games happens before Hunt.

Baldwin had to bow out, as he had other commitments and the role was offered to Harrison Ford.

Ford’s Ryan stops a kidnapping/assassination attempt on members of the Royal Family (in the novel, this was Charles and Diana) by a splinter faction of the IRA led by Patrick Bergin and Sean Bean. When Sean Miller’s (Bean) brother is killed by Ryan in the botched attempt on the Royals, Miller swears revenge, escapes from custody, and begins to stalk Ryan, his family and the visiting Royals in America.

The film was directed by Australian director Phillip Noyce (Salt) and had a score done by the awesome James Horner (Aliens, Star Trek II). It also once again featured a strong cast alongside Ford and Bean, including James Earl Jones (reprising Admiral Greer), Anne Archer, Thora Birch, Richard Harris, and Samuel L. Jackson.

This is my favorite of the two films Ford turned in as Ryan, it’s an action flick, with politics, and some wonderful tech sequences, including a scene featuring Ryan watching a satellite attack on an IRA camp.

Two years later, Paramount Pictures brought us Clancy’s version of the war on drugs. With Admiral Greer (James Earl Jones) falling fatally ill, Ryan is forced to assume his position in advising the President (Donald Moffat) on what to do when a ‘life-long friend’ is killed for his involvement with a drug cartel.

The President authorizes Operation: Reciprocity and we are finally introduced to one of Clancy’s other famous creation, agent John Clark, played my Willem Dafoe.

This one is more politics heavy, which is fine with me, though it was originally advertised as a big action movie.

Once again helmed by Noyce, this film saw Ryan refusing to violate his morals and ethics, and holding everyone around him to the same stringent code. The tagline for the film was “Truth needs a soldier,” and as he realizes that those he’s working with, including the President are hanging him out to dry, blaming him in fact for troops in Central and South America (under Reciprocity) performing illegal actions against the drug cartels, he goes to work on rescuing the stranded strike team, and stopping the president and his cronies.

Once again there were some really great sequences in this film, including Ryan squaring off against the President, the tennis phone-call sequence between Ryan and his inter-office nemesis Ritter (Henry Czerny), as well as the intense ambush sequence, awesomely scored again by Horner.

The all star casting continues with Joaquim de Almeida and Benjamin Bratt.

Then, the series stalled.

And was relaunched in 2002.

Phil Alden Robinson (Sneakers, Field of Dreams) hit the reset button with The Sum of All Fears. In this film Ryan, now played by Ben Affleck, is just starting out as an analyst, lying to his girlfriend (and one day wife) Cathy (Bridget Moynahan) about what he does for a living.

When a rogue group of Neo-Nazis get their hands on a nuclear device from Israel, they begin playing the Russian and American governments off of one another, pushing them dangerously close to all out war, which includes a stunning nuclear detonation on American soil.

It’s up to Ryan, with the help of Clark (now played by Liev Schreiber) to prove the Russians are innocent and stop the true culprits before it’s too late.

This film is probably the most epic in scope of all the Jack Ryan films, as it has story points that pop up all over the globe, and you can see how close everything comes to completely falling apart – like a modern and updated version of the Bay of Pigs incident with Kennedy and Krushchev.

This time out the film features a score by the late Jerry Goldsmith (Alien, Star Trek The Motion Picture) and the all-star casting continues with James Cromwell, Morgan Freeman, Philip Baker Hall, Ron Rifkin, Ciaran Hinds, Bruce McGill and Colm Feore.

It’s a fairly solid collection of films, and still hold up their entertainment value, so it will be interesting to see where Jack Ryan and company go next…

Cabin In The Woods

Sue and I got to take in a sneak peek of Drew Goddard’s new film Cabin In The Woods last night, with the director in attendance for a post-show Q&A.

And the film entertained!

It takes the genre we know so well, and gives it a whole new life… The tagline on the poster to the left gives you a sense of the tone of the film. And the date on the bottom of the poster isn’t wrong. This kick-ass movie was supposed to be released back in 2010! It’s been languishing in distribution limbo since MGM went under, much like The Hobbit, and the 007 Franchise.

They all eventually got on track, and Lionsgate was wise enough to step in as distributor for the Joss Whedon/Drew Goddard penned horror flick.

Though let’s be clear, we spent more time laughing (in a really good way) than we did being scared or horrified, though there are some pretty sweet moments.

And unlike some people out there in the world who seem to want to spoil everyone’s fun, like that soulless waste who tweeted all the reveals to Sue before we even saw the flick, this will be a spoiler-free and consequently, intentionally short review.

Cabin In The Woods is not what you expect, and that’s exactly what it wants to be. The updated poster’s tagline reads “If you think you know the story. Think again.”

It definitely did that, though I leaned over to Sue and told her what I thought it would be about a quarter of the way in, as she happily didn’t share any of the spoilers with me. If you pay attention to the imagery during the opening credits, that part isn’t too hard to figure out – but it’s the how they do it. And it’s a delight!

The film follows five friends for a weekend getaway to a remote cabin in the woods. Sounds familiar? It’s supposed to. It even plays up nearly every horror cliché in the horror genre in the first act, and knows it, giving you little nods to films you know and love.

If you’re intent on seeing this film, do yourself a favor, and don’t even watch the trailer, cause both Sue and I (and apparently Drew as well) feels that it gives away too much of the story.

Just go in and enjoy.

Whedon and Goddard’s writing is top-form, and the laughs come one after the other, playing on scenarios you’ve seen before. That’s part of the enjoyment of the film, because you KNOW certain things are just supposed to happen, and that chances are it’s gonna be bloody (something this film is really not afraid of).

Waiting on the release of the film has kind of paid off for the filmmakers as well, as one of the leads has gone on to some very big things. Namely Chris Hemsworth, who since the film was shot, has gone on to play in Star Trek, and as the titular character in Thor.

But this is an ensemble piece and each of the actors, surprise cameos, and familiar faces pull their weight, and move the story forward.

The less you know going into the film the better, as long as you know it’s five friends (who round out horror film stereotypes – and we find out why) off to a Cabin In The Woods like so many other horror films, and as long as you are familiar with those horror films, YOU are going to have a great time.

Cabin In The Woods opens April 13th (Friday the 13th) nationally. I think I can say fairly confidently that I’ll be seeing this one again.

This is a film best shared with an audience that wants to be entertained, but wants to see something they may not have seen before… That’s what we had, and the screening was filled with clapping, laughter, and collective gasps.

It was a great experience. I hope yours is too.

Tim’s Tops of 2011

I’m gonna take a page from my creative partner, Sue, and give a run down of my favorite films of the year; though it appears that we do have a lot of the same films on our list.

1) The Muppets – This movie is sheer joy, and by far the best time at the theater I had all year. Sure you can blame that on nostalgia if you like, but I also believe it was a truly well written and well made film. Seeing my old friends on the big screen again made me laugh and smile. Call backs to the series made me teary-eyed and reminded me of how much fun these characters are. And that’s why we let them into our hearts in the first place.

 

2) The Untitled Work of Paul Shepard – This film is linked in my mind eternally with our site. Jeremy Lalonde the film’s director was kind enough to give us our first interview, and helped us launch our podcast format, and putt us in touch with some wonderful people. Thank you for that! But beyond that, this wonderful Canadian film is witty, fun, and has oh, so much heart. Even now, thinking about my favorite scenes makes me smile, and gives me shivers when I think about the performances. The longing for a DVD of this film may soon be fulfilled, and then everyone can share in it!

 

3) War Horse – A beautiful film made by one of my favorite directors. Spielberg works with an adaptation of the cherished children’s novel and brings to life the story of a horse named Joey who goes to war, and sees the good and the bad on both sides. Spielberg’s magic is on full display here and the film is touched with heart-touching and heart-breaking moments. Everything you’ve come to expect from a Spielberg film.

 

 

4) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – As stated yesterday in my review, I was genuinely surprised at how much I enjoyed this film, being such a fan of the original novel and film. But Fincher showed a deft hand and delivered a tightly wrapped thriller that was incredibly faithful to the book, and Craig is likable as Blomkvist and Mara’s turn as Lisbeth, while not a carbon copy of Noomi Rapace’s original effort is fairly close and is exactly what you think Lisbeth would behave and act like. Though as a personal side note, I preferred Rapace’s dragon tattoo on her back than the shoulder one given to Mara.

 

5) The Adventures of Tintin – Enjoyable Spielberg fun for the whole family! This film was an enjoyable romp that gave Spielberg his first animated film, as well as his first 3D film. Based on the beloved French comic this film could launch a whole new tent pole series, as long as the big players remain involved, I’m on board. And where else can you see Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as identical police officers? Brilliant!

 

 

6) Harry Potter & The Deathly Hallows Part II – I just finished rewatching the entire series yesterday, and Deathly Hallows Part 2 is a wonderful cap to the entire series. In fact this time through it affected me even more emotionally that it had the first time through. It’s easy to brush these off as simple family movies, but from the beginning the books and the films have spoken to the important themes of friendship, loyalty, belief in oneself, and doing what is right. And of course, this film allows for Alan Rickman’s finest performance as Severus Snape, proving what an amazing actor he is.

 

7) Super 8 – The Goonies and Stand By Me meets E.T. and even that comparison does the film a disservice. Lovingly made by J.J. Abrams and Steven Spielberg, the film recalls moments from many Spielberg films, and took us back to a time when you didn’t have to lock your doors at night, and neighbors looked out for one another. Filled with a nostalgia that made me recall my own youth, and performances from children who seem able to act beyond their years, Super 8 was, for me, a magical film experience.

 

8) Mission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol – I’ve been a huge fan of this series since its launch, and was very eager to see Brad Bird’s first live action film. I was delighted that it paid off as much as it did! What have you got next for me Brad? This is a highly enjoyable spy romp that embraces everything about the original series, updating it for today, and had some truly fantastic sequences. It also saw my favorite character, Simon Pegg’s Benji as a full field agent, hopefully to reappear in the potential sequels with Jeremy Renner.

 

9) Hugo – Martin Scorsese made a truly beautiful film about the love of movies and their origins. Wrapping it in a mystery for a young boy to solve, the film brought to life the early days of cinema. It showed us once again that if a movie is done right, it can transcend popcorn entertainment and revitalize the love of an art form that far too often gets shunt aside in the desire to make a fast buck.

 

 

10) Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy – An old school cold war thriller, the film is a slow burn that constantly ratchets up the tension as George Smiley attempts to flush out a Russian mole inside MI6. The film had a stellar cast rounded out by the always amazing Gary Oldman, a chameleon of an actor who buries himself in each and every role he takes on. It also didn’t play the viewer for a fool or pander to the audience. A smart spy thriller about an age seemingly long gone.

 

 

So there you have it, my top ten films of the year, I would be remiss however if I didn’t give a few honorable mentions to other films I loved this year…

-Hanna, young actress Saoirse Ronan looks to have a long and amazing career ahead of her.

-Paul, featuring the ever awesome Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as two geeks on a cross-country road-trip who have a close encounter. I love these two guys working together, they are always a sheer delight, and I would love to go for a pint with the two of them anytime!

-Source Code, Duncan Jones’ follow-up to Moon, Code was a fun temporal tale featuring Jake Gyllenhaal.

-Thor & Captain America, ramping us up for next year’s Avengers these two Marvel adaptations expanded the growing comic book universe and were good popcorn entertainment.

and finally the surprising X-men: First Class, another comic book film that introduces us to Xavier and Magneto before they turned against each other, both James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are top form in this movie and of course there’s January Jones, as Stan Lee might say… ‘Nuff Said