Dan and Kailey are joined by Andy James, one of the world’s foremost experts on the MCU (or Marvel Cinematic Universe) to discuss Avengers: Age of Ultron and how all the pieces are supposed to fit together. Also reviewed, the much more serious Age of Adaline and Testament of Youth.
Of all the remakes, sequels, franchises and comic book adaptations we are being offered this winter Captain America: The First Avenger is the one least likely to send a shiver of excitement down a Kiwi filmgoer’s spine. And yet, from relatively modest beginnings a half decent adventure film grows – it isn’t going to change the way you think and feel about anything but Captain America at least won’t make you want to run screaming for the exits in embarrassment and shame.
Steve Rogers (Chris Evans from Fantastic Four) is a weedy, sickly kid from Brooklyn – digitally de-hanced if that’s the opposite of enhanced – who desperately wants to fight the Nazis for Uncle Sam. After several humiliating rejections kindly scientist Stanley Tucci enlists him in an experimental super-soldier programme, fills him full of what looks like blue Powerade and turns him into a muscle-bound, fast-healing, über-grunt.
This week’s review comes to you from sunny/rainy Auckland where your correspondent is catching up with old friends and enjoying the Auckland cinema scene. The first thing to report is that audience behaviour in the 09 is as selfish and immature as it is at home. Texting and talking is as prevalent at commercial films like The Losers (screening at the otherwise well-appointed Sky City St Lukes) as in Wellington.
The Losers itself would be an easy film to avoid if it wasn’t the only notable Hollywood release of the week. A crack commando squad are hung out to dry by mysterious forces back in Washington. Somehow they have to get back stateside, clear their names and take their revenge on the shadowy mastermind who tries to destroy them. Sound familiar? Yes, it’s The A‑Team and a remake of that comes out in a week or two so you can safely bypass this low-rent version featuring some B‑list stars like Jeffrey Dean Morgan (Watchmen ), Chris Evans (Fantastic 4) and the blandest super villain in history, Jason Patric (Speed 2).
Paul Verhoeven is one of those directors that has no hand-brake, regardless of the subject matter. For ice-pick wielding murderers (Basic Instinct) or giant alien bugs (Starship Troopers) this damn-the-torpedos attitude is perfect; when we’re talking about Dutch jews being betrayed by corrupt members of the resistance in WWII – not so much.
Black Book is Verhoeven’s first film in seven years, and his first film back home in Holland since Flesh + Blood back in 1985. Carice van Houten plays Rachel Stein, a nightclub singer before the war, now on the run from the Nazis. When her family is murdered on the brink of escape she dyes her hair blonde and joins the resistance, going undercover and then falling in love with the good German played by Sebastian Koch from The Lives of Others (you know he’s going to be a good German because he collects stamps and doesn’t have a scar on his cheek).