“The Avengers” retains the awesome!

Oh my god, you guys, I saw The Avengers again today and it was just as good as the first time!!! This time, I thought I would take notes on why it was so awesome (and also to learn a bit at the movie knee of Joss) but that kind of stopped about twenty minutes into the movie. Because I got distracted. BY THE AWESOME.

So, I’m going to detail my twenty minutes worth of notes below the jump. Potential spoilers, peeps. Click away ONLY if you’ve ALREADY SUCCUMBED TO THE AWESOME

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I should probably write something

Hey all!

Not much is happening in the world of Cassandra. I’m gearing up for Enslaved’s release on 15 July, as well as working on other sundry projects, including Enslaved‘s follow up.  Apart from that, I’ve enjoyed some lovely superhero movies lately. 

Thor was a bit of an awesome flick, although I was not convinced by the love story.  Of course, not being convinced, I immediately started thinking of ways to improve it… Did anyone else think Natalie Portman’s character should have been more socially awkward, more into the astrophysics and the love story really should have ended the movie with “hey I like you, let’s date” instead of undying love.  There just wasn’t room for the love story in the running time. 

That being said, I LOVED the relationship of Thor and Loki.  So super awesome.  Kenneth Branagh did a fabulous job of showing the scale of Asgard, the brothers’ relationship and I can totally forgive him for the crappy love story.

X-Men: First Class had Michael Fassbender in it.  Enough said.

Fun at the Moofies

On the weekend, I saw a nifty Aussie flick entitled Tomorrow, When the War Began.  For those who don’t know, the movie is based upon the insanely popular Tomorrow series by John Marsden.   The series even has some academic cred, as it is required reading in some English syllabi around Australia.

I remember as a young un (well, not that young…I reckon I might have been finishing up high school) hearing about this Tomorrow book thing and how good it was.  It took me a bit, but finally I caved and read the first book…And possibly the second…Maybe even the third.  Hmm.  My memory gets rather hazy around this point.  I have vague recollections of holding the third book in my hands, but it might just be because I think the title is super cool (The Third Day, the Frost – how is that not cool??) and I would like to pretend like I am cool by extension.

In any event, I remembered basically nothing from these books.  Cut to years (oh so many years) later and I hear there is a movie coming out based upon this series.  Now, I just think this is brill.  The Oz movie industry is, in my opinion, disappearing into high culture and losing touch with the masses.  Oz films generally don’t make that much money and when a new one comes out most people roll their eyes and think, rightly or wrongly, well that will be a depressing adventure into existentialism.  Except they might not think ‘existentialism’ or roll their eyes or in fact hear of the Oz movie at all because they are not widly promoted here in Australia.

Anyway, that’s a discussion for another day (involving my cry of ‘why on earth don’t they make a movie about AFL or Rugby or Cricket???’).

On to TWTWB.  Synopsis, totally ripped from the movie’s official website:

Tomorrow, When the War Began follows the journey of eight high school friends in a coastal country town whose lives are suddenly and violently upended by an invasion that no one saw coming.  Cut off from their families and their friends, these eight extraordinary teenagers must learn to escape, survive and fight back against hostile military forces.

So this movie was a nice little genre film that proves such can be made in Australia for an Australian audience AND make money.  Shocking, I know.  Heh.  Anyhoo, the thing that struck me the most about this film was the treatment of consequence.  There was no black and white.  The kids of Wirrawee weren’t wholly right.  The invading forces weren’t wholly wrong.  There was no gung-ho shoot ‘em up style shenanigans.  Each action was undertaken with seriousness and consideration for the horror of warfare and the preciousness of life.

After the first enemy soldier is killed, the main character, Ellie, is struck by how young the girl is, and how scared.  The humanisation of the enemy, showing that they are people too, and have just as much right to life as our heroes, makes the audience take stock of the situation.  I guess what I’m saying is death is not dealt with lightly, which is exactly as it should be.  There’s a brilliant speech made by Ellie – and fair enough it’s a tad heavy handed but still effective – about how she would love to say she will fight for her beliefs and her country, but when it comes down to it what is at the base of her willingness to fight – to kill – is that she believes her life is worth more than those who would take it from her and thus she will kill them in defence of herself.

There are lots of little moments scattered through that make you think about what is happening rather than get swept away in game-like violence.  A mural of the colonisation of Australia in 1788 alludes to the first settlers being an invading force.  A girl stares at her destroyed home and the death of her innocence and the belief she is safe.  Another girl who swore never to kill having to take up arms to save her friends.  All of this is slowed down, the weight of these terrible actions laying a burden upon us all – the belief that none of this should be taken lightly.

Of course, there was then the action hero shot at the end but overall I found this movie to be a great genre piece with a bit more depth than usual.  In any case, it was more believable that Angelina Jolie as a super secret agent who can kill a billion men with a handgun (but we will get to my issues with Salt another day…)

So, as Molly Meldrum would say, do yourself a favour.  Check out Tomorrow, When the War Began!

Alien vs Aliens

I saw an original cinematic trailer for the movie Alien the other day and decided to dust off the ol’ video and pop it into the VCR. I’ve never really been a big fan of the original Alien, mainly because my first exposure to the franchise was the 1986 sequel, Aliens. I love that movie so, so much…More on that later.

Alien was originally released in 1979 and changed the face of horror films. It also launched the career of Sigourney Weaver and generally scared the pants off a generation, including my mother. She still shudders at its mention.

So, with that in mind, I settled in. Watching Alien took me three nights. Three. It just couldn’t hold my interest. It’s all very swanky and different, even if it is slightly dated by its technology, but there was still something missing. It wasn’t until the last third that my attention was captured.

Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley was all alone, the rest of her crew killed by the alien creature, and she was huddled in her shuttle as she watched, horrified, as the alien she’d thought she’d killed unfurled itself from it’s hiding place. Ripley was strong though scared, level-headed but clearly freaked, every emotion flashing across her face as her situation descended into terror. Her desperate eyes conveyed more pathos in a second than anything previous to that, and it finally hit me what was wrong with this film – there was a lack of emotion.

An example. The first victim, Brett, has just died and the rest of the crew is sitting around discussing what to do. There is a notable lack of despair, terror, tension…everything I would think one would feel at the death of a crewmate at the hands (or claws, such as it were) of a creature that was still loose and could very well be targeting you next. It is not until everyone else is dead and Ripley is in her shuttle that true emotion surfaces, and for me, this is where the movie comes alive. Twenty minutes from the end.

Meh.

Aliens, by contrast, is all about emotion. Every character displays appropriate emotion and intensity for the shizz they are experiencing. And we see this. Constantly.

We know Ripley is scared from the very beginning, but we also know she needs to face her fear to move on with her life. And so, she agrees to return to the place where her life was shattered. Who can forget the immortal line “Get away from her, you bitch!” snarled by Ripley to the Alien Queen and ably demonstrating her growth from fearful to frak off.

Character growth. What a novel concept.

There is the arrogant, frat-boy-esque Hudson who is arrogantly confident they will blow the aliens away easily. His disintegration when he fully realises the foe they are up against ably demonstrates how terrifying these things are.

And it plays with our emotion, with our dread. The scene with Ripley explaining to the marines about the alien is an awesome juxtaposition to what both Ripley and we know – that these things are worthy of our fear and our respect and they are so going to get their a*ses kicked:

Background. Ripley is returning to the planet where her crew initially picked up the alien. The marines are lined up for briefing inside the hold of the transport ship, listening as Ripley stumbles though her explanation, clearly distressed.
Vasquez interrupts.

Vasquez
Hey, mira, I just need to know one thing. Where they are.

The marines guffaw and slap each other’s back. Sergeant Apone barks at them to shut up.
The laughter dies down and then Ripley, eyes intense, comes forward.

Ripley
I hope your right. I really do.

Vasquez abruptly quiets, disconcerted by Ripley’s intensity.

Lt. Gorman
We have Ripley’s description on file-

Ripley
Because one of those things managed to wipe out my entire crew in less than 24 hours and if the colonists have found the ship then there’s no telling how many have been exposed. Do you understand?

All are silent.

Awesome. This impresses emotion on us all. Although now I feel I’ve included that scene because it is awesome and not because it has any bearing on the argument. Hmm.

Anyway, that’s my two cents. Feel free to agree or disagree!