Watching anyone “talk shop” and really get into a meaty …
Avengers: Age of Ultron represents the zenith of Marvel Studios’ Phase 2, the culmination of all the films and television shows that represent the Marvel Cinematic Universe over the last two years. Like the first film, this superhero team up pulls out all the stops to astound, taking the audience on a thrill ride of almost unrelenting action.
The Avengers clicked with both Marvel fans and general audiences because we loved watching these massive egos clash for the first time. It was the perfect blend of action and attitude, and its mastermind, Joss Whedon, was handed the golden ticket to Marvel’s keystone franchise. The long-awaited sequel, Avengers: Age of Ultron, shows the strain of trying to be bigger-and-better while still indulging the subtle pleasures of its predecessor. It succeeds, just barely, on the strength of a talented cast and our fondness for these characters. Still, it’s a decidedly somber affair that will turn off casual fans, and it stands as the most impersonal, and arguable weakest installment of Marvel’s vaunted “Phase Two.”
With Foxcatcher, Bennett Miller (Capote, Moneyball) directs a tragic tale of American ambition gone awry. It’s a grave and stately undertaking that’s based on the real story of John du Pont, heir to one of the richest families in America, who dreamed of building a wrestling team around the talents of two gold medal wrestlers that came from modest means. The inequality of power pushes the tension between the three over the edge. Although the film isn’t an awe-inspiring achievement as a whole, the performances and atmosphere stimulate the senses and hold a firm grip on the viewer’s attention.
When it comes to gripping and powerful films, HBO knows what they’re doing. Though they are TV movies, they actually feel like big Hollywood productions and often times, they are. Big name stars, expert directors, and brilliant screenplays are what comprise an HBO film these days and this is fortunate for the viewer because they are in for truly quality films. The extremely sobering The Normal Heart continues this trend of excellent filmmaking and the results are just divine.
John E. du Pont (Steve Carell) speaks to his newly-founded wrestling squad about patriotic values as if reciting a sport-oriented “Star-Spangled Banner”. But du Pont is no Francis Scott Key — his words are weak, but his money is strong. This is du Pont’s America in Bennett Miller’s Foxcatcher: a grand team that he’s accidentally but proudly charging through his money, a game that can be bought. Yes, the film intends to talk about America as much as it does the disquieting personalities of this bleak true story. Though saturated with grandiose metaphors and a message worn carelessly on its sleeves, Foxcatcher confirms Bennett Miller as one of the best character directors working in Hollywood.